The Testimony of James Bernard Manuel
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Off The Shelf Podcast episodes
Click on the following to go to the podcast:
- Episode 81 - Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 6)
- Episode 80 - Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 5)
- Episode 79 - Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 4)
- Episode 52 – An interview with Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 3)
- Episode 51 – An interview with Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 2)
- Episode 50 – An interview with Pastor James Manuel of South Africa (Part 1)
This is the testimony of former message pastor James Bernard Manuel of Cape Town, South Africa.
I was the eldest of eight children. Both my father and mother were alcoholics. Because of decisions they made, we were forced to move into a two-roomed wood and iron dwelling. I mean two rooms. One room was the kitchen and part bedroom and the other room was the main bedroom. We only had two beds. A single bed and a double bed. We all slept on those two beds.
Frank was offered a bed of his own by my granny in Salt River and with my parent’s permission he moved there. I used to collect wine bottles during the week for bus fare to get to Salt River over weekends.
Introduced to church
My younger brother, Frank came to me one day in 1969. I was fourteen at the time. He lived with my grandmother in Salt River and attended Sunday School at a Docks Mission church nearby.
I spent the weekend at my grandmother and this was his opportunity to take his big brother with him.
“They give each child who brings someone new to Sunday School, a slab of chocolate. I’ll give you half if you go with me”. “Deal” I said.
Sunday afternoon I was at Sunday school and my brother made sure we got that chocolate. And I made sure he gave me my half.
Little did I know this was the beginning of a brand new life for me. I will never forget the very first scripture I was given to memorize. It was Romans 11:33 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.”
A short time later the Sunday School Superintendent, Sister Rachel Felix invited me to join them the following Saturday evening for a youth service. This was all new to me and for the first time in my life I was presented with the gospel. I listened intently to what was said and it made an immediate impression on me. To really understand this, one has to have some comprehension of my upbringing.
I could not wait to get back to the youth service on a Saturday. By this time, Sister Rachel decided I was too old and clever for the Sunday School. After only two weeks I became a full member of the youth.
It was two months later when we were invited to sing at a Youth Service of the City Mission in Jarvis Street, Cape Town. This would be the first time for me to go to another church and I was very excited. As a young boy, I always had a lot of questions. Why are we so poor. Why do my parents drink. Why am I always sad. Some of the most pressing questions were answered in an indirect way at youth meetings and I developed a hunger to be happy like the other youth. But how do I do this?? Should I just pretend that I’m happy? Or should I speak with God? And how do I do this??
Confronted by the Gospel
That night, the pastor preached a sermon. I cannot remember the title or even the scripture he used but at the end of his sermon he made an altar call. “If there is anyone in the audience who want to accept Jesus into their hearts and experience real happiness and joy, please come to the front”. With eyes filled with tears and a heart torn to pieces, I met my Savior that night. I remember the counselor said, “ pray after me”. I opened my heart and I do not know where the words came from, there was no need for this person to lead me to Jesus. I found Him on my knees that night. I poured my heart out to Him, and He listened as this young boy found “The More” he was searching for.
When I got up from my knees, the whole church were in tears and a happy rejoicing followed. Jesus has been my Shepherd, my Guide, my Friend since that Saturday night.
School ends abruptly
At age fifteen I was summoned to my dad’s work by his boss, Mr. O’Sullivan. Dad was so badly addicted to alcohol that he started drinking during his working hours. Mr. O’Sullivan knows me from a young child because I used to go to work with my dad when it was school holidays. I knew pretty well everything about his job because he was only a messenger, but a good one. I knew exactly what to do because I used to go on deliveries all by myself during the last school holidays.
“Your dad is one of our best workers” he said, “ And I would not want to see him go, but after several warnings, he does not seem to be able to control his addiction to wine.”
Still a young boy, I did not at first understand what the boss was saying to me. I looked suspiciously at him, and asked very innocently, “Sir, why do you tell me this”?
“I know your family’s circumstances at home, and wanted to make sure that you all are taken care of.” Still I had no idea what he was saying to me. “ I can no longer keep your dad on the job” he continued, “ but I thought if you could come and work for me, the family would not suffer so much.”
“But I am still at school, sir” I replied. “I know, James” he said, “but in order to lessen the hardship on your family, I thought I’ll do it this way.” He continued, “I’ll pay for you to go to night school. And I will pay you the same wage as your dad.”
A million things raced through my young brain. What if I refuse? What if he just fire my dad. What will happen to my siblings. And my mother? “Yes”, I said, “Mr. O’Sullivan, I’ll take the job, and when do I start? “I’ll first discuss it with your dad. In the meantime, after the next holiday, don’t return to school.”
This all happened in April 1971. I could not tell my dad of the discussion which took place between Mr. O’Sullivan and myself. I approached him the same evening before he was too drunk that I would not be able to talk with him. I said, : “Pa, I don’t want to go to school anymore. I want to go and work.” He looked at me and did not reply. The next evening he came home and said, “ I thought about what you told me last night and am not happy, but if that is what you want, I agree.” What a relief that was. I went into the office and told his boss that it would be OK.
Starting out in the world
To soften the blow to my dad, I went out looking for work and got another job in the meantime. Mr. Robert Katz of Katz Engineering gave me and my cousin, Ernest Knoop, a ride in his car, the very first time I rode in a Mercedes Benz. He wanted to know where we were going, and after telling him we were looking for a job, he took us to his factory and we started the same morning. I did it. My dad would never find out that I’m getting his job to take care of my family.
My dad and Mr. O’Sullivan worked something out because at the end of June, 1971 my dad left South African Fish Canners Association a very happy man and I started working there on July 5, 1971.
I worked at this office for 5 years and I thank God that I could be faithful in helping to provide for my family. I now lived permanently with my grandmother in Salt River for logistical reasons, but on a Thursday when I got paid, I took my wages home. The packet remained sealed until my mom opened it. She would thank me and give me R5 pocket money for the week. Most of the time I walked to work and eventually I was able to afford to buy a bicycle from the pocket money my mom gave me.
Introduced to the message
Our offices were on the ninth floor of an office block on the Foreshore of Cape Town. On this same floor, but for another company, worked a brother whom I came to know as Brother Steve. Steven Staines was a humble, married man who would always smile. He loved greeting and talking with people. One day, during one of those chats, he invited me to his store room on the fourth floor of the same building. It was lunch-time. “I always come here to pray” he said. “You are welcome to join me.” I agreed. And so we did every day.
Brother Steve’s company was big. They occupied three floors of this building. One day in 1972 someone said to Brother Steve that he saw a man praying for his food before he ate. Brother Steve did an investigation and found this brother working for the same company as himself. His name was Joey Nair. Brother Steve invited Joey Nair to our prayer meeting. Later, more people came to know about our prayer meeting and the group grew into a full blown fellowship during lunch-time.
One day, out of nowhere Joey Nair asked us, “How were you baptized? And do you know God sent a prophet?” At first, we did not answer. Some of the other brothers told us this man is a Jesus only and we should get rid of him. We did not, so they all left. We found ourselves stuck together. Steven Staines, Joey Nair and myself.
Brother Joey kept on with his questioning and eventually I got tired. “ If you can show me in the Bible where people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ I will do what you say.” Confidently, Brother Joey opened my Bible and showed me.
“Now what about this story about a prophet,” I retorted. Again, confidently he turned in my Bible to Malachi 4:5-6. “You see, this scripture has a two-fold purpose. He said he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.” “ Now when did this take place.” I said. He turned to Matthew 17:11. “ You see, Elijah must first come and restore ALL things. John the Baptist only foreran the first coming of Christ. But a prophet came with Thus Saith the Lord to restore us back to the Word that was lost through the apostolic ages.”
“And who is this prophet,” I enquired. “ His name is William Marrion Branham from Jeffersonville, Indiana, in America” he replied. “Now how would I know you’re telling me the truth?” I asked. “ By taking every scripture back to the Word,” he hit back.
“I will have to speak to my pastor about this,” I said. “ Well God only came for his elect. Denominations and Organizations have rejected this prophet, but he came only for his elected Bride. Revelations 3:20 shows clearly that the church put Jesus out. He is knocking to come in but they have rejected him through their creeds and dogmas and they’ve made the Word of God of none effect”
I looked at Brother Joey, oh he was sincere, he was serious and he was very meticulous and convincing. I have never heard such things. “Brother Steve, what do you think?” I enquired from the more senior brother. “I don’t know James, I’ll have to pray over this matter. I will let you know tomorrow.”
My pastor's reaction
That evening I went home and after supper, I went to my leader. “Brother Freddy Esau, I have something which bothers me.” “ What is it, James?” was his reply. “I have a brother at work who tells me God sent a prophet. He also says I’ve been baptized wrong and that we belong to the beast.” No reply from my leader. “ I came here tonight to get advice from you, what must I do?” Silence. Then I noticed my pastor’s eyes were full of tears.
“Did I say something wrong, Brother Freddy?” Slowly my leader responded with these shocking words. “I have the same problem at work, I have a person working with me asking me the same questions and I am unable to answer.” “So, does this mean Brother Joey is right?” I asked excitedly. “No, let’s give him a test like Gideon did to find out if it was really the Lord.” He had a full beard. “I will shave half of my beard. You sleep here tonight. I’m asking the lord to cut the other half. If I wake up in the morning and the beard is shaven, we’ll know they are speaking the truth,, but if we wake up in the morning and the half beard is still on my face, we’ll know they are fake.
