“A Man of Notable Signs and Wonders”
God didn’t put His endorsement upon one particular church, but He revealed that the pure in heart would see God . . . Let the fellow believe whatever he wants to about it. These things don’t amount to very much anyhow. Be brothers, have fellowship with one another.1
William Branham was beyond doubt a man of notable signs and wonders. From birth, supernatural manifestations marked his life. He truly walked with God for a time, but in the latter years of his life, began to err in doctrine and veer from his true calling. He did indeed have a divine impartation to minister healing and deliverance. A modern day prophet of biblical proportion, he healed the multitudes and delivered the afflicted from all kinds of demonic bondages and strongholds. He walked in the Spirit, guided by visions and angels: For a period of time the supernatural seemed to permeate his life and all he set his hand to.
During the height of Branham’s ministry, from 1946-1954, great men came alongside him to promote and partner with him; men such as Gordon Lindsey, F.F. Bosworth, and Jack Moore. Branham’s healing team launched what became known as the Voice of Healing magazine, which gave rise to the great healing revival of the early 1950s. This movement directly impacted T.L. Osborn, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and others so that today the wider church has a firmer grasp on the truths regarding faith and healing.
William Marrion Branham was born to a fifteen-year-old mother, and an eighteen-year-old father, in a tiny, dirt floor shack up in the hills of Kentucky. They were poor and illiterate, and had no interest in spiritual matters. William grew up without any knowledge of God, the Bible, or prayer. Yet God had a special call on his life and would go to great lengths throughout William’s childhood to get his attention. From a young age, William heard God’s voice, and knew that he was being called to a different kind of life than those around him.
He didn’t understand the calling or how to quiet the longing he felt in his heart. At the age of nineteen he decided to move away hoping that he would find solace in a new location. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona where he worked on a ranch, but he still couldn’t escape the sense that God was calling him. When he received news that his brother had died, he returned home to his grief-stricken family. It was at the funeral that he heard his first prayer and knew then that he needed to learn to pray.
Answering the Call
He stayed close to home to be near his grieving family, taking a job at a nearby gas works company. After two years on the job, William was overcome with gas fumes when testing a meter and ended up in the hospital where he underwent surgery for appendicitis. As he lay in the recovery room, he felt his life ebbing away. His body grew weaker and his mind grew dark; and then he heard the familiar voice saying, “I called you and you would not go.” The words were repeated again and again. William’s inner voice answered back, “Lord, if that is You, let me go back again to earth and I will preach our Gospel from the housetops and street corners.”2
He was released from the hospital a few days later and began immediately to seek the Lord. He found a small, independent Baptist church that nurtured and prayed for him and then six months later ordained him an independent Baptist minister. William obtained a small tent and began to minister with great results. It was in June of 1933 at the age of twenty-four, that Branham held his first major tent revival. Three thousand people attended in one night. It was during this time that a supernatural manifestation occurred.
William was holding a special baptism service where he baptized 130 believers in the Ohio River. When he had baptized the seventieth person, this is what William described happened: “A whirl came down from the heavens above, here come that light, shining down . . . it hung right over where I was at . . . and it like to a-scared me to death.” Many of the four thousand that saw the light ran in fear, some remained and fell in worship, others claimed to have heard an actual voice.3
Several months later, in the fall of that year, the people who attended those powerful meetings built a headquarters for William’s anointed ministry calling it “Branham Tabernacle.” From 1933 to 1946, Branham ministered at the Tabernacle while working at a secular job. During this time he also met his future wife, Hope Brumback, with whom he had two children before tragedy struck in 1937.
The Price of Disobedience
While Branham was on a fishing trip, he came across a camp meeting of the “Oneness Pentecostals” (a denomination often referred to today as “Jesus Only”) and was asked to minister there. Shortly after he started to speak, the power of God engulfed him and he ministered for the next two hours. Pastors from all over the country invited Branham to speak at their churches so that he completely filled his calendar for the following year.
When he had excitedly returned home to share the news with his wife, her mother was there and scorned him for associating with the Oneness Pentecostals. Branham capitulated to her rebuke and cancelled all his meetings. He would later regret this as the biggest mistake of his life. If he had gone on to hold those meetings, his family would not have been caught in the great Ohio flood of 1937.
