William Branham was an acclaimed Pentecostal healer and prophet who arose from the ranks during the same general period as such other well known Pentecostal figures as Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, Jack Coe, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Demos Shakarian. Branham conducted large healing campaigns in America, Canada, and Europe, and was honored as a prophet of God throughout Pentecostalism.
Though dead, Branham is still referred to frequently by Pentecostal leaders and publications, and there are churches, particularly in Canada and Europe, that claim him as their leader.
"The person universally acknowledged as the revival's ‘father' and ‘pacesetter' was William Branham. The sudden appearance of his miraculous healing campaigns in 1946 set off a spiritual explosion in the Pentecostal movement which was to move to Main Street, U.S.A., by the 1950s and give birth to the broader charismatic movement in the 1960s, which currently affects almost every denomination in the country. ... ‘Branham filled the largest stadiums and meeting halls in the world.' ... As the pacesetter of the healing revival, Branham was the primary source of inspiration in the development of other healing ministries. He inspired hundreds of ministers to enter the healing ministry and a multitude of evangelists paid tribute to him for the impact he had upon their work. As early as 1950, over 1,000 healing evangelists gathered at a Voice of Healing [the name of Branham's magazine] convention to acknowledge the profound influence of Branham on the healing movement” (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988, p. 372).
Before we proceed with Alfred Pohl’s interview, we will give a brief overview of Branham's life from the report, "Latter-day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection," by Albert James Dager. In brackets we will insert other material which we feel is helpful in understanding Branham:
“William Marion Branham was born April 6, 1909, on a farm near Berksville, Kentucky, U.S.A. At the time of his birth, his mother was fifteen years of age and his dad was eighteen. Something unusual happened the day he was born. A few rays of light shone into the room and a halo, one foot in diameter, appeared above the mother and the baby. As a result of this incident his mother took him to a Baptist church in the community. This was the first and last time he went to church for many years. While William Branham was quite young, his parents moved to a farm near Jeffersonville, Indiana, where "his early life was marked by tragedy, poverty, and misunderstanding” (Carl Dyck, William Branham: The Man and His Message, Saskatoon: Western Tract Mission, 1984, p. 3).
It should also be noted that Branham's parents believed in fortunetelling and he was burdened through occultism at an early age (Kurt Koch, Between Christ and Satan, p. 150).
In 1948, William Branham, a Baptist preacher turned Pentecostal, incorporated into his own ministry the ideas [Franklin] Hall presented in Atomic Power with God through Fasting and Prayer. Because of his influence over the lives of almost all the "healing revival" preachers that followed after him, Branham proved to be the most influential of Hall's disciples.
Branham's followers believed him to be the apostle of the final Church age.
He gained popularity through his teachings on what he called "God's Seventh Church Age," which would be the final move of God before the manifestation of His Kingdom on earth. Branham based this teaching on his interpretation of Joel 2:23, which speaks of the latter rain on God's blessings upon Israel, and applied this latter rain to the neo-pentecostal move of his day. He taught that God's promise to restore what the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, and palmerworm had eaten would be the restoration of the Church out of denominationalism, which he equated with the Mark of the Beast.
Branham is said to have exhibited remarkable healing power [we will see from Pohl's interview that this was a sham], and the ability to give accurate words of knowledge about people whom he had never met. [The latter is soothsaying, which is occultic.]
From a very early age it was evident that supernatural power accompanied Branham's life. When he was three years of age [other accounts give the age as two and seven], he first heard "the Voice." This disembodied Voice told him that he was never to drink, smoke, or defile his body in any way, for he was being groomed for work at a later date (William Branham, My Life Story, Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, undated, p. 24).
The Voice accompanied Branham throughout his lifetime, and eventually made itself known as an angel. This angel directed him in every aspect of his personal life, and it was the angel rather than the Holy Spirit to whom Branham gave credit for his power (Kurt Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1972, p. 50).
Branham knew that if he didn't do what the Voice told him to do, he would suffer greatly.
[The angel supposedly appeared during a 1933 baptismal service in the Ohio River at Jeffersonville, Indiana, and said to Branham: "As John the Baptist foreran the first coming of Christ, you will forerun His Second Coming” (In the Days of the Voice of the 7th Angel, Edmonton: End Time Message Tabernacle, p. 53).]
Branham propagated what he called the "Serpent's Seed" teaching: the belief that Cain was produced through a sexual union between Eve and the serpent in the garden. The curse of the Serpent's Seed, he believed, continues to plague mankind through women, and is evidenced in their temptation of men (Branham, My Life Story, p. 19).
[This strange teaching is stated as follows by one of Branham's disciples: "Eve's eating was adultery with the serpent, Proverbs 30:20. Remember, he was not a snake at this point. That curse came after the act. ... It was not an apple that caused Adam and Eve to realize they were naked. But it was a sex act. ... The serpent was an upright handsome creature. He was, in fact, ‘the missing link' that science even in their unspiritual wisdom, can see is missing ‘between man and monkey.' ... Satan used this creature to get himself into the Human race” (Was it an Apple? Lima, Oh: Bible Believers of Lima).]
[Branham believed that some humans are descended from the serpent's seed and are destined for hell, which is not eternal, however. The seed of God, i.e., those who receive Branham's teaching, are predestined to become the Bride of Christ. There are still others who possess free will and who may be saved out of the denominational churches, but they must suffer through the Great Tribulation. He considered denominationalism a mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:17) (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, pp. 95, 96).]
Another of Branham's teachings was that the Zodiac and the Egyptian pyramids were equal to the Scriptures in the revelation of God's Word (Branham, Adoption, Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, pp. 31, 104).
