The story of the life of William Branham is so out of this world and beyond the ordinary that were there not available a host of infallible proofs which document and attest its authenticity, one might well be excused for considering it far-fetched and incredible. But the facts are so generally known, and of such a nature that they can be so easily verified by any sincere investigator, that they must stand as God's witness to His willingness and purpose to reveal Himself again to men as he once did in the days of the prophets and the apostles. The story of this prophet's life--for he is a prophet, though we infrequently use the term--indeed witnesses to the fact that Bible days are here again.
The writer is keenly conscious of his own lack of literary qualifications to properly depict and tell the story of this great ministry. However, he is aided considerably in that not a little of the narrative has been told in the words of Brother Branham himself, and by certain others who have been associated in this ministry. The clear, simple style of Rev. Branham possesses its own charm, and though he himself boasts no cultural advantages, this style, though at times rugged, is always dramatic and has a distinction of its own.
To know Brother Branham is to love him. His nature is tender and kind and his sensibilities react deeply to the suffering and pain of others. So great has been his compassion for the sick and afflicted, that he permitted his own health to suffer while praying long hours for endless lines of sick. For a time he carried, as it were, the weight of a suffering world upon his frail shoulders, until God made it known to him that this responsibility must be shared by others. Since he has returned to the field, he has complied with the requests of those who labor with him to conserve his strength, and not to go beyond what his constitution will stand. Divine healing does not make a man immortal in this life, and even Jesus bore the weight of weariness.
It is true that Brother Branham lives in a different world than that of the average Christian. In the affairs of this world he is admittedly unsophisticated and is not prepared to match wits with those who too often seek selfish and subtle advantage of him. On the other hand, in that world in which he truly lives, his spiritual senses have been quickened to a point that has enabled him to move farther out into God, and has caused him to be more conscious of heavenly realities, than perhaps any man now living. It is this amazing spiritual sensitivity that has caused his ministry to be so revolutionary. He indeed brings no new doctrine to the church, but rather a fresh revelation of the reality of the power of God and the intrinsic truth of the miraculous in the Scriptures.
Together with this spiritual acumen, there is another characteristic of his ministry that makes him so intensely loved by the multitudes who hear him--it is his simple humility. Nobody is jealous of the successes of the little man who for long years fought a losing battle with life--one who through much of his life has known nothing but the pangs of poverty, hardship and crushing sorrows, a man who has had even the little of life wrenched from his grasp, until his very soul was left bare, and it seemed as if heaven itself had conspired against him. We may thank God for the compensations Divine Providence has given him since, and rejoice with him in his victories. Perhaps in the ministry of no other man has death in this life been so strongly symbolized; this, of course, to the purpose that God may show forth to His people, the new or resurrection life.
Brother Branham fully recognizes his limitations, and frequently apologizes to his audiences for his lack of cultural qualifications. Readily he tells of his humble origin, his long struggle with poverty. There are no pretensions. Only when it comes to the matter of his own call is there no doubt or hesitancy. Of this he must speak to fulfill the commission which has been given him. His message and the exercise of his gift must be made known to the world.
When it comes to the consideration of doctrinal points, it is a different matter. He does not consider himself a theologian or an arbiter of theological controversies. Despite his great influence with multitudes of people, he does not lend that influence to press home his own views on doctrinal points. Some unauthorizedly have attempted to use his name as a means of promoting their own personal views. He has been forced to kindly but firmly repudiate such attempts. His mission is to unite the people of God, not to further divide them in doctrinal controversy. "Knowledge puffeth up but love edifieth"
It is this simple humility that has charmed his audiences wherever he has been. Though the fulfilling of his calling demands that he minister to the great crowds, his sincere desire is to preserve the simplicity of his life. He knows full well that great men of God in the past have found that both their power with God and their anointing were lacking when they lost the simplicity of their Christian experience and the spirit of humility they once possessed.
That he withdraws himself from the throng is not because he shuns people, but rather because he finds that is the only way he can possibly continue his ministry. He has found that all his time and more would soon be taken up by the countless people who wish to see him, confer with him, give him advice, or seek his counsel. There would be no time left to wait on God, and he well knows that he, of all men, is most dependent on the anointing of the Spirit. Without that anointing he is helpless. He does not have natural talents that he can fall back upon if that all important element should be missing. Some people, of course, misunderstand this and are greatly disappointed when they are not permitted a personal interview. Scarcely a day passes in which there are not some who feel that they have an urgent message to give to him, that only they can convey.
But though he must live in a different world, so that he might bring inspiration and blessing to his fellow men, there is no one who is more human and understanding than Brother Branham. He intensely desires to please all, and he longs to do any favor that comes within his power. Indeed, on this one point he cannot trust himself, for he knows that his desire to please may lead him into making commitments which there would be no possibility of fulfilling. Nothing could distress him more than to know that he was unable to keep his word. Thus he has placed his business arrangements into the hands of his associates, so that they may carry out in orderly fashion what mutual agreements seem necessary in the conduct of his campaigns.
To understand Brother Branham, one needs to know something of his background. As he himself tells the story, his family was the poorest of the poor. At the time of his marriage, his living was precarious. For a long time he was unable to afford the most meager of household conveniences. Once he lost to a finance company an easy chair, not being able to keep up the payments. He preached in his own tabernacle for years, not accepting any compensation, believing that his congregation was too poor to keep up the expenses both of the church and his family. To pay expenses he worked as an Indiana game warden, but was too kind hearted to impose fines, although that was his only source of income as a game warden. Consequently (and it does sound fantastic, but it is true) he had to work at still another job, that of patrolling the high lines--a work he could do in connection with his game warden job--in order to make a living for his family. But in his own battle he was brought in intimate touch with the suffering and sorrow of humanity. And in the honored position that God has now called him, he is still able to feel intensely for those who also must tread as he did, the dark and lonely path of sorrow.
There was another reason why God chose William Branham for the great task of calling His people to unity of spirit. The Lord knew that he would never attempt to start another organization of his own. This he could have done. But to such suggestions he never gave one moment of consideration. His message was not to bring something new to the Church, which would involve the creation of a new organization. That was not his vision or desire--rather it was that the people of God who had separated themselves one from the other, would now recognize the fact that they were of one body and become united in spirit in anticipation of the return of their Lord Jesus Christ. He sought not only the healing of the physical bodies of believers, but also the healing of the Mystical Body of Christ--which is His Church. One is reminded of the Apostle Paul who pointed out that the cause of so much sickness and premature death in the Church was due to their "not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep." We know that this scripture refers primarily to the physical Body of Christ, symbolized in the Broken Bread of the Lord's Supper. But the passage must also have reference to the Mystical Body of Christ, for immediately Paul begins discussing this subject, and indeed the theme occupies the entire 12th chapter of I Corinthians. He concludes this discussion by showing the solemn urgency of the members of the body of Christ to properly recognize each other's place in the body. "And whether one member suffers all the members suffers with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ and the members in particular." The Church, or Body of Christ, is sick because its members are out of harmony one with the other.
Now speaking briefly concerning the ministry of William Branham--be no longer attempts to pray for all that throng his meetings; he has found that the limits of his physical strength makes this impossible. He has to restrict his ministry to ministering to a limited number each night. But that does not mean that all cannot receive healing in his meetings. The sick in the audience are encouraged to reach out in faith and receive their healing while in their seats. And indeed, as a result of this instruction, the number of testimonies being received of those who are thus healed is astonishing. Such healings do not involve merely minor ailments, but deliverances are just as apt to be from organic ailments such as cancer, tumor, tuberculosis and so on. Time after time Brother Branham has, by the operation of his gift, discerned such diseases and announced the deliverance, though the person receiving healing may be seated well back in the audience.
Another great purpose of the Branham meetings is to bring inspiration to the ministry, not to encourage a great number to attempt to conduct vast campaigns, but that many with new inspiration will go back to their own churches and begin a real ministry of deliverance. Too long have substitutes been used to draw people to the church, until worship in many of our congregations has been submerged to a purely human level with the element of the supernatural completely gone. The healing ministry is the Bible way at last to reach the multitudes for God. What wonderful ministries have been born in the lives of some we know, who, after attending the Branham meetings and returning home, have locked their doors and refused to emerge until they had heard from heaven!
As for the Christians themselves, how their lives have been enriched as they have beheld before their very eyes, often for the first time, the working of a miracle! How skepticism and unbelief have been challenged and put to flight! God is no longer a vague and distant God, but One Who is nigh and ready to reveal Himself to the sons of men! When Modernism with its blighting unbelief meets this challenge, it is put to instant rout. No honeycombed words or cunning oratory can fool a normal person who has seen God work before his very eyes. Men as never before are brought to the realization that the Bible is true, God's power is real, Heaven and Hell are real!
In another sense these great meetings have a missionary character. The large population in the country rarely touched by Full Gospel meetings is reached in the Branham campaigns. The altar calls are made up of many of these people. Although they do not return to swell the numbers of the local churches, they are, nevertheless, a priceless addition to the kingdom of God. It goes without saying, of course, that many from the cities are also converted and become candidates to increase the congregations of enterprising pastors who have the initiative to follow up and encourage these converts. One pastor told us that immediately after a Branham meeting in his town he received one hundred new members into his church. Of course, the whole campaign is a mighty witness to the entire community of the truth and reality of the Full Gospel message.
The personal testimony of the writer is that the ministry of William Branham has powerfully affected his own. Though he practiced the ministry of healing and his own church enjoyed the benefits of this glorious truth to a large degree, yet it was not until after he had witnessed the ministry of Brother Branham that he received faith to minister to the deaf, the dumb, and blind, and see immediate results. In such meetings that he has conducted, he has been gratified by the considerable success he has experienced, and would no doubt he fully engaged in his own campaigns at the present time, having many calls, were it not for the fact that in the Providence of God, as editor of THE VOICE OF HEALING, his time and strength seem to be demanded in the coordination and encouragement of those engaged in this great visitation that has come to the land. That in this work he has the honor to be associated with William Branham, he considers a reward in itself.
Looking back to the beginning of this visitation, we may point to May 7, 1946, when the angel of the Lord speaking to William Branham in person told him that if he would remain faithful, this great spiritual move would shake the world. We are seeing that prediction fulfilled. But speaking for us all, as well as our beloved Brother Branham, and looking a step farther beyond frail human instrumentality, we see the inscrutable purpose of the Almighty, Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! To Him be all the glory.
CHAPTER 1 - A STRANGE CHALLENGE
The doors of the great municipal auditorium of the City of Portland, Oregon, were opened early that November evening of the year 1947. At six o'clock many people had already stood in line for a long time awaiting opportunity to enter and secure a choice seat. When the caretaker at the appointed time went his rounds to unlock the doors, he was somewhat puzzled to find such a large crowd awaiting him. It was a little strange, he observed, for there had been no unusual advertising, and religious services, even when extensively advertised, as he remembered, rarely attracted enough people to fill more than a fraction of the auditorium.
The caretaker could have noticed also that the people did not follow the common custom in church services of filling up the center and rear pews first, but rather rushed forward to get the seats nearest the front. But soon these were gone, and those toward the rear and in the balconies were occupied also. Once more the caretaker had reason to take note, for firemen assigned to the routine duty of seeing that city ordinances regarding public safety were observed sent word to him that the building was full and that he must at once shut the doors and see that no one else entered.
There was, perhaps, more than one unusual feature to this meeting. Ministers from the ranks of many denominations occupied a large section of seats on the platform. If all who were in the auditorium were counted, they undoubtedly would have numbered several hundred. Such a gathering of local and out-of-city ministers to a revival service was a rare occurrence in the city, and no doubt had never been witnessed on such a scale before.
What was the attraction that had brought together this large concourse of people? It was not the singing or the special music. For although both were excellent and inspiring, yet it was evident that the people were waiting with restrained impatience until the preliminaries would be concluded in anticipation of what was to follow.
