Life story by Julius Stadsklev
The following is an excerpt from Julius Stadsklev's book, A Prophet Visits South Africa
William Branham was born on a farm near Berksville, Kentucky, not far from the place where Abraham Lincoln was born approximately a hundred years before. No one is sure of the exact date because no birth records were kept in Kentucky in those days. However, it is believed he was born the sixth day of April 1909 and weighed only 5 pounds. His mother was 15 years of age and his father was 18.
The first day of his life something very unusual happened. After the midwife had washed him and placed him by his mother she went to a window to open the shutter.
The house of the Branhams
There was no glass in the windows in the Branham house in those days and the air and light was regulated by the opening and closing of the wooden shutters. Dawn was just breaking over the fields, sending a few rays of light into the room. With this light came a small circular halo about a foot in diameter which shown with brightness above the bed where the mother and baby lay.
This halo has since been seen by thousands of people and is no doubt the same one that shows in the photogragh taken in Houston, Texas, during the January 1950 campaign. A report of this photograph with a photostatic copy of the statements made by George Lacy, U.S. examiner of questioned documents, will be found at the end of this chapter. When the midwife and parents saw this halo they began to cry; they were afraid and did not understand what it all meant. Not until many years later did those who knew about the halo understand that God had His hand on this man for a great ministry to the people of the world.
Religion in any form was not taken into consideration in the Branham family. His grandfather had been a Catholic but his mother and father apparently gave no thought to Christianity. But because of the unusual incident that happened at his birth, his mother took him to a neighborhood Baptist Church. This was his first visit to the church and the last one for many years.
In the early fall of 1909 Kentucky experienced one of its worst snow storms. At this time William Branham's father was away working in a lumber camp where he was stranded because of this severe storm. Soon the supply of food and fuel at thier home began to run out. His mother would go outside and bring in anything she could find to burn in order to keep her child and herself from freezing to death. They never had much food on hand and when their meager supply was gone, she could feel that her strength was leaving her. Help would have to come shortly if they were to live. Finally she became so weak that she realized if she went outside for more wood she might not be able to return.
She took the baby and wrapped him the best she could and put him to bed, waiting for death to come and take them both. They would have died had it not been for a saintly old neighbor of theirs who became strangely concerned about the Branham household. Upon investigation, he found there was no smoke coming out of the chimney. Although the snow was deep, the elderly man made his way to the humble clapboard shingled cabin and found that the door was locked from the inside. He realized that there must be someone inside and seeing no sign of heat in the cabin, he broke in.
He was startled by what he saw when he entered. The mother was near death because of cold and starvation. He prayed that God would spare their lives and not permit this young mother and child to pass from the world this way. Quickly he gathered firewood and stayed there until he had a good blazing fire which soon warmed the humble little two room home. Next, he secured food for the mother and child and soon they were on their way te recovery.
Not long after this the Branham family moved to Utica, Indiana, and the following year to a farm five miles out of Jeffersonville, Indiana, two miles from where he now lives. His early life was marked by tragedy, poverty and misunderstanding.
Some of the most vivid memories of William Branham's youth are pertaining to the poverty in which they were forced to live. His father worked for a wealthy farmer for seventy-five cents a day. He recalls seeing him come home with his shirt stuck to his sunburned back so that his mother had to take the scissors and cut it loose. Their humble home was a little two room cabin with dirt floors and the kitchen sink out underneath the apple tree in the yard.
The first time that God spoke audibly to William Branham was when he was about seven years old. He had just enrolled in a rural school a few miles north of Jeffersonville, Indiana. He came home from school that afternoon and was intent on joining the rest of the boys in some fishing. But as young Branham was about to leave, his father called him and told him that he would have to carry water for his moonshine still. This of course was a disappointment of him because as a boy he was very fond of hunting and fishing. But he realized that since his father told him to carry water, he'd have to do as he was told.
While carrying the water, he stopped to rest under an old poplar tree half-way between the house and the barn. Suddenly, he heard the sound of wind blowing in the leaves. He looked around and realized that it was a still, sunny, warm day. Listening more intently, he noticed that in a certain place, about the size of a barrel, the wind seemed to be blowing through the trees. Just then a voice came out from the trees saying, "Never drink, smoke or defile your body in any way, for I have a work for you to do when you get older."
This frightened him and he ran to the house. Crying, he fell into the arms of his mother who thought that he had been bitten by a snake. Het told her that he was just scared and did not tell her about the wind blowing through the leaves nor about the voice. His mother put him to bed thinking he was suffering from a nervous shock. Whenever possible he would avoid going near that tree, choosing rather to detour around the other side of the garden.
Two weeks later as he was playing on the banks of the Ohio River, he saw a vision. He noticed what appeared to him to be a bridge coming up from the Kentucky side of the river, over towards Indiana. As the bridge was progressing towards Indiana, he saw sixteen men drop from the bridge into the water. He went home and told his mother about this but she said that he had been sleeping and had a dream. But young William Branham knew that he had not been sleeping or dreaming. Yet he did not understand what he had seen.
Twenty-two years later the Municipal Bridge was built between Luisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, over this exact spot. During the construction of the bridge, sixteen men lost their lives. God was speaking to the young man and laying the foundation for him to have faith in the things that God would show him in the future years.
He was conscious of the fact that there was somebody around him who seemed to always want to talk, but he, having been warned by his mother of spiritualism and demon powers, was afraid and always tried to ignore it.
To add misery and sadness to poverty, his father became a drunkard. William recalls how one whole year he went to school and never owned a shirt which he could wear. He remembers how at school he sat and looked at the other children who had clothing and began to realize that liquor had stolen from his family the neccessities of life.
He read about Abraham Lincoln, who as a young man got off a boat down in New Orleans and saw the white people auction off a large Negro, separating him from his family. His wife and child were there crying, as the man was being sold as if he were a horse. Lincoln realized this was wrong and vowed that some day he would do something about it even at the price of his own life.
In like manner young William Branham sat there in school and thought of the poverty that his family was experiencing because of liquor. He said that this was wrong and he was going to do something about it some day, even at the cost of his life. He has not forgotten his vow, for even to this day he does and will continue to do everything he can to enlighten the people as to the damaging effect of liquor and tobacco.
William Branham tells about the time when his teacher, Mrs. Temple, asked him why he did not take his coat off in school. He couldn't tell her that he did not have a shirt, so he told her that he was chilly. She said, "All right then, go over and sit by the fire." Of course he had to do as she told him, so he went over and sat by the stove. There he was warmer than ever, and although the perspiration was running down his back, he still could not take his coat off. She could not understand it and asked if he wasn't warm yet, to which he replied, "No, Ma'am." Finally she concluded that he was getting the flu, so she sent him home.
Although he did not mind going home from school, he could not help but cry. In order to hide the fact that he did not have a shirt like the other children, he had lied to his teacher by telling her he was cold. Finally he did get a shirt. A shirt made from an old dress one of his cousins had left at his house. He cut the skirt part off but it still did not look much like a shirt. The other children laughed at him, saying he had a girl's dress on. Again he lied saying, "No, I haven't. That's my Indian suit." But they didn't believe him and he went home crying.