As it turned out, in the winter of 1937, Hope had just given birth to their second child. Because her immune system had not been completely restored, she had succumbed to a serious lung disease. It was during this period of recovery that the levee broke on the Ohio River and the floodwaters rose. She and her two young children were transported to several locations during which time both became seriously ill with pneumonia. Hope’s lung condition turned to tuberculosis and she died only weeks later. Although the older child eventually recovered, the younger infant’s pneumonia turned to a fatal spinal meningitis and the baby died the same night as her mother.
The Rushing Wind
The next five years were difficult for William as he reeled from the loss. He continued to preach at the Branham Tabernacle and have prophetic visions. No one seemed to understand him or the nature of his visions and he grew more restless. He did remarry during this time for his oldest child’s sake and worked to provide for the family as a game warden in addition to preaching at the Tabernacle.
One spring day, in 1946, he came home for lunch and sat with a friend under a large maple tree. All of a sudden, according to Branham, “It seemed that the whole top of the tree let loose . . . it seemed like something came down from that tree like a great rushing wind.” His wife came running out to see what the commotion was all about, and after getting a hold of his emotions, Branham shared all the past experiences he’d had with the wind rushing above him in the trees. Since he was a young child, a “mighty rushing wind” haunted him, spoke to him, and compelled him to seek God for answers.
He then told her that he was going to find out once and for all what was behind this “wind” and recalled that he had said, “I told her and my child good-bye and warned her that if I didn’t come back in a few days, perhaps I might never return.” 4
A Visit from an Angel
Branham left for a secluded place to pray and read the Bible. He cried out to the Lord to speak to him in some way. That night he noticed a light flickering in the room that began to spread across the floor and then grew into a ball of fire shining on the floor. Footsteps approached and he saw a large man dressed in a white robe coming toward him. The man spoke,
“Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. If you will be sincere, and can get the people to believe you, nothing shall stand before your prayer, not even cancer.”
William humbly replied that he was so poor and uneducated no one would listen to him. The Angel gave him two gifts that he would use as signs to help the people believe. The first would be his ability to detect disease by a vibration in his left hand; and the other would be the word of knowledge revealing the secret sin hidden in a person’s heart.
Walking Out The Calling
The following Sunday after returning home, Branham shared with his congregation what he had experienced. While he was speaking, someone handed him a telegram requesting that he come to St. Louis to pray for a gravely sick daughter. He quickly took up an offering for the train-fare and borrowed a suit of clothes. At midnight he boarded the train for St. Louis.
He arrived to find the girl dying from an unknown sickness. She was weak and wasting away, hoarse from crying out in pain. William was moved to tears and pulled away to seek the Lord privately about what to do. He saw the answer in a vision and waited until the conditions were just as he had seen them in the spirit. He asked the people present if they believed he was God’s servant and directed them to do just he told them, nothing doubting. He proceeded to ask for several things and prayed according the vision the Lord had given him. Immediately the child was healed.
News spread quickly and the people of St. Louis asked Branham to return. In June of 1946 he conducted a twelve-day healing revival there where tremendous manifestations took place. The lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised. A woman who stood mocking outside dropped dead from a heart attack. Branham went out to pray for her and she revived praising God. The healings that took place were beyond count as Branham often stayed until 2:00 a.m. to pray for the sick.
From St. Louis he went on to Jonesboro, Arkansas, were 25,000 people attended the meetings.5 On one occasion, Branham went out to pray for a woman who had died in an ambulance outside the meeting hall. She sat up healed and Branham had to sneak out of the front of the ambulance under cover of disguise to return to the meeting.
1947 was a high profile year for Branham. In Arkansas he acquired his first campaign manager. Time published news of his campaigns as his ministry toured the western states. While in Portland, Oregon, T.L. and Daisy Osborn attended his meetings and were greatly influenced by what they witnessed. It has been said that this was the refreshing and refocus they needed to launch their world-changing international ministry.
