First we must understand the time period. William Branham would come to prominence during the Healing Revival of the late 1940’s into the early fifties. At the turn of the twentieth century we had seen Pentecostalism explode with revivals erupting globally. But during the 1930’s and early 40’s we started to see a lull and by the mid 40’s most of the leaders of the earlier moves had been promoted to heaven. The Second World War had just ended and there grew once again a desperation in the children of God. They began to pray and fast for a fresh move. Behind the scenes God was moving and preparing the vessels for this next move. One of these vessels was a man called William Branham.
“Such vast crowds have been attending the meetings recently held by an evangelist known as William Branham that the Editor of Time, the leading weekly newspaper in America, sent a reporter and photographer to “cover” his campaign….We sat together one Monday night at the evening service, and what a service it was! I received my personal “Pentecost” in 1908, and in the nearly forty years that have followed it has been my privilege to hear the very best of our Pentecostal preachers, but never have I heard anyone under an anointing of the Spirit than Branham was that night.”1
The quote is from an article written by Stanley Howard Frodsham. So, who was this man that was having such a powerful impact that even the top worldly newspaper wanted to investigate him?
Gordan Lindsay would write of him…
“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 farfetched and incredible.”2
William Branham would rise out of poverty and ignorance to become an incredible voice for the Lord through his healing ministry. He would travel throughout America and globally during the healing revival days. His story would provoke any believer and demonstrates how God can use anyone who will surrender to Him.
Branham was not a man of charm or cultural advantage, but rather a person who presented Christ simply and yet dramatically. His amazing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit would help to separate His ministry. “He indeed brings no new doctrine to the church, but a fresh revelation of the reality of the power of God and the intrinsic truth of the miraculous in the Scriptures.”3 Lindsay further stated of Branham’s early ministry, “his mission is to unite the people of God, not to further divide them in doctrinal controversy.”4
Branham would become a leader in the Healing Revival of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and as David E. Harrell, Jr. wrote, “The two giants of the healing revival, William Branham and Oral Roberts. They were remarkably different personalities, but they quickly recognized one another as the premier leaders of the revival…The success of Roberts was as predictable as Branham’s was unpredictable.”5
Weaver added “Branham is acknowledged as the leader and pacesetter of the revival. Whereas Roberts readily adapted and sustained his leadership in the transformation of healing revivalism to the broader charismatic revivalism, the less sophisticated Branham was not as widely successful, and his popularity eventually declined. He became increasingly exclusivistic, and given to the doctrinally bizarre.”6
God would use this 5-foot-9-inch-tall man who weighed a mere 150 pounds in a truly powerful way. He saw the deaf, speak, the blind see, and all kinds of sick people healed. Yet in his later days he would derail. There is so much we can learn from this man in what he did right and where he went wrong.
William was born on the 6th of April 1909 in a small dirt-floored cabin near the town of Burkesville in eastern Kentucky. His mother was barely fifteen at the time. As it was dawn and the sun was beginning to rise, the grandmother decided to open the window so she could better see her grandson. As she did so a strange event occurred that Branham later would write about. Perry wrote
“a light came whirling through the window of the little log cabin and hung over his crib.”7
The light was described as yellowish-green color or an amber color. The “Light” would be seen in the infamous “halo” photograph taken in 1950 while he was in Houston at a debate. The photograph was confirmed to be authentic by an FBI consultant, George J. Lacy. He stated on the photograph taken on January 24th, 1950…
“Based upon the above described examination and study I am of the definite opinion that the negative submitted for examination, was not retouched nor was it a composite or double exposed negative. Further, I am of the definite opinion that the light streak appearing above the head in a halo position was caused by light striking the negative.”8
Branham would have additional experiences involving the “light,” as we will see.
The Poorest of the Poor
The Branham’s lived in the backwoods of Kentucky in a world where most were not highly educated. William’s father, Charles Branham, was of Irish descent. What is interesting is that the name “Branham” comes from the Irish, “braon,” means “sorrow.” His mother was of Irish and Cherokee descent. In the Branham’s dirt floored cabin, they used planks for chairs. The glassless window was found in the door of the cabin. William’s father was an alcoholic which did not help with their economic woes.9 Branham later stated that often he had no shoes and his clothes were generally received from charity. 10 One winter he went without a shirt. He went to school wearing only his overcoat. When the weather became warmer, Branham took a girl’s dress and mad a shirt out of it. At school the other students ridiculed Branham for wearing girl’s clothes.11
Branham’s family who were Catholic,12 had little interest in religion, and they were not familiar with a Bible. Branham didn’t even know how to pray, and he never even heard someone prayer.13 Despite this the Lord would reach out to Branham who had prophetic visions from an early age. Liardon wrote…
“If no one around knows God, then there is no one to teach you.
In these kind of situations God is left to convey His message to a person through signs and wonders. It is rare, but God is not limited because of ignorance and poverty. It happened then, and it can happen today. God will get His message to an individual, one way or another.”14
Liardon further explained that God uses people like Branham to break religious molds. Religion declares you must follow the system and that there is no supernatural. The spirit of religion demands that you must belong to a network and earn your way into a position. It demands you must be someone and have the right connections, but God loves to raise up nobodies in the eyes of men, especially those from a natural perspective could never be someone great. Branham should never have achieved anything so great. What Branham would achieve was far beyond anything he could have accomplished from a natural perspective. But God! The Lord loves to raise up vessels that make the ways of men look foolish.
