A Strange Challenge
The life of William Branham was a life that was lived almost continually in the supernatural realm. Truly he lived in two worlds at the same time - the seen and the unseen. In this book I will rehearse highlights from Bro. Branham's life and some of the supernatural things in his ministry. To begin, let's go to the city of Portland, Oregon.
The doors of the great municipal auditorium of the City of Portland, Oregon, were opened early that November evening of the year 1947. When the caretaker made his rounds to unlock the doors, he was somewhat puzzled to find such a large crowd waiting to get in. To him it was strange because in all his years as caretaker he had not seen so many people come to any religious meeting. Previous religious services had not attracted enough people to fill more than a fraction of the auditorium. He wondered why this meeting would attract so many, even without widespread advertising Within a few minutes the great auditorium was filled to more than its capacity. A representative from the Fire Department ordered the doors closed, not allowing anyone else to enter. Such was the interest generated among the people by a 'Branham Meeting'.
What was the attraction in a Branham meeting that had brought together so many people? It wasn't the singing or the special music. For although both were excellent and inspiring, yet it was evident that the people were waiting with restrained impatience until the preliminaries would be over in anticipation of what was to follow. The people were anxious to see William Branham "The Man Sent From God". Concerning this man, it was said that an Angel had appeared to him in a special visitation, and gifts of healing were manifest in his ministry. The Lord Jesus, according to His promise was, in this century, "confirming His Word with signs following." The large crowd that had gathered for these meetings were hungry in their souls for "The Living God" to show Himself alive. Jesus said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him." (John 10:36-38).
The services of the first two nights aroused tremendous interest - God had indeed shown Himself alive. The sick were healed. Those bound by demon power were delivered. On the third night, our Lord Jesus, through His servant, put to silence the critics, showing that He was Lord of all.
On this night, the writer, who was directing this brief campaign, was preparing to turn the service over to "The Man Sent From God". The people were asked to stand to their feet and sing the chorus, "Only Believe, All things Are Possible, Only Believe." While the congregation sang, a little man with modest demeanor and a friendly smile entered and moved behind the pulpit. The singing ceased, and a hush fell over the audience as it listened intently to the speaker. The people were impressed by the graciousness of the speaker as well as his evident sincerity and humility. "The Man Sent From God", taking the thought of faith, began the theme of his message. He said, "There is nothing that can stand before faith in God , and if the people here tonight will believe God with me, we shall see that God will honor that faith and confirm it before the eyes of this entire congregation."
As the audience listened, they were completely unaware of the startling drama that was about to unfold before them. For suddenly, from far back in the building, we noticed a man making great strides, apparently in the direction of the platform. At first we supposed that an emergency had arisen. But as he moved closer to the platform we realized with no little misgiving that the man was bent on causing trouble. Observing his countenance we thought him to be insane. We learned later that he wasn't insane, in that he did not know what he was doing, but was a notorious and vicious character who had previously run afoul of the law for disturbing and breaking up religious services. Jail sentences had not taught him a lesson. Once again he was determined to break up another
religious gathering. But the outcome in this one was to be different for him, and for the people.
Up the steps he strode without pausing. Now he was on the platform assuming a menacing attitude that by this time was attracting the attention of the entire congregation. Two sturdy policemen standing in the wings, were about to come forward and forcibly remove the man. But "The Man Sent From God" had apparently put himself on the spot for he had just declared that all things were possible to him that believed, and God would always back up His servants who put their trust in Him. The Policemen were hastily waved back. "The Man Sent From God" was fully aware of what was happening. Speaking quietly to the audience, and requesting that the people unite with him in silent prayer, he turned to meet his challenger face to face.
The man, with contempt on his countenance, began to accuse and curse "The Man Sent From God". "You are of the Devil, and deceiving the people," he shouted, "an imposter, a snake in the grass, a fake, and I am going to show these people that you are!" It was a bold challenge and no idle threat. Spitting at the Man of God, the challenger moved to carry out his threat. Considering his size, he was will able to physically overpower God's servant. But the story of David and Goliath comes to mind, realizing that the greater battle being set on the platform was not physical but spiritual.
As the man moved toward the Man of God, the two Policemen attempted again to come to his aid, but the little figure on the platform waved them back. In rejecting their assistance "The Man Sent From God" had deliberately accepted the challenge of his accuser. No doubt the critics expected a swift and pitiful conclusion to the unexpected drama that was now coming to a climax. Certainly they could see that there was no room for trickery. The Man of God would have to have the goods or take the consequences.
The startled congregation looked on in wonder and amazement, hardly knowing what to expect next, but fearing the worst . The seconds passed but it appeared that something was hindering the challenger from carrying out his threats. Seemingly, not being able to move, he continued to spit and utter cursing at the Man of God. THEN, softly but determined, the voice of God's servant could now be heard rebuking the evil power that dominated the accuser. Speaking so quietly, being heard only by those on the platform, he said, "Satan, because you have challenged the servant of God before this great congregation, you must bow before me. In the Name of Jesus Christ, you shall fall at my feet."
The speaker repeated the words. The challenger ceased to speak and began to struggle - trying to move forward but could not. Gradually the evil forces within him began to succumb to the Power manifested through the Man of God, in the Name of Jesus Christ. A tense battle of spiritual forces now summoned every bit of strength the man had in him. Beads of perspiration broke out on his face as he put forth a last desperate effort to prevail. Suddenly, he gave an awful groan and slumped to the floor sobbing in an hysterical manner. For quite awhile he lay there writhing in the dust, as the Man of God calmly proceeded with the service as if nothing had happened.
Needles to say, the great congregation was awed by the scene that had transpired before them, in which God so signally vindicated His Servant, and loud praises to God filled the spacious auditorium. The Policemen, startled by what they had witnessed, openly acknowledged that God was in their midst. In the healing service that followed, many miracles of healing took place as wave after wave of the glory of God moved through the building.
But who was this little man that spoke with such words of authority and whose ministry had been confirmed by such a remarkable demonstration of Divine power? His name was William Branham, Jeffersonville, Indiana, and his ministry was to have wider and wider reverberations until, at the time of this writing the effect of it has reached throughout the world.
Strangely enough, as this campaign concluded, we heard that a few doubted. Why would God choose a man of such unpretentious background, who had such a limited knowledge of this world's wisdom? Nor could they understand the principle which Paul spoke of in 1st. Corinthians 1:26-29, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in His Presence."
Let's learn more of this man of God's choosing. Who is William Branham? From whence did he come? What was the manner of his birth? His special visitation from God and his commission to heal the sick? Come with us into the next chapter and learn of his peculiar birth, childhood, first vision, the first time God spoke to him, etc.