[Branham denied the Trinity, and required that believers baptized by a Trinitarian formula be rebaptized in the name of "Jesus only” (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, pp. 95, 96). In a sermon entitled "The Way of a True Prophet," Branham stated this view as follows: "Why don't you examine your baptism of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that false ‘trinity' it's so-called, which is nothing in the world but three offices of one God, titles. No, name of Father, there's no such a thing as name, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which is the Lord Jesus Christ” (In the Days of the Voice of the 7th Angel, p. 41).]
[Branham proclaimed himself the angel of Revelation 3:14 and 10:7 and predicted that by 1977 all denominations would be consumed by the World Council of Churches under the control of the Roman Catholics, that the Rapture would take place, and that the world would be destroyed (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, p. 96). Branham predicted that by 1977 all denominations would be consumed by the World Council of Churches under the control of Rome and the Rapture and the end of the world would take place (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, first edition, p. 96). He said, “At--at least, this great nation is going to strike a war that’s going to blow it to bits” (Branham, The Laodician Church Age, Dec. 11, 1960, Jefferson, Indiana, audio tape).]
Although many Pentecostals overlooked these and other false prophecies and aberrant teachings and embraced him as an apostle and a prophet, his popularity declined in the late '50s due to his attempt to establish his proclamations as equal to Scripture. Even the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International [FGBMFI], which had supported Branham and given him an open forum at their meetings, began to move away from him, although some local chapters continued to use him as a speaker.
In spite of Branham's denial of the Trinity, and his aberrant teachings on immortalization, on the restoration of the Church and on the offices of apostles and prophets, Demos Shakarian [founder of FGBMFI] wrote, "Rev. Branham often made the statement that the only Fellowship to which he belonged was FGBMFI. Often, when called upon to speak at various conventions and chapter meetings, he has traveled long distances to keep those engagements. His spirit of service was an inspiration” (David E. Harrell, Jr., All Things Are Possible, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1976, p. 161).
Branham was injured in a head-on collision while on a trip to Arizona and passed away six days later [on December 24, 1965]. Many of his followers believed that he had truly come in the spirit of Elijah; some believed him to be God, born of a virgin, and fully expected him to rise from the dead in three days (Ibid.).
To date, William Branham's body is still in the grave. But his occult healing methodology was picked up by hundreds of others upon whom he had laid his hands for transference of the spirit that worked through him. These included almost all the major names who operated as "healing" evangelists during that time, and who are still at work today. They took Branham's mantle through the period known as the Latter Rain.
The previous report, except for the parts within brackets, is from Albert James Dager, Latter-day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection, Media Spotlight.
We believe it is important to say more about Branham's angel and the supernatural powers that influenced his life. As has been noted, from early childhood Branham experienced voices and visions. Consider the following quotes from his testimony:
“I was crying, and all at once I heard something making a noise like a whirlwind, something like this going ‘Whoooosssh, whooooossssh,’ just a noise like that. Well, it was awful quiet, and I looked around. And you know what, a little whirlwind, I believe you call them a little cyclone. And I was under a great white popular tree, stood about halfway between the barn and the house. And I heard that noise. ... And I got just few feet from that, out from under the branches of this big tree, and, oh, my, it made a whirl sounding. And I turned to look and about halfway up that tree was another whirlwind, caught in that tree just a-going around and around, moving those leaves. ... So I watched, but it didn't leave off. Usually it's just a puff for a moment, then it goes, but it had already been in there two minutes or more.
“Well, I started up the lane again. And I turned to look at this again. And when It did, a human Voice just as audible as mine is, said, ‘Don't you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There'll be a work for you to do when you get older.’ Why, it liked to scared me to death! You could imagine how a little fellow felt. I dropped those buckets, and home I went just as hard as I could go, screaming at the top of my voice. ...
“Well, I told that to Mama, and--and she just laughed at me. And I was just hysterical. She called the doctor, and the doctor said, ‘Well, he's just nervous, that's all.’ So she put me to bed. And I never, from that day to this, ever passed by that tree again. I was scared. I'd go down the other side of the garden, because I thought there was a man up in that tree and He was talking to me, great deep Voice that spoke” (William Branham, My Life Story, Edmonton: End Time Message Tabernacle, pp. 14-15);
This was the beginning of Branham's experience in the supernatural, and he claimed that this voice followed him the rest of his life and was the voice which controlled his healing ministry. Years later Branham was baptizing in the Ohio River and claims that the voice spoke again:
“I was baptizing down on the river, my first converts, at the Ohio River ... And just then a whirl come from the heavens above, and here come that Light, shining down. ... And It hung right over where I was at. A Voice spoke from there, and said, ‘As John the Baptist was sent for the forerunner of the first coming of Christ, you've got a Message that will bring forth the forerunning of the Second Coming of Christ.’ And it liked to a-scared me to death.
“And I went back, and all the people there ... they asked me, said, ‘What did that Light mean?’
“A big group of colored people from the--the Gilead Age Baptist church and the Lone Star church down there, and many of those was down there, they began screaming when they saw that happen, people fainted” (William Branham, How the Angel Came to Me, and His Commission, Edmonton: End Time Message Tabernacle, p. 18).
Branham was bothered by the many visitations and repeatedly prayed that God would take them away. Finally the voice appeared to him in bodily form and gave him a commission to heal:
“And then all along down through life I'd see that, see that moving, see that visions, how those things would happen. Then, a little later on, It kept bothering me so much, and everybody telling me It was wrong. ... No matter how much I'd keep praying for That not to come, It come anyhow....
“I was game warden in the State of Indiana. ... I said, ‘Honey, I can't go on like this, I'm a prisoner.’ I said, ‘All the time, when this thing keeps happening, and things like that, and these visions a-coming, and so forth like that, or whatever it is.’ I said, ‘Them trances like,’ I said, ‘I don't know what that is. And, honey, I- I-I-I don't want to fool with it, they--they tell me it's the Devil. And I love the Lord Jesus.’