Somehow in the spiritual realm the enemy recognizes and sees the call on a person even before they step into it and seeks to do everything to stop them every laying a hold of the purpose of Heaven. Branham’s early years were difficult ones where he was often humiliated and branded a black sheep. 15
But from the beginning God’s hand of protection was on the family despite everything. Once while the father, who was a logger often had to stay away from home for extended period. Once during his trips, a severe snowstorm happened and it trapped the mother and Branham who was just a baby at the time, inside the cabin. With the firewood and food supplies gone, their fate looked bleak. The mother wrapped herself and the baby in ragged blankets awaiting her doom as they lay freezing and hungry. But God! The Lord had a plan and moved on the heart of a neighbor. He became concerned when he did not see smoke rising from the cabin so decided to make his way through the heavy snow to check on it. Finding them he quickly started a fire and got them food.
Shortly after wards, the Branham’s moved to Utica, Indiana. Here Charles worked as a famer. Later they would move to Jeffersonville, Indiana which would become the hometown of William Branham.
The Wind, The Voice and the Call
People considered him a nervous and hysterical child because of his experiences with the Lord and the way he behaved. For example, one day when he was asked to haul water for his dad’s still just as he came to the popular tree he sat down and noticed the air became still. Suddenly he heard something like wind blowing the leaves of the tree but didn’t see any leaves moving. He wondered where the noise was coming from. The noise continued to get louder and louder. He continued walking but the whirling sound caught his attention. He then saw something in the tree. But as whirlwinds were normal for that time of the year, he thought nothing of it and continued walking.
Suddenly her heard an audible voice which said, “Don’t you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There’ll be a work for you to do when you get older.” 16 Absolutely terrified the boy ran home to his mother. The mother didn’t know what to take of it sought to calm the boy down. When she failed, she put Branham to bed and was concerned he had been bitten by a poisonous snake or was suffering from nervous disorder.
After that, Branham would do everything to avoid that tree. However, Branham would be impacted by this event for the rest of his life. He would discover he could not smoke or drink or defile his body. For example, when he was eight when he was with his dad and another man who was working on the moonshine stills for his dad. The man offered Branham a drink. But Branham refused. His dad said, “I raised a bunch of children, but one of them is a sissy, and that’s Bill.” His father calling him a “sissy” and so he grabbed the bottle and was determined to take a drink. But as he tried, he suddenly heard the whooshing sound of the wind. The same sound as before. Branham dropped the bottle and ran away. 17
Branham would have a similar event when he tried to smoke. As a \result of Branham’s strange behavior he didn’t have many friends.
“It seemed all through my life I was just a black sheep knowing no one who understood me, and not even understanding myself.”18
Branham said regarding the voice…
“Down through life’s journey, it’s been time after time, I could hear the Voice… it’s not something you imagine, not something that you dream, but brother, it was just as- just as real as you hear my voice.”19
Running from the Call
Despite all the supernatural experiences Branham had happen in his life he still did not know the Lord and was not yet saved. When he was fourteen, he was in a hunting accident that left him in hospital for seven months. Not knowing what was happening, Branham continued to resist the call.
When he was nineteen Branham, he decided he wanted a better life and left for Phoenix Arizona where he worked for several years on a ranch. Branham had misled his mother to believe he was going on a camping trip to Tunnel Mill which was just north of Jeffersonville. However, his mother knew of his plans and pleaded him not to go.20 Branham would later would say od Phoenix, Í don’t know any place I rather be…I thought how thankful that the people of Arizona, Phoenix, should be to live in such a place. They’re closest towards heaven in Phoenix, Arizona. So such a heavenly atmosphere. I love it.”21
While he was enjoying life in the West, he still heard God calling him…
“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.”22
Branham also turned to boxing and became a successful boxer receiving several medals for it.
One day he got word that his brother was seriously ill, but Branham assumed that as his brother was young everything would be alright. However, when he heard the news his brother had died, he was heartbroken. Branham found himself unable to move as the reality kicked in. During this time he heard God calling him but once again he just fought it off. Branham returned home for the funeral. During the service the Lord again called to him. He wrote, “Oh, I grasped my seat; God was dealing again. Dear reader, when He calls, answer Him.”23
The death was very hard on the family as none of them knew the Lord. After the burial, Branham had fully intended to return to Arizona, but his mother pleaded with him to stay. Branham as a result sought for work and got a job in the Public Service Company of Indiana, the gas works company in New Albany.