After a serious prayer that evening we went to sleep. I was up early in the morning, excited to see the results. Brother Freddy woke up a bit later and when I looked in his face, I did not know how to react. The beard was still unshaven. “These brothers are from the devil. When you see Brother Joey, tell him I say he’s a devil and I’ll do the same with Brother Mintoor DeKock at my factory.” After a short prayer we left in our different directions.
I told Brother Steve about my experience with Brother Freddy and he said the same. “We should stay out of Brother Joey’s way.” Lunch-time, the two of us went into the little storeroom to pray. There was a knock on the door. When Brother Steve opened, guess who it was? Yes, Brother Joey. He was friendly as always. We prayed and as he left he gave each one of us a spoken word book. Mine was The Seed is not Heir with the Shuck and Brother Steve’s was, God’s chosen Place of Worship. We greeted and parted company. We did not see Brother Joey for about a week. Then suddenly he came to the fourth floor.
“Brothers” he said, “ I have resigned from this job and I’ll be finishing at the end of this month.” “ I have just this to ask of you, tell me, if the Word tells you to do something why would you not do it? It is difficult, I know, because of your denominations, but are you prepared to face a lost eternity just because your pastor told you not to do it? Who is more important, the Word of God or your denomination.” “ The Word “ we replied. So, then if Peter on the day of Pentecost stood there and said, Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This promise is unto you and your children and those who are afar off. Don’t you think that is what you ought to do?”
I looked at Brother Steve and he looked at me and we both answered, “You are right Brother Joey.” “ Now what is stopping you. I’ll arrange the baptism” We agreed.
This all happened during November 1972. I went Brother Freddy’s home to tell him of my decision. Instead of rebuking me, he said he decided to do the same.
Accepting the message
From that time the brothers started having informal meetings at different brothers’ homes. We were invited. In those days they had the big eight track tape recorders and reel to reel tapes. One evening we sat till the wee hours of the morning listening to sermons of Brother William Branham. Then there was the healing and discernment portion of the message right near the end.
I remember sitting and listening with my mouth open. It was awesome. It was holy. It was mind-boggling. I would sit glued to my seat and oh, what a sweet anointing would sweep into the room where we were sitting. It was literally impossible and unthinkable for a mere mortal man to know what someone else was thinking or what their ailments were. I was convinced that Bible days were here again. At the end of the service when Brother Branham sang Only Believe, Only Believe, All things are possible, Only Believe, we would join in and sing from the depths of our hearts. Yes, It was truly possible if we could only believe. We met some more message believers and they were too happy to welcome us into the fold.
Early 1973 Brother Steve and myself were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ according to Acts 2:38. An old veteran, whom I respected and loved, Brother John Hopley, did the honors at Princess Vlei on the Cape Flats. We were now baptized according to the Word. But we went back to our denominations. Brother Steve was Pentecostal and I was Docks Mission which is similar to the Baptist Church.
Leaving denominations behind
The brethren came to see us and explained, “Now that you are baptized and you accept Brother William Marrion Branham as the end-time prophet you cannot stay in a denomination, because the Bible says you must come from out amongst them”. It took a few more months before I finally broke loose and came into the message 100%.
The messenger's vindication
It was at this time that I was told by the brothers about all the wonderful signs that followed our prophet. They were now able to take me deeper into the mysteries. I was shown the halo photo and a complete explanation was given. “ You see, that is why we know this is the truth. God vindicated his messenger by taking a photo with him. Not only that, they sent it to scientific laboratories and when the scientist George J Lacy gave his findings he said it was the only supernatural being ever photographed.” Wow!! As a young boy, I was impressed. Am I that important that God chose me to be a witness of this? I was happy and rejoiced.
Next item was the Cloud. What is this? This cloud has the face of Jesus. He came down to visit his prophet while he was hunting on Sunset Mountain on February 28, 1963. Have a good look brother. Do you see His eyes? Look there, can you see His nose, and look here, there is his mouth. Can you see, brother?
Yes, I can see, but when was this? The prophet was hunting with two of his friends, when there was a blast on the mountain and suddenly out of nowhere, seven angels appeared to Brother Branham. They told him that he must go back to Jeffersonville because he will open the seven seals of Revelation. This is the only message where Jesus came himself to visit his prophet with a special message for the bride.
That cloud remained sunlit for 28 minutes typing the half hour silence during the seventh seal. To think brother, God let Jesus visit the prophet on the mountain and then allowed the scientists to take a photo showing the world that Brother Branham was telling the truth. This is the only true message.
Early experiences in the message
One Tuesday evening I went to a communion service. It was at Brother Roy Swarts’ home in Wetton, Cape Town. There were not many message believers at this time, so it was easy to fit into someone’s lounge. The speaker that evening was the late Brother Theo Erasmus, who still lived in Johannesburg at the time. This was before he became pastor of the church in Somerset West, Cape Town. His subject, 30 requirements before you can take communion.
Service started at 8.00 o’clock and ended 1.00 o’clock the next morning. It was long but it was holy. I remember how old men came to be prayed for and how people confessed their sins. I remember how wonderful this experience was and then to cap it all, in a demonstration of humility, we started washing one another’s feet. This is so wonderful, I thought. And then as they ended the service we all sang, Only Believe, Only Believe, all things are possible, Only Believe. It was heaven on earth.
The message is challenged
It was two weeks later when Brother Steven Staines church elders invited him to an open debate. Sister Shirley Staines went to her church council to complain about her, husband, Brother Steven Staines. They invited me to join them.
When we got there I felt completely out of place. I was the only boy amongst these great men of God. Brother Steve was the nervous type and he could not really explain why he had himself re-baptized or why he was following a false prophet, as they put it. I waited patiently for my turn and when it came, I was like a raving wolve. I am blessed with a good memory so, it was easy for me to just speak what I heard and now believe. Those Elders sat in quiet amazement and listened to me attentatively. No one interrupted. When I was done, the elder named Brother Michaels nodded and said he was happy to know that God has done something for us. He told Brother Steve’s wife to go with him because they did not want division. This was my very first experience in testifying about the message of William Branham.
Confronted with a question
Fast forward to 2007 - A sister comes to me with a question. “Brother James can you tell me where to find a direct scripture in the Bible and a direct quotation where Brother Branham says the Seven Thunders of Revelations 10:4 were opened and revealed.”
This question stunned me. I could not give her a scripture or a quotation but yet I believed and preached it. I went to my pastor, instead of answering me, he treated it as a threat and warned his church board not to let me preach because I don’t believe the Thunders. I knew, after I heard this that there is something not quite right with this message. I realized there were more than meet the eye. I would not rest until I get to the bottom of this.
At this time, I was completely computer illiterate. I did not own a computer and I was not interested. I was from the old message school. Civilization is from the devil. So, I bought the Table message computer search program and I took all my spoken Words and whatever reading material I could get and started researching. I listened on a MP3 player day and night. I listened when I was at home, when I went with the family or we went shopping. I read as much as I could.
In August 2008, my wife and I moved to the U.S. to spend time with her parents. I took all my material with me and it was a lot easier to get hold of any material over there. The vision of Brother Branham on December 22, 1962 drew my attention, but the sermon I noticed was The Seed is not Heir with the Shuck. If you can recall, this was also the first message I read when I came into the message. I noticed when he preached it at a different location a short while later, the sermon was completely different.
This led me to check messages and their locations. So, when I came across the December 22, 1962 vision of Brother Branham, I studied it very carefully and noticed there was a difference between the first and second re-telling. Interestingly, while I thought about this, it led me to check whether this vision was ever fulfilled.
My research moves online
In 2011, I finally bought a laptop and it took me another six months to be able to browse the net. I went to many message church sites and listened. I was suspicious but I still trusted the prophet. His voice was a comfort to me. When I heard that voice, all my doubts just vanished. It was the only thing that made sense to me. I did not want to hear other preachers because they were responsible for my dilemma.
Faced with reality
One Sunday morning during one of those days when I was so hungry and desperate, I decided to listen to a message. I thought I typed in Voice of God but for some unknown reason, I landed on a site where I saw the book Legend of the Fall, written by Peter Duyzer. I started reading and stopped. Did I just see this man saying William Branham was not telling the truth when he said he was hunting when the cloud appeared? How rude, how dare this man say such nasty things.
I knew from almost 40 years ago, how those brothers explained what happened. I saw the face of Jesus. He was there, on a hunting trip when this all happened. The brothers showed it to me. I saw the eyes, nose and mouth. I saw the wig, like the English Judges. I saw that mighty angel with the swept back wings. Who is this man and how dare he open his mouth against my prophet?
I went from chapter to chapter. I could not get away from this website. I was fighting inwardly but I could not get away. Slowly the reality sunk in. I was conned. I was lied to. This made me very angry and depressed. I could not pray or read my Bible for weeks. I wanted to have nothing to do with religion. Yet, I still held on.
The truth hits home
One day I came across a site with some writings of John Kennah. The one single item that attracted my attention again was the cloud. I noticed Mr. Kennah saying that Rebekah Branham-Smith and Pearry Green changed the history of the message to hide the facts from their followers.
I did some research and discovered what Mr. Kennah said, was correct. That was the end of the road for me.
In February 2012, we returned to South Africa. I laid low for two months because I was so weak and vulnerable that I did not want to come into contact with any believers. Actually, I was seriously considering just turning my back on religion completely, but God just would not let me.
I came across a site that pushed me over the edge. It was a site managed by believers in Tucson, Arizona. And what I saw made me realize that this message is just fraud and corruption, lies and deception and that nobody is prepared to tell the truth.
No one answered my questions
I phoned Pastor Stephen Delo and told him what I learned and he promised to get back to me so that we could talk about it. To this day, I’m still waiting for the call. I then phoned Pastor Harold Beckett and spoke with him. He was not willing at all to talk about this and told me it’s an individual matter. It is every man for himself. I eventually got some confession out of him that he knew about the discrepancy with the date of the cloud since 1992. He was not prepared to say more.
