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Viewpoint from Mike Wiltshire 28/08/2015 

Michael WiltshireMike Wiltshire
Director, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, East Anglia


A remarkable moment in Yarmouth’s history

The voluntary sector in Great Yarmouth – and the faith community, in particular – has a long tradition of helping to make life better for people of all age groups

Many people, not just the Christian community, are familiar with the words of Jesus who said: “Love your neighbour as yourself,” (in the Gospel of Mark 13:31)

dove leftLove is a “doing” word, not mere sympathy. Love calls for action.  Jesus told his followers: “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father”

Helping others is especially true in the hard economic times – and Yarmouth has had its share of those

One such time reminds us of a fascinating period when Yarmouth hit the headlines in the Christian community across the UK – and the world -when reports of a remarkable “fishermen’s revival” followed the dark days of World War One
The year 1921 was a very bad one for the fishermen – and the fishergirls and many others who supported the industry in the fishing ports and villages from Scottish Eastern coastline to East Anglia.  The Scots’ fishing community normally “followed the herring”, but 1921 brought misery with bad weather - “and no herring, no money and no hope”

Dove rightAmidst the fishing slump of 1921, people had more time to attend meetings and even open air services. The year was also marked by strikes and stoppages. Entire families from Scotland were also stranded in Yarmouth and Lowestoft with time to hear passionate revivalists such as 25-year-oldJock Troup, a banjo-playing barrel-maker from Wick in Scotland; Douglas Brown, a non-denominational minister and a young preacher, David Cordiner. Listeners found hope in their message
Historians tell us that joyous hymn singing could be heard from ship to shore as thousands responded to the Christian message from the Scottish coast to Great Yarmouth.   People flocked to Bible studies and prayer meetings

In later years, there were those across the UK who criticised what has been called “the forgotten revival” in Great Yarmouth.  Some establishment figures disapproved of Jock Troup (1896-1954) – a giant of a man who was born in Elgin, Scotland – and of those who they claimed were “rough young men who know nothing about theology”. But many coastal people came to know much about God's love and found lasting hope in Christ in desperate times

Today, there are numerous Christians in Yarmouth and East Anglia who pray regularly for renewal and revival in the church-at-large. There are also many local volunteers who freely serve the wider the community in ways that would surely gladden the hearts of the fisher folk of 1921