“And I said, ‘Meda [his wife], I'll never come out of that woods until God promises me He'll take that thing away from me and never let it happen again.’ ...
“And I went up there that night and went back in the little old cabin floor. ... Where I used to trap when I was a boy, had a trap line through there and go up there and fish and stay all night. Just a little old dilapidated cabin sitting over there ... And I set down on this little stool. And I just sitting, oh, kind of in this position, just like that.
“And, all at once, I seen a Light flicker in the room. And I thought somebody was come up with a flashlight. And I looked around, and I thought, ‘Well ...’ And here It was, right out in front of me. And old wooden boards on the floor. And there It was, right in front of me. And a little old drum stove sitting in the corner, the top was tore out of it. And--and right in here there was a--a Light on the floor, and I thought, ‘Well, where's that? Well, that couldn't be coming.’
“I looked around. And here It was above me, this very same Light, right there above me, hanging right like that. Circling around like a fire, kind of an emerald color, going, ‘Whoossh, whoossh, whoossh!’ like that, just above It, like that. And I looked at That, and I thought, ‘What is That?’ Now, It scared me.
“And I heard somebody coming, just walking, only it was barefooted. And I seen the foot of a Man come in. Dark in the room, all but right here where It was shining right down. And I seen the foot of a Man coming in. And when He come into the room, walked on up, He was a Man about ... looked to weigh about two hundred pounds. [Branham also described him as dark of complexion, with shoulder length hair.] He had His hands folded like this.
“Now, I had seen It in a Whirlwind, I had heard It talk to me, and seen It in the form of a Light, but the first time I ever seen the image of It. It walked up to me, real close.
“Well, honest friends, I--I thought my heart would fail me. ... Cause after hundreds and hundreds of times of visitations, it paralyzes me when He comes near. It sometimes it even makes me ... I almost completely pass out, just so weak when I leave the platform many times. If I stay too long, I'll go completely out. I've had them ride me around for hours, not even know where I was at. And I can't explain it. ...
“So I was sitting there and looking at Him. I--I kind of had my hand up like that. He was looking right at me, just as pleasant. But He had a real deep Voice, and He said, ‘Do not fear. I am sent from the Presence of Almighty God.’ And when He spoke, that Voice, that was the same Voice that spoke to me when I was two years old, all the way up. I knowed that was Him.
“He said, ‘I am sent from the Presence of Almighty God, to tell you that your peculiar birth’ (as you know what my birth was up there; that same Light hung over me when I was first born). And so He said, ‘Your peculiar birth and misunderstood life has been to indicate that you're to go to all the world and pray for the sick people.’ And said, ‘And regardless of what they have ... if you get the people to believe you, and be sincere when you pray, nothing shall stand before your prayers, not even cancer.’
“And He said, ‘As the prophet Moses was given two gifts, signs to vindicate his ministry, so will you be given two.’ He said, ‘One of them will be that you'll take the person that you're praying for by the hand, with your left hand and their right,’ and said, ‘then just stand quiet, and there'll be a physical effect that'll happen on your body. Then you pray. And if it leaves, the disease is gone from the people. If it doesn't leave, just ask a blessing and walk away.’
“He said, ‘And the next thing will be, if they won't hear that, then they will hear this. Then it'll come to pass that you'll know the very secret of their heart. This they will hear.’
“He said, ‘You were born in this world for that purpose’” (William Branham, How the Angel Came to Me, and His Commission, Edmonton: End Time Message Tabernacle, pp. 18-22).
We don't believe these visitations were of the Lord. Note the fear that the voice caused in young Branham, and the turmoil and confusion and fear that it caused in his life from then on. The Bible says, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..." (1 Cor. 14:33).
In the Bible, when God or angels spoke to or appeared to men, it is true that they often were afraid. But God always calmed the fears of those who were visited, and there were not lingering fear and turmoil because of the visitations. We do not believe that the Lord would have allowed Branham to continue in the suffocating kind of fear that he experienced from the visitations. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).
Another evidence of the demonic nature of Branham's visitations is the legalistic bondage that accompanied them. The devil is a slave master. The Lord Jesus Christ sets the captives free. Branham never did experience the liberty of conscience and action that Christ gives. He lived in fear and acted under a compulsive-type behavior associated with demonic oppression.
We have quoted Branham's own statement about being a prisoner to the visitations. Consider Branham's painful, servile relationship with the angel:
“One evening, just before a meeting, Branham told his interpreter, ‘Don't stand to the right of me because my angel stands there.’ Branham described the angel as a well-built man, dark hair with folded arms. The angel supposedly stood next to Branham, and what the angel said, he had to obey.
“Branham said that the angel was with him day and night and without him he had no authority in his preaching. In fact, he could not even decide things in his own private life. In his healing, Branham was always told by the angel who to heal and who not to. Once an interpreter asked Branham, ‘Do you think your power to heal people comes from the Holy Spirit?’ ‘No,’ Branham replied, ‘my angel does it.’ Kurt Koch confirms ‘the fact that Branham's angel was a spiritistic rather than a divine angel.’ He relates a story about a woman whose brother-in-law, in spite of being a minister, was involved in occultism, spiritistic meetings and magic. When Branham first was introduced to him, Branham spontaneously said, ‘You look exactly like the angel which appears to me every day.’ The weird, spiritistic minister frightened Christians who knew him” (Carl Dyck, William Branham: The Man and His Message, Saskatoon: Western Tract Mission, 1984, p. 16).
