Moving to Arizona
My dad was crippled with arthritis, and we left Oregon because of that. The doctor told him that if he’d go to a warmer, dry climate, he might live for four or five years. That was in 1945.
We came to Arizona when Phoenix was about 60,000 people. He’d go out into the desert and just lay on the sand in the sun. If it wasn’t for the arthritis, we wouldn’t have come down here and had the privilege of being where we are today. I hate the fact that he had to suffer, but God used it for good. Dad passed away in 1982. It looks like the Lord just put him in a place that He wanted him to be. And because he had this influence on the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, the Lord could use him. That was the big door that Brother Branham had left open to him for his ministry: the Christian businessmen.
The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International
The FGBMFI has really changed. Dad became a part of it in the early 50’s, and remained until about ten years after Brother Branham’s passing. He was the International Secretary/Treasurer and President of the Phoenix chapter.
In a lot of ways Dad was real spiritual and showed great discernment, and in some ways he just wasn’t spiritual at all. What he believed, he would stand and fight for until it took him down. That’s the thing that made the relationship between him and Brother Branham so good. He loved Brother Branham, and he loved the Message too. He told Brother Branham one day, “I believe everything you say, but I sure don’t understand it.” He replied, “That’s all right Brother Carl. You just believe it; someday you’ll understand it.”
Discernment & healing
I remember one of the first times we went to hear Brother Branham preach. I wasn’t a Christian and my wife wasn’t either. He was preaching in Madison Square Garden in Phoenix, and he pointed my cousin out. He said “There is a little lady out there in a red dress, sitting on the bleachers, and she’s got a problem with her back. She doesn’t know what the problem is but it’s a kidney problem.” It was my cousin, and that was the truth, that’s what it was.
That night he made a statement that I’ll never forget. It was the fist time I had ever heard him say that even if he died and was sent to a sinner’s hell, he’d serve the Lord just the same because He’d been so good to him. I told my wife, Helen, that night, “I’ve been to a lot of churches and a lot of services, but there is something there you’re not going to find any place else. That man is not serving God because he’s scared to go to hell. He’s serving Him out of love.”
In 1961, Dad bought tickets for my wife and I to go to Miami Beach, Florida to a FGBMFI convention. Brother Branham wasn’t at that convention but I believe that Congressman Upshaw was one of the speakers. I found myself there in the middle of about 3,000 businessmen and all they could talk about was how good the Lord was. That got to me. I thought maybe that was something I should have. As a result, I gave my heart to the Lord. Helen did too. We had quite an experience with the Lord down there, and that changed our lives.
My folks had an extensive library of sermons by evangelists and preachers on reel-to-reel tapes. Dad had a big tape recorder that he loaned to us, and I had some time off from my well-drilling work, so I got to listening to these tapes. Some were Oral Roberts, Tommy Osborn, Tommy Hicks, and Brother Branham. Then, it got to where all I’d take home were Brother Branham’s tapes. We got to telling people what we were hearing on there. My dad told me one day, “You’re liable to get spiritual indigestion. That’s pretty heavy preaching.” But there was something special in that voice and that message. We didn’t know a whole lot about even Christianity, but there was something there that really rang true.
Dad started having the Phoenix conventions in 1961, and from the beginning, Brother Branham was there to help him set it up. He was there every year through January, 1965, and would have been in 1966 if he hadn’t been in the accident.
We’ve always believed that the reason that convention was such a success was because of his involvement. It’s the only convention that the FGBMFI ever had that sent money back to the home office after the convention was over. The rest of the conventions had to be underwritten by the home office in order to put on the convention. Also, the Phoenix Convention drew the biggest crowd of any convention the FGBMFI had. It was a real blessing to the community and to the Bride of Christ as a whole.
The preachers came and supported the convention, but sometimes it was kind of tongue-in-cheek. I think they were afraid not to. There was just something about that Message and that messenger. He didn’t command respect himself, per se, but the life that he lived and the Message he preached commanded respect. A person, if they feared God, they had to respect it.
Most all of the board members of the FGBMFI differed with Brother Branham on his doctrine, but I never found one of them that would or could ever put a finger on his life. They had more respect than that. They knew that the life he lived was above reproach and they had to respect that.
A lof of the messages that we have today were preached in Phoenix. Brother Branham would come to Phoenix ten days before the starting of that convention and speak at different churches around the valley before the convention started. Then he spoke at least twice during the convention, once on Saturday morning for the breakfast, then Sunday afternoon he always had a service. He never interfered with the regular church services, he just wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t let them put him on the program for their regular church services. Saturday was always an overflow crowd at breakfast meetings. Then on Sunday afternoon there were big crowds too.