I phoned Brother Keith Hearn of Voice of God Recordings in Cape Town, South Africa. He said to me, "Brother James, do not listen to anybody. Put on your tape and listen to the prophet. That is the only voice that matters."
I wrote letters to Pastor Stephen Delo, Pastor Harold Beckett, Brother Keith Hearn, Brother Joseph Branham, Pastor Ron Millevo and various other Pastors and a few webmasters.
The South African Pastors have not bothered to reply or return any phone calls.
The problem with the cloud
I went back and checked every sermon where Brother Branham spoke about the cloud and every story is different.
What everyone, including the message people know is that William Branham was not in the State of Arizona when the cloud appeared in the evening sky.
He was not there when the cloud appeared. He was not aware that such a cloud would appear. Even with all the scientific research going on and the chance that people in Tucson could have seen this mysterious cloud, no one knew anything about it.
Dr. James McDonald is actually the hero of this story. He was aware of it. He knew it was not normal and he said so. He researched it and when he discovered there was nothing supernatural about it he lost interest in it.
Yet, when Gene Norman showed the magazine article to brother Branham he did what he do so well. He sowed a seed of discrepancy in the mind of Gene Norman. “ Have you noticed the shape of the pyramid?” That is enough to know that this is something big.
The vindication evolves
On June 1,1963 William Branham mentioned the cloud photo to his audience and left them in limbo. “This happened, same, about a day or two before or a day or two after, we were there.” This is enough to make you understand this has something to do with us. Why did he not just say: “No, we were not there at that time?”
On June 23, 1963, William Branham becomes more daring. He says: “I was standing right under the cloud when they took the photo.” Really, did so much change in 23 days?
I could still live with that but two years later the cloud took on a new role. It had the face of Jesus.
How did this happen. Well from the limited confession we have it appears that Pearry Green sent the original cloud photo to Shirley Abbott Studios in Beaumont Texas to have it reproduced. What he does not say is whether he sent the original or whether he sent the “doctored” photocopy to the studio.
When the reproduced photo came back, they put one in a frame and presented it to Brother Branham. He in turn takes it to church with him and on April 18,1965 he declared that something told him to turn the picture to the right and when he did, he saw the face of Jesus. Look at his eyes, his nose, his mouth, he says.
This is vindication?
This is the vindication and proof that the message is true. That is - the face in the cloud is the vindication.
Yet, there is no face in the cloud on the original cloud photo. There was never a face in the cloud until human intervention caused a face in the cloud.
I ask you today. In view of these undeniable facts, when a prophet cannot even discern that the photo he held was not the original. When he could not discern that the very people who presented him the photo were dishonest. When he claims that something told him to turn the photo, yet that is not possible because God does not work with dishonesty.
How is it possible for you to hold on to a message where the vindication proves that it is nothing but dishonest people fooling someone who so desperately need to be recognized as an old testament prophet??
I am absolutely amazed that the same mysterious cloud is supposed to prove the message true, is the same cloud which proves the message is FALSE.
Deciding to leave the message
I made a final decision to leave the message in 2012 after I came across the Seek the Truth (STT) website. I could not believe my eyes when I saw how people all over the world were discovering the same lies and deception. Finding this website was like cool water in the middle of the desert Suddenly I did not feel alone any longer. It was not only me and there was nothing wrong with me.
I also noticed that nothing happened to them for speaking out against the lies and deception. John Collins became like a real brother to me. We could share each other’s pain and encourage one another.
Not long after I came across the STT website, I met some friends from the Believe the Sign website. They just left the message and it was no surprise that it was all for the same reason. It is not possible to look at blatant lies, misinterpretation, twisting of scripture and honestly believe it. To do that there must be something very wrong with you. How can one continue to believe it to be true when you did your checking and re-checking and you come to the same conclusion.
I have since learned the words to describe this: Cognitive Dissonance. When two opposing views are presented the recipient will dig his/her heels into the sand and believe his/her view more.
Where I am at now
I have spent 40 years of my life in the message. I believed it, I lived it, I preached it. The message is all my wife knew, it is all my children knew, it is all I knew.
Since leaving the message, I have embarked on a mission to expose the lies, deception, fraud and corruption in the message wherever and whenever I get an opportunity. I have challenged pastors all over the world. I have been active on many websites and I make my voice known wherever I go. Thus far, not one pastor in the message can explain why they believe the Municipal Bridge vision after Brother Branham said he saw it as a young child. And later in his sermons he said that it happened 22 years later exactly as he saw it. He said a section of the bridge collapsed while they were building it, and 16 men fell into the water and drowned.
Did it happen like that?? NO. What do you say when you listen to the prophet saying: “It did??” What do you do when the pastors make all kind of excuses and you can see they are lying, but you still believe??? What is wrong with you??? You don’t need a revelation to see when someone is lying!!!
My challenge to you
I challenge any pastor, deacon, elder, trustee, treasurer, usher, believer of the End-Time Message of William Branham to disprove what I said. I am willing to publicly repent, recant and return to the message if you can convince me with hard evidence that my claims are false. Likewise, if you fail to disprove what I claim, are you willing to turn your back on the message and follow the Lord Jesus Christ?
The past few months have been challenging. I have had a few threats on my life because of my stand against the message. I receive constant messages in my inbox warning me of imminent danger. I have never taken these threats seriously. I believe that God is in control of my life and I want to do whatever His will is for my life.
Threatened for asking questions
However, a few days ago, I received a serious death threat on my telephone at home. The person did not identify himself (I could hear by the voice it was a male). The message was brief, “ we know your movements, we know where you live, we know where you go to church, we are making plans to take you out. Stop spreading the lies about our prophet”
I ask you, dear message believer. Is this even Christian to threaten someone who believes different than you?? Is it even common decency to threaten someone with his life just because he is highlighting severe problems of what you believe??
I have decided after much prayer and advise from my friends, to go public. I want you all to see what is really happening around you. If the message is 100% correct and 100% in line with the Word why is it so difficult to give answers to simple questions?? It is time that you check what you believe against the Word of God: the Bible.
Why trash the Bible?
Atheists and Muslims claim there are contradictions in the Bible. Message believers from the headquarters at Voice of God to the pastors and preachers to the laity are now agreeing with these people and try and point to what they perceive as discrepancies, as justification that the lies and deception of William Branham is acceptable.
I humbly ask, have you got a tape recording of the voice of Jesus? Or a tape recording of the voice of Paul?? But I have almost 1200 taped messages of Brother Branham. So, it is easy to verify what he said. It is either the truth or it is not. The stories are all beautiful and touching but on close examination after you compare the stories, it is not hard to tell that it was only stories.
My prayer for you, dear reader is that your eyes may be opened. Run to the Christ of Calvary. That is our only hope and our only salvation.
May God bless you.
My name is James Bernard Manuel and I am from Cape Town, South Africa.
Podcast Transcripts - Episodes 79-81
Rod Bergen: [00:00:00] [00:01:00] I want to welcome James Manuel, once again, to the Off The Shelf podcast. James lives in Cape town, South Africa, and spent 40 years in the message. He believed it. He lived at, he preached it. The message was all that he, his wife and his children knew. It was his life. Since leaving the message 10 years ago in 2012, James has had a mission to expose the lies, deception, fraud, and corruption in the message wherever, and whenever, he gets the opportunity. He has challenged message ministers all over the world. We interviewed James over three years ago on the Off The Shelf podcast, and you can listen to that first interview on episode 50. James, welcome back to Off The Shelf. James Manuel: Thank you, Rod, Emily and Tim. It is such a privilege to engage in a conversation with all of you.
I must [00:02:00] mention that I'm very grateful for this opportunity.
Rod Bergen: Now, we're really glad to have you, James. And also with me, as James mentioned today are Emily Arndt and Tim Kraus, our cohosts.
I will add, Emily has actually visited South Africa and met with James personally. Emily, you might give a little bit of background for that.
Emily Arndt: I did, I had a chance to actually spend a few days with James and his family. He has a very lovely wife and great daughters, and had a chance to explore Cape town a little bit and have some fish and chips together and just hang out.
And James was surprised how tall I was, I guess that was the we kinda, meeting people off the internet. James is exactly who he says he is. I don't know if he could say the same for me, hopefully, but definitely James is like, wow, you're tall. But it was lovely. I would go back and visit him and his family in a [00:03:00] heartbeat. That was, it was a very lovely time.
Rod Bergen: Oh, that's wonderful. James let's get started. You indicated on our last interview that you were in the Seven Thunders movement. Last year, we interviewed Eleisha Moreno, who was raised in the Seven Thunders movement. How long were you in the Seven Thunders James, were you in it until you came out of the message?
James Manuel: Yes, but I have to qualify that statement before I embrace the so-called revelation of the Seven Thunders. I was mostly aligned with the main mainstream message groups in the seventies and eighties. I fellowshipped in churches that are regarded as mainstream message churches. One pastor that may be well-known to some is Harold Beckett. In the 1980s, I was the song leader, and I used to transport all the [00:04:00] visiting ministers from all over. Some of the names that come to mind are Lonnie Jenkins, Morris Ungren, the guy who sang at all William Branham 's campaigns and Bob Brown a very popular proponent of the Perousia movement. Yeah. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the company of these men and host them at our home after services.
It was from about 1990 that I started going to a church that preached the thunders. So by default, I became a thunder boy, even then, I was always a moderate message believer. We try to walk in the middle of the road.