Lloyd, a classmate of his, sold the Pathfinder Magazine. In selling this magazine he joined what they called the Lone Scouts, and got himself a uniform of the organization. It was during the First World War and uniforms were very popular. Young William Branham certainly admired that scout suit as he had always wanted to be like a soldier. Of course, he did not have a shirt, much less a scout suit. So he asked his friend, "Lloyd, when you get that worn out will you give it to me?" He said, "Sure, I'll give it to you, Bill."
He waited and waited, but although the boy was always wearing the suit, it never seemed to wear out. Finally he noticed that Lloyd wasn't wearing the suit any more so he asked him for it. By this time his friend had forgotten that he had promised to give him the suit and his mother had cut it up for patches. The only thing that he could find left from the scout suit was one legging and so young Branham asked him for that.
He took it home and put it on. It made him feel proud because this was the only piece of clothing he had which bore any resemblance to that of a soldier. He thought to himself that certainly now he was a real soldier because he had on one legging. He wanted te wear it to school but didn't know how he could do it without having the children laugh at him again. So he decided to make up the story that he had injured his leg and was using the legging as a bandage. However, when he came to school the children wouldn't believe him. Again they made fun of him; again he went home crying.
Saturday was the most important day around the Branham household. It was the day they would hitch Kootsie, the old mule, up to the lumber wagen and Mr. and Mrs. Branham and all the little Branhams would get into the wagen and take off for town. There they would obtain their weekly supply of groceries and the grocery man always gave then a sack of peppermint candy for the five children.
His father always had to be careful to divide this candy very evenly, to avoid difficulties, because ten hungry eyes would watch him very carefully. William Branham, the eldest of the sons, made a practice of not eating all his candy on Saturday but kept some of it until the following week when he could make a bargain with some of the other children. In exchange for a couple of licks of his candy he could get them to help him with the chores around the place.
William Branham's father was a bootlegger and made moonshine on the farm. One Sunday morning at the age of ten William Branham was with his father and a neighbor down by the Ohio River. As they were walking there along the banks, his father took a bottle out from his back pocket and, after taking a drink, handed it to his neighbor. The neighbor took a drink and handed it to young William Branham who said, "No, sir, thank you, I don't drink." The neighbor answered in surprise, "A Branham and an Irishman and you don't drink?" "No, sir!" he still insisted. His father replied by saying, "I've got four boys and one sissy," the sissy being William who had just refused to drink.
This cut very deeply into his tender heart, for he was conscientious and desired to do that which was right. Here his own father had called him a sissy when he had turned down partaking of liquor, which had been such a source of grief and poverty in their own home. This was more than young Branham could take and he said, "Hand me that bottle and I'll show you that I'm a Branham and that I can drink."
He took the bottle and started to put it up to his mouth. As he did, again the familiar sound of the wind came. He was reminded of the time when the angel first spoke to him telling him never to smoke, drink, or defile his body in any way for he had a work to do when he was older. He had not been thinking of this and when he heard it, he became frightened, dropped the bottle and starten to cry. His father said, "See, I told you he was a sissy."
He may have been a sissy in the eyes of the world but God was speaking to the boy. God was preserving him for something great in the future, something through which he would not only be a help to his neighbors and to the people that knew him but a help and a blessing to millions of people around the world. This incident is the most disheartening and bitter experience of his early life.
Feeling that he was not understood and suffering from an inferiority complex, he did not have many friends. He was very shy of girls and did not like them. Boys did not seem to understand him. Instead of associating with people, he would much rather take his gun and dog and go out hunting. For an example, the young people of the neighborhood had decided to have a surprise birthday party on him but he found out about it. The early part of the evening before anyone came, he got his dog and went out coon hunting and didn't return until about ten o'clock. He thought the party would be over by then and everybody gone home. Instead he found out that everyone was still there playing games and apparently enjoying themselves. As he looked in the window and saw them, he decided that he didn't want to go in. He wouldn't feel at home; he wouldn't enjoy himself there with those people. So he decided to go out to the barn and sleep for the night.
At the age of fourteen he was out hunting and had an accident which caused him to be hospitalized for seven months. At this time the voice came back to him many times, but he was afraid of it as his mother had warned him of spiritualism and evil spirits. Because he was afraid of this voice he always refused to listen and refused to respond. But God dealt with him during those months while he was in the hospital, even though all this time he rejected and refused to listen to God.
The other young men would associate with the girls and apparently enjoyed themselves but William Branham just couldn't seem to enjoy himself with any of them. Finally, when he was about eighteen years old, he was persuaded to have a date with one of the girls. As they were out riding around, they stopped at a little cafe on the outskirts of town. He went in to get some Coca-cola and sandwiches.
When he came out he found this girl smoking, this girl whom he thought was such a fine girl and one whose company he would be most apt to enjoy. To him this was shocking. He couldn't think of anything worse for a woman to do than to puff on a cigarette. And then as he came into the car, she said, "Will you have a smoke, Billy?" He said, "No, Ma'am, I don't smoke." To this she replied, "You don't smoke? You told us that you don't drink, you don't dance and now you say you don't smoke. What do you like to do?" "Well," he said, "I enjoy hunting; I enjoy fishing; I enjoy just being out in the woods." The girl laughed and ridiculed him. Soon the other boys joined in with the girls in betittling his interests and again he was reminded of the fact that he wasn't like other people. Finally the girl said, "Well, I don't care to keep company with a sissy." This was more than he could stand because this was just what his father had called him that day down by the river, when he had refused to take a drink of moonshine. So he said to the young people, "Nobody is going to call me a sissy, give me that cigarette; I'll smoke it."
He took the cigarette and was about to put it to his mouth when he heard that familiar sound like wind blowing through the leaves. And again the voice came to him saying, "Never drink, smoke or defile your body in any way, for I have a work for you to do when you get older." At this he became frightened and just could not put the cigarette to his mouth. Knowing that everyone would laugh at him if he did not smoke, he broke down and cried. He went out of the car and started running down the road towards his home. They started driving after him, turning the lights on him, and laughing and making fun of him. As they continued to follow him, he left the road and started across the field toward his home. He ran as far and as long as he was able.
Finally exhausted, he was forced to sit down. Here he cried his heart out, and wished that he could die because he was not like other people. People did not understand him and he was not able to enjoy himself with them. As he sat there on a rock crying, he felt the presence of someone near. At first he was too afraid to turn around and look. Finally when he did, he was not able to see anyone although he felt sure somebody was over there in a cluster of bushes, about fifty feet from the rock. He did not understand what it was at that time. So then he was not only wishing he could die but he was frightened as well. Again he took off across the field, crying and running as fast as he could.
As a young man he always dreamed of going out west. He always enjoyed the open country and it was there, out in the fields with nature, that he spent his most pleasant hours. So when he was nineteen he decided that he would go out west where perhaps he would be able to find work on a ranch. One September morning he told his mother that he was going on a camping trip to Tunnel Mill, a place about 14 miles from Jeffersonville, where he had often gone. He told her this, knowing that if he told her he was going out west, she would plead with him and persuade him not to go.
He did not write to her until he was in Arizona and had a job near Phoenix. In reality he realized that he was running away from God, but he did not want to admit it. He enjoyed the life on the ranch but like other pleasures to him, the novelty soon wore off and he was wishing that he was back home.