Once Again, the Lord Calls
After working for two years at the gas works testing meters he was overcome by gas and became very ill. Branham slowly got worse and he ended up seeing a specialist in Louisville, Kentucky. Here they told him he had appendicitis and needed surgery. Branham agreed to the surgery only if he could remain conscious during surgery and have a Baptist minister present. Inside of Branham was a real fear of death. He would say, “I wanted someone to stand by me that knew God. I believed in prayer but could not prayer.”24
After surgery Branham became weaker. His heart was hardly beating, and his breathing was shallow. He assumed he was at the end of the road. “I knew I had never smoked, drank, or had any unclean habits, but I knew I was not ready to meet my God.”25
Once again, Branham began to hear the wind which got louder and louder. It was if he was back as the little barefoot boy in the garden all those years ago. But this time the words he heard were different…
“I called you and you would not go.”26
The Lord repeated this three times until finally Branham responded…
“Lord, if that is You, let me go back again to earth and I will preach Your Gospel from the housetops and street corners. I’ll tell everyone about it!”27
Although the surgeon believed Braham to be dead, William Branham awoke and a few days later went home. Branham’s spiritual hunger grew and although he was still not a Christian, he knew he was called to preach. Shortly afterwards while he was seeking the Lord he would be converted while in an old shed at the back of the house. Again the light appeared and formed the shape of a cross. Braham sought confirmation of the Lord’s presence and sure enough the light appeared two more times. 28
A New Chapter Begins
After his conversion, Branham began searching for a church. He would go from church to church looking for one that was hungry for God. He found the denominational churches dead. Finally, he found a small independent Baptist church that believed in healing.29 Branham went forward and was prayed for and was healed instantly. Branham became hungry to walk in the same power, so he began to seek the Lord for it. He would receive it six months later when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.30
Branham began to see his life from a different perspective and hard life he had endured being ridiculed and misunderstood now made sense considering God’s call on his life. Through it all God’s was preparing him for His purpose.
Branham was then ordained as an independent Baptist minister and soon developed a small group of loyal followers. Branham then secured a tent and began his evangelistic ministry. During June of 1933, Branham began his first revival meetings in his hometown of Jeffersonville. He would estimate over 3,000 attended his meetings.
The Baptismal Service
During his Jeffersonville revivals, Branham claimed he water baptized around 130 people. 31 For this young preacher, water baptism slowly gained more significance and outside of the angelic visitation and commissioning in 1946, baptism was secondary to Branham. For Branham it was a critical part of his “prophetic” ministry.32
Branham’s account of what happened at his first baptismal service was…
“I was baptizing down on the river, my converts, at the Ohio River, and the seventeenth person I was baptizing, as I started to baptize, then, I said, ‘Father, as I baptize him with water, You baptize him with the Holy Spirit.’ I started to- to put him under the water. And just then a whirl come down from the heavens above, her come that Light, shining down. Hundreds and hundreds of people on the bank right at two o’clock in the afternoon in June. And it hung right over where I was at. A Voice spoke from there, and said, ‘As John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner of the first coming of Christ, you’ve got a … have a Message that will bring forth the forerunning of the Second Coming of Christ.’ And it liked to a-scare me to death.”33
Branham who was just twenty-four years old, held this baptism on the Ohio River “At the foot of Spring Street.” 34 The Light which came down was like a large star whirling around and made a “whooshing” sound. The Pillar of Fire formed over Branham and was the same emerald color as the Light that appeared when he was born. The newspaper photographers saw the Light and asked Branham about it. His response to them was “That wasn’t for me. I believe that was for your sake that God did to let you know I’m telling the truth.”35 Green believed that the announcement was that Branham was the promised one of Malachi sent to be a forerunner for Christ’s return.
The crowd of around four thousand that witnessed the light, began to run in fear while some simply fell and began to worship the Lord. It was during June that Branham would give he prophesied about seven events that would occur before Christ’s return.
A small congregation desired that Branham remain with them at they met with him outside a prayer meeting being held at 1717 Spring Street. They told him they wanted to build him a tabernacle. The building was named, “Branham’s Tabernacle.” The building would be enlarged in the early 1960’s.
Marriage to His Wonderful Hope
Amelia Hope Brumbach was four years younger than Branham and unlike his previous girlfriend she was a Christian. When Branham had first met Hope, he was not a Christian. Hope like Branham lived a pure life and didn’t smoke or drink. She was part of the Missionary Baptist church which was one of the reason Branham began going to this church. It was at this church Branham would come to know the Lord and receive Him as Lord. It was here he was ordained.
Branham liked Hope but he was too bashful to ask her out. Finally, Branham decided after wrestling with it for a month to ask Hope by writing her a letter.36 He had slipped the letter in Hope’s mailbox. He then became nervous the mom would find the letter and disapprove of Branham but fortunately Hope found the letter first. One night after church he was walking her home and Hope told Branham she had got his letter.
Shortly afterwards the couple were married on June 22nd, 1934 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The days that followed were “some of the happiest of Branham’s life.”37
Two years later they had a son, Billy Paul. Branham was working for the public service company and Hope in a shirt factory.
The Holy Rollers
The 1930’s were a difficult time and the Great Depression hit the Branham Tabernacle hard. Branham was forced to take no compensation and had to take a secular job to support his family. During a church service, Branham heard someone saying, “You ought to have gone over and heard those Holy Rollers last night.” 38 Branham became interested and began asking questions. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to take a fishing trip to Michigan. Not long into his trip, Branham ran out of money so started to head for home.39
On the way home he saw a group gathering for a Gospel meeting and decided to stop. It would be an appointment with the Lord. It was to be Branham’s first experience with Pentecostalism. Branham fell in love with the people and so decided to spend the night and attend the evening service.
That night they called for all preachers to come up front, so Branham went up. Branham watched the service and how the people were worshipping and rejoicing in the Lord. “They would stand up, shout, scream, praise God, speak in tongues, and dance.”40 Branham began seeking the Lord on what he saw. He believed that everything had to be found in the Word and not just in one place but consistent throughout the Word. That night also much to Branham’s surprise he was called up to preach. Branham was too nervous and when they called his name he sat still and didn’t respond. Branham began to think of excuses he could give not to preach. But after the man beside him encouraged him, Branham finally went up. Suddenly, Luke chapter sixteen came to his mind and Branham overtaken by the Holy Spirit began to preach.