This was also the year that Gordon Lindsey joined forces with Branham. Lindsey became his administrator and organized and promoted one of the greatest healing revivals to this day. Accompanied by Jack Moore, the “Union Campaign” joined the forces of the Oneness Pentecostals and the Full Gospel circles for a series of revival campaigns held throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Branham was successful at avoiding doctrinal differences and leading thousands to salvation and healing. Reports stated that 1,500 souls were born again in a single service and as many as 35,000 healings were manifested during that stretch of ministry.
The Voice of Healing
The Branham team wanted to give a greater voice to the message of healing that could reach beyond the confine of their meetings so decided to distribute a monthly publication they called The Voice of Healing magazine. Not long after his quick rise to national success, Branham suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1948, it was thought he might die when another rising healing evangelist, Oral Roberts, rallied believers everywhere to pray for Branham’s restoration. Six months later, Branham was back on the scene.
In 1950, F.F. Bosworth joined the Branham team and together they conducted another major healing crusade gathering crowds of over 8,000 at a single service. During the same year, Branham traveled to Scandinavia making him the first Voice of Healing evangelist to travel to Europe. In the fall of 1951, the Voice of Healing ministry team traveled to Africa and held healing campaigns there through December. It is reported that the meetings were the greatest ever in South Africa with crowds exceeding 50,000 in number.6
Deviating from the Call
Branham remained very influential in the ministry of divine healing for nine years. During this time healing evangelists began to surface all over the country. In 1952, at the height of the Voice of Healing revival, forty-nine prominent healing evangelists were featured in The Voice of Healing magazine. The revelation of divine healing had reached an all-time peak across the world. But from that year on, the healing revival fires began to dwindle. By 1955, Branham began to experience difficulties, and his ministry took a radical change.
Branham had a falling out with Gordon Lindsey, who was forced to leave the ministry. Without Lindsey, his organization was mismanaged and fell into financial ruin. He also began to err in doctrine without the balanced voice of Lindsey who brought stability not only to his administrative affairs, but also kept his teaching sound and bible-based.
As the glory days of the Voice of Healing revival began to wind down toward 1958, Branham searched for other ways to make his mark. He began teaching from his visions rather than from the Word of God. Not called to be a teacher, Branham began to veer off in extreme directions regarding his interpretation of truth. Disturbing doctrines were taught and emphasized throughout the remainder of his ministry.
God Removes a Prophet
On December 18, 1965, Branham and his family were traveling home to Indiana from Texas where William had preached for the last time at Jack Moore’s church. His son was in the car ahead of theirs when a drunk driver swerved and missed the son’s car but hit William’s car head on. Mrs. Branham was immediately killed. William was still alive when his son found him. He asked about his wife and when he was told she was dead, he instructed his son to place his hand upon her. His son picked up Branham’s bloodied hand and placed it on Mrs. Branham. Instantly a pulse returned and she revived.
Branham remained in a coma for six days before he went to be with the Lord on December 24, 1965. Though saddened by his death, his ministry colleagues were not surprised. Gordon Lindsey wrote in his eulogy, “God may see that a man’s special ministry has reached its fruition and it is time to take him home.”7
Lindsey also accepted the interpretation of Kenneth E. Hagin—father of the Word of Faith movement—who had prophesied two years before that the Lord was “removing the prophet” from the scene. Branham died exactly when the Lord told Hagin he would. According to Hagin’s prophecy, William Marrion Branham, the “father of the healing revival” had to be removed from the earth because of his disobedience to his call and the creation of doctrinal confusion.
- C. Douglas Weaver, The Healer-Prophet, William Marrion Branham: A Study of the Prophetic in American Pentecostalism (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987), 54
- Gordon Lindsey, A Man Sent From God (Jefferson, IN: William Branham, 1950), 39-41
- Weaver, The Healer-Prophet, 27
- Roberts Liardon, God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed (Laguna Hills, CA: Roberts Liardon Ministries, reprinted by permission of Whittaker House, 1996), 324.
- Lindsey, William Branham, 93.
- Liardon, Gods Generals, 331
- Weaver, The Healer Prophet, 105