He had not been out west very long when he received a letter from his mother informing him that his brother Edward was very ill. He did not take it very seriously because up to this time there had been no deaths in the Branham family and he felt that shortly he would be well again. However, a few days later as he returned to the ranch from the city, he was given a note which read, "Bill, come out to the north pasture. It is very important." He immediately walked out to the pasture and the first person he met was an old ranger whom they called Pop. Pop had a sad expession on his face as he informed William Branham that he had sad news for him. At that time the foreman came up and told him they had just recieved news that his brother Edward had passed away. This news came as a terrific shock to him as he began to realize that never again would he be able to see his brother alive.
As he stood there, events moved before his mind. He had resisted God; he knew it. Yet God was speaking to him even through the death of his brother. The first thought that came to William Branham's mind was that of whether or not his brother was ready to die. As he turned around and looked across the prairies, tears streamed from his eyes. He recalled how they had worked together as little lads and how life had been cruel and hard to them. He remembered how they went to school with not enough food in their lunch buckets, not enough clothing on their backs, and with toes sticking out of their shoes. They had to wear old coats pinned up at their neck because they had no shirts. He remembered that one day his mother had given them popcorn in their lunch buckets and wanting to be sure that he got his share, he had gone out and taken a handful of popcorn before the noon lunch hour.
As he stood there looking toward the east, across the prairie, he again wondered. Was his brother ready to die? What if it had been him that had died, would he have been ready? And again he had to admit to himself that he was not ready nor did he want to meet his God.
The first time that William Branham recalls of hearing prayer was at the time of his brother's funeral. The Rev. McKinney of Port Fulton Church was conducting the funeral service. During the service he said, "There may be some here who do not know God. If so, why not accept Him now?" This struck home to William Branham, who had returned for the funeral. He realized that he did not know God.
After the funeral he did not return to the west but got a job with the Public Service Company of Indiana. After working with them for two years, testing meters in the meter shop of the gas works in New Albany, he was overcome with gas. This was the beginning of his illness which forced him to accept and listen to God. He visited all the doctors he could but non gave him relief. Finally he was taken to a specialist in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was told that his appendix would have to be removed. Being he had no symptoms of appendicitis he couldn't understand this, but nevertheless they said that the operation was necessary for recovery.
He concluded that if it was necessary for him to have an operation, maybe he was more sick than he realized. In that case he wanted someone with him who knew God. So he called for the Pastor of the First Baptist Church who stayed there with him as he went into the operating room. Just before they started to operate, he felt that he was rapidly growing weaker. Fear entered his mind that he would never come out of this operation but that he'd be called upon to meet his God, and he realized that he was not ready. For the first time in his life he called upon God for help.
Immediately after the operation he experienced another vision which was the turning point in his life. He saw himself deep in a great forest. The sound of wind and rustling leaves was coming closer and closer. He thought to himself that it was death, coming to take him away. Oh, how he cried to God because he was not ready to meet his Creator. The wind came closer and louder. Then it seemed as if he were back again in his boyhood days, standing there in the lane underneath that poplar tree where he first heard the voice speak to him when he was seven years old. Again the voice spoke, "Never drink, smoke or defile your body in any way... I called you and you would not go." The words were repeated three times. Then Mr. Branham cried, "Lord, if that is You, let me go back to earth again and I'll preach your Gospel from the housetops and street corners. I'll tell everyone about it."
The vision was over. He felt stronger and realized that death was not near but that he would be well. The doctor had not left the hospital because he wanted to check on the progress of his patient. When he saw William Branham he said, "I'm not a church going man; my practice is so great I don't have time. But I know that God has visited this boy." Evidently the doctor had felt that William Branham would not live through the operation, but not only had he lived through it but appeared to be stronger and well on his way to recovery. Neither the doctor nor William Branham understood it. I'm confident, however, that had he know then what he knows now, he would not have been confused but could have very easily explained it to the doctor and the others concerned.
After a few days he was released from the hospital and returned home. He then started out to seek God. Up until this time he had no religious training; he did not know how to find God, had not considered the Word important. From church to church he went, trying to find some place where Christians would help him and instruct him as to how to contact God.
One night at home he became so hungry for God he was afraid he could not live unless he found Him. Not wanting to bother anyone in the house, he went out into an old wood shed back of the house and there he tried to pray. He did not know how to pray but he lifted his heart to God and cried out the best he could. Suddenly there appeared a light in the form of a cross and a voice spoke to him in a language he did not understand. Then it went away. He became frightened and wondered as he said, "Lord, if this is You, please come back and talk to me again." The light re-entered the shed. As he prayed it appeared the third time. Now he realized that he had met God. He was happy; he was thankful.
He lifted his heart to God in thanksgiving as he jumped and ran into the house as though he were running on air. His mother said, "Bill, what has happened to you?" He answered, "I do not know, but I sure feel good." Rather than stay in the house where the people were, he went outside where he could be alone with his new found Friend.
He became acquainted with Rev. Ray Davis, Pastor of the Missionary Baptist Church, who was a great blessing to Brother Branham in his early Christian life. One of the first things he realized was that God wanted him in the ministry and therefore would have to heal him. He went to a church that believed in anointing with oil and after prayer was healed instantly. Realizing that the disciples had something modern ministers did not have, he asked God to give him what the early disciples had. The disciples were baptized with the Holy Ghost, healed the sick, and did mighty miracles in the Name of Jezus. He began to pray for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. About six months later when he received the baptism, God spoke to him telling him to preach the Word and pray for the sick.
After William Branham had turned to God and responded to God's call, everything seemed to go lovely for him. He was happy; he enjoyed the company of people. For the first time in his life he felt that he was not a black sheep, he was not an outcast, and that God was probably able to take this hopeless case of humanity and make something of it.
Within six months after his conversion, plans were being made for his first service. He began tent meetings in his own home town of Jeffersonville. It was estimated that as many as three thousand people attended a single service and a large number were converted. This was unusual for even an outstanding minister, and here it was his first campaign.
At the baptismal service which followed the campaign, over a hundred and thirty people were baptized in water. It was at this time that the heavenly light appeared above him as he was baptizing the seventeenth person. This light was witnessed by the large congregation that stood on the banks of the Ohio River and the newspaper carried an article pertaining to it.
The people who had been saved in the Jeffersonville tent meeting decided to build a tabernacle, which is now known as the Branham Tabernacle.
The next few years were fruitful, during which time God's blessing rested upon him. He received visions of things which would come to pass. He could not understand them at that time but as they came to pass, he was able to see that God had given him an accurate picture.
William Branham with Hope
During the early years of his ministry he met Hope Brumback, the girl he later married. After about five months of courtship, William Branham decided that he would have to ask her if she wanted to marry him. After all, she was a nice girl and if he was never going to marry her, he shouldn't be wasting her time. I shall narrate to you the story of his bashfulness, the proposal by letter, his marriage and other events which followed their happy marriage, as is was told by Brother Branham in his simple, yet dramatic style.
I was just a little country boy and real bashful. Considering how shy I was, you probably wonder how I ever got married.
I met a fine Christian girl. I thought she was wonderful. I loved this girl and wanted to marry her, but I didn't have nerve enough to ask her. She was too good a girl to waste time with me-she would get someone else; so I knew I had to ask her soon. I only made twenty cents an hour and her daddy made five hundred dollars a month. Every night I saw her I would resolve that I was going to ask her that night. Then a great big lump would come up in my throat and I just couldn't do it. I didn't know what to do. You know what I finally did? I wrote her a letter.