We believe Branham was influenced by demonic spirits. The bondage in which he lived was an occultic bondage. His powers were those of a soothsayer.
His healing powers were occultic. The voices that tormented him, the vibrations and swellings in his hand, the lights, the fiery balls that supposedly danced about the room during some of his healing crusades, the complete exhaustion he experienced after his meetings--all of this is evidence of occultic powers. And this is what men of God tried to warn him of. In fact, when Branham met fortunetellers, they even told him that he was influenced by their kind of supernatural powers:
“What made me more scared than ever, every time I met a fortuneteller, they would recognize something had happened. And that would just ... it just nearly killed me.
“For instance, one day my cousins and I was going down through a carnival ground, and we was just boys, walking along. So there was a little old fortuneteller sitting out there in one of those tents. ... She said, ‘Say, you, come here a minute!’ And the three of us boys turned around. And she said, ‘You with the striped sweater’ (that was me). ...
“And I walked up, I said, ‘Yes, ma'am, what could I do for you?’
“And she said, ‘Say, did you know there's a Light that follows you? You were born under a certain sign.’
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’
“She said, ‘Well, you were born under a certain sign. There's a Light that follows you. You were born for a Divine call’” (William Branham: The Man and His Message, pp. 22-23).
Branham tells of other instances in which soothsayers told him similar things. He said, "And every time I get around one of them, that's the way it would be." Then the preachers, saying, "That's the Devil! That's the Devil!" (Ibid. p. 25).
This is a sad story. It is too bad that Branham did not listen to the wise voices which were warning him that the visitations were demonic. It is too bad that Branham did not listen to his own fears and his own conscience which caused him to want to escape the visitations. It is too bad that Branham did not listen to the Bible. As it turns out, he did not listen to wisdom. Instead he allowed the demonic powers to control his life, and he, in turn, led multitudes of other people into all sorts of error and confusion.
WILLIAM BRANHAM HEALING MEETING: EYEWITNESS REPORT
By A.H. Pohl
O TIMOTHY: Can you tell me, Bro. Pohl, where and when the Branham meeting was held?
POHL: It was in the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in the 40's, because we left in '50. It was in the 40s when Branham came to Saskatoon for a healing campaign, and I was involved in it very, very much, because at that time we had a Bible Institute right beside the church where the healing campaign was conducted. I was on staff at the Bible Institute and as such I had responsibility in taking care of all the worst cases, the stretcher cases, and the people that could not walk, coming to the church and going to the healing line. These came into the dorm of the Bible Institute where I was responsible and placed them in the rooms for the time while they're waiting for Branham to come to minister to them.
So, I was very closely involved with Branham in this. When the meetings were over, like when the meeting was over in the church, I would take Mr. Branham by the arm and lead him from room to room in this dorm, which was just adjacent to the church, and he would pray for these people. And then, when I had taken him into every room, met every patient, then I'd lead him to the back door, and he would be gone, go to his hotel. His brother was out there with the car, picked him up and took him to the hotel. And he was gone. All day, all that night, next day.
He gave orders--at least orders were given that no one was suppose to contact him at the hotel. And, he'd come an hour late, half an hour late the next night to the meeting. Say if the meeting started at 7:00, he'd be there about 7:30. The meeting was already in progress when he arrived. I guess that was part of procedure, but no one--with those circumstances--nobody could really visit with him, or talk to him, or get acquainted with him.
I was the only one that really could have an opportunity to talk to him, and that was when we were going from room to room, side by side, in the dorm. It was quite an experience.
O TIMOTHY: The denomination you were involved with then was what?
POHL: Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada, Incorporated.
O TIMOTHY: Okay. Now, he would have the meetings and then have a healing line right before he went into the dorm?
POHL: Right, right. There was always the preaching meeting, and then the healing line, the prayer line, and then of course, I took him into the dorm, to go to all the stretcher cases, and so forth.
O TIMOTHY: Now, did many claim to be healed, or did it seem that many were healed in the meeting?
POHL: In the meetings? Ah, yes, there were those that claimed to be healed, and there were those people that thought they saw healings, or thought they saw miracles. But, when you were on the inside, you saw that some of those things that were supposed to be miracles, were not miracles at all. From the outside, you would think that something had really happened; but having been right close to Branham, and working right with him, I discovered that a lot of those supposed healings or miracles were really not miracles after all.
O TIMOTHY: Okay. As you took him through the dorm, he prayed for different individuals. What did he say during those encounters with the individuals?
POHL: Well, one of the things he did was to take the hand of the person, and quite often I heard him say that the angel that gave him this gift told him that to identify certain diseases--and he would speak of cancer very much--there are vibrations that he felt on his hand that indicate that this person has cancer. So he would take the patient's hand and hold it. He would say, "Yes, the vibrations tell me that you have cancer." Then he'd say something like this, "We're going to pray for you, that the Lord will heal you." And he proceeded to do this. Then he went on, and when he was through praying, he would take that hand again or else he would hold the hand throughout the prayer, and he would say, "The vibrations are gone. The cancer is dead. You are healed."
And the person would rejoice, of course; so would I. I thoroughly believed in Branham, I thought he was God's man and so forth, and we wanted to see people healed. So [supposedly] the cancer was dead, and we were happy about this.
But then he had a little added statement there, and that was something like this, "Now, just keep on trusting the Lord. You're healed. Don't loose your faith in the Lord. Just keep your faith and trust the Lord, and you're healed." He said, "You're going to be sick for a while. You're going to be quite sick for a few days." Quite often he referred to three days. "You're going to be very sick for three days."
The people often asked, "Well, what do you mean, Brother Branham? If I'm healed, why should I be sick?"