The church was a Oneness church and they had no idea they had a Baptist preaching for them. However, afterwards, Branham received enough invitations to last a year.
The Valley of Sorrow
Branham rushed home and was meet by Hope who ran to greet him. He began to tell Hope all about the people he met at Mishawaka and about the invitations he had received. When Hope’s mother heard about the Pentecostals, she began criticizing them, calling them Holy Rollers and trash. Branham seeking to please everyone cancelled his invitations,
During this time, they also had a baby girl Sharon Rose, who was born on October 27th, 1936. The joy they had would soon be turned into sorrow.
The Baptist church (Not his church) soon branded him fanatical for his sympathies with the Pentecostals. At the same time, Branham began to regret going to the Pentecostals. Something in him was stirred.
Shortly afterwards, Branham’s seventeen-year-old brother was killed in a car accident. Branham then had a vision that his father was about to die and sure enough shortly afterwards, Charles Jr. at the age of fifty died from an accidental overdose of strychnine which he was been given to treat a heart issue.
Then on December 24th, Branham came home to find his wife had fainted. He then had a vision of a flood. And Branham knew his wife was going to die.41
The 1937 Great Flood
Jeffersonville had suffered floods in the past and as a result a levee was built. However, in 1937 the city suffered a great flood and the levees were not able to hold it back. The snow melt caused the Ohio river to rise and swell and soon it overwhelmed Jeffersonville. The flood could not have come at a worse time for the Branham’s who had just had Sharon Rose and Hope was still recovering.
The sirens blasted and everyone had to evacuate the city. Hope and Sharon Rose were not in a condition to be moved. But they were moved to a temporary hospital. Branham was put on patrol to help rescue people from the flood. He regularly checked in with his family before setting out again.
Unawares to Branham, the hospital had to be evacuated and his family were moved once again. The people called for the “preacher,” so Branham went to help a mother who was trapped by the flood.
Branham realized he had missed the Lord in not taking the invitations he had been given and began repenting. As he returned, he learned his wife and children had been moved. They had come down with pneumonia. He was told they were moved to Charlestown, so he set off for there. However, the flood prevented him, and Branham became concerned his family had drowned. In his head all this time he was thinking about how he had failed the Lord.42
Branham was broken and crying out for his family. When he finally made it to Charlestown he looked everywhere for his family. Finally, he was told they had been moved 60 miles north to Columbus, Indiana. He was told his wife was dying of tuberculosis. When he arrived, the doctor told him that there was nothing left that they could do but make her comfortable.
His Wife Dies
Branham began to work to earn money to take care of his family and ensure they recovered. One day, while he was working, he was called and told to come immediately if he wanted to see his wife before she died. At the hospital Branham grabbed her and said, “Honey! Answer me!… God, please let her speak to me once more.”43 Branham knew she was dying and he thought, “If I had to live it over again, they would never be ‘trash.’ I don’t care who would say that. I would never again listen to another thing anyone told me. I would listen to God and Him alone.”44
Hope then spoke to Branham and said, “I was almost home. Why did you call me?”45 Hope began talking of heaven and then told Branham that he had been a good husband. Branham later stated that “she pulled me down to her and kissed me good-bye… Then she went to be with God.”46
Hope was buried on July 24th in the Walnut Creek Cemetery in a plot for her parents. They gave the plot to Branham for her as he did not have the money for one. The next day, Sharon Rose died, and she was buried on July 26th in her mother’s arms.
The days became dark for Branham and he even considered suicide twice. 47 One night he had a dream and in it her saw a young lady in her late teens. It was Sharon Rose. His daughter told him, Mother’s waiting for you.”48
The Wilderness of Promotion
Branham believed the flood was a result of his rejection of the Pentecostals. These are difficult years where he had to be father and mother to Billy, who had only been twenty-two months old when his mother died. In addition, the visions that Branham was having generated great concern and after he began to preach the rejection of them grew. The minister who ordained him wrote…
He would always drift out into some sort of conversation which I did not grasp, and later came to disregard as entirely visionary, and finally to dismiss his strange cogitations as useless and irrational. I had been a Baptist preacher for many years, and have been taught to disregard such ideas and concepts of spiritual things as visions, talking to the Lord, and kindred things. Therefore, this explains my impatience with Brother Branham.”49
The church saw his visions as demonic which greatly troubled Branham. They suggested that the “Light” at his birth was a demon and that is when it got into his life. 50
However, many in the Branham Tabernacle testified that many signs and wonders were associated with Branham’s visions. Added to the problem, the intensity of visions increased in 1945 and 1946.51
In 1941, Branham married again. Branham had felt he could never marry again but rumors soon grew regarding him as his housekeeper, Meda Broy. Branham had been saddened by people’s mistrust of him regarding their relationship. Branham then heard the Lord tell him to marry Meda on October 23rd and on that date in 1941 Branham who was thirty-two married Meda who was just twenty-two. Billy was now six years old. 52
The Divine Appointment
On May 7th, 1946 Branham decided to go home for lunch as it was a beautiful spring day. The Bramham’s lived in a small two room house at 922 East 8th Street across the street diagonally from the church. At home a friend came over and the two men went outside and were under a large maple tree. Suddenly, he heard the “whoosh,” sound that he knew all to well. “This time, it seemed like the heavens had broken up and had come open, or that the whole top of the tree was coming down.”53
His wife ran out to see if he was okay where she found Branham trying to get a hold of his emotions. Branham then out of holy desperation made a decision to find out what was happening and said to his wife, “I told her (his wife) and my child good-bye and warned her that if I didn’t come back in a few days, perhaps I might never return.”54
Branham then went to the Green Mill’s area where he prayed all afternoon and read his Bible. At times he would simply pace back and forth as he sought the Lord. Branham intensely sought the Lord and poured out his heart.