Rod Bergen: So from your perspective James, what were the distinctives of the Seven Thunders movement? How did it differ from what you called mainstream?
James Manuel: Well, the mainstream message folk are more moderate... quiet in the [00:05:00] services, you will not find, let's say, a set of drums. The music would normally be an organ, a piano. The hand clapping would be very slow. And there'll be an amen here and there and praise the Lord here and there. Whereas in the Seven thunder group, it was like a wild Pentecostal group. Whenever the minister preaches the people would run up to the pulpit and, with a fist in the air that you would hit towards the pulpit. Some of them would hit the pulpit. And then during the service, people would get slain and there'd be noise. And it was really a noisy bunch. So from the main stream, like very, very extreme from the mainstream message,
Rod Bergen: This is much more charismatic, Pentecostal in its approach to worship.
James Manuel: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And yeah. Even the ministers, those guys would take off their jackets, they'll roll up their sleeves and they would build up a sweat [00:06:00] and, they all preach till the foam comes to the side of their mouths. And sometimes the people won't allow the minister to finish his sermon. Because, and then they call it "the anointing fell" or the Holy Ghost fell, or the Holy Ghost took the service over. And people would be everywhere, lying everywhere. And everybody's going to run around covering sisters that expose themselves. And the the big difference also with the Seven Thunder movement is that the sisters are the ushers. They run around with blankets and when they do the brothers must give way because they take control of the service when the slaying and stuff starts.
Rod Bergen: Yeah. I've, I did a lot of traveling and I would say, there were a number of maybe what you would call mainstream. Like I was in Trinidad a number of times, and I wouldn't say they were wildly extreme, but they would be, have considered by someone walking off the street to be more [00:07:00] Pentecostal in their approach.
James Manuel: Yeah. There's been a lot of that kind of groups as well. There's one particular group, they were under the influence of an American minister. And you'd probably know the name, Stephen Shelley. Those guys were extreme, but in another way. The preacher, when it comes to the pulpit, he would grab his style of his neck and he would walk with him. He would walk with a tie in his hand. And one hand in the pocket, the tie swinging in the other hand, and the sisters would be prophesying all the time and taking the services over... like really wild.
Rod Bergen: I should mention... Vin Dayal... It was just reported... and this is from the news yesterday. Pastor Vin Dayal, Vinworth Dayal, appeared before a magistrate in the Port of Spain yesterday. So that would have been July the first or second. On charges that alleged that on [00:08:00] December the 31st, 2019, he possessed criminal property in the amount of $28 million in Trinidad and Tobago currency, and has been charged with criminal conduct contrary to the Income Tax Act, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to suspect that those proceeds were criminal property. So he's got a second charge in terms of another amount of almost 2.7 million Trinidadian dollars, which the police, I think, seized from his house on January the second, 2020. So these are charges that were laid under the proceeds of crime act in, in Trinidad. And he was released on 10 million dollars bail and had to surrender his passport.
Tim Kraus: Well he had the $10 million laying around though, right?
Rod Bergen: No. The government seized all that. The government seized all that and I'll put a link, I'll put a link to this. There's a [00:09:00] picture of the money. He had 28 file boxes of cash. So it's yeah it's bizarre. And this is the problem. I'm sure he's, doesn't think he's done anything wrong, but message ministers and pastors consider tithe money to be their own. And so when they do that and they take it under their own and treat it as their own. From an income tax perspective that can be construed as basically appropriating the property, which means you have to pay tax on it. And if you didn't pay tax on it, you're guilty of criminal tax evasion. And I expect that's the way they're going to, they're going to attack him to that's. It's very interesting to note.
James Manuel: Yeah, it is. It is. And, with that amount of money, there's a lot of explaining to be done. I'm sure I had that post up today and someone was complaining that he came clean. If it was dirty money, he would have [00:10:00] handed it in. I said, no, no, no. He handed it in because the notes that he had became obsolete, they had to change it for new notes. And that is the only reason, otherwise he would have held onto it.
Rod Bergen: Yeah he didn't turn it into the government. He basically said, I would like to exchange this for real money, because as of December the 31st, 2020, the money was no longer valid as currency. The Trinidadian government basically came out with a plastic note, which is used in a lot of countries now, because it's a lot harder to counterfeit. And so those old paper notes, they were going to become obsolete on January the first. And so he went down to the bank with 28 file boxes full of cash.
Emily Arndt: Crazy stuff. For sure. So James, you're talking a little bit about your background in the message. And obviously you've rubbed shoulders with the likes of Lonnie Jenkins. You said Morris Ungren. I remember seeing Morris Ungren. [00:11:00] He'd come and preach up by us when I was growing up. And there's always the thing. You weren't in the right part of the message. So that's the reason you left the message and you hear these things, but you're rubbing shoulders with some pretty, well-regarded, like you say, mainstream pastors. So what caused you to start questioning the message in the midst of all this
James Manuel: Emily, in 2007, a sister, just one of the sisters at church, approached me randomly with a simple question and it was persistent. Could you give me a direct quote where brother Branham said that thunders were opened and the direct scripture that declares the same. You have to understand by this time I was a respected student of the message and many regarded me as an expert when it [00:12:00] involved the conduct, order, and doctrines of the message . Message pastors recognized the gift in me to interpret the message in the simplest form. Big name message pastors like Edgar Roscoe in South Africa. Sat in my lounge to convince me to come to his church, but yet a simple question stumped me. I honestly couldn't answer and it bothered me greatly. So what I did is I went to my pastor and asked him the same question. He could not answer either. So instead of admitting that he couldn't answer the question, he went to one of the elders, which was a good friend of mine, who was brother Frank Von Nicke. And he told brother Von Nicke very quietly, behind my back... the two of us, brother Von Nicke and myself, used to have [00:13:00] a mission work up in Paarl, about 70 kilometers from Cape Town. And we would go up there once a week and we would go and minister to those people. And he said to brother Von Nicke, make sure that you don't let James preach because he doesn't believe the revelation of the Seven Thunders. And obviously, brother Von Nicke was upset and I was upset, but that was the kind of thing that made me look closer at the message. And do you know what these insistence that, as my revelation and my theme is that revelation must be explained, you must show it. And he couldn't. And he wanted me to just accept that it had to come by revelation and I wasn't willing to do that. And that sent me on my way searching. And it took me all of five years, Emily, to really get to a stage where I had enough. [00:14:00]
Tim Kraus: Well, James, you started to question the message and you mentioned that it took you five years... and a lot of us, when we leave the message, there's one event or one thing that actually triggers us... that causes us ultimately to leave the message. What was that for you?
James Manuel: Tim, many people left the message for various reasons. For some, it was because of false prophecies. For others, it was because of the false municipal bridge vision. Then for others, it was because of the South African/Indian false "Thus Saith The Lord" vision. For me, it was the cloud story. I remember vividly the mixed emotions I experienced when I discovered that the cloud story was a hoax. For all the time that I was in the message, I never hung a halo photo on my wall [00:15:00] at home. And my argument was simple, when people asked me... message people asked me, "Why don't you have brother Branham's photo on your wall?" And I would say to them, "Well, brother, Branham, wasn't a member of my family. That's why his photo is not on my wall." But the cloud photo had a special place in my lounge and whenever visitors came to our home, I would explain with great pride, how seven angels came to visit my prophet while he was hunting with his friends. I would show them the eyes, the mouth, the nose, and just trust that they see what I'm seeing and explain the reason why they came. It was to reveal the seven seals of revelation to the seventh church age messenger... to bring the seventh church to the seventh church of Laodicea. By the time I discovered that this story was a hoax, I was already doubtful of many things in the message. But I was holding on for [00:16:00] dear life to William Branham, the cloud story hoax pushed me right over the edge. This discovery has a devastating effect on my life.
Tim Kraus: So we hear a lot from ministers that basically tell us we leave the message because we can't handle the message or we can't live the message. That clearly wasn't the case in your case.
James Manuel: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I was even more... I held on to William Branham, but by this time I've left the ministers. I, I didn't trust them, I didn't believe them. But I held onto my prophet and whatever he said, I believed. The story that you're backslidden, that you've left the message because you couldn't maintain the standards of the message... that is plain nonsense. Tim, when I started asking questions to message pastors, webmasters of message sites... and eventually Joseph [00:17:00] Branham... and I saw how they ran for cover. No one could answer simple questions. I knew I came to the end of the message. I remember the one webmaster, I think I sent it to Rod right in the early days. I think it was sometime in 2012. This one webmaster said to me, "You have to make a choice. Either, you believe William Branham or you believe Rod Bergen or Jeremy Bergen." That was the guys. I said to him, "I don't want to, you tell me." Says, "Nope, you either believe brother Branham, or you believe those guys." And, I left them.
Rod Bergen: I think what's really interesting with your comment. James is that we never asked people on the website to believe us. We don't ask them to trust us. We basically present the facts and then present enough evidence that they can go and check it out for [00:18:00] themselves. Because it's not about, "Oh, you have to believe me, or you have to believe William Branham." No, it's look at the facts that William Branham presented. Look at everything that surrounded it, including, the facts that his daughter, Rebecca Smith came out with. The facts that, Gene Norman, who was with William Branham when he was hunting and said, "Oh, I heard the big bang and I looked up and I didn't see the cloud. But what I saw were two streaks in the air, like from a jet plane, but I couldn't see them. Back then, and we prove this from newspaper reports, which again are on the website, that people were complaining about sonic blasts from airplanes breaking the sound barrier. You never hear this any more, but back in the sixties, that was not that uncommon. I can remember being in elementary school and hearing a big bang and we're all freaked out. We're looking around, what was it? We looked around and couldn't see anything. And our teacher told us, oh, a plane just broke the sound barrier overhead, [00:19:00] and it would break windows. And that was something that happened because communism was a big threat. Everybody wanted to be ready. And so from time to time they broke the sound barrier above civilized areas.