The cause of this large gathering could be stated in few words. It had been told over the city that a man by the name of William Branham was coming to town and would speak in the Municipal Auditorium. Concerning this man, it was said that an angel had appeared to him in a special visitation, and gifts of healing were being manifest in his ministry. For, believe it or not, despite the trend of materialistic thinking that has engulfed the intelligentsia and the schools of learning of our day, it is evident that deep down in the heart of the human being there does and always will exist a longing for the manifestation of the power of the supernatural. Man lives a fleeting fragile life in a world marked everywhere by decay, disintegration and death. Materialistic and modernistic theology, which have nothing to offer man one moment after his death, cannot satisfy the inherent longing of the human soul for survival. In the world confused by a thousand conflicting voices, each claiming authority and clamoring for recognition, it is not unnatural that man should long for some visible manifestation of the power of God to confirm and attest to the genuineness of the message of those who speak. Jesus did not deny this fundamental urge and desire of the human soul, for He declared,... "I am the Son of God. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him." (Jn. 10:36-38)
The services of the first two nights aroused tremendous interest; and now on the third night the building was filled with people waiting again for the speaker to appear. The writer, who was directing this brief campaign, in preparing to turn the service over to the evangelist asked the people to stand to their feet and sing the chorus, "Only believe, only believe, all things are possible, only believe." While the great congregation sang, a slight little man with modest demeanor and a friendly smile entered, then came and stood behind the pulpit. The singing ceased, and a hush fell over the audience as it listened intently when he began to speak. As he proceeded, it was apparent that the listeners were impressed by the graciousness of the speaker as well as his evident sincerity and humility. The evangelist, taking the thought of faith inspired by the chorus that had been sung, began the theme of his message. "Yes," said he, "All things are possible to him that believeth. There is nothing that can stand before faith in God, and if the people here tonight will believe God with me, we shall see that God will honor that faith and confirm it before the eyes of this entire congregation."
As the audience listened with rapt attention to the slight little figure on the platform, perhaps only one anticipated the startling drama that was about to unfold. Certainly the director had no such intuition, and the interruption which was about to occur could not have been more unwelcome. For suddenly our attention was directed to a man far back in the building who was making rapid strides, apparently in the direction of the platform. At first we supposed that some emergency had arisen; perhaps someone had fainted or had taken seriously ill in the auditorium. But as he drew near, we observed with no little misgiving that his countenance bore a demoniac grin, as to suggest that the man was demented, or violently insane, and apparently had broken away from those who had him in their care. We were to learn later what indeed would have been more disturbing had we known it at the time, that the man was not insane, in that he did not know what he was doing, but was a notorious and vicious character who had previously run afoul of the law for disturbing and breaking up religious services. Jail sentences had not taught him a lesson, and now seeing his opportunity to cause a large commotion and again break up a service, he had come forward for that purpose.
Up the steps he strode without pausing. Now he was on the platform assuming a menacing attitude that by this time was attracting the attention of the entire congregation. Two sturdy policemen standing in the wings, becoming aware of the distraction, were about to come forward and lay hands on this disturber, but we could see that this would result in a scuffle and the excitement created could well ruin the service. Moreover, the evangelist had apparently put himself on the spot for he had just declared that all things were possible to him that believed, and that God would always back up His servants who put their trust in Him. Indeed, the meeting had reached such a high state of expectation, that reliance on the officers of the law, though perhaps entirely justifiable in the present instance, did not seem to be the Divine order. We knew nothing else to do but to hastily wave the officers back, and call attention to the evangelist as to what was taking place. But he himself was already conscious that something was wrong. Speaking quietly to the audience and requesting that the people unite with him in silent prayer, he turned to meet the strange challenge of this evil antagonist.
As he did so, the man with the evil gleam on his countenance, which reminded one of the hideous grins the heathen engrave on the faces of their idols, began to impudently accuse and curse the speaker. "You are of the devil, and deceiving the people," he shouted, "an impostor, a snake in the grass, a fake, and I am going to show these people that you are!" It was a bold challenge and every one in that audience could see that it was not an idle threat. As the intruder continued to revile the evangelist, hissing and spitting, he made motion to carry his threats into execution. To the audience it appeared to be an evil moment for the little figure on the platform, and most of them must have felt exceedingly sorry for him. The officers attempted again to come to his aid but were waved away, and now in rejecting their assistance the speaker had deliberately accepted the challenge of this wicked antagonist whose size and fierceness had convinced the audience that he was well able to carry out his boasts. No doubt, critics who had slipped into the auditorium out of curiosity expected a swift and pitiful conclusion to the unexpected drama that was now coming to a climax. Certainly they could see that there was no room for trickery. The man on the platform would have to have the goods or else take the consequences.
In the moment of suspense that followed, one could not help being reminded of the story of the challenge of long ago, when the bold Goliath cursed little David in the name of his gods, and boasted that he would tear him limb from limb. The startled congregation, as the hosts of Israel must have been in their day, looked on the scene with wonder and amazement, hardly knowing what to expect next, but fearing the worst. The gathering of ministers on the platform reviewed the situation with no little dismay, knowing that unless God did a very unusual thing and backed up the speaker in a supernatural manner, the evil intruder, who had successfully broken up religious services in the past, would now do so again. Some were much disturbed that the policemen had not been permitted to take charge of the situation and believed that this error of judgment would allow this demon-possessed man not only to ruin the meeting and thus bring reproach on the cause of Christ, but also might actually result in physical injury to the speaker.
The seconds passed, however, without the awaited climax happening. Presently it appeared that something was hindering the challenger from carrying out his evil designs. For some reason he was not proceeding with the execution of his boasts of physical violence, but was rather contenting himself in hissing and spitting and uttering the most fearful imprecations. Softly but determinedly the voice of the evangelist now could be heard rebuking the evil power that dominated the man. His words, spoken so quietly that they could be heard only a short distance, were saying, "Satan, because you have challenged the servant of God before this great congregation, you must bow before me. In the name of Jesus Christ, you shall fall at my feet." The words were repeated several times. The challenger ceased to speak, and it was evident that it was now he who was laboring under a strain. Strong as he and the wicked forces were that controlled him, strengthened by every evil spirit in the building, apparently they were gradually succumbing to another Power that was greater than they, a Power that responded at the whisper of the Name of Jesus! Soon it was evident that the man realized he was being overcome, but nothing he could do apparently could reverse the situation. A tense battle of spiritual forces now summoned every bit of strength that he had in him. Beads of perspiration broke out on his face as he put forth a last desperate effort to prevail. But it was all to no avail. Suddenly he who a few minutes before had so brazenly defied the man of God with his fearful threats and accusations, gave an awful groan and slumped to the floor sobbing in an hysterical manner. For quite a while he lay there writhing in the dust, as the evangelist calmly proceeded with the service as if nothing had happened.
Needless to say, the great congregation was awed by the scene that had transpired before them, in which God so signally vindicated His servant, and loud praises to God filled the spacious auditorium. The policemen too, startled by what they had witnessed, openly acknowledged that God was in their midst. Need we record that in the healing service which followed, a wave of glory was manifest that will never be forgotten by those who were present. Many miracles of healing took place that night as a multitude of people were ministered to in the prayer line.
But who was this little man who spoke with such words of authority and whose ministry had been confirmed by such a remarkable demonstration of Divine power? His name was William Branham, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and his ministry was to have wider and wider reverberations until, at the time of this writing, the effect of it has reached throughout the world. Many in the City of Portland that night glorified God, for they knew that He had again visited His people. Many ministers too, realized that God had come into their midst in special power. They believed that what they had witnessed was a token of greater things that God was preparing to do for His people. Some, indeed, had their ministry revolutionized. Among these was a young preacher, whose wife had witnessed the bold challenge of the demon-possessed man. She persuaded her husband to attend on the last night. As he sat and watched a little deaf-mute child's ears opened so it could hear and repeat words, God spoke to him, and said, "This is the work that I have called you to do also." The next day he turned the responsibilities of his church over to certain members of his congregation and locked himself in his room, determining to remain there until he was sure God's will had been revealed to him. Out of a period of earnest soul-searching was born a ministry that was to result in the salvation of thousands of souls and was to be accompanied by a multitude of signs, wonders and miracles. This young man was Evangelist T. L. Osborn.
Strangely enough, as the campaign concluded, we heard that a few doubted. Why would God choose a man of such unpretentious background, who had such a limited knowledge of this world's wisdom? Nor could they understand the principle which Paul spoke of in I Cor. 1:26-29, where he said, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.
But by far, the majority believed and rejoiced. Although it was physically impossible for the evangelist to minister, other than in the briefest fashion, to the thousands of disease-ridden bodies who sought healing, yet it was remarkable the number of wonderful testimonies that came out of that meeting. And if those who allowed doubts to come into their minds did not profit to the extent that others did from the meeting, the many who did believe to this day point to that brief campaign in the City of Portland as an hour of visitation never to be forgotten.
But perhaps it is time for us to inquire further as to who this man, William Branham, is. From whence did he come? What was the manner of his special visitation from God and his commission to heal the sick? To the answer of these questions we shall now direct the reader's attention.
CHAPTER 2 - PECULIAR BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD
It was breaking dawn of a beautiful April morning in the year 1909 in the hill country of Kentucky not far from the place where Abraham Lincoln was born almost exactly one hundred years before. In a humble cabin the light began to creep through the window over a small crude bed, when a baby's voice was heard. Two little hands of a five-pound infant were stroking the cheeks of its fifteen-year-old mother. Standing near the bed was the young father, Charles Branham, with his arms folded in the bib of his new overalls, dressed up a bit, for mountain folk for this special occasion. As the day dawned, the birds had already begun their singing, and it seemed to the father that the morning star shone a little brighter. The little one cried again as its tiny hand brushed against his mother's face.
"We'll call his name William," said the father, as he gazed happily down on his newborn son. "That will be well," said the mother, "for then he will go by the name of Billy." Little did the mother know that the hands of this little child, that were touching her cheeks would be used of Almighty God for delivering His people from sickness and bondage. No one in that part of the country would ever have thought that this little humble-born mountain baby would carry the message of the Gospel over the world. Of all the mountain folk, the Branham family was the poorest of the poor. However, God's ways are past finding out! How could these people have believed it, if someone had told them that God, through those hands someday would cause the demons to go out, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, cancers to vanish, and thousands upon thousands to fall prostrate at altars in tears of repentance? Nor could they have believed that airplanes crossing the continent at high speed would fly the sick to him. Or that trains and busses loaded with sick would be brought to him for deliverance. That they would come from the East and the West, the North and South, to hear him tell the story of Jesus Christ the Saviour in his simple, humble way.
As the neighbors gathered in to see the new born babe, there seemed to be, so it is told, a strange feeling of awe in the room. Who can say that it was not the presence of the angel who, under the direction of God, has guided William Branham in many of the events of his life, and who later was to speak to him in person?
It was just two weeks later that the father and mother carried their baby down the creek to the Lone Star meeting house--a little old-fashioned Missionary-Baptist Church made of logs and clapboard shingles, with a dirt floor and seats made of boards lying across blocks of wood. It was little William Branham's first visit to a church!
Child And Mother Providentially Escape Death
Inasmuch as the father was a logger, it was necessary for him to be away from home much of the time, especially in the fall and winter months when the weather would be bad for travailing. During these times the mother and the babe would be left alone. It was at one of these times that circumstances conspired to almost take the life of both the mother and son.
So it happened that at this time when the child was about six months of age, and the father was away from home, a terrible storm came, and the whole country was snowbound for days. There was little to eat in the cabin and soon the mother ran out of both food and wood. She wrapped her feet in burlap sacks, went into the woods, and chopped small saplings, then dragged them to the cabin, trying to keep fire. Finally she grew weaker and weaker and had to give up. With no food or heat the mother took all the bed clothing, wrapped herself and the child in bed, and waited for the end. It was then that God sent His protecting angel and spared their lives.