Well, that letter had a little more romance in it than "Dear Miss." I did my very best to write a good letter, although I'm sure it was poor. So in the morning I got ready to put it in the mailbox. Then the thought occurred to me of what would happen if her mother got it. Still I was afraid to hand it to her. Finally I got up enough courage to put it in the mailbox on Monday morning. Wednesday night I was supposed to meet her and take her to church. All week until Wednesday I was really nervous. Wednesday night I went to see her. As I went I thought of what would happen if her mother came out and said, "William Branham!" I knew I could get along all right with the father, but I wasn't so sure of the mother.
Finally I went to the door and called for her. She came and said, "Oh, hello Billy, come in." I said, "If you don't mind I'll just sit on the porch." I made sure that they wouldn't get me inside. She said, "All right, I'll be ready in just a few minutes."
Although I had an old model "T" Ford, she said, "It's not far to church; let's just walk." This alarmed me and I was sure something had happened. We went on to church but she didn't say anything. I was so nervous that night I didn't hear what the preacher said at all. You know a woman can keep you in suspense.
After we left the church, we started walking down the street. It was a moonlight night. Still she didn't say any- thing. At last I decided that she hadn't gotten the letter. This made me feel better. I thought that perhaps the letter had been misplaced by the postman and soon I was my old self. We kept on walking. I looked at her when we came out from behind the trees. Her dark eyes sparkled as the moonlight shone on her. I thought, Oh my! She looked like an angel.
Finally she said, "Billy?"
I said, "Yes."
She said, "I got your letter."
Oh, my! I thought, oh, oh. Here it is. You're going to get it now, Bill. It's all over now. I thought she had waited till after church. She didn't say another word. Then I said, "You did?"
She said, "Uh huh."
I thought, go on, hurry up. I couldn't stand it. You know how ladies are; they'll keep you in suspense. We had walked almost a city block and she hadn't said a thing. Finally I said,
"Did you read it?"
She said, "Uh huh."
Whew! I said, "What did you think about it? Was it all right?"
She said, "uh huh."
I wished she would say something. Then I said, "Did you like what was written in it?"
She said, "Uh huh."
I said, "Did you read it all?"
She said, "Uh, huh."
Well, we got married. We finally made it. Before we did, though, we decided that we would have to ask her parents. I knew I could get along with her daddy best, so I agreed to ask him. She was to ask her mother's permission. I kept putting it off as long as I could, because it made me nervous just to think of it. Finally, one evening I had said good night and was about to leave when Hope motioned to me and pointed to her dad. Oh, my! I knew what that meant. The time had come; I could put it off no longer. So I asked him if I could talk to him out on the porch for a minute. He said, "Sure, Bill."
When we got out on the porch I said, "It's a nice evening, isn't it, Charlie?"
He said, "Sure, Bill."
Then I said, "Well-uh-uh,-."
He said, "Yes, Bill, you can have her."
I said, "Thank you, Charlie." Oh my! He saved me a lot of trouble. Then I said, "Now look, Charlie, I can't make her a living like you do." He was one of the organizers on the Penn-sylvania Railroad Brotherhood. Oh, my; he made good money, and there I was making twenty cents an hour with a pick and shovel. "But I know this one thing," I continued, "I've never seen anybody in the world I love like her. I love her with all my heart. I'll promise this to you, Charlie, I'll work as long as I can work and I'll do everything I can to be true and good to her. I'll do everything I can to make her a living."
He said, "I'd rather you have her than anybody I know of because that's what counts, Bill. It's not money; it's how happy you are."
I'm awfully glad he felt that way about it. Happiness does not consist in how much of the world's goods you own, but how contented you are with the portion allotted to you. That's right. Whether you have much or whether you have little, just thank God for it.
We were married and I don't believe that there was any place on earth any happier than our little home. I remember what we had when we started housekeeping in two rooms. I bought an old stove from a junk dealer for a dollar and a half and spent seventy-five cents to put grates in it. A lady gave us an old folding bed. I went down to Sears and Roebucks and got one of those little breakfast sets that you have to paint yourself.
It wasn't much, but friends, it was home; and I would rather live in a shack and have favor with God than live in the best house there is without His favor. We did not have very much of this world's goods. I remember once I told my wife that I would have to ask the church to give me an offering to help enable us to pay our debts. Before this time I had never taken an offering in my church. That Sunday evening I asked one of the elders to get his hat and take up a collection. But after I had announced what I was going to do, I saw a little old mother open her purse and take out some of her pension money. Oh, my! I didn't have the heart to take her money. So I got up and told them I was just fooling and wondering if they would do it. Later a member of the church gave me an old bicycle which I painted and sold.
Hope with Billy-Paul
After two years a little boy came into our home. When he was born that just tied us together better. When I first heard him cry in the hospital something told me he was a boy. I said, "Lord, there is your boy. I will call him Billy for his father and Paul from the Bible. His name shall be Billy Paul."
The doctor came out and said, "Your boy is in there."
I said, "Yes. His name is Billy Paul."
So then we were happy. I remember we worked together. She'd work at a shirt factory trying to help us make a living. I'd preach every night. All day long I'd work in the ditches. Sometimes when I'd come home at night my callouses hands would be frozen, and often bleeding. Hope would sit and dress my hands at night before I'd go to church. Then she said she wanted me to take a vacation. She had about twelve dollars saved up, and she wanted me to go on a fishing trip. So I said, "All right. But don't you want to go fishing, too?"
She said, "No. I would rather be here for the Summer Bible School."
So I went up to Lake Pawpaw in Michigan, just above Indiana, with an old minister friend. My money didn't last very long and I had to return. On my trip back as I crossed the Mishawaka River I saw a great number of people gathering for a meeting. Wondering what kind of meeting it was, I decided to stop. That is where I got acquainted with Pentecostal people.
The people had gathered for a convention. They were singing "I know it was the blood, I know it was the blood." Pretty soon a bishop got up and began to preach on the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I decided that I would stay until the following day. I didn't have money for a hotel room, so I went out in the country and parked in a cornfield where I slept that night. Next morning I got up early and returned to the church. I had bought some rolls and milk so that my money would hold out. When I returned to the church, quite a number of people had already gathered for morning worship.
That night there were a great number of preachers sitting on the platform. The leader said, "We haven't time to hear you all preach so we are going to ask each one just to get up and tell us your name." So when they came to me I got up and said, "Rev. William Branham," and sat down.
The following afternoon they had an old colored man get up and preach. He was rather decrepit and I was a little surprised te see them choose such a fellow to preach before that great congregation. He preached from Job 7. "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together?" Well, that old fellow picked up about ten million years before the world was ever formed. He just about covered everything in heaven, came on down the rainbow and preached om everything on earth up till the Second Coming of Christ.
That night I went out to the cornfield again and slept. In the morning, since I supposed nobody knew me, I decided that I would put on an old pair of seersucker trousers. My other pair had gotten rather creased from using them as a pillow. This was the last day that I could stay as I only had enough money left to buy gas to go home. I went back to church and when I arrived the people were singing.