James Manuel: That's right. Yep. And, it's w what's so sad is you have all the facts, you have everything in front of you. I cannot understand, even today, how people can look at it and still believe all that nonsense.
Rod Bergen: The problem, James, is they actually don't look at it. And this is something that was brought home to me by a couple of brothers who came and questioned me and said, we realized that our pastor did not have our best interests in mind. And they came to understand that the pastor had never checked any of this information out himself. One pastor actually admitted it. He actually said over the pulpit, he said, I started looking at it, but it made my head hurt.
James Manuel: I remember my last pastor, when I left the [00:20:00] message, his name is Steven Delo. When I confronted him and I gave him all the details of the cloud story and he listened to me very intently. And when I was done, he said to me, if what you tell me is the truth, then William Branham is a false prophet. I still say to brother, Stephen, I didn't say that, you said that. Then he promised me he was going to look into it and come back to me. To this day, I haven't heard from Steven Delo.
Tim Kraus: Yeah. The sad part is James, I think is that there are good message ministers, as an example, who have left the message. Some of them recently. Tim Humes comes to mind. Who basically, honestly, took a look at the message and some of the stories like the cloud vision, and actually like yourself actually did the study and they made the decision that they could not follow the [00:21:00] message given what they learned. It's gratifying to know that people that actually search scripture and compare it to the message, they get it pretty quickly. Those people that don't bother, but essentially say my pastor is correct, they may never get it. And that's the sadness of it.
Rod Bergen: Yeah. I have only run into one or maybe two people who have looked at the facts honestly and then decided to stay in the message. And they have admitted that they actually think that the facts are correct. There is a significant likelihood that William Branham was not who he said he was, or who message preachers say that he is or was, but because of ties to family and friends, they weren't prepared to leave what is in effect, a very [00:22:00] comfortable community inside the message.
James Manuel: That is also a very sad approach. But we do have that as well. Yeah. Yeah. I've come across a few message pastors in South Africa that now openly admit that everything in the message is not true and correct, but they're not willing to move.
Rod Bergen: Big cost... People like Jeff Jenkins... And I'm sure this has cost you a lot, James. Where it's cost them their livelihood, because they didn't have any kind of training at anything outside of preaching the message. Tim Kraus: Their livelihood, their association with people, their friendships, in some aspects, their family... it comes at a huge cost, when those folks like Jeff Jenkins or other message ministers choose to leave.
Rod Bergen: That's correct.
Emily Arndt: It's really like leaving a culture. I'm someone who's gone and lived in another culture for [00:23:00] almost six years. And I say it was almost my second transition from one culture, to relearning a brand new culture, because I feel when I left the message in my early twenties, I had to learn everything I thought I knew within the message constraints, I had to relearn. I had to learn new vocabulary. I had to learn how to interact with people, how the church worked, what did this look like? So it's terrifying. And it's sad to hear that people have seen the discrepancies, but choose to stay. But I understand it because it's hard. People say, oh, you just couldn't live the message you left. It was easier. It's pretty hard leaving the message and you lose it. Yeah. Yeah. You've got to count the cost.
James Manuel: You better believe it. That's pretty hard..
Rod Bergen: James, moving to a slightly different subject. Paul talks in second Corinthians 11:4, and says that if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus, other than the Jesus that we preached, [00:24:00] or if you receive a different spirit from the spirit you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, he said, you put up with it easily enough. And that was a criticism of the Corinthian church. Does the message preach another Jesus? Or as Paul said, a different gospel? What does the Jesus outside the message look like to you compared to the Jesus of the message? What has the transition been like for you and what have you learned?
James Manuel: Yeah, Rod. Yeah. I have to be careful. In the message, there's a lot of indoctrination and brainwashing taking place. At first, when you are recruited into the message, it appears that the Jesus of the Bible is preached in message churches. It does not take long... You hear statements [00:25:00] like, "We're not talking about the historical Jesus. We are talking about a Jesus of Hebrews 13, verse eight. That's the Jesus. That's the same yesterday, today and forever." And then they would turn around and say, "This Jesus is like one who lived in our generation." This is obviously not the Jesus of Calvary. It was not the Jesus of the Bible, but someone who took his place in our generation. Because of this, I have to say the Jesus accepted and preached in message churches was not the one who died for. our sins on the cross of Calvary. It was not the one who rose from the grave on the third day and ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. The Jesus in the message is one is waiting for them beyond the curtain of time. They are resting on these [00:26:00] words and believe that he will judge this generation. I reluctantly will have to say, William Branham preached another gospel. He made his followers understand and believe that his message was the Ark. Believing every word he said was the evidence that they had the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And believing his message was the token to be displayed, to qualify them to be part of the bride of Christ and make it for the rapture. He taught that it was only the bride, and that is people who believe this message, that would make it for the rapture. The gospel message is simple. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. When Nicodemus approached Jesus, the response from [00:27:00] Jesus was, " Verily, verily, I say unto you except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Rod Bergen: This is an interesting point, James. And that is which in the debate, the discussion I had with Jesse Smith, he made a clear distinction that someone can be saved, but not born again. And that is honestly... I believe it is complete heresy. This is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, the Bible only talks about being born again in a couple of places. The rest of it, it's all about being saved. And so if you say... and they have to do this... because to justify William Branham's teaching that you can be in the bride... born again... Or you can be saved, not in the bride, a Christian, not in a bride, a Christian in the multitude outside of the city. You can be a Christian and saved, but not born again, not part of the bride.
James Manuel: [00:28:00] That's right. Very, very similar to what Jehovah Witnesses believe. Yup. The 144,000 would be those inside the city and everybody else would be visitors to the city.
Rod Bergen: It's really interesting because actually the message teaches that there are three different kinds of Christians. Maybe, and for different kinds of people. They say they're unbelievers, are make believers. And there's believers. William Branham taught that, but they actually then, they actually don't believe that. Because then they say... you can be saved. And then there's another work of grace called being sanctified. So you can be saved and sanctified, but not filled with the Holy Spirit. Once you're baptized in the Holy Spirit, then you've reached the third work of grace, which puts you into the bride. So there are actually three kinds of Christians. Those who were saved, those who were saved and sanctified, those were saved and sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit.
James Manuel: Yeah. And then there's another group those were friends to [00:29:00] William Branham, people that...
Rod Bergen: Good to the bride.
James Manuel: Yeah, good to the bride. And those people don't even have to be saved. And, there's one good example. Rebecca... brother Branham daughter, Rebecca Smith. Yeah. Yeah. In one of those only believe magazines, she told the story of the neighbor who was never saved. Nothing. And one day she, and she wanted this lady to be saved so much. So she went to a dad and asked him dad, what about, and I forget the lady's name, what about our neighbor? And then brother Branham said, you don't have to worry. She'd be fine. She'd be over there because she was good to God's prophet. Now I don't know, you know about that. That is really not part of the gospel. Rod Bergen: It's not part of the gospel at all.
James Manuel: Yeah. Yeah, I really don't feel so. So as far as the gospel goes, I think Peter made it very clear when he said repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of [00:30:00] sins. And that they asked what must we do to be saved. And he gave a straight answer and it definitely had nothing to do with what is taught in the message. So I have to say that the message preach another Jesus and the gospel, not the same as Paul and, it is a very hard pill to swallow. But Paul also says in Galatians 1:8-9, what happens to someone that preaches another gospel?
Rod Bergen: Yeah. Which is very sad but you're right. According to the message it's repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and believe in William Branham as your prophet, and then you shall receive the baptism of the holy spirit.
James Manuel: And we say it like that as well.
Rod Bergen: I know James Manuel: that's, as I said, the one today, he says, I believe in God and William Branham is his prophet. You sound like a Muslim. [00:31:00] Yeah.