A neighbor lived at some distance from them, though in sight of the Branham cabin. For some reason he had a strange foreboding concerning the circumstances in that little humble home. Time after time he would gaze away toward it, and each time he would become more disturbed, especially as he failed to see any smoke rising from the chimney. When several days had gone by, the conviction so deepened within him that something was wrong that he determined to make an investigation, though it meant wading through drifts for a considerable distance.
Arriving at the door, his fears were confirmed, for there was no response from those inside, although the tracks outside showed that no one had left the vicinity, and the door was barred from the inside. He decided to break into the cabin and when he did so, he was startled by the scene before him. Mother and child wrapped in their bed clothes were near death from starvation and cold. The kind-hearted neighbor quickly secured wood and started a blazing fire that soon warmed the cabin. Then he went back to his own house to secure food. His deed of mercy was accomplished just in time. The mother and child revived and soon were on their way to health again.
A Man Sent From God - Page 30
Not long after this the family moved from the state of Kentucky to Indiana, where the father went to work for a farmer near Utica, Indiana. Then a year later they moved again farther down in the valley near Jeffersonville, Indiana, a moderately sized city, which was to become William Branham's home town.
God's First Message To The Boy
Several years passed and the boy was about seven years of age, having just entered school in a rural section a few miles north of Jeffersonville. It was at this time that God first spoke to the lad. We will let Brother Branham tell the story of this peculiar visitation in his own words:
I was on my way one afternoon to carry water to the house from the barn, which was about a city block away. About halfway between the house and the barn stood an old poplar tree. I had just gotten home from school and the other boys were going out to a pond to fish. I was crying to go but dad said that I had to pack water. I stopped under the tree to rest when all of a sudden I heard a sound as of the wind blowing the leaves. I knew that it wasn't blowing any other place. It seemed to be a very still afternoon. I stepped back from the tree and noticed that in a certain place about the size of a barrel, the wind seemed to be blowing through the tree leaves. Then there came a voice saying: "Never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way, for I have a work for you to do when you get older."
It frightened me so that I ran home, but at that time I never told anyone about it. Crying and running to the house, I fell into the arms of my mother, who thought I had been bitten by a snake. I told her that I was just scared, so she put me to bed, and was going to call a doctor, thinking I was suffering from nervous shock. I never did go by that tree any more. I would detour down the other side of the garden to avoid it. I believe that the angel of God was in that tree, and in later years I was to meet him face to face and talk with him.
Because of God's strange dealing with me I could never drink or smoke. One day I was going to the river with my dad and another man. They offered me a drink of whiskey, and because I wanted to find favor with the man so that he would let me use his boat, I started to take the drink. But as positively as I am speaking today, I heard that sound like the blowing of the leaves. Looking around, and seeing no sign of the wind blowing, I put the bottle to my lips again, when I heard the same noise, only louder. Fear swept over me as before. I dropped the bottle and ran away, while my own dad called me a "sissy." O how that hurt! Later on I was called a "sissy" by my youthful girl friend when I told her I didn't smoke. Angered by her mockery, I took the cigarette and was going to smoke it anyway, when I was arrested by that familiar sound causing me to throw down the cigarette and leave the scene crying because I could not be like other people, while the jeers of the crowd rang in my ears.
There was always that peculiar feeling, like someone standing near me, trying to say something to me, and especially when I was alone. No one seemed to understand me at all. The boys that I associated with would have nothing to do with me, because I wouldn't drink and smoke, and all the girls went to dances, of which I wouldn't partake either, so it seemed that all through my life I was just a black sheep knowing no one who understood me, and not even understanding myself.
CHAPTER 3 - HARDSHIPS AND POVERTY IN THE BRANHAM HOME
It has often seemed in the Providence of God, that His chosen vessels have been ordained to live their early lives in circumstances of hardship, and in some instances extreme poverty. Sometimes they have been permitted to taste deeply the cup of sorrow. No one knows how to feel for another in distress or affliction unless he has gone through similar trials himself. Rarely have those who have received an unusual calling from God been reared in homes of the rich, or have come from aristocratic families. The Saviour Himself was cradled in a manger. On the eighth day at the time He was circumcised, the family could afford for the sacrifice merely turtle pigeons, which were to be offered only if the parents were too poor to afford a lamb. (Lev. 12:8) Critics during Christ's ministry questioned the authority of His forerunner, John the Baptist, because he appeared in such rude garments, and his preaching was rugged, lacking the polish and the style of the ecclesiastical schools of learning of his day. But Jesus said of John, that none born of women was greater than he. And He asked the critics rather pointedly, "But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold they that wear soft clothing are in king's houses." In other words the Lord was showing them that they should not look for prophets of John's stature to emerge from an environment where they had been pampered and sheltered from the stresses of life. Humility and sturdiness of character are developed best amid the rugged life that comes from hardship and sometimes suffering and poverty. But we must now let Brother Branham tell something of his home, his childhood days, and his father's struggle against poverty.
I was sort of a daddy's boy--When I saw those great muscles as he rolled up his sleeve, I said, "Oh my! Dad will live to be a hundred years old." My father had great muscles from rolling logs in the woods. It didn't seem to me he could ever die. But he was only fifty-two years old, still an un-grayed, curly-haired man, when his precious head lay across my shoulder and God took him home.
I've seen dad come from the log woods so sun-burnt that mother would take scissors and cut his shirt loose from his back. He worked hard for seventy-five cents a day to make us a living. I loved my father, even though he drank. Sometimes he gave me a whipping, but I never got one but that I needed another. He used to keep the Ten Commandments on the wall with a large hickory switch over them. I got my education out in the woodshed when I did wrong. But I loved my dad. Years later he gave his heart to Christ and got saved, just a few hours before he died in my arms.
Poverty In The Home
I remember how dad had to work to pay the bills. It's no disgrace to be poor. But it is hard sometimes. I remember that I didn't have proper clothes for school. I went one whole year without even a shirt to wear. There was a rich woman nearby that gave me a coat with a sailor emblem on the arm. I would button the collar up and it would get so hot. The teacher would say, "William." I would say, "Yes, Ma'am." "Well, why don't you take that coat off." But I couldn't; I didn't have any shirt on. So I would fib and say, "I'm chilly." She would say, "All right, sit over over by the fire." And I would sit there while the perspiration would run down on me. Then she would say, "Aren't you warm yet?" I would have to say, "No, Ma'am."
Well, it was pretty hard going. My toes would stick through my shoes like turtle heads. Then a little later I got a shirt.
I'll tell you what kind of a shirt it was. It was a girl's dress which belonged originally to my cousin, and had a lot of curlicue stuff on it. I cut the skirt part off, and after I put it on, you should have seen me strut going to school. Then the children got to laughing at me, and I said, "What are you laughing at me for?" They said, "You've got on a girl's dress." I had to fib again. I said, "No I haven't; that's my Indian suit." But they didn't believe me and I went off crying.
There was a boy that lived near us, who was selling those little PATHFINDER magazines. In so doing, he was given a prize of a Boy Scout suit. My, how I liked that suit. It was wartime then and everybody that was big enough in those days was in uniform. I always wanted to be a soldier. I was too little then. Even in this last war I wasn't large enough to go. I have four brothers that went. But God has given me a uniform anyway--the armor of God--so I could go out and fight against sickness and disease that is binding people.
But how I admired that Scout suit, with its hat and leggings. I said, "Lloyd, when you wear that suit out will you give it to me?" He said, "Yeah, I'll give it to you, Billy." But my, that suit lasted longer than anything that I ever saw. It seemed to me he never would wear that thing out. Then I missed it for a while and so I went to him and I said, "Lloyd, what did you do with that Boy Scout suit?" He said, "Billy, I'll look around home and see if I can find it." But when he looked for it he found that his mother had cut it up to make patches for his dad's clothes. He came to me and said, "I can't find any of it but one legging." I said, "Bring me that." So I took it home and put it on. It had a draw string on it, and I pulled it up, and I thought that I was a real soldier. I wanted to wear it to school and I didn't know just how to do it. So I pretended that one of my legs was hurt and I put that legging on as if I were protecting my injured leg. But at school the teacher sent me to the blackboard. I tried to hide my leg that did not have a legging, and all the children got to laughing at me. I started crying and the teacher made me go home.
I remember when we went out in the old buckboard wagon about twice a month to pay the grocery bill. The grocer would give us some sticks of candy. All of us little boys sitting on blankets out there, would watch that candy when dad brought it out, and every little blue eye would look close to see that each of those sticks were broken exactly even, that each one would get the right amount. I could go out this afternoon and get a whole box of milk chocolates, but it would never taste like that candy did. That was real candy. Sometimes I would suck on a piece of it, then wrap it up in paper and put it in my pocket. I'd wait until about Monday and then suck on it again a while. My brothers would have eaten their candy up by then, and they would want to suck on my candy too. Sometimes I would make a bargain with them and let them lick it a couple of times, if they would promise to help me with the chores.
CHAPTER 4 - CONVERSION OF WILLIAM BRANHAM
William Branham, the boy, though he had received these remarkable manifestations of Divine providence in his life, nevertheless was not yet converted. For a time he still resisted that call. At the age of fourteen he was seriously wounded while hunting and had to spend seven months in the hospital. God dealt with him but still he did not take heed. Nevertheless, the urgency of the call became more and more conscious to him. Inasmuch as his parents were not Christians he did not get any encouragement there, and as he became older the enemy tried to get him to stifle that still small voice that ever was speaking to his heart.
He Goes West
When the lad reached the age of 19, he decided that he would go out West to work on a ranch. On a September morning in the year 1927, he told his mother that he was going on a camping trip to Tunnel Mill, a locality about fourteen miles north of Jeffersonville. He said this because he realized that if his mother knew of his plans to go West, she would plead with him not to make the trip. But when his mother heard from him again, instead of being in Tunnel Mill, he was far away in Phoenix, Arizona. In reality, down in his heart he knew that he was running away from God. He enjoyed the ranch life for awhile and the novelty of the West, but like all the other pleasures of the world, it soon got old.
Of his experiences in the West and the call of God which was ever upon his heart he says:
"Many times have I heard the wind blowing through the tall pines. It seemed as though I could hear His voice calling away out in the forest, saying, 'Adam, where art thou?' The stars seemed to be so close one could pick them with his hands. God seemed to be very near.
"One thing that I remember so well about that country is the roads in the desert. If one ever gets off the road he gets lost easily. Some times tourists see little desert flowers and go off the highway to pick them. They wander off in the desert and are lost and sometimes die of thirst. So it is in the Christian way--God has a highway. He speaks of it in Isaiah, 35th chapter. It is called the "Highway of Holiness." Many times little pleasures of the world draw one off the highway. Then he has lost his experience with God. In the desert when one is lost there sometimes appears a mirage. To those who are dying of thirst, the mirage will be a river or lake. People run after it and fall in, only to find that they are merely bathing in hot sand. Sometimes the devil shows you something that he says is a good time. That is just a mirage; it is something that isn't real. If you listen you will find yourself heaping sorrows on your head. Don't heed it, dear friend. Believe Jesus Who gives living water for them that hunger and thirst."
A Sad Message
One day the young man received a letter from home informing him that one of his brothers was very ill. It was Edward, the one next in age to him. He did not think the illness was serious and believed everything would be all right. However, one evening a few days later, he returned to the ranch from the city, and as he was coming through the mess hall, there was a message given him which read, "Bill, come out to the north pasture. Very important." He immediately walked out to the pasture and the first person that he met was an old Lone Star ranger whom they called "Pop." He had a sad expression on his face and he said, "Billy Boy, I have sad news for you." At the same time the foreman came walking up. They told him that his brother, Edward, had died.
