[b]This is a lengthy but informative article from O Timothy magazine... I believe in 1990. O Timothy is a very solid magazine when it comes to Biblical doctrine.[/b]
[b]William Branham[/b] was a famous Pentecostal healer and prophet who arose from the ranks of the Pentecostal Healing crusades of the 1950s. Other famous "faith healers" who operated in the same period included Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, Jack Coe, and Kathryn Kuhlman. Branham led large healing campaigns in America, Canada, and Europe, and was widely honored as a prophet of God in the Pentecostal movement.
The following interview about Branham is important because of the mans great influence in Pentecostal circles and his widespread acceptance as a healer and a prophet of God. Though dead, Branham is still referred to frequently by Pentecostal leaders and publications. There are still churches, particularly in Canada and Europe, which claim him as their leader.
The key role Branham played in popularizing the charismatic movement is attested in the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements:
[i]"The person universally acknowledged as the revivals `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 Branhams magazine] convention to acknowledge the profound influence of Branham on the healing movement" [/i]
Before we proceed with the interview, we will give a brief overview of Branhams 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 Marrion 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." ]
[It should also be noted that Branhams parents believed in fortunetelling and he was burdened through occultism at an early age. ]
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 Halls disciples.
Branhams followers believed him to be the apostle of the final Church age.
He gained popularity through his teachings on what he called "Gods 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 Gods blessings upon Israel, and applied this latter rain to the neo-Pentecostal move of his day. He taught that Gods 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 Pohls interview that this was a sham], and the ability to give accurate words of knowledge about people whom he had never met.
From a very early age it was evident that supernatural power accompanied Branhams 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.
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.
Branham knew that if he didnt 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." ]
Branham propagated what he called the "Serpents Seed" teaching: the belief that Cain was produced through a sexual union between Eve and the serpent in the garden. The curse of the Serpents Seed, he believed, continues to plague mankind through women, and is evidenced in their temptation of men.
[The strange teaching is stated as follows by one of Branhams disciples:
"Eves 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." ]
[Branham believed that some humans are descended from the serpents seed and are destined for hell, which is not eternal, however. The seed of God, i.e., those who receive Branhams 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). ]
Another of Branhams teachings was that the Zodiac and the Egyptian pyramids were equal to the Scriptures in the revelation of Gods Word.
[Branham denied the Trinity, and required that believers baptized by a Trinitarian formula be rebaptized in the name of "Jesus only." In a sermon entitled "The Way of a True Prophet," Branham stated this view as follows: "Why dont you examine your baptism of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that false `trinity its so-called, which is nothing in the world but three offices of one God, titles. No, name of Father, theres no such a thing as name, Father, Son, and Holy GhostName of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which is the Lord Jesus Christ." ]
[Branham proclaimed himself the angel of Revelation 3:14 and 10:7 and prophesied 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. ]
Although many Pentecostals overlooked these and other 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 the Scriptures. Even the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship International [FGBMFI], who had supported Branham greatly, 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 Branhams 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."
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.
To date, William Branhams 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 Branhams mantle through the period known as the Latter Rain. (Albert James Dager, "Latter-day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection," Media Spotlight.)
We believe it is important to say more about Branhams 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]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 didnt leave off. Usually its 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, "Dont you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. Therell 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, andand she just laughed at me. And I was just hysterical. She called the doctor, and the doctor said, "Well, hes just nervous, thats all." So she put me to bed. And I never, from that day to this, ever passed by that tree again. I was scared. Id 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. [/i]
This was the beginning of Branhams 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]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, youve 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 thethe 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. [/i]
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:
[i]And then all along down through life Id 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 Id keep praying for That not to come, It come anyhow. ...
I was game warden in the State of Indiana. ... I said, "Honey, I cant go on like this, Im 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 dont know what that is. And, honey, I- I-I-I dont want to fool with it, theythey tell me its the Devil. And I love the Lord Jesus."
And I said, "Meda [his wife], Ill never come out of that woods until God promises me Hell 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. Andand right in here there was aa Light on the floor, and I thought, "Well, wheres that?
Well, that couldnt 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, II 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, Ill go completely out. Ive had them ride me around for hours, not even know where I was at. And I cant explain it. ...
So I was sitting there and looking at Him. II 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 youre 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 youll take the person that youre praying for by the hand, with your left hand and their right," and said, "then just stand quiet, and therell be a physical effect thatll happen on your body. Then you pray. And if it leaves, the disease is gone from the people. If it doesnt leave, just ask a blessing and walk away."
He said, "And the next thing will be, if they wont hear that, then they will hear this. Then itll come to pass that youll know the very secret of their heart." This they will hear."