Around 11pm that night he saw a light flickering in the room. He assumed someone was coming near him with a flashlight. He saw that the light was the same yellow-green, emerald color light he had seen before. Finally, he saw the feet of a man walking towards him and then he made out a man who was around six feet tall and two hundred pounds. The man had no beard and was dressed in a robe.
The angel said to him…
“Fear not. I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE AND GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHINH SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER.”55
The angel then told him that God “speaks through the voice of a man… He don’t use organizations or so forth.”56 But Branham’s immediate response was much like that of Gideon. His concern was how would they people receive him. So, the angel told him that just as Moses was given two signs the Lord would give two signs to confirm Branham…
“One of them will be that you’ll take the person that you’re praying for by the hand, and with your left hand and their right… then just stand quiet, and it’ll have… there’ll be a physical effect that happen on your body… And the next thing will be, if you won’t hear that, then they will hear this… then it’ll come to pass that you’ll know the very secret of their heart… this they will hear.”57
The angel told him the people need to confess their sins and that their thoughts speak louder than words before the Lord.58 The angel told him he would preach to multitudes of people and that he would pack auditoriums.
Branham would be able to determine the disease by vibrations in his left hand and he could tell if the person was healed or not. Liardon wrote about this…”It is possible that the ‘vibration’ can be accurately described this way. When an unclean disease in the afflicted person met the supernatural power of God through Branham it would set off a physical reaction, or vibration. When the unclean meets the clean, there is going to be a reaction.”59
Regarding the second sign that God would reveal the heart of the person. Any sin that was under the blood would not be revealed. If Branham came across someone and what we would call a word of knowledge came to Branham regarding the person, he would take them aside and talk to them privately.
Throughout the Word we see that the Lord has used angels to deliver messages from heaven. We know that we must be careful because we may be entertaining angels unaware. When angels come, they will never violate the Word. In the early days of Branham, he was very strong on the fact that everything must line up with the Word. Gordan Lindsay wrote about the visitation…”looking back to the beginning of this visitation, we may point to May 7th, 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.”60
A New Day Begins
Branham returned home a new man with a new day beginning in his life and ministry. Branham was coming out of his wilderness anointing with the Holy Spirit and power. That Sunday evening, he told the people in church and they believed him.
The Lord began to move quickly. As he spoke someone got a telegram for him requesting that he come to St. Louis to pray for the daughter of Rev. Robert Daugherty, a Oneness minister. His congregation took up an offering to cover his traveling expenses and borrowing clothes from his brothers, Branham left at midnight.
The First Miracle
Arriving in St. Louis, Branham was greeted by Rev. Daugherty who began to give details on his daughter Betty who was dying on some unknown malady. He explained, “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.”61
Branham made it to the house and found a young girl with curly hair who was just skin and bones. She was clawing at her face like an animal and screaming. Branham and everyone in the room began to pray and nothing happened. So, Branham asked for a place he could just get alone with the Lord. There the Lord spoke to him through the Word that he could do nothing in and of himself.
Branham was then taken to the church where they all prayed for three hours without any change in the young lady. Branham once again went off to be along and seek the Lord before returning and seating in the pastor’s car. Finally, he came back to the house with a stern look and asked, “Do you believe that I am God’s servant.” To which they answered yes and then Branham said, “Then do as I tell you, doubting nothing.”62 The Lord spoke to Branham through an angel and told him that the child would live. Branham then did what the Lord had showed him to do and immediately the evil spirit left the girl and she became a normal healthy child. News spread and people came flocking to Branham, so he promised to return later. The Rev. Daughtery wrote a testimonial of the healing ten months after the healing to share she was still healed and doing well. 63
Returning to Saint Louis
Branham true to his word returned to St. Louis. It is important to understand a little bit about 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 he desires to please may lead to him 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.”64
In June of 1946, Branham returned to St. Louis and held and held tent meetings where he prayed for the sick for twelve days. The crowds flocked to his meetings. The Lord confirmed His Word and signs and wonders followed. A woman who had rejected the Spirit of God fell down and died right outside the camp. Branham preceded to pray for her, and she arose and accepted Jesus as Savior.65
Dr. Roy Davis who had ordained Branham laughed at Branahm’s account of what happened when he met the angel and soon after began printing negative articles about Branham. However, Branham loved Davis and prayed for him. The Lord once again gave Branham a vision. Several years later, Davis would write Branham a letter of apology. 66
After St. Louis Branham held a meeting in Jonesboro Arkansas. Here over twenty-five thousand attended the meeting. During one of the meetings Branham slipped out to minister to an old lady inside an ambulance. The woman had died so Branham prayed for her and the woman sat up and hugged her husband.67
Then there was the blind girl who got lost from her father during one of the meetings. As usual the meeting was packed with people but all the sudden Branham heard the gild crying out for her father. Branham was touched and stepped in front of the girl so she walked into him. She then explained “I am blind and have lost my father and I can’t find my way back to the bus.” He then proceeded to ask her where she was from and why she came. She said, ‘I came to see the healah.” She explained how she had been listening to the radio and heard that the deaf and blind are healed so she came. He asked her if she believed and explained that Jesus was the healer. He then prayed. Suddenly the girl cried, “I was blind, now I see.”68
Things Take Off for Branham
While Branham was in Arkansas, he hired W. E. Kidson as his campaign manager. Kidson was the editor of “The Apostolic Faith,” and a die-hard pioneer of the Oneness Doctrine. The Oneness church believes there is only one God, Jesus and He can manifest as Father, Son or Holy Spirit. They do not believe in the Triune God. However, soon after Kidson relinquished his duties, and Jack Moore and Young Brown assumed the roles of campaign manager.