The minister in charge got up and said, "We have just had the testimony service led by the youngest preacher here. The next youngest minister is William Branham of Jeffersonville." He said, "Come up here, Rev. Branham, if you are in the building."
You may be sure this startled me. I looked down and saw my seersucker trousers. So I just sat real still. In fact, I had never seen a public address system before, and I certainly didn't want to get up there and preach before all those powerful preachers.
They called again, "Does anyone know the whereabouts of Rev. Branham?"
I only crouched down in my seat lower than before. The call was repeated again. The colored man sitting beside me turned around and said, "Do you know who he is?"
I said. "Listen, I'm Rev. Branham, but I have on these seersucker trousers and I can't go up on that platform."
The colored man said, "These people don't care how you are dressed. They care about what's in your heart."
"Well," I said, "please don't say anything about it." But the colored man didn't wait any longer.
He shouted out, "Here he is! Here he is!"
My heart sank; I didn't know what to do. The night before out in the cornfield I had prayed, "Lord, if these are the people that I have always wanted to find, that seem so happy and free, you give me favor before them." Well. the Lord gave me favor with them, but I hated to go up before the crowd in those seersucker trousers. Everyone was looking at me and I had to do something. So I went on up to the platform. My face was red, and as I turned around I saw the microphones, and I thought to myself, "What are those things?" I prayed, "Lord, if you ever helped anybody, help me now."
I opened the Bible and my eyes fell on the verse, "The rich man opened up his eyes in hell." And then he cried. There were no Christians there, and then he cried. There was no church there, and he cried. There were no flowers there, and he cried. There was no God there, and he cried. As I preached, I cried. Something got a hold of me and the power of God came down upon the congregation.
The service went on for about two hours. After it was over, I walked outside. A great big fellow with cowboy boots on came up and introduced himself to me. He said, "I'm from Texas and I have a good church down there. How about holding a two weeks' meeting for me?"
Another preacher from Florida came up and said, "How about coming over and holding meetings for me?"
I got a piece of paper and took down names and addresses, and in a few minutes I had enough revivals lined up to last me throughout the year. Well, I was happy. I jumped into my little model "T" Ford and down through Indiana I went, 30 miles an hour-15 miles an hour straight ahead and 15 miles an hour up and down.
When I reached home, my wife came running out and threw her arms around me. As she looked at me she asked, "What are you so happy about?"
I said, "I have met the happiest bunch of people I ever met in my life. They are really happy, and they are not ashamed of their religion. These people had me preach up at their convention, and what's more, I have received invitations to preach at their churches. Will you go with me?"
She answered, "Honey, I have promised to go with you any- where until death separates us." May God bless her loyal heart.
So I decided to go up and tell my mother. When I got there I told her about the invitations. She asked, "What are you going to do for money?" We felt the Lord would supply. She put her arms around me and blessed me and still prays for me. She said, "Son, they used to have that kind of religion in a church I knew of years ago, and I know it's real."
And friends, what I say now, let it be for your education. Let my mistakes be a lessen to you. Friends and relatives warned me against accepting what I knew was God's call to me. Some said that the people I had met at the convention were trashy people. I later found out, and I say ik reverently, that what was called "trash" was the "cream of the crop." I was told that my wife would get enough to eat one day and go without food the next. Others told me that it was my job to stay there and look after the work in Jeffersonville. My wife spoke to her mother and she said she would go to her grave with a broken heart if Hope went with me. My wife cried and I told her that we must go home and talk it over. She decided she would go with me, but I said we better not. Dear friends. this is where my troubles started. I listened to what a woman had to say instead of to what God had to say. Within eighteen months I lost my father, brother, sister-in-law, wife and baby and almost my own life. I will never forget it.
During this time I was working as a game warden in the State of Indiana. The income that I recieved from this job was determined by the arrests I made. But I never did make any arrests. Instead I'd sit down and talk to the violators about sportsmanship, which I felt produced a greater return than the fines I could have imposed.
In the meanwhile our little girl had come on the scene, little Sharon Rose. Bless her sweet little heart, she's in heaven today. She was a darling to me. I just love little children, and I remember how happy we were together. I wanted to call her a Bible name. I couldn't call her the Rose of Sharon after Jesus so I called her Sharon Rose. We lived in a little old house. I remember I used to come home in the evenings and she'd be sitting out there in the yard with her little four-corners on and as I came around the corner I would touch the siren on the car that I used as a game warden. She'd know that I was coming and she'd say, "goo goo goo." Then she'd hold her little old arms out and I would get her and hug her. My, she was just as sweet as she could be.
Soon my wife took sick with a lung infection. Next my brother was killed right near by me. See, the way of a transgressor is hard. Then my father at the age of 52, had a heart attack one night and died in my arms an hour later. Just a few days before he died he was in a saloon and someone asked him to take a drink. He took the glass but started to shake. Setting it down, he started to cry and talked about his son who was preaching. He went on to say that all these years he had been wrong and his son was right. He said, "Because I am a drunkard don't let it reflect on my boys. This is the last drink I'll ever take in all my life." Then he picked up the glass and tried to drink the contents but spilled it all over his face. Again he cried, picked up his hat and walked out. This incident was relayed to me by an insurance agent whom I later led to the Lord. Shortly before his death, he had given his heart to the Lord.
God was still speaking to my heart. Then my sister-in-law died right there in her home. Everything didn't seem to be going right at my church either. The way of a transgressor is hard. See, I kept going down then. But when I failed, I believe that God still protected His gift. Then I said, "Oh, what can I do; I've made a mistake." The anointing of God had left me and it never really returned until the Angel met me in 1946. These years were the dark period of my life. All this was the result of not doing what I knew God wanted me to do.
After awhile my wife got pneumonia. The 1937 flood came up suddenly and she was caught in it. I remember that night. I shall never forget it. The dike broke through up there and the city was being swept off the map. I took Hope and both babies up to a temporary hospital, set up by the government. There they were all up there very sick. Hope had a temperature of 105 . When I had gone to pray that evening she had taken sick, I looked up and said, "Lord, have mercy on my wife and heal her. Will You, Lord? Because I love her." It looked like I saw something falling like a black sheet and it came right down like that. I just knew then that something was going to happen. I went and told my church people. They said that it was because I was so concerned and sympathetic being it was my wife. I said, "No, there is a black curtain that has come between God and me. Something has separated me from Him and He doesn't hear me."
Oh, I was weary. The night when the flood broke through, I was on a patrol squad on the river. I was rescuing people everywhere, hauling them, piling them out like cattle. I was called then and told to come down to a place where the flood broke through on the other side. I ran down there real quick. I could hear people crying. I heard a woman screaming, "Help! Help!" I thought of what I could do and then ran and got the speed boat. I started up but I couldn't buck those waves. The dike had broken through and those two-story houses were just shaken on their foundations. Although I tried to go against those waves, I couldn't make it. Finally I went one way and was swept down so I could get a rope around the post of the porch when I went by. I tied the boat and left the motor running to hold it against the waves.
