Commission & Ministry
This article is one in a series dealing with William Branham's biography - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
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William Branham wrote that he received a commission for his healing ministry in March 1945 when he saw a vision of birds that would not eat from a small pile of white bread. A voice told him “That is your Tabernacle and they won't eat the bread of life anymore. I am sending you…westward.” William Branham was then shown a large tent with a platform at the front. Behind the tent was a great pile of the same white bread, and he was told to feed a white-robed audience that had gathered from everywhere. The following day, William Branham explained the vision to his church.
William Branham left Jeffersonville on June 14, 1945 and headed directly west with his wife, son, and Rev. Daugherty to St. Louis, Missouri. The testimonies from the tent meetings in St. Louis were compiled in a tract called “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” and distributed at subsequent revival meetings. The tract describes that the group that left from Jeffersonville carpooled, as gas rationing was in effect. Gas rationing in the United States ended August 15, 1945.
Meda Branham gave birth to a girl, Rebekah, on March 21, 1946. 
The Associated Press published an interview with William Branahm on June 30, 1947 in which he said, “ 11 months ago, I got a call so insistent that I went out and started healing people”. This puts the date of his commission at September 1946. 
In June 1947, the Evening Sun newspaper of Jonesboro, Arkansas also reported that "Residents of at least 25 States and Mexico have visited Jonesboro since Rev. Branham opened the camp meeting, June 1st. The total attendance for the services is likely to surpass the 20,000 mark." William Branham also met Gordon Lindsay in 1947, who became his primary manager and promoter. Shortly after, several other prominent Pentecostals joined his ministry team, including Ern Baxter and F.F. Bosworth. Gordon Lindsay proved to be an able publicist for Branham, founding The Voice of Healing magazine in 1948 which was originally aimed at reporting on Branham's healing campaigns.
Both F.F. Bosworth and Gordon Lindsay had connections to Alexander Dowie, who claimed he was Elijah. Bosworth was the band director in Zion, Illinois in 1905 and 1906 as Dowie’s utopian empire crumbled. Charles Parham, one of the founders of the Azuza Street Revival and a member of the KKK, established Tent meetings in Zion in 1907. Bosworth attended these meetings along with John G. Lake until the Zion Pentecostal revival fell apart after Parham was jailed.
Gordon Lindsay was born in Zion, Illinois. Lindsay eventually worked with John G. Lake in establishing a the Divine Healing Mission in Portland, Oregon.
It is likely through connections with F.F. Bosworth and Gordon Lindsay that William Branham learned the doctrine that Elijah would come before the second coming. It didn’t take long before William Branham became convinced that he was that Elijah.
William Branham claimed that he received the gift of healing that commissioned his healing ministry from the Angel of the Lord on the day Israel became a nation on May 7, 1946, and then again when Israel became a nation on May 6, 1947. William Branham seemed unaware that Israel actually declared its independence on May 14, 1948.
William Branham said the Angel gave him his commission at Green’s Mill in an old cabin. He also said the Angel gave him his commission at Green’s Mill in a secret cave. In a video called “Twentieth Century Prophet” William Branham said that he was 37 years old when a tall angel with olive complexion walked into his room at home, and told him:
William Branham also met with Avak Hagopian in Florida in 1948, a renown “faith healer” from Armenia who was featured in the May 19, 1947 edition of LIFE magazine. Avak was tall, of olive complexion, had long shoulder-length hair and wore flowing robes – eerily similar to the description of William Branham’s angel.
William Branham’s early work in faith healing attracted attention, and as stories began to spread of his healing gift, local pastors came to ask Branham to minister to their congregations and pray for the sick. When local churches could not accommodate the crowds, Branham's meetings were moved to larger auditoriums or stadiums for united campaigns in major cities in North America. His success soon took him to minister in countries around the world. According to one Pentecostal historian, "Branham filled the largest stadiums and meeting halls in the world."
On the night of January 24, 1950, an unusual photograph was taken during a speaking engagement in the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. The photograph was of William Branham standing at the podium, with a halo of light behind his head. William Branham claimed that this was a supernatural light, and paid to have the photograph examined by a professional, George J. Lacy, to confirm that the negative had not been tampered with. The photographer then refused to let William Branham use the photograph as the cover for his life story.