He said, "The cancer, the cancerous growth which is now dead inside your body has to be carried out by the blood stream. And it's waste material; it has to be carried out; it's poison material, and so you'll be sick for quite awhile until that is carried away."
But what happened then was this: that in the meantime the people wouldn't worry about it.
They'd say, "Well, that's what Branham said would happen. I'm healed."
But this went on, till some of these people got sicker and sicker and died.
So he had an out. By this time he was gone [from that place].
O TIMOTHY: Right. So there were many that he proclaimed healed?
POHL: Yes, yes. Practically every one as I recall, standing beside these various bedsides--practically everyone was pronounced healed. But the tragedy is that so many of those died after Branham was gone. So there was something wrong.
He also said, "Don't let your faith fail." In other words he emphasized that point. "Don't let your faith fail." And his out was this, I'm sure, that when they died, well, "Their faith failed."
It wasn't his faith, it was their faith. In other words, it was the patient's faith, which I don't see that in Scripture. When the Lord healed people, they were healed. And there wasn't such a thing as "You'll be sick for five days, or three days," and so, "don't lose your faith." I don't see that in Scripture.
O TIMOTHY: There was a newspaper that tried to investigate the healings. Can you tell me something about that? What were they able to confirm as far as healings?
POHL: Yes, in Winnipeg. Branham came to Canada at that time and he preached at a number of Apostolic churches in Canada. The first church was the church of our moderator in Winnipeg, who brought him into Canada. And Mr.
Branham had his campaign there. Then he came later on to Saskatoon.
When the campaign was in progress in Winnipeg, the newspaper (one of the large city newspapers) was giving considerable coverage to the meetings, and they indicated that there were a lot of people healed. They were favorable to this church, and advertised it and gave news reports that quite a few people were healed. But later on that same editor sent out some reporters to check on some of these people that they had written up in the paper weeks before. [The reporters were] to check up and see whether these people who were supposedly healed at that time, were still healed, were still alive, or whatever.
And when these reporters went back, they discovered that these people had died, or were in the same state or in a worse state than they were before. So, the editor then put it in the paper that these cases had turned out to be phonies, and that these people weren't healed after all. And there was something wrong with these so-called miracles and healings.
But when the pastor of the church saw these reports in the paper, he went to the editor rather disturbed and not very happy about the situation, and he confronted the editor: "Why do you do this to our church? You're hurting the reputation of our church, and you shouldn't do that to us."
And the editor said words something to this effect, "Well, pastor, if the healings are genuine, you don't have to worry, do you?"
And I thought to myself later on when I heard this, well, that editor certainly had a lot of common sense, because if they're genuine, why worry? If they're not, well then they should be exposed--which is what the paper did.
And the editor said, "Pastor, we gave you good coverage when Mr. Branham was here." The pastor had to admit they did. "Now," he said, "we owe it to our people to give them the rest of the story." And he said, "That's what we found." He said to the pastor, "I'll tell you what I'll do, if you can bring me one genuine case of a genuine healing, I'll give you the front page."
And I was told right in that pastor's home that they couldn't find one.
O TIMOTHY: Not one?
POHL: Not one.
O TIMOTHY: I understand there was a radio pastor whose wife supposedly was healed, and also a man with four students in the college. Could you tell me about those two?
POHL: Oh, yes. Yes. The first one I would relate to is a man from a little place near Regina, Saskatchewan. He and his wife were staunch Christians in our denomination. Very fine family. They had four children, and they were all attending our Bible school at that time, in which I was on staff. We knew these children very well--such very fine children, and young people, and a very fine family.
One day during the healing campaign, the phone rang in our dorm and I answered it in our office there, and here was this man phoning from the airport. He'd flown his wife in from near Regina, and he said, "We're here. We want Branham to pray for my wife. She's dying of cancer. What shall we do?"
Well, I said, "Bring her down to the Bible school dorm." And he knew very well where that was. I said, "I'll meet you at the south door, and we'll put her in a room, and I'll see that Branham prays for her."
Which he did, and after the meeting that night we proceeded to take Branham from room to room, and of course we had her in mind very much. And we brought him into her room, and the husband was there, too. Branham prayed for her and pronounced her healed.
Well, there was great rejoicing on the part of all of us. We really were rejoicing that the Lord had healed this woman. [We were rejoicing] for the sake of the whole family. He had given them this story, of course, that "she's still going to be sick, though she's healed; she's going to feel pretty bad." So, they flew back as soon as they could. They wouldn't stay around. We didn't have the facilities to take care of sick people there. There was just a dormitory, and so they went back as soon as they could.
About 10 to 14 days later, in that time frame, I was sitting in the office in the Bible school. Branham was gone; the meetings were over. The door opened to the main building, and I could hear footsteps, then a knock on the office door. In came this gentleman. Of course I recognized him immediately, but I saw that his face was very downcast; he was really under pressure and a heavy burden. So I invited him to sit down, and I said, "Brother," I said, "what's on your heart?" And he said, "Brother Pohl, you were standing beside my wife when she was sick in one of the rooms in the dorm. Mr. Branham prayed for her, and he pronounced her healed."
I said, "Yes, I was right there." He said, "Tell me, how is it that my wife who was healed ten days ago, [somewhere in that time frame], is now in the grave?" He said, "Tell me, how that can be?"
Well, it really hit him hard, and it hit me hard too, because that's the first I heard that she had died. We hadn't heard that she had died. So here he was all broken up and he wanted an explanation. What could I tell him? I think that's one of the hardest questions I've ever had to answer in my life. Why is she dead, if she was healed? And I was witness. He couldn't figure this out, a very fine Christian, and I felt for him.
To this day I don't know what I said, but I know we wept together and we prayed together. I could have said this: "Brother, your faith failed, or your wife's faith failed."