You can imagine the shock this was to the lad as he realized that never again would he see his brother alive in this world. Events began to move swiftly from then on. Each time he resisted God, tragedy or sorrow of some kind would come to him. When he yielded and obeyed God, the Lord would bless and prosper him. Undoubtedly, that same lesson must be learned by every living person. Would that we all could learn by what others suffered, rather than by our own bitter experiences.
We again turn to Brother Branham as he relates the effect of this news upon him, of his sad trip home, and the events that followed, which finally resulted in his conversion to Christ:
When I realized the news of my brother's death, for a moment I could not move. It was the first death in our family. But I want to say that the first thing I thought of was, whether he was prepared to die. As I turned around and looked across the yellow prairie, tears ran down my cheeks. I remembered how we'd struggled together when we were little lads and how hard it had been for us. We went to school with hardly enough to eat. The toes were out of our shoes, and we would have to wear old coats pinned up at the neck because we had no shirts on. How I remembered also that one day mother had some pop corn in a little bucket for our lunch. We did not eat with the rest of the children. We couldn't afford food like they had. We would always slip over the hill to eat. I remember that the day we had pop corn we thought it was a real treat. So to be sure I got my share of it, I went out before noon and took a good handful before brother got his share.
Standing there looking on the sun-parched prairie I thought of all those things and wondered if God had taken him to a better place. Then again God called me, but as usual I tried to fight it off.
I made ready to come home for the funeral. When Rev. McKinney of Port Fulton Church, a man who is just like a father to me, preached his funeral, he made mention that "There may be some here who do not know God; if so, accept him now." Oh, how I grasped my seat; God was dealing again. Dear reader, when He calls, answer Him.
I'll never forget how poor old dad and mother cried after the funeral. I wanted to go back to the West but mother begged me so hard to stay that I finally agreed to if I could find work. I soon got a job with the Public Service Company of Indiana.
About two years later, while testing meters in the meter shop at the Gas Works in New Albany, I was overcome with gas, and for weeks I suffered from it. I went to all the doctors I knew. I could get no relief. I suffered with acid stomach caused from the effects of gas. It grew worse all the time. I was taken to specialists in Louisville, Kentucky. They finally said it was my appendix and said I had to have an operation. I could not believe it for I never had a pain in my side. The doctors said they could do no more for me until I had an operation. Finally I agreed to have it done, but insisted that they use a local anesthetic so that I could watch the operation.
I wanted some one to stand by me that knew God. I believed in prayer but could not pray. So the minister from the First Baptist Church went with me to the operating room. When they took me from the table to my bed I felt myself getting weaker and weaker all the time. My heart was hardly beating. I felt death upon me. My breath was getting shorter all the time. I knew I had reached the end of my road. Oh, friend, wait until you get there, then you will think of a lot of things you have done. I knew I had never smoked, drank, or had any unclean habits, but I knew I was not ready to meet my God.
If you are only a cold, formal church member you will know when you reach the end that you are not ready. So if that is all you know about God, I ask you right here to get down on your knees and ask Jesus to give you that experience of being born again, like that He told Nicodemus about in John, chapter 3, and oh, how the joy bells will ring--Praise His name.
God Speaks In The Hospital Room
It began to grow darker in the hospital room, as though it were a great woods. I could hear the wind blowing through the leaves, yet it seemed a great way off in the forest. You have probably heard a puff of wind blowing the leaves, coming closer and closer to you. I thought, "Well, this is death coming to take me." Oh! my soul was to meet God; I tried to pray but could not.
Closer the wind came, louder and louder. The leaves rustled and all at once I was gone. It seemed then that I was back again a little barefooted boy, standing in that lane under the same tree. I heard that same voice that said, "Never drink or smoke." And the leaves I heard were the same that blew in that tree that day. But this time the voice said, "I called you and you would not go." The words were repeated the third time. Then I said, "Lord, if that is you, let me go back again to earth and I will preach your Gospel from the housetops and street comers. I'll tell everyone about it!"
When this vision had passed, I found that I felt better. My surgeon was still in the building. He came and looked at me and was surprised. He looked as though he thought I would be dead; then he said, "I am not a church-going man, my practice is so great, but I know God has visited this boy." Why he said that I don't know. No one had said anything about it. If I had known then what I know now, I would have risen from that bed shouting praise to His name. After a few days I was allowed to return home, but I was still sick and was forced to wear glasses because of astigmatism. My head shook when I looked at anything for a moment.
Conversion And Call
I started out to seek and find God. I went from church to church trying to find some place where there was an old-fashioned altar call. The sad part was I could find none.
One night I became so hungry for God and a real experience that I went out to the old shed back of the house and tried to pray. I did not know how to pray then so I just began to talk to Him as I would anyone else. All at once there came a light in the shed and it formed a cross, and the voice from the cross spoke to me in a language I could not understand. It then went away. I was spellbound. When I came to myself again, I prayed, "Lord, if that is you, please come and talk to me again." I had been reading my Bible since I had been home from the hospital and I had read in I John 4, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God."
I knew that something had appeared to me, and as I prayed it appeared again. Then it seemed to me that there had been a thousand pounds lifted from my soul. I jumped up and ran to the house and it seemed as though I were running on air. Mother asked, "Bill, what has happened to you?" I replied, "I do not know but I surely feel good and light." I could not stay in the house any longer. I had to get out and run.
I knew then that if God wanted me to preach he would heal me, so I went to a church that believed in anointing with oil, and I was healed instantly. I saw then that the disciples had something that most of the ministers do not have today. The disciples were baptized with the Holy Ghost and so could heal the sick and do mighty miracles in His name. So I began to pray for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. One day about six months later God gave me the desire of my heart. He spoke to me in a great light telling me to preach and to pray for the sick and He would heal them regardless of what disease they had. I then started preaching and doing what He told me to do.
From time to time people have asked me if I have received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This has always struck me as a strange question. For it is impossible that any Holy Ghost gift should function freely, unless the individual who possesses the gift should have received the Giver also.
CHAPTER 5 - A HAPPY MARRIAGE AND A FATEFUL DECISION
After his conversion and call to the ministry there began a happy period of his life when God's blessings rested upon the young man, and everything seemed to go just right. He began a tent meeting in his own home town in Jeffersonville, and for a young preacher twenty-four years of age just entering the ministry, the campaign was remarkably successful. It was estimated that as many as three thousand attended a single service and large numbers were converted. At the baptismal service which followed the revival, some 130 persons were baptized in water. It was at this time that a heavenly light appeared above him as he was about to baptize the seventeenth person, This was witnessed by the vast congregation that stood looking on, by the banks of the Ohio River.
That fall the people of Jeffersonville who had attended his meeting built him a tabernacle, which to this day retains the name of "Branham Tabernacle." The next few years was a fruitful time in which God's blessing rested upon him, and he received several visions of things which he did not fully understand until years later, when a more complete revelation of God's will for his life was made known unto him.
It was during these years that he met an excellent Christian girl, whose name was Hope Brumbach. After some months of courtship, the young lady accepted William Branham's proposal and the two were married. We shall let him narrate in the simple, but always dramatic, style he has used in the pulpit, the story of his bashfulness, the proposal by letter, his marriage, and events which followed:
I was just a little country boy and was real bashful. Considering how shy I was, you probably wonder how I ever got married.
I met a fine Christian girl. I thought she was wonderful. My standard for a woman called for one that didn't drink or smoke cigarettes. It was hard to find such a girl then and it is worse than ever now. I loved this fine girl and I wanted to marry her, but I didn't have nerve enough to ask her. But I knew I had to ask her soon--she was too good a woman to waste time with me--she would get someone else. I only made twenty cents an hour and her daddy made several hundred dollars a month. Every night when I would see her, I would say, "I am going to ask her tonight." And then a great big lump would come up in my throat and I just couldn't do it. I didn't know what to do. You know what I finally did? I wrote her a letter and asked her.
Well, that letter had a little more romance in it than "Dear Miss." I did my very best to write a good letter, although I'm sure it was poor. So in the morning I got ready to put it in the mailbox. But then the thought occurred to me of what would happen if her mother got it. But I was afraid to hand it to her. Finally I got up enough courage to put it in the mailbox on Monday morning. Wednesday night I was supposed to meet her and take her to church. All that week before Wednesday I was really nervous. Wednesday night I went to see her. And as I went I thought of what would happen if her mother came out and said, "William Branham!" I knew I could get along all right with the girl, but I wasn't so sure of the mother.
Finally I went to the door and called for Hope, the girl's name. She came to the door and said, "Will you step in?" I said, "If you don't mind I'll just sit on the porch." I made sure that they wouldn't get me inside. She said, "All right, I'll be ready in just a few minutes."
I had an old model T Ford, but she said, "It's not far to church, let's walk." This alarmed me and I was sure something had happened. We went on to church but she didn't say anything. I was so nervous that night I didn't hear what the preacher said at all. You know a woman can keep you in suspense.
After we left the church, we started walking down the street--it was a moonlit night. But still she didn't say anything. At last I decided that she hadn't gotten the letter. This made me feel better. I thought that perhaps the letter had been misplaced by the postman, and soon I was my old self. Then she turned to me and said, "Billy, I got your letter." I said to myself, "Oh, what am I going to do now?" Finally I asked, "D-d-did you read it?" She said, "Uh huh." I got more nervous than ever. We were getting near the house. I said, "Did you read it all?" She said, "Uh-huh." Now we were at the steps. I wondered if she was going to lead me in where her mother was. I said quickly, "What did you think about it?" She answered, "It was all right."
Well, I didn't ask her mother, but I knew that I was going to have to ask one of her parents. So I thought that I would ask her dad, as we got along pretty well. One night I went up to where he was sitting in his Buick. You remember I had a model T Ford. So I said to him, "Say, that is a fine car you have." He answered, "Yes, you have a nice Ford too." So I said, "Well--well--well--" He looked at me and said; "Yes, Billy, you can have her." Well, that was a relief. But I said, "But you know I can't make the living that you can give her. You know that I only make twenty cents an hour, digging ditches. But I will do everything that I can for her; I'll be true to her and love her with all my heart." And he put his hand upon my head and said, "Billy, I would rather you would have her than anyone that I know, because I know you will be good to her, and you will love her."
We were married and I don't believe that there was any place on earth that was any happier than our little home. It was wonderful. We didn't have much furniture in that house--a folding bed, an old rug and breakfast set, an old stove that I bought from a junk dealer and put new grates in it. But, friends, it was home, and I would rather live in a shack and have favor with God than live in the best house there is.
Everything went lovely. My wife saved her pennies to get herself a gingham dress. I felt so good when I could do something for her. After two years a little boy came into our home--little Billy Paul. When I first heard him cry in the hospital I seemed to know that he was a boy, and I gave him to God before I even saw him.
He Attends A Full Gospel Convention
A little later I had saved up enough money to get a fishing outfit and I went up to Lake Pawpaw in Michigan for a few days. My money didn't last very long, and I had to return. On my trip back as I crossed the Mishawaka River I saw a great number of people gathering for a meeting. I wondered what kind of people they were and decided that I would go into the meeting. That is where I got acquainted with Pentecost.
I found out that the people had gathered for a convention. They were quite demonstrative, and all this was a little new to me. But they began singing, "I know it was the blood, I know it was the blood." Everybody began clapping their hands and I said, "I wonder what kind of people are these." Pretty soon a bishop got up and began to preach on the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The longer he preached the more convinced I became that maybe there was something to this. I decided that I would stay until the following day. I didn't have money for a hotel room, so I went out in the country and parked in a cornfield that night and slept. Next morning I got up early and returned to the church. I had bought some rolls and milk, so that my money would hold out. When I returned to the church, quite a number of people had already gathered for morning worship.
That night there were a large number of preachers sitting on the platform. The leader said, "We haven't time to hear you all preach so we are going to ask each one just to get up and tell us your name." So when they came to me I got up and said, Evangelist William Branham," and sat down.