I ran into the house and found three or four little children, picked them up and got them in the boat. Then I got the mother, packed her in the boat and started out. It was about one o'clock in the morning, snowing and sleeting, as I jumped in the boat and started back. Just as I got over to the land where a group of people were waiting to catch the boat as we came by, the woman started crying, "My baby, my baby!" I thought she had left her baby behind and so leaving them there I went back again. Part of the house had already gone, when I finally reached it. I ran in and looked all around without finding anyone. Later I came to find out the baby was about two years old. I thought she had a little baby in there. Then as I heard the side of the house go out, I ran and jumped out of the window and landed on top of the porch. When I did, I saw my boat leaving. I grabbed hold of the rope and got in the boat as wet as I could be. I tried to start it, but there was ice all over the starter string. I just pulled and pulled but it wouldn't start.
The current caught me out in the river and the boat was just about to capsize; I couldn't get the motor started. I had a sick wife and two sick children in the hospital. I had just buried my daddy a few weeks before that. And there I was. I knelt in the boat and said, "Oh, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.I know I've done wrong, but please, dear God, don't let me have to leave my wife and babies and be drowned in this river." I pulled again and again. There I was going right straight for the falls. I pulled the string but it wouldn't start. I prayed again and said, "God, have mercy." I had time to think a lot of things over, friends. I tell you, when that hour comes and death is pushed right up against you, you'll think a lot of things that you're not thinking about now. I pulled and I pulled, and by God's grace the motor started. I went back and bucked the waves again and came out way down in Howard's Park, down below Jeffersonville, about three o'clock in the morning.
Then they told me the other side of the dike had broken and come down through Lanky Kank Creek and cut off the Government Depot. I went up there real quick and found the waters had reached the temporary hospital. I met a captain standing there and said, "captain, sir, did anybody get drowned?"
He said, "No, there was nobody drowned."
I said, "I had a wife and two sick children in there."
He said, "Well, I think everybody got out as far as I know."
I went on a little farther and I met my associate pastor. He threw his arms around me and hugged me as he said, "Billy boy, if I never see you again, I'll see you in the morning." That was the last time I saw him. He was killed during the time of the flood.
Later I met Major Weekly who said, "Reverend Branham, your wife and the babies went out on a cattle car towards Charlestown, Indiana."
It was sleeting and hailing as I ran to get my boat and start up there where Lanky Kank Creek comes through. Somebody said, "Oh, that cattle car was washed off the track up there and everyone in it was drowned." Oh, my!
Then somebody said, "No, it wasn't; it went through. We heard a dispatch that it went through."
Well, I got in my boat and started over there. I saw that current coming through; I couldn't pierce that water. It trapped me and there I was marooned in a place called Port Fulton for about seven days. Then I had time to think it all over. Then I prayed. I cried and wondered if my wife was dead of alive. How were my children, my mother? Finally, when the water was down I got across and started walking. I was going up the road and I met an old friend of mine, Mr. Hay, from Charlestown. I asked, "Is my wife there?"
He said, No, Billy, Mrs. Branham is not there but we'll find her somewhere."
I said, "There was a train coming through with a cattle car full of sick people."
He said, "It never stopped there."
I went down to the Dispatcher's Office. He said, "Oh, the engineer that took that cattle car will be here in just a few minutes. He was here a while ago."
When he returned he told me, "Yes, sir, I remember a sick mother and two children. I left them off at Columbus, Indiana. They were very sick."
That was about seven or eight days before, and I wondered if they were still alive. I had no way of getting around, so I just started walking up the road. As I was going along there crying, a car came up to me. In it was a friend of mine who said, "Bill, I know what you are looking for. You're looking for Hope, aren't you?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Well, she's laying by the side of my wife at the Baptist temporary hospital in Columbus, Indiana, with tuberculosis, near death." He said, "I don't know where your babies are. I never saw them, but I saw Mrs. Branham there. You won't know her when you see her. She's lost at least twentyfive pounds of weight. She thinks you're dead."
Oh my, friends, when I think about that something just boils in my heart. I got in the car and finally got to the Baptist Church which was used as an emergency hospital. I ran in; the place was crowded. I shouted, "Hope! Hope!" just as loudly as I could. I looked over at an old cot in the corner and saw a little bony hand raised up waving at me. It was she. Her face was very thin and I ran to her quickly and fell down at her side crying. Oh my! She was almost gone. Her dark eyes, expressing the intense suffering she had gone through, looked up at me as I took her pale, thin hand in mine and prayed the best I knew how. But seemingly it was to no avail. There was no answer. Then I felt a hand touch me on the back. It was a doctor who said, "Are you Reverend Branham?"
I said, "Yes sir."
He said, "Could I speak to you a minute?"
And I said, "Yes sir."
I walked over to one side and he said, "Aren't you a personal friend of Doctor Sam Adair in Jeffersonville?"
I said, "We have lived together, fished together, slept together; we've just very good friends."
He said, "Well, I want to tell you, your wife is dying, Brother Branham."
I said, "No, Doctor, God won't let her die."
"Well," he said, "as far as medical aid is concerned, she's finished. She has galloping tuberculosis and don't think anything can stop it, now that it has gotten a hold of her."
"Are my babies all right?" I asked.
He said, "They're in another room. The reason they won't let them around her is because she's got tuberculosis. One of your babies is pretty good, but the other one is very sick."
"Will you take me to them, Doctor?" I asked. I went over there to see my poor little Billy and Sharon laying there. I looked at them and then went back to where Hope was, "Honey," I said, "you'll be all right. You'll be able to come home, and everything will be O.K." I cried and begged God with all my heart; I did everything that I knew how to do. Doctor Adair, bless his heart, worked as faithfully as any man could work. We sent to Louisville for a specialist to come over, a Doctor Miller, from the Sanatorium. He came into the room that day, checked her over, and advised certain treatments.
Doctor Adair told him, "That's what she's getting and that's all we can do."
And I said, "Doctor, isn't there any hope at all?"
He said, "No hope at all, sir, unless God has mercy. I presume that she's a Christian and you're a Christian."
I said, "Yes sir. She's ready to go, but Doctor, I love her. Isn't there something you can do?"
He said, "Reverend Branham, my hands are tied. We've done everything that we know to do for tuberculosis."
I said, "Oh my!" I looked at her and thought, "Oh, what can I do?"
I said to her, "I think you're going to be all right, don't you?"
She said, "I don't know, dear. It doesn't matter; only thing I hate to leave you and the children."
I said, "Well, honey, I believe you'll be all right."
She said, "I want to talk to you just a minute, honey."
I said, "Yes."
She said, "Did that doctor tell you anything?"
I said, "Don't ask me, sweetheart. I've got to go to work now but I'll come back every few hours." I would look at her and pray and cry and beg and plead. It looked like the heavens were brass before me. I just couldn't get anywhere.
I remember I was up in Scottsberg, Indiana, going along one day, when I heard a flash come over the radio-"Calling Warden William Branham. Report to the hospital. Wife dying. Come quick. Wife dying." Oh my! I took off my hat, looked up and said, "Father, I've done all that I can do. You know You're tearing the very soul of Your servant, but I probably tore Your soul when I listened to what I did instead of listening to You. Please, don't tear my heart out of me. Won't You spare her? Let me talk to her, will You, Lord?" I turned on the siren and went just as fast as I could to the city about thirty miles away. I pulled up there, threw the gun in the car, and ran up to the hospital. As I came rushing in, there coming down through the hall was my old friend, Dr. Adair. He is a real doctor. He saw me and broke out crying just like a baby and turned sideways. I said, "Sammy, what about it?"