What help would I have been to him? I mean, that's a terrible thing to do.
I wouldn't dare say that to him, to anyone. He was broken. He had enough to burden him down at this stage without saying, "Your faith failed you." That was the wrong thing to say, so I didn't say it.
I could have said that, because that's the feeling behind a lot of these cases. The healer will say, well "Your faith failed, and it's not my fault."
But, I don't see that that is the case in Scripture either--where people's faith failed, and they lost their healing after God healed, or the Lord healed them, or the Apostles healed them. So, it's ridiculous.
Anyway, he left then, and of course we prayed for him, and so on. But it really was a difficult blow to this man and his family.
Then the other party was--I recall so well--was a pastor from Port Arthur, Ontario, which is now called Thunderbay, Ontario. (They combined two cities, Port Arthur and Port William.]
This man was a pentecostal pastor, had a radio broadcast and, I understand, quite a sizable church. He flew his wife in and the nurse to Saskatoon which was quite a trip--quite costly. And again I had the phone call from the airport and placed them in a room there eventually in the dorm. And when the meeting was over, and the prayer line was over in the church, I brought Branham into the dorm and he prayed for this lady as well. He prayed also for the nurse. The nurse was deaf. He prayed for her healing, and claimed that she was healed. He also claimed that the pastor's wife was healed of cancer.
Well, there was great rejoicing. Let me tell you, we rejoiced together, because I thoroughly believed in Branham all this time, I thought he was just ... just it. He was God's man. We rejoiced together, and then Branham left. And the husband (the pastor) said to me, "Now, Brother Pohl," he said, "I've spent thousands of dollars to try to get help for my wife, on doctors, and this and that and the other, medicines." He said, "I really can't afford it, but here"-- and he wrote out a sizable check. He said, "I can't afford it, but Branham is worth it." He said, "My wife is healed."
He took Branham at his word. See, it wasn't anything else; he just believed Branham. And here was this sizable check. He said, "Give it to Branham." Which I did, the next day.
Later on, about three, four weeks later, I left for Ontario. I was missionary secretary of our denomination, and I visited some of our churches in Ontario. And in the process of visiting our churches, I came to Port Arthur, Port William. We had a church in Port William, and one of the first things I did when I got to Port William was to ask the pastors, "What about pastor so and so in Port Arthur?" I named him. I said, "How's his wife doing?" I said, "She was healed in the meetings in Saskatoon."
And I saw a strange look that came over their faces as I asked that question. And I thought in my heart, "Oh, no, not another one." Just like the family I was telling you about in Saskatoon, from Regina. And I said in my heart, "No, not another one."
And they said, "Haven't you heard, haven't you heard? She's dead. She passed away."
Well that was another blow to me, because I began to realize that something was wrong with this kind of healing. This was counterfeit; something was drastically wrong. Of all people, here was a pastor who loved the Lord and served the Lord, and, you know, why did this happen? Did his faith fail?
Did his wife's faith fail? He had a whole church behind him. But no, she passed away.
I was told that the worst thing was that this man (the pastor) had a very good radio broadcast in the area. He went on the air as soon as he got home, and he announced that they had been to Saskatoon to the Branham meetings and had wonderful meetings there, and there were many healings, and amongst them his wife was gloriously healed in those meetings.
I'm sure that many people rejoiced, were happy to hear that. But, it wasn't very long after that, a few days later, he had to get on the same radio station and mention the fact that his wife had passed away. And I was told that that gave his radio program a severe blow and setback, because the world at large--I mean they think too, they're not stupid--here one day she was gloriously healed, and a few days later she's dead. You know, this doesn't add up.
We had more of those cases--these are just two exceptional ones--but there were others that passed away. I stood beside bed after bed, person after person who was pronounced healed and yet, where were they? They passed away. So there was something very wrong with this type of healing.
O TIMOTHY: In the meetings inside the main auditorium, Branham mentioned his angel different times, you said. Could you tell me about the incident with the spots on the hand, and then the secret words that he mentioned?
POHL: Oh, yes. This happened in the church, in one of the prayer lines, the healing lines. I was standing right beside Branham, beside his left arm, and our moderator was standing on his right hand. And we were helping him with these people coming by, praying with them and so on.
And in one case, Branham took the hand of a man, grabbed his hand and then lifted it up in the air and showed the back of his hand toward the audience. And he said this, "The angel that gave me this gift,"--he talked quite a bit about that angel that gave him the gift--"told me that in (a certain sickness--I forget which it was) spots will appear on the back of my hand."
And as he held this man's hand out and showed the back of his hand toward the audience, he said, "Folks, can you see the spots on my hand?"
Would you believe hands went up all over that auditorium and even in the back of the auditorium (people were standing; the place was jammed). And in the balcony way back there you could hardly see his hand, let alone see spots on his hand. It was way back there, and people had their hands up!
Back there in the gallery, and the balcony, and way at the back at the door. They could see spots! It was just something else, and I said to myself, "How can these people see those spots?"
They could hardly see his hand, you know, it's too far away. But people were holding up their hands. It was amazing. And I when I think back to this now, it seems to have been a form of mass hypnotism. People see what they want to see; they wanted to see spots, because they believed in Branham, and there they were and they could all see spots.
Excepting two of us. First of all, myself. I was standing right beside him. I was touching him, shoulder to shoulder. And I looked, and for the life of me I couldn't see any spots. There were no spots.
And you know how I resolved that little problem? I said to myself, "Look, all these people can see spots. And I can't. There's something wrong with me. They can't all be out of tune with God. I'm the one that's backslidden." And I said to myself, "I'm going to talk to you later," and "there's something wrong with you."