William Branham continued his worldwide ministry, and the “Voice of Healing” magazine published an article in June 1950 about a boy who was raised to life in Finland during the William Branham campaigns, after being hit by a car.
By this time, William Branham was praying for the sick using two methods. The first was a physical reaction in his hand indicating the presence of germ diseases. The second was that he knew he could talk to people directly about their lives without the need to ask questions.
In 1951, William Branham prayed for a boy named Donny Morton, which was reported in Chatelaine Magazine and re-printed in a condensed version in the Reader’s Digest. This article describes how William Branham described the boy’s situation to his father, without asking questions. While William Branham said the boy was healed, the article tells that Donny Morton died of pneumonia while recovering from surgery. In other words, William Branham properly discerned Donny Morton’s situation, but that did not help Donny Morton who died in November of 1951.
In Durban, South Africa in 1951, William Branham spoke at meetings sponsored by the Apostolic Faith Mission, the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Full Gospel Church of God. Meetings were conducted in eleven cities, with a combined attendance of a half million people. On the final day of the Durban meetings, held at the Greyville Racecourse, an estimated 45,000 people attended and thousands more were turned away at the gates. As he travelled around the world he met many individuals of public influence. 
A daughter Sarah was born to Meda and William Branham on March 19, 1951 followed by a son Joseph who was born on May 19, 1955. 
Teaching Strange Doctrine
From the mid-1950s onwards William Branham became more open with his own beliefs. As a result, people who once preached with him abandoned his ministry. Ern Baxter told him not to teach, but he did not listen. William Booth Clibborn accused William Branham of not knowing his Bible, but William Branham never put the effort in to learn the Bible. Gordon Lindsay also reached out to William Branham to encourage him to stop teaching, but William Branham replied “I know I’m not a teacher, but I want to teach. And I’m going to teach!”
Some of William Branham’s doctrines from the 1950’s include:
It was during these years that William Branham introduced the vision of the “third pull” that was to play a more significant part in later years. The third pull relates to a vision of an Angel who was teaching him how to fish. He was to cast his line out, pull slow at first (his healing ministry), jerk a little harder the second time (his discernment ministry), and set the hook for the catch on the third pull. However, in the vision William Branham got his line tangled, and the Angel rebuked him for making a public show of his ministry. He said the angel then took him back to a tent where people were being saved (reminiscent of his 1945 commissioning vision), and that the pillar of fire left him and went into a small building to meet people privately.
It is in the late 1950’s that William Branham began talking about ‘speaking things into existence’. By his word, he claimed to have raised dead fish to life, brought a woman’s two sons to instant salvation, and created squirrels. He shot the squirrels, and one follower of William Branham claimed they sat in his freezer for years, and had no belly buttons.
In an interview, Ern Baxter said “Branham as a teacher was outside of his calling. The fruits of his teaching ministry are not good.”
On June 1956, William Branham preached a three day campaign at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis with Jim Jones. This three day campaign was attended by over 11, 000 people and sky-rocketed Jim Jones to fame. Jones later went on to commit mass suicide in 1978 after the world never ended in 1977.
In 1960 William Branham spoke a series of sermons on the Church Ages (see Seven Church Ages for more details) that outlined his views of church history and his interpretation of the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. In these sermons, William Branham predicted that the seven visions he saw in 1933 would be fulfilled by 1977. Much of these sermons is similar to the doctrines published by the Baptist theologian Clarence Larkin.
In the 1960’s William Branham would often say, “I am a prophet”, then “I am not a prophet”. He also expressed confusion as to whether he was a seer or an evangelist.
William Branham’s mother Ella Harvey (Branham) died October 27, 1961.  Just over a year later, William Branham moved his family to Tucson, Arizona. As he left, he told his congregation in Jeffersonville that he was leaving to fulfill a vision of hunting in the Mountains with his son Joseph, and that five angels would appear to him. 
