Chapter 8

FRASERBURGH

 

What happened at Yarmouth was to prove that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

 

Jock boarded a train for the North and before it had reached Crewe all those who were in his compartment were led to Christ. When he arrived at Aberdeen, he then transferred to the Fraserburgh train. At Maud two fisherwomen came into the carriage and sat beside Jock. They had spent the day selling their freshly caught haddock around the farmhouses in the country. Baskets were strapped across their backs to carry the fish. The evangelist was asked where he was going and what he intended to do.He replied, "I am going to Fraserburgh to preach," and told them how God had spoken to him. "Where are you staying?" they asked him. Jock told them that he had no idea. "Listen son, you come and stay with me," said one of the old fisherwomen.So provision was made for him even before he arrived in Fraserburgh.

 

When he had settled in and had eaten, Jock decided to go for a walk. He went down to the square in Broad Street where a crowd had gathered. Standing on the steps of the drinking fountain, he began to preach. Immediately the crowd moved around him in spite of the cold. As the rain began to fall, the preacher asked if anyone knew where a place was available for meetings.

"What about the Baptist Church?" shouted someone.

"I don't know where it is," replied Jock. "We will soon take you there," came the answer from the crowd.Off they went along the way, joyously singing with the evangelist. When they arrived at the Baptist Church, the Pastor with his elders were just leaving a specially convened meeting, where it had been decided to send for Jock Troup to come and conduct a gospel campaign in Fraserburgh. The secretary had a letter drafted ready for posting, but that letter never needed to go through a letter box. God had answered the letter before it had been sent off. To the amazement of Jock, as the group of elders left the church, amongst them stood the man God had shown him in the vision at Yarmouth. He had come face to face with the man who had prayed. The heart of the revivalist rose to God in gratitude for leading him step by step. As he led the singing of the old fashioned hymns, men and women began to weep their way to the cross. Blessing flowed like a river. The tide of spiritual dearth had turned and soon Godís flood tide would flow.

 

Saltoun Square, Fraserburgh

(Picture: St. Andrews University.)










Fraserburgh Baptist Church became too small.An application was made for the use of other buildings, but this was refused because the evangelist was not an ordained minister. Meetings were then held in the Congregational Church in Mid Street, with regular prayer taking place in the Baptist Church. Nightly souls were under deep conviction of sin, and after weeping their way to Christ, came to know the great experience of being "Born again". These were days of blessing which were never to be forgotten as long as the converts lived.

 

At Yarmouth some notorious characters had become Christians. When they arrived home they had the joy of not only being united with their loved ones, but in many cases were overjoyed to find that their families had been touched by the same power of God. These wayward sons and daughters were saved through God answering the prayers of believing parents. As entire households made their way to the services, no one could doubt that the same God Who had worked in Yarmouth was now working in Fraserburgh.

 

There was a spirit of conviction everywhere.Souls were even being saved away from the meetings. It was reported that the message boys were whistling hymns as they delivered their errands. By now, the entire town was in the grip of the presence of God. Throughout the last week in November 1921, open-air services were held in the Saltoun Square. Many hundreds attended to hear the testimonies of young men and women, then Jock Troup preached the Gospel.Saltoun Square was the birthplace of many souls who, under deep conviction of sin, knelt on coats provided by the preachers and converts.

 

The Baptist and Congregational Churches were throwing their whole weight behind this move of God and at the end of the day there was a marked .increase in membership as many of the new converts attached themselves to these churches.

 

Scene at Fraserburgh harbour in the days of sail.

(Picture: St. Andrews University.)










A group of young fishermen prided themselves in being known as the "Dirty Dozen". When they were gloriously saved, a tremendous impact was made on the town. A report of the scenes following some of these services said that many young people were parading the streets calling upon the name of the Lord.

 

It was obvious that God's channel was Jock Troup. This humble servant of the Lord said nothing new about the Gospel, but it seems that he uttered the good news of salvation with such a force and conviction that it reached the hearts of the people. Jock was wholly yielded to the work. There was no sadness or fear in his message, the services being characterised by joyful singing. Meetings were held every hour of the day, with prayer sessions lasting into the night. On Sunday the evangelist was in great demand, no wonder he became so exhausted that a doctor told him that he would have to rest, otherwise he would kill himself.

 

Many prominent men from the religious and secular world came to Fraserburgh to witness the amazing scenes. Some criticised the work, saying it was because of the poor fishing, or that it only appealed to simple fisherfolk. Others declared that it was mostly emotional and would not stand. There were those who had to admit that some supernatural power was in evidence. One man in particular, Mr. D. P. Thompson, a student from Glasgow University, declared it to be a work of God.He threw his lot in with the meetings. No doubt it was the influence of those early days that made D. P. Thompson the man he was in later years, a prominent evangelist with the Church of Scotland.

 

On the 20th December, Jock addressed a packed Congregational Church, stating that the work had grown so much that the building was too small. During the week the meetings would be held in the Parish Church which seated 1200.The Church Session had kindly granted the use of their church, even declaring that they would pay the heating bills.

 

Jock announced that during the next fortnight he and Willie Bruce would be leaving Fraserburgh for an unknown destination, and that God was leading them. "The move would be greater yet" he declared, and told the people that the Rev. Douglas Brown of London would be coming to help in the meetings. He spoke to his audience in a confident manner, "Douglas Brown is a small man, but he has both his hands on God's Altar." The Baptist minister had been active in Yarmouth for he had conducted 350 meetings in 3 months.

 

Gutters hard at work in a Fraserburgh yard.

(Picture: St. Andrews University.)










As the year drew to a close, Jock received a request to come to Dundee. Ever sensitive to the Master's call, he decided that he must go immediately. During a farewell service in the Congregational Church which was filled to capacity, he heard tributes to the work which God had done through him. Rev. W. Gilmour of the Baptist Church said, "A man came to Fraserburgh whose name was Jock Troup, and the fisherfolks would never forget by recollection and prayer."

 

Many wept tears of joy because through his ministry they had found a purpose for living.Crowds thronged the railway station at Fraserburgh and sang as the revivalist left with his companion. As the train moved out of the station, the huge crowd sang, "God be with you till we meet again."What a scene, the like of which has never been witnessed, before or since.It was the first of many visits to Fraserburgh Jock was to make, the last being in 1953 to attend the burial service for the victims of the Fraserburgh lifeboat disaster . One of the men lost then was a dear friend of his, a Mr. Duthie, the engineer.He had been saved in the awakening in 1921.†† On such a sad occasion, Jock sang, as only he could sing,

"In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore."

Those who were there, including my parents, testified that it was the finest they had ever heard the revivalist sing.

 

Old view of Fraserburgh harbour.

(Picture: St. Andrews University.)











A Fraserburgh fisherman named Willie Bruce was Jock's chum, even before Willie Bruce was converted. During the daytime they worked together, but at night they went their separate ways. Bruce was quiet, reserved young man, but when God saved him, this expert dancer and roller-skater became a lion for Christ, declaring His Gospel with great boldness. At the height of the revival in Yarmouth, Willie said to Jock in prophetic terms, "Jock, after this year you are not bound for Wick this time, it's the Broch."

 

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