Really, I was so sincere about this thing. I believed in Branham so much that I felt I was out of step with God. And so I said, "Okay, I'm going to talk to myself later."
And then the healing went on, and the prayer line ended finally, and I led Branham into the dorm again, and into the various rooms. When it was all over, I came back into church and here were quite a few people yet, visiting, standing around. It was quite an exciting time. And lo and behold, the moderator, who stood on the other side of Branham that night, said, "Brother Pohl, I want to ask you something."
"What is it?"
He said, "You were standing right beside Branham tonight when he held up this man's hand, and people could see spots."
And then that thought came back to me, "Oh, yeah, that's right. I was the one that didn't see the spots."
So, I said, "Yes, I was right there. And you were on the other side on the right."
He said, "Tell me, did you see any spots on the back of his hand?" And I said, "No, I didn't see any spots." He said, "I didn't either. I didn't either. And we were right there."
He said, "Tell me something. How is it that you and I who were standing right beside him couldn't see the spots, and all those people back there, way back there, could see spots?"
Well, how do you answer that? He was our moderator. That made me feel so much better, because I found out that he was backslidden too, and not me only, see what I mean! I had felt I had been backslidden because I couldn't see those spots. But here's our moderator.
"We're in trouble; our moderator's backslidden, too, huh?"
That's how I reasoned. So I felt much better because I knew I wasn't the only one, that our brother moderator couldn't see any spots either. And I thought, "Well, there's something wrong here, there's something wrong with this whole procedure."
Alright, that's the one thing, and then we came to the last meeting. The last meeting was in the Saskatoon arena. We were crowded out in the church, it was just packed. We couldn't get the people in. So the last Sunday afternoon we had rented the arena downtown. I think there were approximately three thousand people there. And I'm sure there were people from all over and from every part of the spectrum of Saskatoon.
He preached of course, Branham preached, and [there was] a long prayer line, very long. There were scores of people that wanted to be prayed for.
So Branham was getting pretty tired, praying for one after the other. And he was trying to cast a deaf and dumb spirit out of this woman. He prayed and nothing happened. At least to him, nothing happened. And then we just waited a bit, and then he said, "Folks," he said, "I want every eye closed this time. I'm going to pray again. We want this woman healed." He said, "I want every eye closed." And he said, "I can't do this unless every eye is closed."
At this time I was standing right in front of Branham with the person he was praying for between us ... Branham on the little platform there and the person between us he was praying for. I was, say, six feet from Branham, five or six feet from him.
And while I was waiting for him to finish up praying for this lady, he asked the people, "Please close your eyes." He was going to pray for her the second time, which he did. And once again he said, "This woman can't be healed like this. Somebody is still looking." He said, "I want every eye closed."
Now I thought the reason was in reverence to God, respect to God, wanting prayer answered, and so on; but here he came out with something else. "The reason that I want every eye closed is that the angel that gave me this gift gave me some words that I must say to cast off this deaf and dumb spirit; and I'm not suppose to reveal those words to any human being."
He said, "The reason I ask you to close your eyes is so you will not read my lips when I say those words."
Well, you know, when he said that--and I'm right in front of him, no mistaking, I heard this; I was so close to him.; I wasn't way back in the audience, or anything; I'm right there--I said to myself, "Wait a minute.
What is this?"
Publicly he said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command thee, thou foul, deaf and dumb spirit, come out of this woman." You know, he said it really loud, and with authority, but in the name of Jesus Christ. But that didn't do it. Obviously there was something else that was needed. And under his breath he said--well, you name it, whatever it was, something like "hocus, pocus", something that was given to him that was superior to the name of Jesus Christ, in his line of thinking.
This is what the angel told him. And this is the only thing that would do the job.
Well, when he said that, that just hit me so hard. I said to myself, "There's something wrong here. Is there anything greater than the name of Jesus Christ?" What can be greater? To me, the name of Jesus Christ is all powerful, it is the authority, the final authority. There's nothing greater. And here he had something else that was greater. The name of Jesus Christ didn't do it; he had to go resort to some other statements, some hocus pocus stuff that did the job.
Well, immediately I said within myself that this is occultism, this is spiritism, this is witchcraft, this is not Christian. It can't be. If the name of Jesus Christ doesn't do it, then it's something else. And that's what it was. So I became very suspicious.
And when people began to die one after another--people whose beds I had stood beside, and he had pronounced them healed--I said to myself, "Well, that just proves these healings were fake. They're not genuine. This is not in the name of Christ."
He was deceiving the people with the name of Jesus Christ, but underneath his breath there was something else. And he didn't want us to read his lips. Now I never looked. I don't think I could read his lips anyway, I'm not even used to doing that. He was so careful that nobody would read lips.
O TIMOTHY: Maybe at this point someone would be convinced that William Branham was a deceiver, but they might be thinking that maybe he was a small off-beat character in the pentecostal movement, and maybe this was an isolated sort of incident and not very widespread. What would you say about that?
POHL: No, Branham was well known. I don't know how many places he visited in total, but I know some of the men who accompanied him in the meetings.
He had two men with him, besides his younger brother, and they would tell us fabulous stories of great miracles that happened here, there, and everywhere in the States. I also understand that he was over in Africa and had a great ministry over there. Branham is well-known yet in many parts of our country. I don't know about in the States, but I know just last week we heard of two churches right here in southern British Columbia that are Branhamite churches.
And I had a letter from a man just last week from Saskatchewan, and he said his relatives are into Branhamite teaching, and they are linked to a Branham church, and he said he's having such a problem because they are trying to influence his teenage children to become Branhamites. Now, that's in Saskatchewan. And he said, "Have you got any literature, any more literature, any help that I could turn to?" He said, "We need something like that."