Emily Arndt: So it sounds like on your journey, your past 9... 10 years, since you left the message, going from someone who was escorting these message pastors around and really involved in it being a song leader, worship leader, and... I think a song leader is the technical message term, but anyway and then, having a pastor say, oh, don't let him preach 'cause he's questioning. And just hearing, you're mentioning obviously this is what the Jehovah Witnesses believe. So you've really studied a lot and done a lot, but what are some of the biggest changes, I guess in your thinking, since you left the message,
James Manuel: Emily, for me, the changes in my thinking were manifold. When I was in the message, I was very staunch and I was very strict. I believed church was an orderly place. When you entered the [00:32:00] sanctuary, you had to be quiet. When I visited the nearby church, after I left the message. I was all dressed up in a full suit and tie and like a Pharisee, I went to sit down, opened my Bible and read some scriptures very quietly. And the first one that interrupted my quiet time of meditation was the pastor of the church. And, he didn't do it decently, he knocked against my arm. And, he like grabbed me to get up and he said, "How are you my brother, welcome to our church!" And to me, that was like, it was like blasphemy.... It was like I'm getting to die here because I'm sinning in the sanctuary. I felt so uncomfortable. Yeah. He knew who I was through my daughters, because they met the switch first. But then he started a conversation with me and it wasn't a soft conversation. Well brother, I'm the pastor of this church. I'm pastor Jeremy and who are you? And I said, you know [00:33:00] what, I'm James Manuel. And I live just round the corner. And he just, at the top of his voice and I was so uncomfortable because I was conditioned to be quiet in the sanctuary. But he kept on talking. And then after he left me, some more people came in and came there and, they just chatted us up and greeted us. And, I remember sitting there, Emily, in total disgust. I felt faulty. I didn't know what to do with myself. I eventually closed my Bible and I just sat there waiting for the next one to greet them. And every time my response was like, I would greet, but it would be very quiet. "God bless you." and things like that. But one thing I noticed was the freedom and love that everyone enjoyed. Something that was never, in the message. Everything was so orderly that there was no love. You're too scared to make a noise. You too scared to do anything. [00:34:00] And I, for that time I was very judgmental and I looked down on those people, like a real Pharisee. And then a few weeks later, they invited me one Sunday afternoon to a praise and worship service. And again, I went in my normal church garb and I got there and I saw all these people, dressed informally. Some of the men had shorts on,, and I looked at this, what have I got myself into now? And then just before the music struck, right in front of me a girl sat down. Now I remembered this girl from our neighborhood. She was a drug addict. Yeah. And she was like, really? She was a real bad character. And just a month prior to that, she got saved in this church. And here, she was sitting right in front of me. And as the music struck, Emily, this girl started dancing... like you were in a disco, man. Like real swinging her [00:35:00] body and I'm sitting there, I think to myself, "My god, where am I now?" And I couldn't help. I couldn't sing worth or anything. I just looked at the girl, judging and eventually I couldn't keep it anymore. I got out of my seat. I left Crystal sitting there and I went to the toilet just to get a breath of fresh air. And while standing there and, deciding now whether I should stay or whether I should just go home, a still small voice just nudged me. And, suddenly I started asking myself, " That girl that you see there. A month ago, you saw, she was a drug addict. Today, she is saved. A month ago, she was dancing for the devil in discos. She was taking drugs and things. Today, she's in church enjoying herself." And then, just looked at myself and then suddenly I started realizing that I [00:36:00] myself had just come out of a whole lot of deception. I myself needed the grace of God. And, I just asked myself then, "How is it possible that I can judge this girl and justify myself for sitting there and feeling better than her." And I really had to pick up myself and I did a quick silent pray in the toilet. And then I went back to my seat. And then when I got there, I looked at this girl with completely different eyes. And then I started enjoying the service. I could also then, lift my feet and clap my hands and what I saw there was nothing. And you know what, Emily, that girl actually went from there, she grew in the Lord and six, seven months later this girl became the youth leader in the church. And even to date, see such a great testimony yet in our neighborhood and in the community and everybody loves it. And yet, I judged her. [00:37:00] And, so with this I learned to change my thinking and be more open-minded. I learned to look at people for who they are and not for what they wear. I learned from others and I had to learn from others and not act as if I knew it all. I learned to be willing to learn the meaning of scripture from scratch. God was very gracious to me, Emily and I'm eternally thankful for his grace and mercy.
Emily Arndt: Amen. Amen. Thanks for sharing that. I, what I picked up on and what stood out to me, you said you went from staunch and strict, and then you mentioned freedom and love. And I think that ties into... a lot of times, the scripture that we hear at weddings is first Corinthians 13, but I think it really speaks to the essence of, what our salvation in Christ is. He. He loved us so much. He [00:38:00] died for us. What does that love look like? And how are we to love others? What is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord, thy God, and to love others as and firstCorinthians 13 says, "And if I could speak all languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others. I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith, I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it. But if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable. And it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not [00:39:00] rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith. Is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless, but love will last forever. I just think that really speaks into... That's what I picked up when you're talking... like you saw your neighbor, through the eyes of love for the first time. Thank you for sharing. That was very profound.
Rod Bergen: It's interesting too... in Galatians chapter five, we hear.... paul tells us... "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then stand firm in our freedom and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." And what happens is people have taken the message... William Branham has taken [00:40:00] things from the old covenant and brought it into the new. You will find nothing in the New Testament relating to how you behave in a sanctuary. That is a reference back to the temple. And so they're treating the new testament church... Actually "church" means called out ones... the ecclesia, they are the people who've been called up by Christ. It's people. It's not a place. Church is not a place. But when Luther translated, he used the word Kirk, which stood for a place. And so the meaning changed in our minds and became, when we say church, we're thinking place, we're not thinking, actually the biblical reference, which is the people. And you know, I know that the whole issue of people... they're drinking coffee in the sanctuary, what a terrible, terrible thing. There's nothing wrong with it.
James Manuel: Right! You have, Emily, [00:41:00] as you would you would know. I set up at home. I was very strict with the girls. I would, when they grew up, I would first, before they go to church, I would stand there and look at them and check the dress, the length of their skirts, the hair, make sure that everything is in place. And, if there's any moaning I would say to them either I embarrass you at home or I embarrass you at church. So make your decision. But, after I left, and I'm sure my girls told you, is that I've learned to love others just the way they are. And and that is probably one of the biggest things that I've had to learn, not to be legalistic. But to be realistic and to look at a situation from the other person's point of view, and, there's this, there's so many things that we don't understand about other people, but when you look at that love, when you look at the commitment, when you look at the [00:42:00] motive and objective, then it is much more than hair or dress or any of the countenance. It is much more than that, because God deals with your heart.
Tim Kraus: Amen. Amen. Hey James and that's what we gain w hen we go to Christ, as opposed to being caught in the bondage of the message, that's for sure. But, and that's something that we reflect from ourselves, the liberty that we have now in Christ, once we leave the message. But my question really is what surprised you most, since you left the message, something maybe you never expected, but maybe you came across it in other people, or maybe you came across it in other churches or in other areas.
James Manuel: Initially when I left a message, it's like it happens to all of us, your friends turned their backs on you. Crystal and I went to a Memorial service of a message believe, who was a close friend of [00:43:00] ours. And immediately as we walked into this room, that preacher changed his sermon. And he started throwing us with rocks and to be quite honest, it hurt a lot. And at that time we were still very sensitive and vulnerable. And we left that evening, not, I remember sitting next to Keith Herne, the manager of the Voice of God Recordings, here in Cape Town. And he could see that I wasn't a happy chappy because just the day before that the two of us had a conversation. We weren't feeling good at all. And then we experienced, when we walk in a shopping mall, and you see some message believers, it's almost like those people have been tuned to dodge you, because they would literally move to the other side, just to dodge you. We went to a function of a family member within the message and you just [00:44:00] feel that you're not welcome there. Everyone gave us a cold shoulder. At funerals, when you get to a funeral and says, "Hi, and bye". Eventually you get used to it, as you realize you no longer part of the club, if I can call it that.
Tim Kraus: Sure. Yeah.
James Manuel: But this all changed when my brother-in-law died. That's about three years ago. That message pastor, he's a good friend of ours. We grew up together in the message. And the family then asked me to pay tribute to Gregory, my brother-in-law. And all the people were standing down, at the bottom because all the message pulpits are guarded. Nobody comes there unless you belong to their church. And for the first time, this message pastor then actually invited me... He moved away from his pulpit and invited me to stand there in the pulpit, put my notes down and to speak. [00:45:00] And then... but you could see that everybody was on high alert. And I spoke, obviously, I didn't attack anybody because it was all about my brother-in-law Greg. And then I made a few Christian comments and... What surprised me most was, when the service was over, everybody was gathering and he got a group of his men to sit around and they started asking me questions. And as we were talking, this pastor then suddenly said to me, "I know there's things in the message that's not right. And I know they're certain things that must be, but brother, please, won't you give the message another look? We parted on friendly terms and the very next day, Tim, this same pastor brought his brother, who were visiting, their mom was ill. So he brought his brother, who was an American citizen, he lives in New York, and the two of [00:46:00] them came to my home. And he got here about nine o'clock in the morning. And we sat and chatted about events and happenings in the message from about nine o'clock in the morning, till about 12 noon. And they wouldn't leave. And eventually we had a nice time of prayer and we left happily. And that to me was probably one of the biggest surprises, after I left the message. What surprised me then more, Tim, was about two years ago. I was invited to a group of message brothers, which included a few pastors. They invited me to a breakfast and this happened just before lockdown, 2020. I had my defenses up. I didn't expect any love from them, but I was pleasantly surprised, how they accepted me and even [00:47:00] allowed me to state my stand. And many of them then agreed with me. Then at the end of that meeting, the brethren came to a resolution that they will only accept what is written in the Bible. And I'm talking about these guys were writing this up in the minute book. Only accept what is written in the Bible and reject anything William Branham or anyone else said that was not aligned with scripture. This is something that I never expected to happen in my lifetime.
Tim Kraus: Yeah, that's huge.
James Manuel: That's probably one of the biggest surprises.
Rod Bergen: Maybe carrying on from that. So this, I would consider, from a North American standpoint, that's quite unusual, because what we're finding over here is that most message ministers are on the attack. [00:48:00] Someone said the other day, " This group of message ministers, they're worse than Believe The Sign. Right? In their view, the worst thing they could think of is somebody who's worse than me. Right? So there's a huge amount of defense of the message and the messenger without actually responding to any of our claims. So it sounds like that the attitude of message ministers, and I assume that's not all message ministers. But it sounds like there is a willingness of some message ministers to basically engage in a dialogue with you and they're not treating you as an unbeliever, the way people in North America... message ministers. One of my best friends said over the pulpit that I'm an unbeliever, right? Rod is an unbeliever. Yeah. I'd be interested... Is that a valid statement that, that message ministers in South Africa as a group is different, [00:49:00] or is this just a small subsection of ministers?
