William Branham was a renowned American Christian minister, considered to be "a man sent from God" by his followers. He is widely regarded as the initiator and the pacesetter of the post World War II “Healing Revival”, a religious revival movement that originated in the late 1940s and continued well into the 1950s. He was an extremely popular, though, somewhat controversial religious figure, in the mid 20th century and his followers had placed him at the center of a Pentecostal personality cult. Born to a teenage mother in extreme poverty, he claimed that certain supernatural events occurred at the time of his birth which gave an indication that he was not an ordinary child, but someone special sent by the Lord himself. Many of the stories regarding his early life sound fantastical and bizarre, but to his followers, his word was the ultimate truth. He used to have prophetic visions from childhood and could hear the God commanding him. The death of his brother at a young age deeply impacted him and he intensified his search for God. His life changed dramatically after his first exposure to Pentecostalism and he realized that his life’s purpose was to help the people through faith healing and by spreading the teachings of God.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born 6 April 1909 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. He was the eldest among the ten children born to Charles and Ella Branham. His parents were small-time farmers and he was raised in extreme poverty. The fact that his father was an alcoholic added to his misery.
Branham later claimed that at the time of his birth a light flew into the room and circled the room several times, then stopped over the bed hovering over the new mother and child. It was a sign that he, the baby boy, was destined to accomplish something great in life.
The boy experienced supernatural visions and heard “voices” talking to him. As a young child he experienced a voice telling him to abstain from drinking and smoking as God has planned for him a work to do when he gets older.
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He left home at 19 and started working on a ranch in Arizona. Then his brother died and, in his grief and confusion, William began searching for God.
In his search for answers to life’s difficult questions he moved towards God and started attending the First Pentecostal Baptist Church in Jeffersonville. During this time he also fell seriously ill and believed that he was dying. While he was in the hospital he heard the “voice” call out to him again. Desperate to live, he told God that if HE spared his life, then he would preach the gospel.
He was quickly healed once he made this promise to God and thus he embarked on his spiritual journey to spread the teachings of the Good Lord to the masses. He started preaching the gospel and held prayer meetings for the sick. He convinced many people to convert.
In 1933, he experienced a series of visions that told him in advance about the rise of Nazism, Facism, and Communism. The same year he constructed a church which he originally called the "Pentecostal Tabernacle" which he later changed to "Branham Tabernacle". He served as the bivocational minister of this church until 1946.
He began his work as a faith healer in 1946. His healing services, though controversial, became very popular among the masses. The year 1946 is generally regarded by historians as the beginning of the modern healing revival. According to Branham, he received an angelic visitation in May 1946.
He became involved with the Oneness Pentecostal groups and conducted several healing campaigns with them. He met Gordon Lindsay in 1947 who became one of his biggest promoters and helped publicize his works.
He claimed to have healed a vast number of people through his services but this claim of his is much disputed. Several people whom he had supposedly cured were later reported to have died and thus his credibility as a healer was questioned.
In 1951, U.S. Congressman William Upshaw, who had been crippled for a long time was miraculously healed in a Branham meeting and became his ardent follower. Many others including church ministers who worked with him testified that Branham was indeed blessed with miraculous mind powers.
His career, however, began to falter in the late 1950s and he became more of a controversial figure. He continued his ministering activities in the Arizona in order to support his family. He had a vision of riding into the sunset in 1964 and believed that it was a sign that he was going to die soon.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Amelia Hope Brumbach in 1934. The couple had two children, William and Sharon. Unfortunately his wife and baby daughter died in a flood in 1937.
He remarried Meda Marie Broy in1941. His second wife bore him three more children.
He was returning with members of his family from Tucson, Arizona, to Jeffersonville on 18 December, 1965, when the car he was traveling in had a head-on collision with another car. He was severely injured in the accident and died on Christmas Eve, on 24 December 1965.
His followers were shocked at his untimely death and hoped for his resurrection. Even though his funeral was held on 29 December, his burial was delayed for a long time as his followers could not believe that their beloved preacher had really left them. He was finally buried on 11 April 1966.