In 1967, American evangelist Jean Darnell, whilst passing through the UK had a ‘prophetic vision’ about the future of faith in these Islands- particularly regarding Scotland. It was such a powerful image that she and her husband stayed in this country for the next 25 years.
I was born in 1967, but had heard of Jean Darnell as I grew up- she had connections to an Anglican community of people in the South of England who were greatly influential as to development of charismatic revival throughout the Anglican church. I always thought of her as a kind and wise person, steeped in the Holy Spirit.
I had not heard about the prophecy however until I moved to Scotland. Here, it is still talked about in hushed and awed tones. She has repeated and clarified her account on several occasions, and various versions can be found using a quick google search- for example this one which is on the Cross rhythms website. However, this is a summary of what she said-
Vision Of Revival In Great Britain
The British Isles were covered in mist (a green haze), and Jean Darnell saw lots of pinpoints of light piercing through. As she looked, they turned out to be fires breaking out all over the nation, from Scotland in the North, to Lands End in the South.
As these God-lit fires were joined together they burned brighter. As she continued to pray, she saw lightning and explosions of fire and then rivers of fire flowing from North to South; from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales into England and some of the streams of fires crossed the channel into Europe, whilst others stopped.
These fires were pockets of people who had been made intensely hungry for the word of God and for New Testament Christianity, those who read the book of Acts and wondered ‘where is this church?’
These people would come together to pray and extra meetings would have to be laid on to accommodate all the people. Groups would be formed, prayer groups, Bible study groups – some would meet in churches, others would be in homes: some converted, others unconverted who were searching and seeking.
Two Moves Of God
Jean Darnall asked the Lord about the vision and had the distinct impression that there would be two moves of God.
1. Renewal In The Church.
The first would be the renewal of Christian faith and fullness of the Holy Spirit within the church.
2. National Awakening And World Vision.
This renewal of life in the church would spread outside resulting in a public awakening. The second part of the vision was the lightning striking around the nation. This move of God would be a national spiritual awakening, which would move into every level of the nation’s life; on the campuses, universities, colleges, schools etc., into the media and in the government.
There would be so many conversions that it would actually change the character of the nation of Britain and determine the future move of God in Europe. Jean continued that there would not be a part of the nation’s life that will not feel the impact of the spiritual awakening when God releases it to the country.
The Lord told Jean Darnall that He would also raise up highly anointed preachers who would move in signs and wonders. These people would be a gift to Britain.
Communicators Reaching Britain And Europe
The word ‘communicators’ was strongly laid upon Jean’s heart and was a word that was not trendy in those days. [The internet was not be birthed until nearly three decades later in 1994 and Christian television first came to Britain via satellite in October 1995].
Jean explained that as the rivers of fire moved, it would produce powerfully gifted communicators who would address the nation through the media, (Through the arts, journalism, the radio and television). Actors, singers, teachers and powerful communicators (who have an anointing to work through the media) will be the new warriors that the Lord is raising up for His army [the younger generation] to reach the heart of the people on the European Continent. People with a special anointing will be sent out from these islands (of Britain) to other nations.
These communicators will be excellent in all that they do and will go into Europe and meet those of like quality (in training and abilities) and together they will work to release God’s word speedily into Europe. This will result in another wave of a spiritual awakening into Europe. Also, there would be communicators in government and within the educational system and wherever people are speaking [up] for others.
Jean Darnell visited the UK again this year- here is her speaking about Scotland again-
So what are we to make of this? Some of you will not even be interested in asking the question. If you do not have a Christian faith, you may think that all this stuff is just a little mad. Many Christians will agree with you. Many others (like me) have a more complicated relationship with the ideas and hopes contained in this prophecy.
As I mentioned above, I grew up in a church greatly affected by the wonders and wackyness of the Anglican Charismatic revival. I have since spent a lot of time around charismatic churches. I have blogged before about this experience- here for example. As a result of my experiences, I remain (in the words of Pete Rollins) a devout, faithful skeptic. I have seen much that repels me, but also much that was beautiful.
So here are a few thoughts/possibilities that occur to me as I look again at this prophecy…
- Jean Darnell was just wrong. Nothing of what she suggests would happen has happened. They used to stone false prophets in the OT days. Far from being a conduit of a massive move of God, the church in the UK is in terminal decline…
- Jean Darnell was speaking encouragement into an embryonic move of God. The late 60’s and 70’s did indeed see a charismatic revival- fires did spread through the church, and the ripples go on today. There are communicators, and preachers who still connect with wider Europe…
- Jean Darnell was speaking out of a particular context and understanding of evangelism- which longed and hoped for REVIVAL- transformative, all encompassing Holy Spirit saturated revival. No other move of God makes sense, and as such, the prophecy comes from a wish-fulfilling impulse. Revivals like this have happened here before (Wales, Outer Hebrides for example) and continue to happen in other parts of the world (Korea, parts of Africa.) However the outcome and aftermath of these outpourings is often very mixed. I no longer think that attempting to conjour and cajole God into reviving us should be our prime focus. But then again…
- Scotland. The central role played by Scotland in Jean’s prophecy seems to imply that what ever is to happen, begins here. I have looked in hope, but see no sign of fires in the North. There are enclaves of fervency and fundamentalism, but there is so much sectarian division and hard heartedness too… I do not see the fires starting inside the churches at the moment, let alone outside.
- Because of the decline in church, certain embattled remnants hold on to this prophecy with both hands. We NEED it to be true- because the alternative is an end to all that is held dear. However there is such danger in this- we become people desperate for heavenly Holy Spirit intervention, and forget the call to be Agents of the Kingdom here and now, rather than in the future. The shift in thinking that this requires for the people of faith in Scotland might itself bring about the fires in the north envisioned!
- How we understand prophecy seems to be crucial. We tend to think of prophecy as a prediction for the future that will be tested by time. In this instance, the jury is out, and perhaps about to rule against Jean’s prophecy. However, there is another way to understand prophetic utterances- as something that speaks truth into NOW- so many of the OT prophets were encouraging and warning their peers and rulers. Perhaps in this context, Jean was inspiring a generation, and we should not worry about carrying forward this vision like some kind of vision for the future.
- Let us just leave it to God.