The following afternoon, they had an old colored man get up and preach. He was rather decrepit and I was a little surprised to see them choose such a fellow to preach before that great congregation. He preached from the text, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together." Well, that old fellow picked up about ten million years before the world was ever formed. He just about covered everything in heaven, came down the horizontal rainbow and preached on everything on earth up till the Second Coming of Christ. By the time he had finished he was as spry as a young man. In fact he said, as he went down from the platform, "You haven't got room enough for me to preach." I realized that God had done something for that man that He hadn't done for me. When he started preaching I was sorry for him, but when he got through I was sorry for myself. These people had something that I didn't have, and I wanted it.
That night I went out in the cornfield again and slept. In the morning, since I supposed nobody knew me, I decided that I would put on an old pair of seersucker trousers. My other pair had gotten rather creased from using them as a pillow. This was the last day that I could stay as I only had enough money left to buy gas to go home. I went back to church and when I arrived the people were singing and shouting. I wanted the Baptism of the Holy Ghost if God would give it to me.
Asked To Preach At The Convention
The minister in charge got up and said, "We have just had the testimony service led by the youngest preacher here. The next youngest minister is William Branham of Jeffersonville." He said, "Come forth, Rev. Branham, if you are in the building." You may be sure this startled me. I looked down and saw my seersucker trousers. So I just sat real still. In fact, I had never seen a public address system before, and I certainly, didn't want to get up there and preach before all those powerful preachers. They called again, "Does anyone know the whereabouts of Rev. Branham?" But I only crouched down in my seat lower than before. The call was repeated again. The colored man sitting beside me turned around and said, "Do you know who he is?" I couldn't tell a lie, so I said, "Yes-sir, I know him." He said, "Go get him." I said, "Listen, I'm Brother Branham, but I have on these seersucker trousers and I can't get up on that platform." But the colored man said, "These people don't care how you are dressed. They care about what's in your heart." Well I said, "Please don't say anything about it." But the colored man didn't wait any longer. He shouted out, "There he is! There he is!" My heart Sank; I didn't know what to do. But the night before out in the cornfield I had prayed, "Lord, if these are the people that I have always wanted to find, that seem so happy and free, you give me favor before them." Well, the Lord gave me favor with them, but I hated to go up before the crowd in the seersucker trousers. But everyone was looking at me and I had to do something. So I went on up to the platform. My face was red, and as I turned around I saw the microphones and I thought to myself, "What are those things?" I prayed, "Lord, if You ever helped anybody, help me now."
I opened the Bible and my eyes fell on the verse, "The rich man opened up his eyes in hell." And I preached on the text, "And then he cried." "There were no Christians there, and then he cried. There was no church there, and he cried. There were no flowers there, and he cried. There was no God there, and he cried." I had been a rather formal preacher, but as I preached something got hold of me and the power of God came down upon the congregation.
The Brethren Ask Him To Conduct Revivals
After the service was over--it went on for about two hours--I walked outside. A preacher came up to me. He was a great big fellow with cowboy boots, and he came up and introduced himself to me. He said, "I'm from Texas and I have a good church down there; how about holding me a two weeks' meeting?" Another preacher from Florida came up to me and said, 'How about coming over and holding a meeting for me?" I got a piece of paper and took down names and addresses, and in a few minutes I had enough revivals lined up to last me throughout the year. Well, I was happy. I jumped into my little model 'T" Ford and down through Indiana I went. When I reached home, my wife came running out and threw her arms around me; as she looked at me she asked, "What are you so happy about?" I said, "I have met the happiest bunch of people I ever met in my life. They are really happy, and they are not ashamed of their religion. In fact, something has happened to me since then. These people had me preach up at their convention, and what's more, I have received several invitations to preach at their churches." Now I said, "Will you go with me?" She answered, "Honey, I have promised to go with you anywhere until death separates us." May God bless her loyal heart.
So I decided to go up and tell mother. When I got there I said, "Mother, I have something to tell you." Then I told her about the invitations. She asked, "What are you going to do for money?" We only had seventeen dollars between us, but we felt the Lord would supply. She put her arms around me and blessed me. She still prays for me. She said, "Son, we used to have that kind of religion in our church years ago, and I know it's real."
A Fateful Decision
And friends, what I say now, let it be for your education. Let my mistakes result in your blessing. Friends and relatives warned me against accepting what I knew was God's call to me. Some said that the people I had met at the convention were trashy people. I later found out, and I say it reverently, that what was called "trash," was the "cream of the crop." I was told that my wife would not get enough to eat, that she would eat one day and starve the next. Others told me that it was my job to stay there and look after the work in Jeffersonville. I listened to them and finally decided not to leave. Little did either I or my friends realize then that in eight months the Ohio River would overflow its banks and my family would be caught in the tragedy of the awful flood.
It was at this time that the anointing of God which had come upon me left me. It never really returned until five years later. My church, up until that time had been a growing prosperous church, but now it began to drop off. Everything went wrong. With my church going down, I didn't know what to do. Then began the dark period of my life when the Ohio River flood that took so many lives, came, and was responsible for the death of two of those that were the dearest to me in all the world.
CHAPTER 6 - THE GREAT OHIO FLOOD OF 1937
The winter of 1937 was especially severe over the entire nation. Unusual snows fell in the Northwest and blanketed the country for many days. But it was in the East that tragedy really struck. Heavy and protracted rains fell steadily for weeks, feeding the many tributaries that flow into the great Ohio River which drains the large area west of the Appalachians. Gradually the level of the river passed the flood stage. Large populations living on the banks of the Ohio noted this with no little apprehension and alarm, yet they saw no sign of abatement in the flood of water that sought outlet down the valley. Day by day the waters continued to rise. Dikes and levees were strengthened, but the people knew that a break-through need occur at only one point to allow the water to fan out and flood the vast areas of farmland and even the cities that had been built along the river.
On the north bank of the Ohio, opposite Louisville, Kentucky, is the city of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Of all who lived in the city, to none perhaps did the ominous threat of a flood appear at a more inopportune time, than to William Branham. His wife had contracted a serious lung infection while shopping across the river at Louisville. Because of this circumstance, his whole attention and interest was centered on her recovery. But now news reached them, as well as the other inhabitants of the town, that the crest of the flood was slowly moving downstream, and to all appearances the softened levees could not take much more. It appeared that Jeffersonville was doomed; still many of the people stayed on.
As night fell, William Branham was on duty, working with the rescue squad as they patrolled the angry waters of the rising river. At midnight their worst fears were realized. The whistles began to blow, warning everyone to leave the city. Sirens at the fire stations screamed out into the night. The Branham family, and thousands of others were forced to flee for their lives. The wife, being seriously ill and in no condition to be taken out into the storm, had to be removed to a temporary hospital set up by the government, which was located on higher ground. The exposure resulted in both of their babies becoming seriously ill with pneumonia. The father took them to the hospital also, where they were taken care of on hastily improvised beds, where scores of other victims were awaiting the attention of the overworked staff. It was a terribly poor place for a hospital, and to make matters worse the doors kept swinging back and forth; people were rushing in and out, crying hysterically, their homes having been swept away in the strong current.
Much as he wanted to stay by his loved ones, the young minister realized that he had a responsibility to go back and assist the rescue squad which had been working frantically night and day. Tragedy was being enacted at many points as the waters relentlessly poured through the city and out over the countryside. He was told to go to a certain street where the water had shaken the houses from their foundations. Maneuvering his boat down through the raging waters of this area, the young minister's attention was diverted to a pitiful scene. A mother and her children, standing on the upstairs porch of a house, were waving frantically, and calling to him for help. At this dramatic moment in the narrative, we shall let Brother Branham describe in his own words the things which happened:
I heard someone screaming, and looking up, saw a mother with her children standing on the upstairs porch of a teetering house, the big waves dashing against it. I had lived on the river practically all my life, and I thought perhaps I could help rescue the woman, even if it meant risking my own life for her and her little children, so I started toward the house. After I finally got them all into the boat, the lady almost fainted... She kept moaning something about her baby and I thought maybe she had left her baby in the house. So after I had gotten them safely on high ground, I tried to go back. But it was too late; the water was coming too fast now, and I was caught in the current. Oh, I'll never forget how I felt then. So many things passed through my mind; how I tried to live a good Christian life, preach the word, do the best I knew how, but it seemed that everything was against me now.
When I finally got my boat under control and landed it, I tried to make my way to the government hospital (it had been four hours since I had left), but upon arriving found that the water had broken in behind there and all the people had to be evacuated. I didn't know where my wife was and no one could tell me. Oh, how sad I was in that hour. I kept inquiring and was finally told by an officer that they had been sent out on a train that was going toward Charlestown, a city about 12 miles above Jeffersonville, where I rushed quickly to see if I could get to them. A little creek just above us had overflowed its banks, making about five miles of swift rushing water between there and Charlestown; washing the farmers' homes away, and I knew that the train would have to go right through this territory. I had no way of knowing whether it had gotten through before the water broke or whether it had been washed off the track...
For quite some time I was able to learn nothing, but then I heard that the train made it through. I got a speedboat and tried to go against the waters, but it was just too much. The water pinned me in and I was marooned in a place called Fort Fulton with several friends for almost two weeks. Our food supply was very low and I was still in the dark about my wife and babies.
As soon as the waters went down enough for me to get my truck through, I went out to look for her. I didn't know whether my wife, babies, mother and brother were dead or alive. There God kept talking to my heart, and I could just imagine what it must be for those that have no hope in such an hour. The next day I crossed the waters and began my search in Charlestown. No one there knew anything about a train coming in, or had heard of anyone by the name of Branham. Despondently as I walked down the street, I met an old friend, Mr. Hay. He threw his arms around me and said, "Billy, we'll find them somewhere!" I went down to the office of the dispatcher and inquired when the train had come through, and where it had gone; but he was no help either. It had been two weeks before, and there had been more and more washouts, and he thought it went farther up in Indiana somewhere. An engineer standing nearby spoke up and said, "Oh, I remember that case. A mother with two little sick babies. We put them off at Columbus." He said, "Young man, you can't possibly get up there, as the waters have all trains cut off." So there was more sad news.
But I was going to find her anyway. I just started walking down the road, crying, with my hat in my hands. Oh, my! This brings back memories again to think of it. Soon a car pulled up beside me, and the voice of a good friend exclaimed, "Billy Branham! Get in. I know whom you're hunting, your wife and babies!" I answered, "Yes." He said, "They're at Columbus in the hospital. Your wife's nearly dead. "Is there any way we can get there?" I inquired frantically. He answered, "I can take you there; I have found a secret way through some lanes, by-passing the water." We got to Columbus that night.
Doctor Gives Up Hope
I rushed down to the Baptist Church, which was being used for a hospital, screaming her name. I found her. Oh, my! She was almost gone! I asked about the babies; they were both very low, being kept at my mother-in-law's home. I knelt down by the side of the cot where Hope was lying. Dark eyes, expressive of intense suffering, looked up at me as I took her pale, thin hand in mine and prayed the best I knew how. But seemingly to no effect; there was no answer somehow. She got worse. An intern asked me, "Aren't you a friend of Dr. Sam Adair?" "Yes." "I must tell you, Reverend; your wife is going." I pleaded, "Surely not." "Yes," he answered gravely, and turned away.
CHAPTER 7 - DESPAIR--THEN A DREAM OF HEAVEN
I returned to the house, and tried to clean it up as best as I could from the results of the flood. Dr. Adair said I could bring my wife and the babies home, so I tried to make the place as comfortable as possible for them. I fought a hard battle to save them, sent to Louisville for a specialist... It was just useless; they were too far gone. But I'm sure my wife didn't know this at the time. She was brave all the way through. We returned her to the hospital so she could get the right kind of treatment. Nothing would do any good. We took an X-ray and found tuberculosis creeping deeper and deeper into her lungs.
