After the wonderful deliverance from the nervous condition, Brother Branham, as the year 1948 drew to a close, again returned to the field for a series of brief campaigns. In November 1949, Brother Jack Moore and the writer received a communication from Rev. Branham, asking if it were possible for us again to take over the direction of his campaigns. And also, could we with Rev. Baxter make the trip overseas with him to Scandinavia the following Spring? After prayer and consideration we felt it to be the will of God in accepting Bro. Branham's invitation. From a personal standpoint we have always considered it a great privilege to work with Rev. Branham. Brother Branham informed us that he had only one meeting scheduled at that time--that was in Houston, Texas. He wanted us to go to Houston and then after that take charge of all further arrangements. As I was engaged in the task of preparing this book for publication and needed to be near him during the time, I consented to go to Houston.
The Houston meeting started a little slowly. However, before it was over some very remarkable things had transpired. It became apparent that our brother's ministry had, in some ways, developed greatly. This time he came not only with the 'sign' in his hand and commanding power over devils, but NOW the very'secrets' of the heart were revealed. A new manifestation was evident before our eyes. In the working of this new 'sign', past events in the lives of people who came for healing, were revealed.
This was manifest in two ways. If those who came for healing were devout Christians, things were told them of their past life which would greatly encourage their faith, so that in many instances they would be healed without one word of prayer. On the other hand, those who had slipped into the prayer line without seeking right relations with God, or who were living careless backslidden lives, and had committed sins which had not been sincerely confessed to God, these were dealt with by the Spirit of God, right on the platform. Sins would be called out, secrets of their hearts revealed, and in practically every instance individuals so dealt with would immediately make a broken and tearful confession. Usually then, the person would receive healing on the spot.
About midway in the Houston campaign, a very remarkable thing occurred that proved to be a Divine vindication of Brother Branham's ministry. A certain hostile clergyman who opposed Divine healing, denounced the remarks of Rev. F. F. Bosworth (who spoke during many of the day services) and issued a public challenge through the newspapers, to debate with Rev. Bosworth on the subject of "Divine Healing Through the Atonement." Rev. Bosworth felt led to accept the challenge, and the whole matter was given front-page publicity in the Houston newspapers.
On the evening appointed as the meeting got under way, it was quite apparent that the sympathy of the vast audience was almost entirely on the side of the visiting evangelists. Large numbers of the members of the very denomination of the opposing clergyman, stood to their feet as witnesses that they believed in Divine healing and had in fact been healed. This sentiment became increasingly evident throughout the service.
Now it so happened that the opposing clergyman had secured the services of Mr. James Ayers and Mr. Ted Kipperman, professional photographers who were to take a series of pictures of him while he was speaking. Incidentally, the photographer after taking these shots, secured one picture of Rev. Branham, who spoke briefly just before the service closed.
When Mr. Ayers, one of the photographers, went that same night to the darkroom of his studio, he decided to develop the negatives that had been exposed. To his surprise every one of the negatives turned out to be absolutely blank with the exception of the one which had been taken of Rev. Branham. His surprise turned to amazement when he noticed that on this negative, immediately over the head of Rev. Branham, was apparently a supernatural halo of light. Mr. Ayers called the others of the studio to look at the negative; but when they did so, each was equally puzzled and no one could explain the presence of this halo.
The following morning the photographer sent word to Rev. Branham to inform him of the strange phenomenon that had occurred in connection with the photograph he had taken the night before. Brother Branham then explained to the young man that he was not greatly surprised. He testified that just before the picture was taken he heard the Pillar of Fire descend into the building with a sound of rushing wind. Of course this wasn't the first time for something like this to happen in our Brother's Ministry.
For example, while at Camden, Arkansas, a photographer had snapped a picture of him and when the film was developed it was found that a strange light encircled him, which, the photographer pointed out, could not be accounted for by the lights in the building. (That picture is published in this book.) Many other such things had occurred in his ministry. The photograph taken at Houston was without a doubt the most outstanding and spectacular of these supernatural manifestations, because of the unique circumstances under which the photograph had been taken.
Below we include some greatly condensed reports of the meeting as they appeared that morning in the Houston newspapers:
"They lay on cots under the glare of the great lights of Sam Houston Coliseum Tuesday night - the lame, the sick, the infirm, the ones whose hopes for physical health had almost gone. They lay there quietly, some of them uncomprehendingly, as the theological argument swirled about and above them.
For it was they who - Rev. F. F. Bosworth, an out-of-town evangelist, said - could be cured of their infirmities by the divine healing power passed on through Rev. William Branham, Rev. Mr. Bosworth's partner. But Rev. W. E. Best, pastor of the Houston Tabernacle Baptist Church, contended that any such "miraculous healing" had ceased with the apostles. And he challenged Rev. Mr. Bosworth to prove otherwise.
Rev. Mr. Bosworth, amid cheers and shouts of "amen" from the audience of 8000, quoted numerous passages from various sources, which, he said, proved that Christ died not only for the sins of man, but for physical sickness also. Over and over again he quoted a Bible passage: "Christ took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." Each time he repeated it the crowds sent up a great shout, and faint smiles broke out on the faces of some of those lying on the cots.