During 1946, a book by Franklin Hall, the “Atomic Power with God through Prayer and Fasting.” The book called for believers to pray and fast and shared the power of it. Following the war there was a hunger once again in the church and people began to pray and seek Him. What followed was the Healing Revival.
In 1947, Branham began touring and visited many cities. In Vandalia Illinois, a small town of around 5,800 people swelled when over 4,000 sick came to be prayed for by Branham. “Branham was definitely creating a sensation.”69
Moore soon introduced Branham to Gordan Lindsay who unlike Moore was a Trinitarian. Despite their differences they became a power team for Branham. Lindsay encouraged Branham to reach people outside of the Onesess camp and remembering the words of the angel, Branham agreed. “Lindsay was a master in organization, an attribute Branham lacked. So, Branham gave Lindsay the liberty to organize and promote one of the greatest healing revivals to this day.”70
In the Fall of 1947, Moore and Lindsay organized meetings that joint brought both the Oneness and Trinitarian churches together. Branham avoided doctrinal issues, which he was very good at.
The Voice of Healing
Following the success of their meetings and with the desire to reach more with the healing message, Branham’s team they decided to start a new publication that went beyond the Oneness camp and would reach Pentecostals as well. The result was the “Voice of Healing” magazine. The first edition was a huge success and had to be reprinted several times.
Branham stated, “God didn’t put His endorsement upon one particular church, but He revealed that the pure in heart would see God,” Branham often added: ‘Let the fellow believe whatever he wants about it. These things don’t amount to very much anyhow. Be brothers, have fellowship with one another.” Branham believed that if Christians could not embrace one another as brothers then they should consider themselves, “backslid.”71
An Abrupt Halt
In May of 1948, Branham suffered a nervous breakdown and he had to cease his activities due to physical exhaustion. When Branham was originally just ministering in the Oneness camp, he put no time limits on his services and as a result he would often pray for people into the early hours. Branham lost forty pounds as he pushed himself. Branham was “faltering and staggering from the intense fatigue.”72
After Moore and Lindsay took over as managers, they began to limit his prayer line time to an hour or less each evening. However, Branham blamed his campaign managers. He accused Lindsay of overextending him and handed sole responsibility for the “Voice of healing” magazine to him. Lindsay was shocked by the accusations and having the magazine dropped fully into his lap. The relationship between Lindsay and Branham was never the same.73
During this time other leaders in the healing revival had risen, including Oral Roberts who called for people to pray for Branham’s restoration. Branham suddenly appeared back on the scene claiming he was miraculously healed.
Changes and a Halo
In January 1950, the healer minister, F. F. Bosworth joined the team and assisted Branham. Branham predicted that his ministry would become even greater. At the same time, “The Voice of Healing” began covering other healing revivalists and had reached nearly 200,000 readers every month.74 Even though Branham was featured in the magazine he became increasingly critical and called it a “massive financial organization.”75
His first meeting of 1950 was in Houston. Here working with Bosworth, they saw crowds of around 8,000 every night. A Baptist pastor, W. E. Best challenged Branham to a debate on the justification of faith healing. Bosworth felt led to accept the challenge. The event garnered the attention of the media so Rev. Best decided to hire photographers to take photographs during his debate with Branham. One of the photographers, James Ayres decided to develop the negatives of his photos and was shocked that they all except one turned out blank. Then to his amazing the one photograph he got showed a halo of light over the head of Branham.76
Reaching the Nations
Branham’s ministry in the spring of 1950 became international when he traveled to Scandinavia and at his first stop in Finland, he was at the scene of a car accident where the car in front of him hit two boys. They began to proceed to the hospital, but Branham realized that one of the boys no longer had a pulse and was not breathing. So, Branham knelt and prayed, and the boy revived. He was released from hospital three days later.
In the fall of1951, Branham would go to South Africa and would hold campaigns through December. It was stated that they were the greatest revivals ever in South Africa. Crowds of over fifty thousand attended his meetings and a book, “A Prophet Visits South Africa,” was written to document what happened.
Behind the Scenes
Branham was a man who would spend three days in prayer and fasting before his campaigns. He drew incredible numbers of people to his campaigns. Lindsay created a booklet called, “Divine Healing in the Branham Meeting” that was distributed in the city before the team came. This helped people on how to receive healing when they were prayed for by Branham.
