It was January 1950. The place was Houston, Texas, USA; and God, would once again confirm and vindicate the life and Ministry of His Servant and Prophet to this end-time Age. Brother Branham had only recently returned to the Evangelistic field after having put in almost three years of continuous ministry of the supernatural which had wore him down physical and emotionally. He was forced to take a few months of rest to recuperate physically and emotionally. Many were praying for his return to the Evangelistic field. And if there was any question as to whether or not God was still with His Servant, this would be answered during the Houston Meetings.
The meetings started a little slowly. However, before it was over some very remarkable things had transpired. It became apparent that the Lord had returned His servant to the field with an even greater Anointing. 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 the eyes of the people. Brother Branham had entered, what he would later learn to be the Second Pull (Phase) of a Ministry which would come to it's final climax in a Third Pull (or phase).
In this "Second Pull" the very "thoughts and intents" (Heb. 4:12) of the hearts of the people were revealed - the past, the present and the future; And NOT ONE TIME did it fail. The People of Houston were blessed to have seen the manifestation of the "Messiah Sign", revealing the Son of Man, fulfilling Luke 17:30: "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.". God was doing through this ministry EXACTLY as He had done in the Ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ 2000 years ago (John 4:25-26).
In the prayer lines, Brother Branham, under the anointing would tell the people 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.
Still, there were the skeptics, who, regardless of the "Scriptural" signs performed, would not acknowledge that it was God fulfilling His promised Word. Putting their denominational creed above the Word of God they "challenged" the healing and supernatural working power of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we shall see God supernaturally came on the scene and responded to their challenge - Praise the Lord!
It was about midway in the Houston campaign in 1950, and God was moving in a very powerful way. None could deny that there was an element of the Supernatural moving in the Sam Houston Coliseum. Most were convinced that it was Almighty God, but a few were skeptical.
One of the skeptics was Rev. W. E. Best who opposed Divine healing and became hostile against Bro. Branham and a Rev. F. F. Bosworth (who spoke during many of the day services) teaching on the subject of Divine Healing. The hostile clergyman issued a public challenge through the newspapers, to debate with Rev. Bosworth on the subject of "Divine Healing Through the Atonement." Rev. Bosworth ask and received Bro. Branham's permission to accept the challenge. He cautioned Brother Bosworth against being arguementive over the Word. The whole matter was given front-page publicity in the Houston newspapers. The January 24th., 1950 issue of The Houston Press hit the news stands with the headline: "Baptist Cleric To Challenge 'Miracle Man'".
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.
To record what he thought would be a great milestone in his career, the opposing clergyman secured the services of Mr. James Ayers and Mr. Ted Kipperman, professional photographers. They were to take a series of pictures of him while he was speaking. After taking several photos of Rev. W. E. Best the photographer snapped only one picture of Rev. Branham, who spoke briefly just before the service closed.
Immediately following the meeting Mr. Ayers, one of the photographers, went that same night to the darkroom of his studio 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. 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:
THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
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, Gordon Lindsay 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 indicating 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. The full text of Mr. Lacy's statement is found in the G. J. Lacy link above.
By His Grace, the Lord Jesus has allowed the Pillar of Fire to be photographed with His Prophet at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas, on January 4, 1950. The only supernatural Being ever photographed and documented authentic, appears over the head of Brother Branham. The same Pillar of Fire that led Israel out of Egypt. We are privileged indeed to see what the children of Israel saw. This same Being, appearing in 1933 before hundreds of people, spoke to Bro. Branham and said:
"As John the Baptist forerun the first coming of Christ, you will forerun the second coming."
The brethren who traveled with Brother Branham had this to say about this Twentieth Century Man of God: "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." A prophet indeed has passed through the land; a prophet whose ministry was mighty in word and deed.
To God Be The Glory