He said, "You were born in this world for that purpose." [/i]
We dont 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 fears 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 Branhams visitations is the legalistic bondage which accompanied them. The devil is a slavemaster. The Lord Jesus Christ sets the captives free. Branham never did experience the liberty of conscience and action which Christ gives. He lived in fear and acted under a compulsive-type behavior associated with demonic oppression.
We have quoted Branhams own statement about being a prisoner to the visitations. Consider Branhams painful, servile relationship with the angel:
One evening, just before a meeting, Branham told his interpreter, "Dont 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 Branhams 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.
We believe Branham was influenced by demonic spirits. The bondange in which he lived was an occultic bondage. His powers were those of a soothsayer.
His healing powers were occultic. The voices which tormented him, the vibrations and swellings in his hand, the lights, the fiery balls which supposedly danced about the room during some of his healing crusades, the complete exhaustion he experienced after his meetingsall 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 supernatural powers:
[i]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, maam, what could I do for you?"
And she said, "Say, did you know theres 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. Theres a Light that follows you. You were born for a Divine call." [/i]
Branham tells of other instances in which soothsayers told him similar things. He said, "And every time I get around one of them, thats the way it would be." Then the preachers, saying, "Thats the Devil! Thats the Devil!"
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 others 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 40s, 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 theyre 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 Id 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 ordersat least orders were given that no one was suppose to contact him at the hotel. And, hed come an hour late, half an hour late the next night to the meeting. Say if the meeting started at 7:00, hed be there about 7:30. The meeting was already in progress when he arrived. I guess that was part of procedure, but no onewith those circumstancesnobody 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 diseasesand he would speak of cancer very muchthere are vibrations that he felt on his hand that indicate that this person has cancer. So he would take the patients hand and hold it. He would say, "Yes, the vibrations tell me that you have cancer." Then hed say something like this, "Were 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 Gods 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. Youre healed. Dont loose your faith in the Lord. Just keep your faith and trust the Lord, and youre healed." He said, "Youre going to be sick for a while. Youre going to be quite sick for a few days." Quite often he referred to three days. "Youre going to be very sick for three days."
The people often asked, "Well, what do you mean, Brother Branham? If Im 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 its waste material; it has to be carried out; its poison material, and so youll be sick for quite awhile until that is carried away."
But what happened then was this: that in the meantime the people wouldnt worry about it.
Theyd say, "Well, thats what Branham said would happen. Im 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 bedsidespractically 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, "Dont let your faith fail." In other words he emphasized that point. "Dont let your faith fail." And his out was this, Im sure, that when they died, well, "Their faith failed."
It wasnt his faith, it was their faith. In other words, it was the patients faith, which I dont see that in Scripture. When the Lord healed people, they were healed. And there wasnt such a thing as "Youll be sick for five days, or three days," and so, "dont lose your faith." I dont 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 werent 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? Youre hurting the reputation of our church, and you shouldnt do that to us."
And the editor said words something to this effect, "Well, pastor, if the healings are genuine, you dont 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 theyre genuine, why worry? If theyre not, well then they should be exposedwhich 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, "Thats what we found." He said to the pastor, "Ill tell you what Ill do, if you can bring me one genuine case of a genuine healing, Ill give you the front page."
And I was told right in that pastors home that they couldnt 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 wellsuch 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. Hed flown his wife in from near Regina, and he said, "Were here. We want Branham to pray for my wife. Shes 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, "Ill meet you at the south door, and well put her in a room, and Ill 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 "shes still going to be sick, though shes healed; shes going to feel pretty bad." So, they flew back as soon as they could. They wouldnt stay around. We didnt 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, "whats 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 thats the first I heard that she had died. We hadnt heard that she had died. So here he was all broken up and he wanted an explanation. What could I tell him? I think thats one of the hardest questions Ive ever had to answer in my life. Why is she dead, if she was healed? And I was witness. He couldnt figure this out, a very fine Christian, and I felt for him.
To this day I dont 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 wifes faith failed."
What help would I have been to him? I mean, thats a terrible thing to do.
I wouldnt 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 didnt say it.
I could have said that, because thats the feeling behind a lot of these cases. The healer will say, well "Your faith failed, and its not my fault."
But, I dont see that that is the case in Scripture eitherwhere peoples faith failed, and they lost their healing after God healed, or the Lord healed them, or the Apostles healed them. So, its 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 wasI recall so wellwas 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 tripquite 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 pastors 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 Gods man. We rejoiced together, and then Branham left. And the husband (the pastor) said to me, "Now, Brother Pohl," he said, "Ive 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 cant afford it, but here"and he wrote out a sizable check. He said, "I cant afford it, but Branham is worth it." He said, "My wife is healed."