Branham would avoid all personal interviews before a meeting choosing to spend his time in prayer.
Branham had a way of drawing people to him. He was not exuberant or charismatic but rather humble. People best remembered him for his humility. His English was not great, and he didn’t speak well in front of crowds, but then he had a lack of education and this perhaps played in his favor as he reached many poor and broken individuals.
Branham would pray until he sensed the angel was present or as Liardon wrote quoting Bosworth, “Without this consciousness he seems to be perfectly helpless. When he is conscious of the angel’s presence, he seems to break through the veil of the flesh into the world of the Spirit, to be struck through and through with a sense of the unseen.”77
Some people claimed they saw the angel, but the majority described seeing a light.
Branham had believed in the finished work of Calvary and believed sickness was of the enemy. Before he would pray for healing over someone, they had to first confess that Jesus died for their heling and second that Branham was a prophet sent by God to administer the healing. While Branham did not believe you had to be a Christian to be healed, he did believe you had to be a Christian to remain healed.
Branham also stop against the prosperity of ministers and claimed that although he could have been a millionaire from the money the ministry brought in, he chose to refuse gift of wealth because, “I want to be like the people who came to be prayed for.”78
As the healing revival continued, new leaders were arising and in 1952, there were forty-nine prominent healing ministries featured in the “The Voice of Healing” magazine. But from 1952, things began to dwindle as the healing revival began to end. This had a major impact on Branham who suffered greatly as a result. At the same times major changes occurred.
Gordan Lindsay, who had been one of the greatest blessings to Branham left. Branham never realized his value but rather turned on him and as Liardon wrote, “I also believe that Branham’s dissociation with Lindsay was a great mistake, and that Branham plunged into doctrinal error because of it.”79
Those who replaced Lindsay were more “yes” men and came nowhere near close to the character and caliber of Lindsay. Branham lacked the skill to recognize and deal with those who came to take advantage of him. Liardon wrote, “many felt that Branham’s managers took advantage of him and ministry funds by using them for themselves and their own wealth.”80 Under new management the ministry found itself struggling financially.
Crowds dropped and the ministry went into a financial deficit. In 1956, a tax-evasion suit was filed by the IRS against him. He would end up with a $40,000 out-of-court settle against him. A debt he carried all his life.
Ultimately a cult started to form around Branham believing he indeed had “the message.”. He was having weird visions and believed he was Elijah, the forerunner of Christ’s Second Coming.
By 1958, there were only around a dozen prominent healing ministers left and even the glory days for the “Voice of Healing” magazine was over. There was a spiritual shift and a need to follow the Holy Spirit in this shift.
Change of Calling.
Branham had been told by the Lord to do the work of an evangelist. But Branham felt that didn’t mean he was an evangelist.81 He became more and more discontent. He had hoped “his supernatural gift of discernment would knock down denominational barriers and rally Christians around a deeper commitment to Christ.82 He had up till now preached on three things: salvation, faith and healing. Liardon wrote that, “it is possible that through his prophetic gift, Branham saw the awakening of the teaching gift that would move on earth through the Word of Faith Movement.”83 The Word declared in Proverbs 18, verse 13 that “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Branham failed to see he was a leader in the Church globally and had he stayed true to his call he would have had the full impact.
Branham was not called as a teacher. He didn’t have the training and knowledge of the Word to be a teacher. As a result, he began to produce wrong and disturbing doctrines. The things he had believed, preached and stood for now seemed to have changed.
Branham had hoped that through his teaching ministry he would once again gain the spotlight. He saw new ministers rise and replace him and to Branham it became a competitive race. As we read in the Word there are transitions. For example, John the Baptist had to decrease in order for Jesus to increase. While in prison, John sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah or not. John the Baptist had expected things to go differently. Branham also had expected things to go differently and instead understanding there was a spiritual shift he remembered the old days and it became all about him.
- No Eternal Heal
Branham started to introduce new doctrines including that there was no eternal hell. He believed hell was forever but not for eternity and that those in hell would at some time be annihilated.84
- The Seed of the Serpent
Braham criticism of women grew. He had come against the immorality of modern women. He felt men had a right to divorce a woman for “bobbing off her hair.”85 He believed women belonged in the kitchen and “that it was her sin that had caused it all. He stated, “every time that a- a funeral goes down the street, a woman caused it… Everything that’s wrong, a woman caused it. And then put her head of the church… shame on her.”86
In 1958 he announced this doctrine of the serpent’s seed that stated women carried the literal seed of the devil. He reminded women they were not a created product of God but merely a by-product of men.87 “No woman who disobeyed his “thus Saith the Lord’ moral code was following the ‘message’ that was needed to be a part of the rapture-bound Bride of Christ.”
It is worth noting that in 1955 a woman had prophesied that Meda was going to die during childbirth because Branham had refused her leadership. She had printed this on postcard and sent them all over America. Meda, his wife heard about it and it had a major impact on both.88 This may have been in part a reason for his anger against women.