There are several other churches in Saskatchewan that I know of, and I know there are two right here in Southern B.C. There is also a church up at White Horse, in the Yukon. I had some people come down to see me in order to talk to me about Branham from up there. I had to do some counseling with a young couple from up there. It's not just an isolated thing. His tapes and his books are very well circulated, very well. I've met people all over the place that are Branhamites. Had them even attend my meetings.
O TIMOTHY: I understand Branham was also widely accepted by charismatic leaders and is still well-known as a famous charismatic healer.
POHL: Yes, I know our denomination accepted him; I can't figure out why they didn't get wise to it; they should have. Our moderator should have recognized it when he couldn't see the spots, and I couldn't see them. He should have recognized there's something wrong. He should have recognized, too, when he dealt with the editor of the newspaper in Winnipeg, when he couldn't produce one genuine case. But still, even after that he let Branham go through our churches throughout western Canada.
To me, it was ridiculous. That's another thing that made me leave the denomination, because I said that I cannot stay in a denomination that is dishonest like that. That isn't honesty.
The moderator knew that something was wrong, but he didn't do a thing about it. The only thing I could do, then, was to get out. That's why we left the denomination. ...
Strangely enough, a missionary who is working in a radio station in France came to see me in Three Hills and wanted all the information I could give him on Branham. I said, "Why?" Well, he said, "We get letters from North Africa,"--it's a Christian radio station--"and people are writing about Branham. We get converts over there, and we don't know what we're dealing with."
He said, "There's nothing on Branham in books or anything like that." He said, "Give us all the help you can. I understand you were working with Branham in the healing campaign and know a little bit about him."
So I gave him all I could, but at that time there were no books on Branham. Now there is. There is a book now, that has come out in the last eight or ten years, quite a sizable book, and it's good. It comes out of Saskatoon.
This man wrote about Branham, and he quotes from my book as well, and he gets some very good information that people can use now, and I've been mailing that book out. In fact I sold one last week to some other people that have been involved with Branham right here in southern B.C. I've distributed a lot of those books already. There's another little pamphlet now that I've gotten hold of, two little pamphlets, in fact, that I'm also distributing. ...
O TIMOTHY: I think it's common knowledge that the charismatic healers like Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, and John Wimber have a very, very low success rate, to say the least. I think that's common knowledge. What do you think the problem is here? Men are claiming to be healing, and we see that in the Bible there were healings, that God healed. Do you think God is not working among men today, or what's the problem?
POHL: Well, I believe God heals. I still have a personal belief that God heals because I have seen healings--not a large amount, but I have seen some genuine healings. But I don't claim to have the gift of healing. I just pray for people according to James 5. I believe that's the order for the church today. I believe the gift of healing was given in the early church and was largely something that was a credential for the Lord himself and for the apostles. That was their credentials for the fact--in the case of Jesus Christ--that he was the Messiah. And in the case of the Apostles, that they were the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Christ had laid the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20), and the Apostles finished building on that foundation. They had their credentials, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:12 that "the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all power and signs and wonders."
What are the signs of an Apostle? I believe these signs, wonders, and miracles, were their credentials, the apostolic credentials. And that's why many of these things were done in the early church, as the credentials of their authority under Christ.
Alright. Today, though, we have this teaching that everybody can do signs, wonders, and miracles, or nearly everybody, that these gifts are still very prevalent in the church. There are all kinds of people who claim to have the gift of healing and so on. But are they genuine?
To answer your question, I say they are not. These are not the gifts of healing, these are not genuine. Real genuine gifts of healing were there for Christ and the Apostles, as their credential signs. But today these are not Apostles. And they don't need these credentials as Apostles, because they aren't Apostles.
Sure, they can pray for people according to James 5, and they can be healed if the Lord so wills, but it doesn't mean that there's going to be a lot of healing, just a great deal of healings going on as in the days of Christ because those are there as credential signs for the early church.
So today you have some healings that are done by people who claim to have the gift of healing, but who don't really have the gift, and in most cases they don't heal people anyway. They're not genuine healers.
Some healings are temporary. I think a lot of that has to do with psychological side of it. Some people claim to be healed, you know, in the excitement of a healing meeting, [and they] throw away their crutches, but in a short while they'll need crutches again. In excitement, psychologically you can do some strange things. Strange things can happen, but it's not lasting.
I don't think anybody has the gift of healing today. And I think that's proven by the fact that the percentage [of sicknesses which are healed] is so very low.
[It is also true that] some people are healed in spite of the healer. Now, if I'm really sincere before God, and I look beyond the healer, and I'm trusting the Lord to heal me, then the miracle can happen in spite of the healer. And I think there are some cases like that. I'm not a bit surprised that that happens, because God does answer faith.
Not like Branham said--I remember him saying this to one man in the healing line one night in Saskatoon--"Do you believe that the angel gave me this gift?" To me, that was a very unfair question. Here the man had been in that long healing line, and he finally got to Branham, and he wanted to be prayed for and healed. And now he's confronted with this question: "Do you believe that the angel gave me this gift?" What could the man say? If he said, "No," Branham wouldn't have prayed for him. So what did he do? In front of all these people he said, "Yes." You understand? But how could he know? There was no way that he knew that an angel met Branham. He's only taking Branham at his word.
"Do you believe an angel gave me this gift?"
Well, "Yes," he said, then Branham prayed for him. But that's ridiculous. He was having faith in Branham's word, not in the Bible. It wasn't the Lord. He was looking to a man. And that's why I think so many people were not healed, because they just depended on Branham, because Branham was a healer. [And this is true] whoever the healer is. There was something wrong there. No wonder there were very few people healed.
O TIMOTHY: We appreciate very much, Brother Pohl, that you have shared the experiences with us about William Branham.
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