The audience could hear Rev. Mr. Best's rapid-fire sermon, and they didn't like everything they heard. They didn't like it when he said "I deny that any man living today has the power and the gift to heal as the apostles did.
The Rev. Raymond T. Richey appealed to the audience to give each speaker a polite hearing. His instructions were: "When you agree with the speaker, say 'amen' and when you disagree, say 'no." For nearly four hours, the Coliseum rocked with "amens" and nos." When the Rev. Best made a point, the Rev. Bosworth would rush to the microphone on the stage from which the speakers held forth and dramatically ask those in the audience who had been cured through faith to stand.
Each time hundreds would rise.
"How many of you are Baptists?" the Rev. Bosworth shouted.
At least 100 stood up.
"No man has the power to heal!" declared the Rev. Best.
To Mrs. W. E. Wilbanks of 712 Teetshorn, the Rev. Best misrepresented the slight, black-haired Evangelist who has been preaching to crowds of 5000 nightly.
SHE'S A BAPTIST
"I'm a Baptist myself," said Mrs. Wilbanks. "Brother Branham does not claim the power of Divine healing. It is simply that faith and the spirit of God working through him that heals the people. Rev. Best is misrepresenting Baptist sentiment in attacking Rev. Branham.
Ordinarily, the way the miracle cures are developed, persons in the audience fill out cards which bear a number and their name. The Rev. Branham picks a number and prays for the cure of that person. Occasionally, he selects a person at random. Those attending are informed that it is possible they won't be reached during the evening for an individual prayer - but they come, night after night, hoping that their turn will arrive.
Mrs. Mary Georgia Hardy, 708 Columbia, said she was "reborn three years ago," but that she first experienced the wonders of faith healing 18 years ago:
"After the birth of my second child, I was a nervous wreck, but faith healing made me well and I've had two children since," said Mrs. Hardy, who attends the Assembly of God Church at 18th and Ashland in the Heights.
Sitting next to her, Mrs. Gray Walker of 2501 Blodgett, pointed to her four-year-old grandchild, Diane Cox.
SHE'S WELL NOW
"Diane was born with a clubfoot. A doctor wanted to put the foot in a cast but our Assembly of God pastor, the Rev. J. C. Miner, suggested we try prayer. We did. Gradually - over a period of weeks--the foot straightened out. Diane is well now."
One week ago, during a general prayer by Rev. Branham, Mrs. W. E. Miller, who lives on the Genoa-Almeda road, was suddenly cured of chronic sinus trouble, she said. "I was simply praying for others when it happened."
When the Rev. Best shouted there were those "who used sorcery to bewitch people, so that people are sincerely misled and say it's the power of God," James Ayers, a commercial photographer of 1610 Rusk, agreed.
"Branham puts on a show," said Mr. Ayers. "Somehow he never gets around to the cripples and the persons who have arthritis. He simply hypnotizes his audience."
(Note: Mr. Ayres mentioned above in the Houston Press was the photographer who hours later was to discover the supernatural light above Rev. Branham's head on the photograph.)
After conferring with Rev. Branham, the writer arranged for the negative to be turned over to George Lacy, considered the greatest authority on questioned documents in that area. Mr. Lacy then submitted the negative to exhaustive scientific tests. Rev. Branham was certain that the negative was genuine but considered it wise to have absolute scientific proof of its genuineness.
After a most thorough examination, Mr. Lacy gave a certified statement (which has been photostatically reproduced in this book) that every test showed that the negative was absolutely genuine, and had not been "doctored" or retouched or been given a double exposure of any kind. Rev. Branham then gave the studios permission to reproduce copies of the photograph; he insisted, however, that he would take nothing personally from the returns of its sale, though he would permit a certain percentage to be given for overseas missionary enterprises in which he was interested.
Another remarkable development in connection with the phenomenon that appeared on the photograph was the fact that independent testimonies came in from various people, collaborating the fact that the supernatural light appeared over Brother Branham's head. Some of these testimonies came from those who at the time had not yet learned about the photograph. A typical one is from Mrs. Grace Coursey, Rt. 1, Box 108, Cleveland, Texas, who tells how a Catholic who witnessed the light, was converted by it:
"I was sweeping the floor the other morning when a car came into the driveway at our home on a farm 56 miles north of Houston. Being somewhat embarrassed at the strewn state of my house, I said, by way of explaining to the strangers, that I worked in Cleveland as a sales-lady six days of the week, and had been attending the Branham revival many nights, so had not time to straighten my house. The man, a stranger to me, had come in answer to an advertisement of our farm for sale. When I mentioned the Branham revival, his countenance lighted up and he said, 'We have been there, too.` This is what his wife told us:
Mr. Becker (the stranger) had been suffering with a terrible stomach condition, violent cramping, etc. He took medicine every night. His wife's mother read in the Houston paper about Branham and his God-given gifts of healing, and she asked Mrs. Becker to ask her husband to go and be prayed for. Mrs. Becker doubted that he would go since he was a Catholic. She told him about it and he said he would go.