He took Branham at his word. See, it wasnt 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, "Hows 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, "Havent you heard, havent you heard? Shes 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 wifes 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.
Im sure that many people rejoiced, were happy to hear that. But, it wasnt 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 largeI mean they think too, theyre not stupidhere one day she was gloriously healed, and a few days later shes dead. You know, this doesnt add up.
We had more of those casesthese are just two exceptional onesbut 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 sicknessI forget which it was) spots will appear on the back of my hand."
And as he held this mans 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, its 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 couldnt 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 cant. Theres something wrong with me. They cant all be out of tune with God. Im the one thats backslidden." And I said to myself, "Im going to talk to you later," and "theres 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, Im 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 mans hand, and people could see spots."
And then that thought came back to me, "Oh, yeah, thats right. I was the one that didnt 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 didnt see any spots." He said, "I didnt either. I didnt either. And we were right there."
He said, "Tell me something. How is it that you and I who were standing right beside him couldnt 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 couldnt see those spots. But heres our moderator.
"Were in trouble; our moderators backslidden, too, huh?"
Thats how I reasoned. So I felt much better because I knew I wasnt the only one, that our brother moderator couldnt see any spots either. And I thought, "Well, theres something wrong here, theres something wrong with this whole procedure."
Alright, thats 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 couldnt 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 Im 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. Im going to pray again. We want this woman healed." He said, "I want every eye closed." And he said, "I cant 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 cant 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 Im 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 thatand Im right in front of him, no mistaking, I heard this; I was so close to him.; I wasnt way back in the audience, or anything; Im right thereI 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 didnt do it. Obviously there was something else that was needed. And under his breath he saidwell, 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, "Theres 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. Theres nothing greater. And here he had something else that was greater. The name of Jesus Christ didnt 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 cant be. If the name of Jesus Christ doesnt do it, then its something else. And thats what it was. So I became very suspicious.
And when people began to die one after anotherpeople whose beds I had stood beside, and he had pronounced them healedI said to myself, "Well, that just proves these healings were fake. Theyre 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 didnt want us to read his lips. Now I never looked. I dont think I could read his lips anyway, Im 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 dont 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 dont 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 hes having such a problem because they are trying to influence his teenage children to become Branhamites. Now, thats 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. Its not just an isolated thing. His tapes and his books are very well circulated, very well. Ive 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 cant figure out why they didnt get wise to it; they should have. Our moderator should have recognized it when he couldnt see the spots, and I couldnt see them. He should have recognized theres something wrong. He should have recognized, too, when he dealt with the editor of the newspaper in Winnipeg, when he couldnt produce one genuine case. But still, even after that he let Branham go through our churches throughout western Canada.
To me, it was ridiculous. Thats another thing that made me leave the denomination, because I said that I cannot stay in a denomination that is dishonest like that. That isnt honesty.
The moderator knew that something was wrong, but he didnt do a thing about it. The only thing I could do, then, was to get out. Thats 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,"its a Christian radio station"and people are writing about Branham. We get converts over there, and we dont know what were dealing with."
He said, "Theres 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 its 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 Ive 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. Ive distributed a lot of those books already. Theres another little pamphlet now that Ive gotten hold of, two little pamphlets, in fact, that Im also distributing. ...
O TIMOTHY: I think its 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 thats 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 whats the problem?
POHL: Well, I believe God heals. I still have a personal belief that God heals because I have seen healingsnot a large amount, but I have seen some genuine healings. But I dont claim to have the gift of healing. I just pray for people according to James 5. I believe thats 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 factin the case of Jesus Christthat 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 thats 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 dont need these credentials as Apostles, because they arent Apostles.
Sure, they can pray for people according to James 5, and they can be healed if the Lord so wills, but it doesnt mean that theres 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 dont really have the gift, and in most cases they dont heal people anyway. Theyre 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 theyll need crutches again. In excitement, psychologically you can do some strange things. Strange things can happen, but its not lasting.
I dont think anybody has the gift of healing today. And I think thats 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 Im really sincere before God, and I look beyond the healer, and Im 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. Im not a bit surprised that that happens, because God does answer faith.
Not like Branham saidI 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 hes confronted with this question: "Do you believe that the angel gave me this gift?" What could the man say? If he said, "No," Branham wouldnt 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. Hes 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 thats ridiculous. He was having faith in Branhams word, not in the Bible. It wasnt the Lord. He was looking to a man. And thats 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.