He said, "Bill, she's gone."
I said, "Oh, no, doctor, it can't be. Come with me."
He started crying and said, "Bill, I can't go with you, Hope is like a sister to me. I can't go in there and look at her again. I just can't. Here, call one of the nurses."
I said, "No, I'll go in by myself." I walked in there and looked at her. I shall never forget it. She had her eyes closed and her mouth open. I put my hand on her and she felt real cold with perspiration. I saw that she wasn't gone yet. I took hold of her hand and said, "Sweetheart, do you know me? Look, honey, do you know me?" I shall never forget those great big eyes, which belong to an angel now, as they opened up and looked at me. She smiled and I just couldn't hold myself together.
She motioned for me to bend down and she said, "I'm awfully weak. Why did you call me?"
I said, "Honey, I just had to say something to you."
She said, "I'm going, Bill."
I said, "Oh, honey, you're not going, are you?"
She said, "Yes." A nurse came into the room and as Hope patted my cheek she looked over to the nurse and said, "I hope when you get married you get a husband like mine. He's so good to me." Oh, friends, it just broke my heart.
I said, "You'll be all right, honey." The nurse just couldn't stand it and walked out.
Hope began telling me about the Paradise I had called her from, how beautiful it looked with lovely trees and flowers and birds singing. For a moment I thought that perhaps I shouldn't have called her. But bless her heart, she's been enjoying that place a long time now. She seemed to revive for a few moments and said, "There are two or three things I want you to know."
I asked, "What's that?"
She said, "Do you remember one time when you were over in Louisville and you wanted to buy that little .22 rifle?"
I said, "Yes."
She said, "Remember you didn't have the money to make the down payment?"
I said, "Yes, I remember."
She said, "I always wanted you to have a rifle. I've been saving whatever I could to get it. I can't do it, but when you get home, look under the paper on the old folding bed and you'll find the money I've saved up there." You'll never know how I felt when I went home and found six or seven dollars there in nickels and dimes that she had saved and pinched from here and there to get me the rifle. And she said, "Do you promise me that you'll get the rifle?"
I said, "I will, honey." I bought it and still have it. I intend to keep it as long as I live. Afterwards, it will be Billy's.
She continued, "I want you to promise me that you won't live single."
I said, "Oh, honey, don't talk like that."
She said, "No, I don't want you to be single and our children pulled from post to post. You get some real good Christian girl that will be good to the children, and I want you to get married again."
I said, "Honey, I can't promise that."
She said, "Promise me. Don't let me go like this. Just awhile ago I was going over to the most beautiful land where there was no sickness, no sorrow. It was just as easy and there was no pain. There were white beings walking at my side taking me to my home. I heard you way down the road calling me and I came back to see what you wanted." Friends, I believe the gates of Paradise were opening and she was just ready to enter in. She spoke to her loved ones and she called some of their names. I often wonder when death comes, if God just doesn't permit some of our loved oned to come to the river when we are crossing over Jordan. Perhaps God says, now that mother is coming home, you go down and stand by the gate and wait until she comes over. Friends, there is a land beyond the river, somewhere in the far beyond, maybe millions of light years away. But it's there-and we're traveling that way.
Then she said, "Honey, you've preached of it, you've talked of it but you can't know how glorious it is. Now I'm going. Bill, you take me up on Walnut Ridge and bury me up there. I don't mind going since I saw how wonderful it is."
"Are you really going now, dear?" I asked tearfully.
"Yes." She looked into my eyes and said, "Will you promise me to always preach this wonderful Gospel?" I promised. She said, "Bill, God is going to use you." (Bless her heart. I've often wondered if God might not allow her to look down upon us as we go about from place to place in our ministry, trying to obey the calling she felt that God would send.)
I told her, "Honey, I'll be buried by your side, right by you. Otherwise, I'll be back here somewhere on the battlefield, so help me God." I said, "Now, if you go before me, the dead in Christ will go first, you go over to the east side of the gate and wait there for me." Her lips started to quiver. Tears were coming to her eyes.
She said, "I'm so happy." I pulled her next to me and kissed her good-by for my last date with her until I meet her by the side of the Eastern Gate. By God's grace and help I'm on the road today. I'll be there one of these days. That's right.
Oh, it was hard to go home after her going. I saw her old coat hanging there. Everything reminded me of her. I started to cry as I looked around. Just then somebody knocked on the door and I asked who it was. It was a member of my church. He said, "Billy, did you hear the bad news?"
I said, "Yes, I was with Hope to the end. I just left the hospital."
He said, "Your baby's ready to die, too."
I said, "What?"
He said, "Sharon Rose is dying."
I said, "It can't be, Brother Brin."
He said, "Yes, it is. She's dying now. Dr. Adair just examined her before I left the hospital."
What's the matter?"
"She happened to get a hold of the germ from her mother and she has tubercular meningitis."
I rushed to the hospital. They caught me at the door and said, "You can't go in there." I started in anyway. The nurse said, "Look, Rev. Branham, you've got to think of Billy Paul. That little girl will die in a few minutes."
I said, "That's my little sweetheart. I've got to see her." I thought I heard my little baby call me and I insisted I must go see her.
She said, "You can't see her, Rev. Branham. She is in isolation." She went back in and shut the door. When she did, I slipped in the other way and went down the basement where they had her isolated. It was a very poor hospital. She had a little mosquito netting over her face, but the flies had gotten underneath and on her little eyes. I shooed them off and looked at her. Bless her little heart. She was having a spasm. Because of such intense pain, her muscles were all drawn up. I said, "Sharon, honey, do you know daddy?" Her little lips began to quiver. She knew I was there. But she was suffering so hard that when she looked at me her baby blue eyes were crossed. Oh my! My heart was breaking. I couldn't stand to look at her crossed eyes. To this day, I remember my little Sharon whenever I see cross-eyed children. I've seen over four hundred crosseyed children healed in about three months of my meetings. sometimes God has to crush a rose to bring forth the fragrance of it. You know that's right. I looked at that poor little thing with crossed eyes, and said, "Oh, God!" My strength just wouldn't hold me up any more. I raised my hand and I said, "Oh, Father, You took my wife. Don't take my baby and leave me. Please, dear God, I apologize for all my wrongs. I'll go preach. I'll do anything, anything you say, dear Lord. Please don't take my baby, please, please." Then came that dark curtain. I knew it was over. I said, "Good-by, darling. The angels of God will come to get you soon. You'll go to be with mother. Daddy will take your little body and lay you in your mother's arms. Some day daddy will see you again." I laid my hand over her heart as I said, "Oh, God! Not my will, but let Yours be done."
In just a moment the angels of God came down and took her little soul and went off to Glory with it. Brother Smith, the Methodist pastor there, preached the funeral service. As the casket was lowered down, he picked up some dirt and said, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth." Down through the old pine trees there seemed to come a whispered song.
- "There's a land beyond the river,
- That we call the sweet forever,
- And we only reach that shore by faith's degree,
- One by one we gain the portal,
- Where we'll dwell with the immortal,
- Some day they'll ring those golden-bells for you and me."