James Manuel: It's that, that one is very difficult to say. I think it's there's quite a few of them, but definitely not the bigger names. If you know what I mean. These guys, the one guy that was present in this meeting that I'm talking about, he's actually one of the translators. And I'm not at Liberty to mention his name now, but he's one of the translators, he translates into Afrikaans at voice of God recordings. And he's a pastor is been a pastor for many, many years. And he's certainly been in the message from the time that I went, when I came into the message, he was already in the message. So it's not, he's not a novice. The other gentleman that was in the same meeting he called himself an apostle, and he passed away recently of COVID, quite sadly, but what I've also experienced, Rod, is in May, when I went on... When I got to Durban, [00:50:00] I had a note on my phone and there was also a person, that calls himself an apostle, that wanted to check with me urgently. I phoned him, couldn't get him. And then the person that gave me his number said, no, I must continue. I must continue. And eventually I got him. And basically what this man was saying is they're tired of all the lies. They're tired of all these discrepancies and they want to talk. They want to... and this is now, this is in Durban. And then here's another message pastor in Durban with the same thing. They want to talk. So there's definitely a group here in South Africa that is aligning themselves and they probably just waiting for the right time, and they would move out. There's quite a few message ministers, now, that doesn't even mention the name, William Branham, over the pulpits anymore. They preach the gospel.
Tim Kraus: Wow, that's very bold for message ministers.
Rod Bergen: And wonderful to hear. [00:51:00]
Tim Kraus: That's great to hear, but then they're likely to lose their church.
James Manuel: That is probably... and that is one of the things that is the big stumbling block these guys have. You've caged yourself in, what is true now, but there's a lot of money involved. There's a whole lot of prestige involved. And it's difficult to get off that high horse.
Emily Arndt: So you mentioned, that's challenging. And just kinda listening to this conversation here, and you've shared bits of your journey and the challenges of your own journey. And you have a passion for reaching out to message believers. You're very active. I know on Facebook and in other media and doing your local ministry in South Africa, and I'm sure you've had plenty of terrible things said about you and your wife. And I just can't imagine [00:52:00] the stuff that you face because you are willing to be so vocal for the gospel. So given everything you've gone through, what is your advice to those that have left the message about how to start fresh
James Manuel: Emily, yeah, that is probably one of the, one of the questionsthat gets asked the most. I've had this question, I've I, a lot of message pastors from the continent of Africa, now, have befriended me. And whereas, they previously were militant in their approach, they are now gentle. And, they know that there's problems in the message, but this question comes with everyone that I talk to... asks the same question, "If we leave the message, where do we go to, what do we do? What are you suggesting we should do?" When we came out, we were [00:53:00] generally isolated and in my case, I was destitute and alone. I remember how I used to cry, Emily, and Crystal would put my head on her bosom and just rub my head gently and say, "Don't worry. Everything will be fine." My best friend, who's now just passed away recently as well, he phoned me one day and he said to me, "Do you believe William Branham is the prophet?" I said to him, I don't believe he's a prophet anymore. And so he said to me, "If you don't believe it, that he's the prophet, then I'm not your friend anymore." And he threw the phone... I had a couple of brothers that came to visit here.. They actually went to a funeral, and then the people that they were supposed to overnight with, those people disappointed them. And they had no choice, but to come to me, but they didn't realize at the time that I'd left the message. And at that time I was like a tiger, any message believer, I'll go on the attack [00:54:00] immediately. And, and I'm sure a bit of it displayed itself as well, or manifested itself as well. And these are our ministers and I explained to them why I don't believe the message anymore. And I remember this one brother, he decided to do a prayer for me, and his whole prayer was actually quite sad. In his prayer, he was asking God to take me away. He was asking God, to just destroy my body so that my soul could be saved. And I'm listening to this guy's prayer. And I thought to myself, wow... In a nice way, he's cursing me. And, that is what we experienced at the beginning. And I had to find my way, but those were leaving now, at least, have some support from us, and others, who took the step before them. At least they have our experience to build on. And so Emily, my advice to anyone leaving the message is simply [00:55:00] this. Start reading your Bible. You'll be surprised how many wonderful things we were robbed off. Message followers, they are strictly King James Version only, but I found it very refreshing to read versions that explained passages of scripture in today's English. Some of the versions I love is the Modern English Version, which is basically like the King James Version, but it's translated into modern English. Then there's the easier read version or the Message Version that I enjoy very much. There's also the New Language Translation, which I love and a few others. It is interesting to compare the different versions. I'll give you one example, message believers, love to quote, First Corinthians 11 verse one... Paul says, follow me as I follow Christ. And that's their justification for following William Branham. But if you read one of the other versions, it makes it clear what apostle Paul was saying. And [00:56:00] that is follow my example as I follow Christ's example. Secondly, I would say to these people, visit other churches and find a place of fellowship where you will be happy. And make sure that the church that you decide attend, have their teaching based solidly on scripture. Thirdly, I would say lift up your head and walk tall. Let the wolves howl. You keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and guide you. Be humble and be a witness of the saving power of Jesus Christ. And fourthly, and most importantly, don't lose your vision of Jesus.
Rod Bergen: There's an old song, James, that says, "The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose. I will not desert to its foes. That's soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll [00:57:00] never, no never, no never forsake." And that's the important thing. Jesus will never leave you. If you're a child of God, the Holy Spirit has been promised to lead you. The job of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus real. And when he does that in a church, the result is revival. When we started looking for a church, we looked at a bunch of churches and people say, all the churches are... there's no good churches, only message churches are good. No. Most message churches are lukewarm. There are a few churches, and this is what I've looked for. And there's a list that actually... a guy by the name of Tim Keller, I've got a lot of respect for, has said, "Look for a place where there's worship, where people sense the presence of God, where people are there to meet God. The purpose of worship is not, in churches, is not always teaching and evangelism or fellowship, it's to worship. We worship God. And secondly, you want to find a group of people that's focused, as you said, [00:58:00] on a study of the word of God. Truth shines in their lives because of their focus on the word of God. And the other thing is... a third point, is that you want a group where there's love. There's intimate fellowship. There's community, and people love one another. And fourth, you look for a church where there's aggressive outreach and evangelism. That's rare these days, at least in Canada, where...and message churches are not focused aggressively on outreach and evangelism. And so where you find a church where they're constantly reaching out and trying to introduce people to Jesus, that's a wonderful church. And fifth, look for a church that's having an impact on society around them. We actually, at our church, one month of the year, all the money that comes into the church goes out to charities in our community. And we gave money to one group and they said, no church has ever given us money [00:59:00] before. And we said you're doing a really good job in our community. We love what you're doing. And they were shocked that a church would actually think about doing something good in the community. So those kind of five things, deep teaching of the Word, worship, intimate fellowship, aggressive evangelism, a compassionate social concern for those around you. If you find a church that's strong in all those five things, the spirit of God is there.
James Manuel: Amen! Emily. You would remember we set in my lounge, and we had this conversation that I was telling you. That I wasn't really happy with what I see in churches in my neighborhood. And I don't know if you remember, you encouraged me to go and visit the Baptist church in the area. It was so refreshing. When I walked into that church and I heard the the music, the worship, and especially the word, it was solidly based upon scripture. And it was such an eye opener that, from our last [01:00:00] conversation, I now know that if you look for the right things, like Rod said, then you'll be well on your way serving God.
Emily Arndt: Amen. That's great to hear that. I let's. I do. I do remember that conversation. Yes, I do.
Tim Kraus: James, I want to shift gears just a moment here now. The people that have left the message. And we see this a lot, where people will say, as an example, and you've voiced this or you articulated this before, where people did not treat you... they didn't treat you with respect ... or even, they basically turned their back or shunned you. People who leave the message that are searching, earnestly searching, oftentimes end up becoming atheists or agnostics. Now, it's really easy to understand why this happens. The way they're treated when they leave message churches. There's a lot of people, at least here in the United States, say if this is [01:01:00] Christianity... If I walking away... if the message of William Branham is Christianity, as the message ministers claim, then I don't want anything to do with Christianity. Because of the way they behave toward the people that are leaving. So how... and it's difficult, you can talk to those people about Jesus, and we've seen some remarkable instances where people actually come back to Christ, and recommit themselves to Christ, and Christ alone, without the need for a prophet messenger. But can you give us an idea, give us your view of what the proper approach to religion and faith is based on your experience since you've left the message.
James Manuel: Yes, Tim. It is sad to see so many wandering off into atheism or becoming agnostic. Personally. I don't blame anybody who would take such a radical step. Neither do I judge [01:02:00] anyone. However, we have to realize, it was not God who lied to us. It was not God who made us believe all this pie in the sky. It was not God who deceived us. It was William Branham. So I don't have a problem with God. My problem is with one, william Branham. And therefore I don't see the logic in turning our backs on God or even believe that he doesn't exist. My approach to religion is simple. I don't know everything. And I don't believe I ever will. I don't understand everything. I never claimed that I did, but there's one thing I know, even if atheists are correct, which they are not. And they say that God does not exist. And we know He does. [01:03:00] I still know that there is something that sturdy in my head. Even if He does not exist and all this Jesus stuff is false, at least I lived a life above reproach. I was kind to my neighbors and I showed love to my fellow human beings. When I reach the end of life's journey, I could look back and say, I lived a good life. Also, I know that had I had to come from some where, that I came from somewhere and I don't live my life to disappear into nowhere. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This is my simple approach to religion. Don't talk the walk, but walk the talk. Let your light so shine that others may see your good works [01:04:00] and glorify your Father in heaven. We'll meet them. Christianity is not what I can get out of God, but how useful I can be for him. And quite honestly, I just want to be humble. Be kind. Live in harmony with nature. Be honest and have integrity. If I do those simple things, I believe God will take care of the rest.
Tim Kraus: That's an interesting, it's an interesting response. I remember one time on a podcast that we were doing, gosh, I want to say it was, oh gosh, it was quite awhile ago.