Mrs. Becker was greatly disappointed when they arrived at the Houston Coliseum and found the Baptist preacher (she is a member of the Baptist church) debating with Brother Bosworth. She feared that her husband would not believe after seeing this. Instead of being driven away from belief, Mr. Becker stated to us, 'I saw a light around Rev. Branham's head when he was standing there on the stage after the debate; it was not a flash bulb, it was a halo about his bead.` When Brother Branham gave the altar call, Mr. Becker, who had always professed very staunchly that he was saved, went up to accept Christ. His wife, thinking he had misunderstood, asked him if he understood the proposition that had been made. He replied, 'Certainly I do.'
"He automatically quit the habit of using God's Name in vain. Mr. Becker went to the two o'clock service next day and received a prayer card. His number was not called that night but he was instantly healed in the mass prayer call.
"I did not know when I came here tonight to be in the service and tell this, that a photographer had taken a picture of Brother Branham that same night that Mr. Becker, the Catholic man, had seen the light around his head and believed he was sent of God with a gift of healing."
Mrs. Grace Coursey - Jan. 30, 1950 - Rt. 1 Box 108 - C leveland, Texas.
From Houston the Branham party went to Beaumont, a city some eighty miles west. After the first night the city auditorium overflowed with people, and on the second night, two policemen and seven firemen were required to enforce the city laws governing safety regulations in the building. Raymond T. Richey chartered a train of eleven coaches which carried 700 people from Houston to Beaumont to attend the Monday night service. Only part of them could find room in the reserved section. Auditorium officials relented and permitted several hundred who could not get into the building to stand on the back of the platform during the meeting.
One of the interesting features of the campaign was the luncheon which nearly one hundred ministers and their wives attended. Brother Branham spoke to them briefly from his heart. He said that God had commissioned him to give a special message to all believers, that they should forget their differences, and unite themselves in oneness of mind and heart in preparation for the soon Coming of Christ. All that were present gave solemn heed to what he said, as it was evident that these words were the words of a prophet.
During the Beaumont campaign some 2000 came forward to confess Christ. About 3000 had responded to the altar calls in Houston; so that during those thirty days, nearly 5000 had confessed Christ as their Saviour.
From Beaumont we went to Little Rock, Arkansas. Again we were told a familiar story. Little Rock, spiritually, was a city so divided that it would be impossible to hold a great union meeting there. It had been tried before, but always failure had resulted. We were told to prepare ourselves for disappointment. The campaign started in the middle of the week. But by Saturday, lo, the Robinson Memorial Auditorium was completely full. On the last night, which was Monday, the doors were shut at 6:30 P.M., and it was estimated at least 1500 people were turned away. At noon on the last day, a special luncheon, at which over 100 ministers and their wives gathered, breathed a spirit of unity and fellowship that a week before no one dreamed would be possible.
Of interest were testimonies of those who had been healed when Brother Branham was there some three years before. One man thrilled the audience with his testimony. For years he had been on crutches. Then when Brother Branham had prayed for him, he threw them away and walked unaided. He had been without them ever since that time.
One incident was of singular interest to Brother Moore and the writer. At the close of one of the services, as we were leaving the stage, a mother stopped and pleaded with us to pray for her little boy who was about five years of age and who was a deaf mute. She said she feared that Brother Branham would not be able to get to him. Brother Moore looked at me and said, "Let's pray for him." After prayer we took him to the piano and satisfied ourselves that he could hear the music and then walked off the stage.
The next evening, during the healing service, we looked and lo, the same woman and little boy came for prayer. She had secured a card (which were given by lot), and decided to use it, thinking that it would do no harm to bring the boy in the line again. Brother Moore and I naturally were intensely interested to know what Brother Branham would say to her as the Spirit of God spoke through him.
As he looked at the child he said, "Mother, your child 'has' been deaf," which of course was correct. Then he looked again and said words to this effect. "Someone who has faith in God prayed for your child last night. Your child is delivered." You can imagine the effect that this had upon the woman. It was true the child was hearing, and although at this youthful age, when testing the degree of the hearing is always difficult, yet he had already begun to show the fact of his deliverance by imitating various sounds. The demonstration had a great effect upon the congregation. It was plain that God was speaking, not man, and also that man was not the healer but the Lord Jesus Christ.
Afterwards we talked to Brother Branham about the incident. He just barely remembered the circumstances. God had spoken through him and revealed that someone had prayed for the child but had not revealed who had prayed. That was unimportant. What was important was that God had done the work, and to Him was due all the glory. (Months later we received a letter from the mother of the child confirming the healing. This was printed in THE VOICE OF HEALING.)
From Little Rock, we held two days services at El Dorado and two at Camden.
Of Brother Branham, we have only this to say. The scriptures in describing John the Baptist said, "There was a man sent from God whose name was John." We believe this statement can also apply to our beloved brother, William Branham.