Called To Bedside Of Dying Wife
One day they called me from work... (I was working, trying to get out of debt. I had to go hundreds of dollars into debt.)... I was told, "If you want to see your wife alive, you'd better come now!" I got into the car and rushed to the city as fast as I could. I rushed upstairs and down the hall, and the first person I saw was my little friend, Dr. Adair. We had been just like brothers, all our lives. I knew when I looked at him that he had bad news. He said, "I'm afraid she's gone now." He covered his face and went into the little anteroom. I struggled to hold myself together; I pleaded, "Come, go in with me, Doe." "I can't," he answered, "she was just like a sister to me. I can't go back in there, Bill."
I started in alone, and he called a nurse to go in with me When I saw her I felt, too, that she was gone. The sheet was pulled up over her face. She was only a skeleton of her former self... so thin and pale... Oh, my! I took her in my arms and began to shake her. I cried, "Honey, answer me!... God, please let her speak to me once more." She was already crossing over the line... But suddenly she turned to look back at me. She opened those big, lovely, soft brown eyes. She started to raise her arms to receive me, but she was too weak; so I got down closer to her. I knew she wanted to tell me something. Friends, here is what she told me (in part). It will be in my memory until the day I meet her.
Hope Describes Paradise
She said, "I was almost home. Why did you call me?" I told her I didn't know I interrupted anything. She began telling me about the paradise I had called her from, how it looked... lovely trees and flowers, birds singing, not a pain in her body. For a moment I thought that perhaps I shouldn't have called her... (But, bless her heart... she's been enjoying that place a long time now.) She revived for a few moments and told me how she was being taken home by some angelic beings. She heard me way off in the distance calling. Friends, there is a land beyond the river, somewhere in the far beyond. Maybe millions of light years away, but it's there... and we're traveling that way.
Recalls Minor Incidents In Last Hours
She described how beautiful it was. She said, "Honey, you've preached of it, you've talked of it, but you can't know how glorious it is." She desired to go back. She studied a moment and then said, "There are two or three things I want you to know." I asked, "What's that?"
"Remember, Bill," she began, "one time you went to get a pair of stockings for me?" (I remembered the time. She had been getting dressed to go to Fort Wayne for a service that night and she needed a pair of hose. She told me to get some kind of "full size" or "full back" "rayons" or "chiffons" or something like that. I never could seem to remember anything about ladies' clothes, so I went down the street saying to myself, "Chiffon, chiffon, chiffon." Someone said, "Hello Bill."... I said, "Hello, chiffon, chiffon, chiffon." Then I met someone else who got to telling me how good the fish were biting, and I forgot what kind it was I was supposed to get. I was to get them at Penney's, but I knew a girl that worked at the dime store and I knew she could help me if I told her the situation. I rushed over there... (her name was Thelma Ford; she is a neighbor of mine now)... I said, "Thelma, I want to get a pair of socks for Hope." She laughed, "Oh, Hope doesn't wear socks, she wears stockings." "Well, a pair of stockings then." She asked, "What kind does she want?" "What kind do you have?" hoping she would call the name I was supposed to remember. She said, "Rayon, chiffon, etc." Well, unfortunately, she called the wrong one first, but it sounded like the right name to me so I said, "That's it!"
"You mean Hope wants rayon stockings?"
"That's what she said," I answered, so she began to wrap them. But when I went to pay for them I found that they only cost about 39 cents, so I bought two pairs,
When I got home to give them to her I began teasing her. (You know how men like to tease their wives about being bargain-hunters.) I told her I was the one that had found a bargain this time, and gave the stockings to her. She didn't say anything, but I thought she looked a little disappointed, and when she got to Fort Wayne I noticed that she bought some more. She was lady enough not to tell me about the mistake then, but she was thinking about little things like that in her dying hour.
Saves Money To Buy Rifle For Her Husband
Her life was slowly ebbing away, but she continued. "Remember the rifle you wanted to buy in Louisville and we couldn't afford it?" (How well I remembered... I've always been a hunter, and when I saw that particular rifle I thought how much I would like to have it.)
"Yes." I was trying to keep the tears out of her sight.
"I've been saving my nickels and dimes to buy it for you. Its just about over for me, but when you get home you'll find the money lying under a paper on top of the old sideboard."
You'll never know how I felt when I found that six or seven dollars she had been putting back all that time for that rifle. I bought it and still have it, and intend to keep it as long as I can, and then give it to my little boy.
Her Last Words
I recall that it was then she asked me not to live single, to get married to some good Christian girl who was filled with the Spirit of God and would take care of the children. I did not want to promise that, but I finally did to please her. A few minutes after that she said weakly, "Well, I'm going over now."
"Don't talk like that," I pleaded.
"I don't mind going now," she said, "since I saw how wonderful it is."
"Are you really going now, dear?" I asked tearfully.
"Yes." She looked into my eyes and said, "Will you promise me to always preach this wonderful Gospel?" I promised. She said, "Bill, God is going to use you." (Bless her heart... I've often wondered if God might not allow her to look down upon us as we go about from place to place in our ministry, trying to obey the calling she felt that God would send.)
She talked on, "You've been a good husband." A little nurse was standing near by, and she said to her, "I hope you might have as good a husband as I have had," Of course, that almost tore my heart out, but I knew I had to hold up for her sake. I tried to smile and said, "Honey, if you go well bury you out on Walnut Ridge until Jesus comes. And if I fall asleep before that time I'll probably be beside you." So I said, "If not, I'll be out on the battlefield somewhere." As the soft brown eyes were becoming dimmer I went on, "When you get up to the New Jerusalem... look for the east side of the gate and start calling my name... When you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Paul and Stephen and all of them coming up, I'll be there, Darling." She pulled me down to her and kissed me good-bye... Then she went to be with God.
Here I am... still struggling, working, trying hard to keep that promise.
Baby Is Reported Dying
After she had passed away, I started home to see about the babies. How desperately I sought some peace of mind. I went to my mother's... I went to our house, Hope's and mine, everywhere, nothing satisfied me. I couldn't rest. Many of you people know what I mean. That night I finally went to bed and tried to sleep. Somebody knocked on the door. I thought, "What can it be now?"... A voice called, "Billy, your baby is dying now."
I'll never forget the night when he came to tell me. I thought, "Oh, my! What's this?" when he knocked on the door. As if it weren't enough that I had lost my wife that day, the friend had come with the news that my baby girl was dying. When we got into his little pickup truck to go to the baby, I thought life was at its very end. How could these things be! When we arrived we found the baby very near death. Dr. Sam Adair had come and examined her. He told me that there was nothing that could be done that he knew of, but we rushed her to the hospital anyway. There a specialist from Louisville decided also that there was little hope. They took me to the hospital laboratory and showed me the germ from the baby's spine. She had spinal meningitis which she had contracted from her mother. There was no chance at all for her ever to be well. She would be dead very soon. I can't express with human lips how that tore me up. Everything else had gone wrong and then that was happening. It just goes to show that you never know what the future holds.
I then went to see my baby where the isolated cases were kept in the basement. I saw the little darling lying there. When I think of it now it just breaks my heart. It was summertime and the hospital personnel, being very busy, was not giving her the right care. As I walked in I looked at her and she tried to look at me. She was just big enough to be plump and sweet. The poor little thing had never come out of the spasm the meningitis had caused. One of her legs was drawn up and one of her arms was drawing. Her little leg moved up and down. Oh! Such a pitiful sight.
I knelt down by the bed and started praying. I cried "God, please don't take my baby." I knew I had made a bad mistake in not turning loose of everything and going out into evangelistic work. I believe that the gift was ready to be manifested then, but I had neglected going. I threw myself down and started praying and crying and asking God to spare her life. It seemed as if a dark curtain hung between and she was sinking. I raised up to look at her and said, "Sharon, don't you know daddy?" Truly I believe she knew I was there. It looked like she was trying to wave her little hand and her lips were quivering as though she were going to cry. it was tragic--the agony was so great that her little eyes crossed. Oh! When I see a cross-eyed child I think of that time--my baby's eyes crossing from such hard suffering. You that have children know how I felt.
Mother And Baby Buried Together
I prayed and laid hands upon her. But the angels came a little while later and took the little darling to be with her mother. I returned home, desolate and weary. Two days later we buried her in her mother's arms. I remember standing heartbroken and appalled by the grave. Brother Smith, the Methodist minister there in the city, preached the sermon for both. Oh! How I felt! It was unendurable. Somehow the leaves blowing on the trees reminded me of the old song:
There is a land beyond the river that they call the sweet forever,
And we only reach that shore by faith's decree.
One by one we reach the portal, there to dwell with the immortals,
When they ring those golden bells for you and me.
I know that some day the grave shall burst open, because there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem. I know that some day it shall be opened also because they believed in Jesus Christ their resurrected Redeemer.
A Man Sent From God - Page 64
I returned to work, trying to do all I could to pay off the big bills and debts I owed. I'll never forget one morning when I was reading a pole meter on highway 150 near New Albany. I was singing to myself, "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame." The sun was shining brightly that morning and the pole cast a shadow on a hill in front of me. It was at such an angle that the crossbar and my own body hanging by its safety belt also formed the shadow.
There was the cross all over again!
Despondent And Despairing Over Death Of Loved Ones
I wanted to go and be with the family. Life on earth held nothing for me anymore. All that I had to live for was in the next world; without them my broken heart could not find the courage to keep up the struggle. But it was God's will, l guess, in holding His Gift... He had a plan and it must be worked out. I am sure it took every tragedy and deep sorrow that I had to go through to bring me to the place where He could use me. God knows what is best.
I shot down off the pole; perspiration was breaking out all over me; I was trembling. I just took off my spurs, quit and went home. I went into the house, desperately hoping for something that would take my mind off my grief. But what could an empty house do?... a house with everything still fixed just as she had left it. Everything I looked at reminded me of her. As I walked despondently around the house, my eyes fell on some mail that had come in. On one envelope I read these words: "Miss Sharon Rose Branham." My heart broke afresh. It was a letter from the bank and a small check that had been sent to my baby... Her little Christmas savings had been returned; I think it amounted to about $1.80. Oh my! I started crying and knelt down on the floor. I was so blue; everything seemed too hard to bear. While kneeling there, I thought, "Lord, if you don't help me, I don't know what I'll do!"
Falls Into Deep Sleep, Dreams Of Heaven
Suddenly I fell into an exhausted sleep... (this was a welcome relief). While I was sleeping, I dreamed that I was out in the West (I always loved the West); I was walking along with a pair of boots on and one of those big western hats. I passed by an old covered wagon; one of the wheels was broken, and I was whistling that song, "The Wheel of the Wagon is Broken." I was startled by the appearance of a beautiful young girl about 17 or 18 years old. She looked like an angel standing there dressed in white, her pretty blonde hair blowing, her blue eyes sparkling.
I said, "Good morning, Miss," and started to pass on by, but she said, "Hello, Daddy." I turned around in surprise and bewilderment and she repeated, "Hello, Daddy."
I said, "I beg your pardon... I am sorry, but I do not understand. How could I be your daddy? Why, you're almost as old as I am. There must be some mistake."
You just don't know where you are, Daddy'" she replied. "Down on earth I was your little Sharon."
I said, "Not you."
She said, "Yes, back there on earth I was your Sharon."
"But you were just a little baby," I said.
Then she reminded me, "Daddy, don't you remember your teaching on immortality?"
I said, "Yes, I remember my teaching on that. That is why you are here like this?"
"Daddy, where is Billy Paul?" she asked. (That's my little boy.)
I told her he had been with me just a little while ago.
She said, "Mothers looking for you, Daddy, so I'll just stay here and wait for Billy Paul to come along."
"Where is Mother?" I asked.