It is interesting Branham had preached…
“If I ever say anything in your presence, as a doctrine or a teaching, that’s not in the Bible, forget it, because it’s not right. And if the–any angel (I don’t care how real he looks, and how inspired he is), if he speaks contrary to the Word of God, leave him alone. He’s not of God. Galatians 1:8 said, “An angel from heaven preach any other doctrine than this is, what already taught, let him be accursed.”89
In 1960, he responded to criticism for his harsh preaching and warning it would ruin his ministry preaching. His response was…
“I said, “Any time that the Word of God ruins my ministry, God, ruin it right quick, because l–l want it ruined.” That–that’s right. I want to give something that’s right. The Word of God teaches that. And I say, “God give us boldness, and men that’ll stand for the truth, regardless of what comes or goes.” That’s what we need. The Gospel’s not something for a sissy. The Gospel’s for men, God-called men.”90
Branham had believed that God had planned to populate the earth from the dust and that woman introduced sex and as a result polygamy was rampant after the fall. He believed when Jesus spoke of divorce, He referenced that a woman is she divorced could not remarry but a man was free to divorce his wife and remarry a virgin.
Branham made extreme renunciations of education, teaching that God rarely used highly educated men and that the most effective were those “not hindered by intellectual conceptions.” After his doctrine of the serpents seed and stated…
What did Satan pregnate Eve with? To disbelieve the Word for intellectuals, intellectual and it ruined the whole of creation. That is exactly what she has done in the world today, the church. She has pregnated herself with Bible schools and colleges… they know all their creeds… but nothing about God. They’d know when the Word is vindicated… When God spoke back there and lotted out His Word to each generation as it came along.”91
- The Mark of the Beast
He saw denominationalism as the mark of the beast. It is interesting that during the height of his revivals he had an ecumenical approach and sought to avoid doctrinal conflict. Rather he preached the unity of the Holy Spirit. Branham had always preached he was non-denominational but that he was against denominations. “Separation from denominationalism was not necessary, according to Branham.”92
In Branham’s interview with Gordan Lindsay in 1954, Gordan asked him about unity of the Body and how it was there goal, “How we labored for the unity of the whole Body of Christ and from that time that became the policy of the “Voice of Healing” magazine.” Branham responded…” When they built the Temple they cut the stones in different parts of the world. But they were brought together, there wasn’t the sound of a saw or hammer. They fit together stone on stone… I would like all religious groups to know that I am trying to bring unity to all the people of God… I have tried to get them in a spirit of love to break down the walls of prejudice.”93
Branham declared he was the Laodicean prophet and he could reveal the seventh seal of the Book of Revelation. He further, predicted the destruction of the United States would begin 1977. 94
- His Mouth Had Power
Branham believed he entered the third stage of his ministry in 1959, when he was told “Now is the beginning of your new ministry. Now ask what you will, and it shall be given to you.”95
He believed that the day was coming when what he spoke from his mouth would change physical bodies into glorified bodies ready for the Rapture. Branham would restore God’s original name of JHVH. It had previously been mispronounced but “Branham’s mouth was specially formed to say it.”96
Branham as stated before had previously declared he was not part of any denomination and he also refuted belonging to the Oneness doctrine. But Branham would go back and forth on doctrine. One day attacking the Oneness and the other day attacking the Trinitarian
“There were many people named Jesus, but there is only one Lord Jesus Christ.”
Trinitarianism is of the devil”97
Today a group called the Branhamites who were once called “The Messengers” continue to follow what Branham taught, believing he truly was the Laodicean prophet. They are a worldwide movement and in fact the fourth largest church group in Zaire.
His Last days and Death
On the Thanksgiving week of 1965, Branham would preach his last message at his friend’s Jack Moore’s church. Jack Moore disagreed with Branham’s doctrine but remained a friend.
On December 18th while they were driving back home to Indiana, they were in a car accident. His son, Billy Paul was driving, and his wife was in the passenger seat. A drunk driver swerved into the other lane and hit the Branham’s card head on.
Branham went through the windshield and back again. The son checked on his father and saw he had broken his bones but still had a pulse. His mother had no pulse. Suddenly Branham came around and asked about the mom. The son told her she was dead, but Branham responded, “Just lay my hands on her.” Billy did as he was told and instantly the mother revived.
William Branham would remain in a coma for six days before dying on Christmas Eve, 1965.
The Pentecostal world though saddened by the death were not surprised. Ken Hagin two years before his death had a prophetic word that the Lord was “removing the prophet.” Branham died exactly when the Lord said he would.
When the news of the accident came Hagin had called all the people to pray up front. But the Lord spoke to him and asked him what was he praying for. Hagin got up and walked away, unable to pray anymore.
The Lord told Lindsay four times Branham would die and he tried to tell him but could not get past his yes men. Finally, when he did Lindsay tried to reason with Branham. He told him, “Why don’t you function where God wants you and manifest the gift God’s given you? Stay there! Don’t try to get over into this ministry.” Branham’s response was that he wanted to teach.98
- Frodsham, Stanley Howard. “Remarkable Healing Campaigns.” Pentecost. March 1948, Number 3. Page 5
- Lindsey, Gordan and William Branham. “William Branham: A man sent from God. William Branham, Jefferson, Indiana. 1950. Page 9
- Lindsey, Gordan and William Branham. “William Branham: A man sent from God. William Branham, Jefferson, Indiana. 1950. Page 10
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- Sonmore, Clayt. The Life of William Branham: The true Story of a Modern-Day Prophet. Thy Kingdom Come Ministries. 2003. Page 211
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