William Branham came back for meetings in Jeffersonville in early 1963 where he preached about an angelic visitation he had received without his son Joseph and without birds appearing, and how he was divinely instructed to preach about the Seven Seals. These sermons contained a lot of church history, and also borrowed heavily from the commentary of Clarence Larkin once again. People who believe that William Branham was a major prophet consider these sermons the fulfillment of Matthew 17:11, where Jesus says that Elijah must come and “restore all things”. The seals as taught by William Branham can be summarized as follows:
In these sermons, William Branham tells that he was hunting earlier that month when seven angels came to him in Arizona, and that one angel revealed the seals to him before each sermon. He later saw a picture of a cloud over Arizona in LIFE magazine, and claimed that he was hunting exactly under it at the time, when he actually went hunting a few hundred miles south of the cloud a week later.
In May 1962 William Branham expressed his confusion and decision at becoming a seer or an evangelist. In June 1963 he tells of an angelic visitation where he is told to "Return! Did not I tell you in the beginning to do the work of an Evangelist?" In the same sermon, William Branham confesses that he has lost the love for the people, calling them "Ricky and Ricketta" when they are still children of God, and are only under bondage to denominations who tell them "don't you do this, and don't you do that." 
William Branham spoke some very bold prophecies that were recorded during his sermons in the 1960’s that did not come to pass. These prophecies include:
William Branham went hunting again in March 1964. This time he took a larger number of friends with him. He claimed that a whirlwind came from heaven (there is a video of the dust-devil taken at the camp). He claimed that it was the judgment sign of the end of the world, and that his message was the “evening light” that came to him on “Sunset Mountain”. In reality, all of these men were hunting on Rattlesnake Mesa. While he declared judgement on California, an earthquake struck Alaska. Not deterred, William Branham claimed it was fulfillment of judgement.
In 1965 William Branham spoke some radical sermons. In Marriage and Divorce, he taught that a man could divorce his wife if she trimmed her hair.
On December 18, 1965 William Branham and his family (all except his daughter Rebekah) were returning to Jeffersonville, Indiana from Tucson, Arizona for the Christmas Holidays. About three miles east of Friona, Texas just after dark, a car traveling west struck Branham's car head-on. The driver of the other car died at the scene, as did the other front seat passenger. The other two passengers in the back seat of the car were severely injured. Branham's wife was seriously injured and his daughter Sarah was lying in the back seat and was also injured. Branham's left arm was mangled and caught in the driver-side door, and his left leg was wrapped around the steering wheel. After about 45 minutes Branham was pulled from his car and transported to the hospital at Friona, and then later transported to the hospital at Amarillo, Texas. He lived for six days after the crash, dying on December 24, 1965 at 5:49 PM. His body was returned to Jeffersonville, Indiana for burial.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, over 1,100 sermons were recorded. The men in charge of this recording were Leo Mercer and Gene Goad, two homosexuals who started a religious commune that William Branham preached at in Prescott, Arizona, and where they sexually abused the members and their children. The sermons were then given over to the William Branham Evangelistic Association. The sole director of this Association for a time was Fred Sothmann, who believed that William Branham was God the Father. After William Branham’s death, the audio tapes were transferred into an entity called “Voice of God Recordings”. Voice of God Recordings reported assets of $109,834,481 on their US tax return as of June 30, 2011. They earned these funds by distributing the sermons of William Branham.
Despite this, most people in Christian churches today have never heard of William Branham. While tens of millions of people around the world knew about him in the 1940's and '50's, today most people in and out of churches have never heard of him, and his followers are few and self-isolating. Compare this to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not known outside of Israel at the time of his death, but within 30 years after his resurrection, the new Christian church came under the direct persecution of the Roman emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Paul and Peter were both killed by Nero.
This quote from Douglas Weaver's book, The Healer-Prophet: William Marrion Branham, is most telling:
To his followers, William Branham is the most important person since Jesus Christ (and to many he is even more important). But to the Christian and non-Christian world, he is virtually unknown. That is his true "vindication" and something that cannot be said of Jesus Christ or every true prophet or apostle in recorded history.