She said, "Look to your right, Dad," and I looked around to my right. Oh, it looked like shafts of glorious light shining over a mountain, beautiful mansions among green hills, flowers and trees. Tongue could never describe what I saw in that scene. Sharon pointed out one of the great homes to me and told me to go up there; that was my home and Mother was waiting there for me.
"My home?" I inquired, puzzled. "Why I never had a home."
"Well, Daddy, you have one now. Go along now, and I'll wait here for my brother."
Meets His Wife Again
I started up along a little path leading to the home; and when I got up to this lovely place, I saw my wife coming out to meet me, so beautifully dressed in white, her long dark hair flowing down her back. I can't put in words the feeling I had at seeing her again. I asked her to explain all this to me, I couldn't understand how it could be. We talked together as we always had, l remarking what a beautiful young lady our little girl had grown up to be, and she agreeing. But I just could not understand.
She said, "I know you can't understand this, because earthly things are not like these things here. This is heaven."
"But I don't understand about this beautiful home. Is it yours?"
"Yes," she replied, "it is our eternal home."
"But I do not understand why I should have the opportunity to be in a place like this."
She spoke kindly to me: "After all the many tasks and labors, and toils that You went through on earth, you have come home to rest now. Won't you sit down?"
I turned around to sit down and there was a big chair for me... a Morris chair. I looked at the chair, and I looked at Hope. She smiled and said, "I know what you're thinking."
Here's what it was: When we were first married, we didn't have any furniture or much of anything in our little house... except an old folding bed someone had given us, a stove I had paid about a dollar and a quarter for and then had to buy some grates for, an old leather duofold that was all worn out and had several holes in it, and one linoleum rug on the front room floor... But we enjoyed it and were happy together, for we had true love.
But one thing I had always wanted was a Morris chair. I worked hard all day and then would preach at night and come in late, and it seemed I would think of having a big Morris chair to come in and rest in. One day we decided we were able to buy one; so we went to town across the river and looked at some. The one we bought was a green one. I'll never forget it. It cost about fifteen dollars, I had to pay three dollars down and a dollar a week on it. Well, I stayed up on the payments until we had gotten about eight or ten dollars paid, and I couldn't make the payment. I missed two or three weeks because we just couldn't spare it. You all know just what that means when you can't make ends meet. One day I said to her, "Honey, you'll have to call them to come get the chair because it has already gone overdue two or three times; they have sent us a dun, and I can't make another payment on it now. You know we have to pay our other bills, so we'll just have to do without it." She said, "Well, I don't want to do that." So we kept it a day or two longer. Then I remember the night I came home from work, and it was gone. She was so sweet to me; and baked me a cherry pie and was doing everything she knew how to do to keep my mind off of it and help my feelings. I remember how that when I went into the room to sit down and it was gone that we both had to have a little cry. She was so sweet.
So standing there in my dream, she said, "I guess you remember all about our chair... Well this one will not be taken away from you... It's paid for. Sit down and rest."
Needless to say, God gave me the needed strength to carry on. I preached and worked at different jobs, finally becoming an Indiana state game warden, the job at which I was working when the Gift came to me in 1946. God has blessed and rewarded me graciously, for which I humbly thank Him. For several years, I had to be both a mother and a daddy to my little boy, but later the Lord gave me a dear, humble wife, and now we have a little girl.
The time was now drawing near when God was to reveal Himself to William Branham in a manner that would not only radically affect his own ministry, but the result of it was to have a profound effect upon the Christian world. It would be a sign that would be spoken against by some, but to other multiplied thousands it would be a cause of praise and thanksgiving to God, and to some it was to provide an inspiration that would cause a hundred-fold increase in their ministry.
We have already noted a number of things which preceded the visitation of the angel to William Branham, and there are others that would be of singular interest to record, though time and space permit us to mention but a few of them. Some others are related in the visions recorded in the latter part of this book. However, one incident that occurred was of such an unusual nature, and because mention has been made of it by Brother Branham on occasions, we shall take note of it at this time. It is a notable fact in the Biblical narrative that while ecclesiastical leaders have been notoriously slow to recognize those who have been specially commissioned of God, demons oddly enough have often given this recognition without delay. The first miracle involved in the ministry of Christ, as recorded in the book of Mark, concerns an odd testimony, coming as it does from an evil spirit. Jesus had returned to the City of Nazareth to preach the Gospel to those of his home town. The people of that city, however, far from recognizing the identity of the remarkable Person Who was in their midst, strongly resented His apparent change of vocation from a carpenter to that of a prophet. But the recognition that they withheld, was quickly acknowledged by the demon that possessed the man who was in their synagogue, and who cried out in the presence of Christ, "I know thee who thou art, thou Holy One of God.' Similarly, the legion of demons in the maniac of Gadara, as He drew near, cried with a loud voice, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou son of the Most High God?"
Again the Apostle Paul, as he began his missionary work in Europe, in the City of Philippi, instead of being accorded a prophet's welcome, was taken by rough hands and thrust into the inner stocks of a prison. But the spirit of divination in a little girl was quick to discern who Paul and Silas were, and it cried out saying, "These men are servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation."
It is not surprising then that the gift which had been destined for the ministry of William Branham, should be recognized by spirits of divination even before he fully understood the purpose of the gift himself. On one occasion as he passed by an astrologist, the woman upon seeing him, motioned him to come over to her, as she wished to speak to him. When he came near she said, "Say, do you know that you were born under a sign and have a gift from God?" Other experiences of such a nature occurred and disturbed him for a time, but later he understood. As neither Christ nor Paul accepted nor valued the testimony of demons, and rather commanded them to hold their peace, so Brother Branham, of course, does not endorse in any sense the so-called pseudo sciences of astrology or fortune-telling of any kind, even though on occasions their testimony confirms the gift of God. The Lord has plenty of ways of substantiating and vindicating the ministries of his servants without depending on the evidence given by demons. And, of course, the Scriptures speak strictly against the children of God consulting such sources. (Isa. 47:13-14)
Elsewhere we have mentioned that after his conversion, Brother Branham became a Baptist preacher, was ordained by Dr. Roy Davis of Jeffersonville, and entered into an active ministry in that city. At the close of a great tent meeting, he was baptizing a large number of candidates in the Ohio River, amid throngs of people who had gathered on the banks to watch the service. There were about 130 people to be baptized and it was a hot June day. As Brother Branham was about to baptize the seventeenth person, he heard a still small voice which said, "Look up." Three times the words were repeated. He looked up and there from the sky appeared a bright star. After a few seconds had passed, the people looked up and many of the people saw the star also. Some fainted and others shouted and still others ran away. Then the star apparently was withdrawn back into the sky. The incident created such an interest that an account of it appeared in the local newspaper.
At another time Brother Branham was in a large city for three nights of services. The first one to be prayed for was a small child, whose feet had been drawn up by polio, causing him to have to walk on his toes. Suddenly it seemed as if a bright light had been turned on him. Wondering at the rudeness of the custodian in turning the spotlight on him, he opened his eyes, and lo, a star of light stood before him. Recalling this incident he says, "I dropped the little boy or either he jumped from my arms... I did not know what happened, for it seemed that every nerve in my body was paralyzed. As he hit the floor his feet became normal, and for the first time in his life he walked naturally off the platform. Other remarkable things happened, and many people gave their hearts to Christ that night."
Similar events from time to time occurred in the life of William Branham. For a season he had failed to obey the call of God to go forward in this ministry of deliverance. Then there came that dark period of his life which we have recorded when he lost his wife and child, and sorrow was added upon sorrow. At last, however, he reached the place where he determined that his life would be wholly surrendered to God, and that he would do whatever God wanted him to do. It was then that the most remarkable visitation of his life occurred, when the angel in person visited him and gave him a solemn commission from the Most High. The story of this climaxing experience will be told in the following chapter by Brother Branham himself.
CHAPTER 9 - AN ANGEL FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The remarkable angelic visit received by Brother Branham has caused no little wonder among many of the people of God as well as the un-saved. While a few reject the ministry of the supernatural, even as some did in the days of Christ, the overwhelming majority of the people who attend the Branham meetings are fully convinced of the reality of the angelic visitation.
It so happens that God has chosen diverse and sometimes very mysterious ways in which to reveal Himself to His servants specially called for some important service. To Moses, deliverer of Israel, He appeared in the Burning Bush. To the children of Israel He was found in the Pillar of Fire by night and the Cloud by day. Samuel heard Him as a Voice calling in the night. To Elijah He was the Still Small Voice. To Abraham He appeared in the Theophany or in human form, and Paul saw Him in His resurrection glory as also did John, the Beloved. Perhaps, however, the most usual supernatural visitation in Biblical times was by an angelic visitor. Thus angels appeared to Abraham, to Moses, to Joshua, to Gideon, to David, to the prophets, to Zechariah, to Mary, to the shepherds, to the apostles, and others. In most cases supernatural visitations were not mere visions, but were an actual appearing of an angelic being. Thus the story of the angel's appearance to William Branham is not without full Bible precedent.
Indeed the truth of angelic ministration to mortals is quite in line with the Word of God. It has been recognized generally that at least to some extent the gifts of the Spirit have been restored to the church. But what about the gift of discerning of spirits? Many have assumed that this gift includes only the discerning of evil spirits. Although the gift must certainly involve the detection of evil powers, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MORE GOOD SPIRITS THAN BAD. What about the angels? In what realm do they minister? The answer is given in Heb. 1:14: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
Angels Minister To God's People
Though ordinarily we cannot see angels, it is evident from the Scriptures that they are in the company of the children of God much of the time. No doubt, if we fully realized that there were heavenly persons in our vicinity who are daily watching our conduct and perhaps our thoughts, it would have a profound effect upon our lives. Yet such must be the case (Matt. 18:10); also Psa. 34:7: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round them that fear Him, and delivereth them." We could cite the great number of Scriptures which deal with the earthly ministry of angels, but that is not necessary. The fact is that practically all Bible teachers believe and teach the actuality of such ministry. Why then are not angels seen more often? Evidently we need the operation of this above-mentioned gift to enable our dull human senses to peer beyond the veil and perceive such highly refined beings as angels. Elisha apparently had this gift and we have the record of his prayer in which he requested that his servant's eyes might be opened that he, too, might be able to see the heavenly host of the Lord.
"And Elijah prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he might see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (II Kings 6:17)
There are numerous cases on record where people just before their passing from this world, have witnessed attending angels. Apparently from the words of Jesus, it is one of the duties of angelic beings to transport the human spirit, when it leaves its crumbling tenement of clay, into Paradise (Luke 16:22). It appears that when the grosser human senses fail, the senses of the spirit become quickened and are able to witness things that ordinary mortals cannot.
The Angel's Message To Brother Branham
The angel conversed with Brother Branham during the first visitation for perhaps half an hour. We are coming into Bible days again, and no doubt there will be more such supernatural revelations as time goes on. Concerning such visitations there is one point that is fundamental. An angel of the Lord will never reveal anything but what agrees strictly with the Scriptures. Indeed we are enjoined to place the Word of God above the revelations of angels, as Satan has been known to appear as an angel of light. But a false spirit is quickly detected by the spiritually minded. Satan is the father of falsehood, a habitual liar, and he cannot long show himself without telling a lie or making statements that twist, distort, deny, take away or add to the Scriptures. His first conversation with a member of the human race, Eve, involved his telling an outright lie. However, the results of the angelic visitation to William Branham have been a steadily rising tide of revival that has sounded out throughout the world, and the end is not yet. We shall now let Brother Branham tell the story in his own words of how the angel met him, talked to him, and told him things concerning the work that God had called him to do:
I must tell you of the angel and the coming of the Gift. I shall never forget the time, May 7, 1946, a very beautiful season of the year in Indiana, where I was still working as a game warden. I had come home for lunch, and was just going around the house taking off my gun, when a very dear friend of mine Prod Wiseman, a brother to my piano player in the church, approached me and asked me to go to Madison with him that afternoon. I told him it was impossible as I had to patrol, and while walking around the house under a maple tree, it seemed that the whole top of the tree let loose. It seemed that something came down through that tree like a great rushing wind... they ran to me... My wife came from the house frightened, and asked me what was wrong. Trying to get hold of myself, I sat down and told her that after all these twenty odd years of being conscious of this strange feeling, the time had come when I had to find out what it was all about. The crisis had come! I told her and my child good-bye, and warned her that if I did not come back in a few days, perhaps I might never return.