Oh my! I went home heartbroken. I tried to go to work. At that time I was doing electrical work. I was an electrician by trade. One morning real early I climbed up a pole to take down a pole meter. I was singing, "On a hill far away . . ." (I was taking down a secondary line. If you're an electrician, you know what I'm talking about. The primary runs right by this.) "Stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross . . ." I looked down on the ground and there was the shadow of my body and the pole, forming a cross and reminding me of the cross that Christ died upon for me.
I pulled my safety belt up tight. I got real nervous. I took off my rubber glove to lay my hand on that primary-running down with 2300 volts. It would have broken every bone in my body. I said, "God, I'm a coward to do this." "But." I said, "Sharon, honey, daddy's coming home to meet you in a few minutes. I can't stand it any more."
Friends, I'll never know to this day what happened, but I believe God was preserving the Gift. The next thing I knew I was sitting down at the bottom of the pole with my hands right across my knees, crying and perspiring. I thought to myself, "I'm a wreck; I can't work." I took my tools to the truck and went home.
I had wanted to go and be with my loved ones that were with the Lord. Life on earth held nothing for me any more. All that I had to live for was in the next world; without them my broken heart could not find the courage to keep up the struggle. But it was God's will, I guess, in holding His Gift. He had a plan and it must be worked out. I am sure it took every tragedy and deep sorrow that I had to go through to bring me to the place where He could use me. God knows what is best.
My mother had said to come and live with her. Others offered their home. But look, I wanted to stay where Hope and I had lives. We didn't have anything but a couple of pieces of old furniture but it was ours. It was home. We had been happy together and I wanted to stay with that because it was hers and mine. A neighbor kept Billy Paul and when I was home I'd go get him and take him home with me.
That day when I came in I picked up the mail. The first letter I saw said, "Miss Sharon Rose Branham." It was her Christmas savings-80 cents. Oh my! I lay down and started crying. I thought to myself that I would get my gun and take my life. I was going crazy, losing my mind. I was worrying about it too much. I began to cry and cried until I went to sleep. I shall never forget it. I dreamed I was coming down alongside of a prairie. I used to work out West on a ranch. I came along there singing, "The wheel on the wagon is broken." You've heard it. "Down on a ranch for sale." I happened to look sideways and there was an old western prairie schooner with a wheel broken off. The wheel on the wagon broken. I said, "Yes, that's right." Walking around from behind, there came a young, beautiful blonde girl, about 18 or 20 years of age. She was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. I took off my hat and said, "How do you do, Miss?" and started walking off.
She said, "Hello, dad."
I said, "I beg your pardon? Did you say dad?"
She said, "Yes. Don't you know me, daddy?"
I said, "No."
She said, "What do you teach about immortality?" I teach that there will never be any real old people in heaven or little babies. We will all be one age, maybe about the age of Jesus when He died, about 30 years old. She said, "Don't you know what you teach about immortality?"
I said, "Yes, but what's that got to do with you?"
She said, "Oh, daddy, don't you know me? Down on earth I was your little Sharon."
I said, "Sharon?"
She said, "What are you worrying about, daddy?"
I said, "Honey, you're not Sharon?"
She said, "Yes, where is Billy Paul?"
I said, "Well, honey, I don't understand you."
She said, "I know you don't. Mother is looking for you."
I said, "Mother! Where's mother?"
She said, "Daddy, don't you know where you are?"
I said, "No."
She said, "This is heaven."
I said, "Heaven?"
She said, "Yes, and mother is up to our new home."
I said, "New home?"
She said, "Yes, your new home, daddy."
I said, "Honey, I haven't any new home. All of our people are vagabonds. We just travel, pay rent, here and there. Never did a Branham own his own home. I haven't any new home."
She said, "But, daddy, you've got one up here."
I looked sideways. It looked like the glory of God was coming up. Then I looked at a great big beautiful home sitting there.
She said, "That's where you live now, daddy. Mother is up there looking for you. I'm going to wait here for Billy Paul. Won't you go see her?"
I said, "Yes, sweetheart."
She said, "You run up to the house. I'm going to wait for Billy."
I went on up. I couldn't understand it, but as I walked up the steps there was Hope. She was just as sweet as ever, young, her dark hair hanging down on her shoulders. She was dressed in white. As she reached out her arms for me, I just fell at her feet.
I said, "Sweatheart, I don't understand this. I've seen Sharon."
She said, "Yes, she said she was going down to wait for you."
I said, "Honey, there must be something wrong here somewhere. Isn't she a beautiful young lady? Didn't our daughter make a pretty girl?"
She said, "Yes, she's awfully sweet."
I said, "Oh, honey."
She said, "You're just worrying so much, aren't you?"
I said, "Yes."
She said, "I've seen you. You've cried and worried about Sharon and I. We are much better off than you are. Don't worry any more."
I said, "Hope, I'll try not to worry, honey."
She said, "Now you've never promised me anything in your life, but what you've done it." I've always tried to keep my promise. She said, "Look, you promise me that you won't worry any more."
And I said, "I'll try not to, honey."
She put her arms around me. Then she looked around and said, "Won't you sit down?" I looked and there was a great big chair sitting there. I looked back at her. She said, "I know what you're thinking, about the old chair you had to give up."
I said, "Yes." My thoughts were back there at our old house. I was so tired and we just had those old chain bottom chairs, you know what they are; you'd have to sit up so straight on them. We wanted to get a Morris chair. They cost over fifteen dollars then, and I remember we had to pay two dollars down and a dollar a week. We bought one and I paid about six or seven dollars on it and I just got to the place where I couldn't make the payments any more. They told me that they would come and get it. I remember that day. Hope knew I liked cherry pie, bless her heart, and so she had made a cherry pie for me. I'd come in at night so tired after preaching and sit down on this chair and study the Bible awhile. Many times I'd fallen asleep in it. And that night she knew the chair was gone, so she wanted to make me happy. That's a real wife; that's a real sweetheart. I knew she was extremely nervous about something. She wanted me to go down to the river and fish a little while that night. I thought there was something wrong. I said, "Let's go in the front room." I saw her countenance drop. I knew as we walked into the room our chair was gone. She looked at me and started to cry. We put our arms around one another and I said, "Oh, sweetheart, we couldn't help it. We couldn't help it." Now, as she looked at me and that big chair, she said, "Honey, they will never come and get this one. That one's already paid for." We sat down and rested awhile.
Oh, brother and sister, sometimes I get so tired out down here. Worn out. No rest. Going day and night. When I go home for rest there are people everywhere in desperate need. Oh, God, what can I do? But one thing I know, one of these days I'm going to cross over the river. When I get over on the other side I've got a home over there. I've got a chair that's already paid for. Loved ones are waiting for me. And one of these days I'm going to cross over Jordan and then I can rest.
Almighty God was forced to put me through this bitter experience because I had refused to heed His call. Gifts and callings are without repentance. Had I listened to God instead of man the Gift would probably have started operating sooner and therefore my ministry might have been a hundredfold of what it has been in the past. In addition I could have been spared years of untold grief.
Because I repented and am daily permitting God to direct and use my life, He has restored to me, as He did to Job of old, and I am thankful.
Take Him into your heart and dedicate your life to Him, dear reader. Christ is not a disappointment. You will never regret it. God bless you in Jezus' name.