But Rod mentioned something that I thought was really interesting. And he mentioned that when you're wrong, at the moment that you're wrong, or that the moment that you feel like you're wrong, you don't feel like you're wrong. You feel like you're correct. And so message believers feel like they're correct. There's no ultimate feeling that you're [01:05:00] wrong. When you're, when it's pointed out to you that you're wrong, the feeling that you have is, you're almost a little ashamed that you were wrong or you're defensive. And that creates a feeling that you were incorrect. But at the end of the day, realizing that you were wrong is part of getting back on track and getting back on the right path. So you can be wrong, genuinely wrong and earnestly wrong. And you don't have to feel defensive and you don't have to feel like you're, like you're struggling with being wrong. What I hear you saying is, really part of that is to say, get on the path that just looks at Jesus Christ and make sure that you're emulating that as part of your Christianity. And then by the way, even if you're wrong at the end of the day, you still lived as well as you could. And you're open to being corrected and you're open to being... for God to be able to lead you or the Holy Spirit to be able to lead you into the right way, into God. I really appreciate that. [01:06:00] Particularly based on the information that Rod, the comment that Rod had shared some time ago, I think that your comment is directly in line with that exactly, James, and I really appreciate that.
James Manuel: And, when it comes to... It's such a sad thing, Tim, when you look on someone and eventually they come out of the message. And it's such a sad thing to see them just wander off, into all these different directions. The one thing that I've realized, and you must remember that when I came out, I just didn't want to have anything to do with religion for a couple of months. And, I remember so vividly. I couldn't pray, I couldn't read my Bible. I didn't want to go to any church. But one Friday, Crystal and myself came from shopping, and we passed this Pentecostal church. It's about two minutes from where I live. And there was this brother standing on the steps of this church. And I actually, when I [01:07:00] passed, I thought he was busy breaking in, because it was like seven o'clock Sunday evening. And it was just getting dark. And so what I did is I made a U-turn with my car and I drove into the car park of the church, and I called him and I wanted to know what he was doing there. And this brother said to me, "No, we have prayer meeting every Friday night." And I said, "Prayer meeting?" And he said, you could come and join. I said, are you sure? I said, yes. I said, fine. I'm going to take my wife home and drop the groceries and then I'll come. So by the time I got to church, they would a few people. And everybody walked into the sanctuary, nobody talked to each other, they just started praying. And again, they, I felt like an alien, I just walked in there and I looked at everybody. Funny people... just praying, everybody in a corner, in this big church. And I couldn't pray. I didn't even know how to pray anymore. I was so devastated. And [01:08:00] then, as the night progressed, I started... with a simple, "our father, which art in heaven". And, before I knew I started confessing how I disappointed the Lord and how, I wasn't vigilant enough and how I allowed myself to be deceived. And I asked God to forgive me and slowly the word started coming. And, eventually, I was the only one praying there, everybody kept quiet. I was the only one praying. And I prayed for about an hour and a half, and then it was all quiet and everybody came over and they greeted them, introduce themselves. And then I went into this pastor's office and we spoke for a while and then he said a prayer for me. And that peace that came over me was indescribable. It was a peace that I've never experienced before. And that is when I knew that, it doesn't matter what, [01:09:00] God is always there. Watching your back, God is always there guiding you. The Holy Spirit is always keeping watch over you. If you allow yourself to be taken, you will be taken.
Rod Bergen: James, we're gonna wrap this up soon, but I have one thing that kinda comes out of what you were talking about, with your approach to religion and faith. And this is a big negative. You talk about this. We published your testimony on the BelieveTheSign website and I'll put a link to it on the podcast that people want to refer to it, but you talk about Voice Of God and others in the message, basically trashing the Bible. That they say, look, there are a lot of errors in the Bible and we don't have any issue with them, why should we have a problem with the errors in the message. And obviously, that approach is very negative to people leaving the message. What's your response to this kind of approach by Voice of God and others?
James Manuel: Yeah, Rod, I I don't think you can remember. I want sent you a letter that I emailed that I [01:10:00] got from Joseph Branham and basically, in there, he was telling me that, because the Bible is full of discrepancies, we have to accept the discrepancies of William Branham, because there's discrepancies in the Bible. And it was quite sad because, the examples Joseph Branham used was... he was talking about the resurrection, and the argument that one book of the Gospels talks about two angels and another talks about one angel. And there's a bit of discrepancy there. And my approach is very simple. If you look at any story in the Bible, you look at the essence of the story. And when it comes to the resurrection, it is really... did Jesus die? Was he buried? Did he rise? And the answer to all those questions is yes. And that is the essence of the message. You get the example. The other example we used was Paul on the road to the message. [01:11:00] And where some say they heard a voice and others did not mention a voice. And again, the essence of the story is that Paul, was Saul at the time, was on his road to Damascus, when he got struck by this light, fell off his horse. And after that Saul was changed. That is the essence of the message. And my question is very simply, did it happen like that? And the answer is yes, it happened like that. The little details in there you have to check who wrote it. And if more than one person wrote the accounts, the different accounts, then you know, you're bound to have little, little details that's not the same. But the essence of the story when it's the same, you can't argue. When it comes to William Branham, when he says he was standing right under the cloud, when they took the photos. If we go back, we'll look at the essence of that story. William [01:12:00] Branham didn't even know about the cloud. He only got knowledge of the cloud after he was shown the magazine by his friend. So none of those things you can reconcile, whereas with the Bible, we have a problem with translation. We have a problem with language. There's a whole lot of stuff that comes together before you can talk about the discrepancy. So my advice to anybody is look at the essence of any Bible story and then decide whether there's been a discrepancy.
Rod Bergen: I don't mean to interrupt you, James but what you're touching on, I think is really important. I listened to a guy by the name of James Wallace. James Wallace is a well-respected cold case detective. So he's a guy, and he was actually on 60 Minutes, a CBS program. And he wrote a book called Cold Case Christianity. He became [01:13:00] a Christian by examining the testimonies that he found in the New Testament. And he actually wanted to disprove it, and prove that this couldn't have taken place. What he found out was that there were similarities between investigating cold cases and investigating the claims of Christianity. Because cold case homicides, murders are events from the distance past, for which there's little or no forensic evidence left. And these kinds of cases are sometimes solved on the basis of eyewitness testimony, even though many years have passed between the point of the crime and the point of the investigation by the cold case examiner. And so he found that there might not be any surviving eye witness to the actual murder. There are often witnesses available who can help puzzle together the events that led up to the crime or the behavior of a suspect following the crime. And those witnesses can be evaluated in a number of ways [01:14:00] to confirm the reliability. And in the end, a strong circumstantial case, which can be accepted by the courts can usually be made by collecting the witness statements and verifying their observations, even though they don't have any forensic evidence. And James Wallace, by taking this approach, he arrested and successfully prosecuted a number of cold case suspects who thought they'd gotten away with murder. And I want to read this quote from his book, Cold Case Christianity. He says, "Christianity makes a claim about an event from the distant past, for which there is little or no forensic evidence. Like cold cases, the truth about what happened can be discovered by examining the statements of eyewitnesses and comparing them with what little additional evidence is accessible to us. If the eyewitnesses can be evaluated and their statements can be verified by what we have available, an equally strong circumstantial case can be made for the [01:15:00] claims of the New Testament. And he said, "Are there any reliable eyewitness statements in existence to corroborate in the first place? This became the most important question I had to answer in my personal investigation of Christianity. Were the gospel narratives eye witness accounts, or were they the only moralistic mythologies? Were the gospels reliable or where they filled with untrustworthy, supernatural absurdity? The most important questions I could ask about Christianity just so happened to fall within the area of my expertise." And he says, "I was a committed atheist. When I first heard a pastor preach a sermon that described the resurrection of Jesus." And he went and dug into the rules. And he said, "I decided to investigate the resurrection as I would any unsolved case from the distant past. My journey led me out of atheism to the truth of Christianity. As I [01:16:00] applied my skills as a detective, I became more convinced that the New Testament gospel accounts reliably describe the life ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus."
James Manuel: Wow. Yeah. Isn't that amazing? That's amazing. And with all these things, I believe that if we are sincere and we look at these things at the end of the day, you will realize that the message does not compare with the Bible. And therefore you cannot use the Bible to justify all the lies, the deception, the fraud and corruption that we see so rampant in the message.
Rod Bergen: Yeah exactly the truth. Thank you very much, James. We have really appreciated having you on again, to talk about the experiences we didn't get a chance to talk about in our first interview. And so I [01:17:00] really know that our listeners will really enjoy hearing what you have to say. I hope you could come back again at some point in time in the future, and we can talk about things as they are unfolding. And I know there are a lot of things that are unfolding with respect to people continuing to come out of the message, which is simply an answer to prayer. James Manuel: Thank you, Rod, Tim and Emily. This was really an honor and privilege to chat with you guys. And Rod, you are most welcome anytime, just tell me when, I'll be too willing to share, what would I pick up?
Rod Bergen: Appreciate that very much. God bless you.
Tim Kraus: Thanks guys. And James, thanks for coming on.
James Manuel: Thank you, Tim.
Emily Arndt: Yeah. Thanks, James. Greetings to your wife and to your daughters and yeah, hopefully our paths will cross again this side of heaven sometime.
James Manuel: Yeah, I hope so. I sincerely hope so, Emily. God bless you, Rod, [01:18:00] and thank you for all the hard work you do. And for your sacrifices, I just want you to know that we appreciate it and that we support you 100% in your efforts.
Rod Bergen: Thanks very much. God bless
James Manuel: God bless.