That afternoon I went away to a secret place to pray and read the Bible. I became deep in prayer; it seemed that my whole soul would tear from me. I cried before God... I laid my face to the ground... I looked up to God and cried, "If you will forgive me for the way that I have done, I'll try to do better... I'm sorry that I've been so neglectful all these years in doing the work you wanted me to do... Will you speak to me someway, God? If you don't help me, I can't go on."
Then along in the night, at about the eleventh hour, I had quit praying and was sitting up when I noticed a light flickering in the room. Thinking someone was coming with a flashlight, I looked out of the window, but there was no one, and when I looked back, the light was spreading out on the floor, becoming wider. Now I know this seems very strange to you, as it did to me also. As the light was spreading, of course I became excited and started from the chair, but as I looked up, there hung that great star. However, it did not have five points like a star, but looked more like a ball of fire or light shining down upon the floor. Just then I heard someone walking across the floor, which startled me again, as I knew of no one who would be coming there besides myself. Now, coming through the light, I saw the feet of a man coming toward me, as naturally as you would walk to me. He appeared to be a man who, in human weight, would weigh about two hundred pounds, clothed in a white robe. He had a smooth face, no beard, dark hair down to his shoulders, rather dark-complexioned, with a very pleasant countenance, and coming closer, his eyes caught with mine Seeing how fearful I was, he began to speak. "Fear not. I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the peoples of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER." Words cannot express how I felt. He told me many things which I do not have space to record here. He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then. He has appeared to me perhaps once or twice within the space of six months and has spoken with me. A few times he has appeared visibly in the presence of others. I do not know who he is. I only know that he is the messenger of God to me.
Needless to say, I started praying for the sick people. I do not claim to take the place of a doctor... I know that doctors are able to assist nature, but they are only men... God is Almighty. The great things which have taken place during these months are too innumerable to ever be recorded, but God has confirmed the angel's words time after time. Deaf, dumb, blind, all manners of diseases have been healed, and thousands of testimonies are on record to date. I do not have any power of my own to do this... I am a helpless human until I feel His presence. Many people who have attended these meetings know that their diseases and sins have been told them right from the platform. Dear reader, please do not misunderstand my poor, illiterate way of trying to convey all this to you. I say it that you might have a clearer understanding of how to take advantage of God's gift. He told me to be sincere and get the people to believe, and that is what I am trying to do. God always has something or someone to work through, and I am only an instrument used by Him. No mortal can take credit for performing a miracle, and I am just a mortal. I do not know how much longer God will permit me to do this, but by His grace, I intend to serve him the best that I know how by serving His people as long as He allows me to live.
There were some other things that the angel told Brother Branham during this remarkable visitation which have been related from time to time in his preaching. One of those things concerned the two signs that were to be given him. As has already been mentioned, the first sign, not for healing was to be a gift in his left band; by the power of God, with this gift he would discern or detect the diseases that the people had. This supernatural sign would result in the building up of the faith of the entire congregation. Then there was to be given a second sign, so that if they did not believe the first, they would believe the second. This reminds us of the story of Moses, who also was given two signs, so that if the people did not believe the first, they would believe the second. (Exod. 4:1-8)
Now this second sign, according to the angel, would be a gift that would allow Brother Branham to discern the thoughts and deeds in the past life of the individual. Sometimes the revelation would come of some incident in the person's life that only the individual himself knew about, and the revealing of which would greatly strengthen the person's faith. We might add that any sin that is under the Blood is never revealed, but in case the thing was covered over and un-confessed, it would be brought to light through this gift, thus usually bringing the person to an immediate repentance. We have watched the operation of these two signs, and may say with great assurance that the manifestation of these gifts are as perfect as any ever exercised by a human being. The first sign was given immediately after the visitation. The second sign has been manifest in the ministry of Brother Branham only comparatively recently.
In connection with this sign, the angel made this significant statement--that the thoughts of men speak louder in heaven than do their words on earth. How solemn an admonition this is, and how urgent it is that all of us be absolutely sincere before God, and live a sober, honest life in the fear of God.
Still another thing that the angel said was that Jesus was coming very soon, and that this commission was one of the signs of the nearness of His coming; that if Brother Branham would be faithful to this call, the results of it would reach out to the whole world and would shake the nations. Finally, the angel indicated that by these signs God was calling all His people together into the unity of the Spirit, that they should be with one heart and of one accord.
More will be said concerning this angelic visitation and its aftermath in the following chapter, as we listen to the testimony which comes from the people of Brother Branham's own congregation.
CHAPTER 10 - BEGINNING OF THE NEW MINISTRY
After the visitation of the angel, Brother Branham returned to his home. On Sunday evening he spoke in his tabernacle at Jeffersonville. The people of his church believed in him and loved him. It is to them we go at this time for the continuation of our story of the course of events which were now unfolding rapidly and would soon plummet Brother Branham onto the stage of a nation-wide ministry.
Many visions had been given to Brother Branham during the last year he was with us, and all of them were proven true before our very eyes. But the special Gift of Healing, which he had received during the visitation of the angel, he proclaimed only a few days before he left us to go to St. Louis. We at Jeffersonville believe that William Branham is a prophet sent from God. One of the wonderful things about our brother is that he is humble. We have known him since he was a school-boy, and it is true that he has always lived a clean, moral, quiet life, and has always seemed to be a little different. Many here have watched these scenes in which God has been unfolding His mysteries, some of which have been more or less hidden since Apostolic days.
After his conversion when he began preaching here, we erected a large tent for him and people came from far and near. At his very first campaign some three thousand people attended to hear the story he proclaimed of Jesus of Nazareth. We realized then that God gave him some special phenomenon, but we did not know just what it would be. Many signs and wonders followed him in the early days of his ministry, such as could be understood only by spirit-filled people. We are still wondering what the outcome will be as the effect of these things spread across the world, growing greater and greater as the days go by.
It was on Memorial Sunday night in the year 1946, speaking in the tabernacle, that he told of his meeting with the angel, and how the angel told him of the Gift of Healing that he was to take to the peoples of the world, that many thousands of people would be coming to him for healing, and that he would be standing before thousands in packed auditoriums.
Now for a carnally-minded person this seemed absolutely impossible, as this boy was a humble worker, a very poor peasant type, and uneducated. But we had seen other visions of his come to pass, and he spoke this with such certainty, and openly declared it to every one, that we were sure this would come to pass also. He also stated that the angel had declared to him that he would be able to discern disease by supernatural power, and then if he would stay humble that he would be able to discern the thoughts of people's hearts and tell them of their past lives, and that many would misunderstand him. The angel further told him that this was the Spirit of Christ working through him, that he had been called from birth for this purpose, and that the last days were here; that this was the sign of the last days, and by this gift God was calling all His people together into unity of the Spirit.
A Man Sent From God - Page 83
We knew that these signs were scriptural and we recalled the manner in which Jesus Christ, when the Spirit was upon him, told Nathanael that He saw him under the fig tree before Philip called him, and by this sign Nathanael knew Jesus to be the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. Also when the woman of Samaria was told by Christ of her five husbands she ran into the city saying, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" And also Moses, the great deliverer of the Children of Israel, was foreordained of God and was born in peculiar circumstances. Satan tried to destroy him and later he was given two signs on the eve of the deliverance that the people might recognize him as being sent of God for this deliverance. Now again the angel said that these signs were given to him that the people would believe on Jesus Christ, the one he loved. Also they were given for the purpose of bringing together all the church that people should no longer be separated by creeds and denominations. Certainly Brother Branham's heart goes out to all his brethren who have separated themselves one from another. He believes that God will bring together all those of His church into the unity of the Spirit and then Jesus shall come for His church.
We believe that our brother's life could be compared to Moses of old. Our brother is very humble and does not profess to be a great person. He takes no glory to himself, but gives all the credit to Jesus Christ who saved him and called him.
Telegram Arrives While Service Was In Progress
On this Sunday night after the appearance of the angel to Brother Branham, while he was speaking in the tabernacle at Jeffersonville, someone came in and handed him a telegram. It was from St. Louis and it asked him to come and pray for a girl, whose name was Betty Daugherty, that was dying. The news of what had happened had gotten as far as St. Louis, and now he was asked to go on this call. He was working daily for a living, and had no money to go on, so we took up an offering for this purpose. We got enough money to pay his way over and back by train coach. He borrowed a suit of clothes from one of his brothers, and a coat from another brother, and at near midnight we put him on the train at Louisville, Kentucky, where he started for St. Louis.
Healing Of Betty Daugherty
On the way over he seemed to be very calm, knowing that God would not fail him. When he arrived at the station in St. Louis he was greeted by Rev. Daugherty, a pastor in the city, who had sent for him to minister to his little daughter, who lay dying with some unknown trouble. The best physicians of the city had been called and they were wholly unable to diagnose her case. Brother Daugherty said with a weary "We've done all we know to do; our doctors have done likewise. We have prayed and prayed, and many ministers and congregations of the city have fasted and prayed, but seemingly to no avail." Then Brother Branham walked with the father to his home where the dying child lay. He was greeted by the mother and grandfather of the child. Many friends were in the house praying at that time. He looked at the pathetic sight, and the tired parents looked upon him so earnestly as if to say, "Can't you help us?" Tears rolled down our brother's cheeks as he moved slowly toward the bed. What a sad sight to see a little curly-headed girl, nothing but skin and bones, clawing at her little face like an animal. She was screaming at the top of her voice, which by then had become very hoarse because this had been going on for three months. Brother Branham knelt in the room and prayed with the rest of them. But after prayer was made, seemingly the child was no better.
Brother Branham then asked for a quiet place to pray by himself, so he could see what Jesus Christ would have him to do. He realized that of himself he could do nothing. You will recall reading in the Fifth chapter of John when Jesus healed the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda and left the multitude of lame and blind and halt without healing, He said to the Jews, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do, for whatsoever things he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." This is true in the ministry of our brother. Often he sees the thing by vision. It is first shown to him by God and then he merely acts out the drama that he has seen.
They took him down to the church. For some three hours, Rev. Daugherty, his father and Brother Branham prayed. After this they returned back to the home to find the scene the same as before. Brother Branham then went into a room by himself to intercede for the child. Then he would walk up and down the street, and finally he sat in the pastor's car that was parked nearby. After a while the car door came open and Brother Branham stepped forward toward the house, this time with a stem look. Something had happened! He was met at the door by the father and grandfather, who, taking one look at his countenance, knew something had happened. He asked them, "Do you believe that I am God's servant?" "Yes," was the cry of the family. "Then do as I tell you, doubting nothing." To the mother he said, "Get me a pan of clean water, and a white cloth. Your child shall live for God has sent his angel to me and told me that your child shall live."
While the mother was getting the water, the father and the grandfather were asked to kneel, one to the right and one to the left of Brother Branham at the foot of the bed. When the mother returned she was asked to stroke the damp cloth over the face, then the hands, then the feet while Brother Branham was in prayer. Then he said, "Father, as thou hast showed me these things so I have done according to the vision that thou hast given me. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, I pronounce this child healed." The evil spirit left the girl immediately. She is a normal, healthy child living in the same community today. People of the city flocked to Brother Branham but he withdrew himself, promising he would return later, which he did, within a few weeks.