Brother Branham had a lot of patience with the FGBMFI. At one point, some of the members of the board of directors said they were going to have to get rid of him because he was running off their women folk. They were getting upset about him preaching about their dress and makeup. One morning, he was preaching, talking about the dress and makeup, and there was a lady there from Lubbock, Texas, and she raised up right in the middle of the auditorium, waving her hands and screaming, pretty much hysterical. She went out the side door of the auditorium. Brother Branham didn’t change his manner of speaking or anything, he just bowed his head and said, “Lord, the sister’s confused. I just pray that you’ll send Your Holy Spirit out there to her and bring her back.” A few minutes later, here she came back into the auditorium and sat down as calm as you please. I thought to myself, “What kind of authority does that little man have?” It was really phenomenal.
Another time, the members of the FGBMFI board got together – enough of them that they figured they could pass a vote – and they proposed that the same convention couldn’t have the same speaker over two years in a row. I wasn’t there, but Dad was and he knew pretty well what was up. He told them, “I know what you’re up to. You don’t want William Branham back at the Phoenix convention anymore. But I want you to understand something. If you take Brother Branham out of the Phoenix convention, then I’m gone too. I won’t be here. You can have it.”
He had a little bit of pull, because he was the International Secretary/Treasurer and he’d gotten them pretty well out of debt, so they did respect his opinion. He said, “I want to ask you all a question. Is there anybody here that will tell me that William Branham is not a prophet?” Nobody said anything. He said, “Ok, I’ll ask you another question, Is there another prophet in the land?” Nobody said anything. He said, “Well, it looks to me like if you all are supposedly spiritual leaders, (this board of directors), and there is only one prophet in the land, I think you ought to hear him at least once a year!”
When they took the vote, they killed that proposal. One of the interesting sidelines is that Brother Branham was clear on the other side of the country when this happened. The next time he saw my dad, he put his hand on his shoulder and said “Brother Carl, I sure appreciate the stand you took for me the other day in that meeting.” He knew what was going on.
Coming for the word
After I became a Christian, I noticed in the meetings, when I was helping Dad with the conventions, there were two groups of people that came in. There was a multitude of people that came in to see the miracles and loved to see the discernment and healing. Then there was another group of people, which was really a minority but you could pick them out. They weren’t there for all the emotion; they were there to hear what he said. They just latched onto every word. I appreciated them so much, and it encouraged me. I thought, “There is something here or those people wouldn’t be so sincere about it.” It didn’t come on me overnight; it wasn’t cataclysmic.
One Saturday morning when Brother Branham was preaching at the Ramada Inn, Mom went by a mental institution to pick up a friend of hers that was in there because she’d had a nervous problem. She brought her to the meeting and wanted to get her prayed for. When she got there, the auditorium was full, but Mom knew her way around the Ramada Inn. There was a narrow hallway along one side of the auditorium, so she got a couple of chairs and just got in the hallway, outside the auditorium, where they could hear what Brother Branham was saying. She thought that maybe when the service was over she’d be able to get the lady prayed for.
Brother Branham finished his message and he was calling out the people and discerning their ailments. He pointed to that wall and said, “Sister Williams, you’re sitting right outside that wall with a lady that you got out of an institution this morning and brought her down here to be prayed for. The Lord has healed her.” Mom took the lady back to the place with no apparent change, but about a month later Mom got word that she was completely well.
Choosing of a Bride
I remember the night Brother Branham preached Choosing of a Bride in Los Angeles. He’d been down to the Embassy auditorium before the convention, and he preached several services down there. Then he went up to the Biltmore and preached two or three times there. Then that night, and you know the anointing that was on him that night, it had to take something out of him to get up and preach like he did to those people.
You don’t realize it just by listening to the tape, but there was pretty near a steady stream of people going out the back door and shaking their heads while he was preaching. For a man to stand there and keep laying that Word out there and delivering that message, well, it just takes a special man with special determination, a special vessel to do that. Brother Billy came around to me in the auditorium during the service and asked me if I’d help him get his daddy out to the car at the end of the service. I was real happy to do that.
Brother Billy Paul took him off the platform, and he got him by one arm and I got him by the other. Brother Branham’s head was just tipped back, like a man that was out on his feet. He wasn’t dragging his feet, but just like he was in another dimension. He turned to Brother Billy Paul and said, “Paul what did I tell those people: I didn’t come here to be mean to them.” Brother Billy Paul said, “That’s all right, you didn’t say anything back to them. You weren’t mean to them.”
It was half-a-block down to the station wagon they were driving. We put him in the car and I closed the door. Brother Billy Paul got in to drive and Brother Branham rolled his window down and said, “Brother Earl, you tell Demos to tell those people in there that they’d better repent.” When I went back, the auditorium was just full of people down on their knees. A lot of people had left while he was preaching. They just couldn’t handle that message being so stern.
The thing that got me was the reason he was there in the first place. He wasn’t scheduled to preach that night. He had been scheduled to preach that morning, or the day before, and he fulfilled that schedule. But when he got through, the people started leaving the convention. So the businessmen got together and thought they had to do something or they’d lose their crowd. They decided that if they’d keep Brother Branham for this night, they could keep the crowd here, so they went and asked him if he’d preach that night. He very graciously consented to do it. And that’s when he preached Choosing of a Bride.
That was what impressed me so much about Brother Branham. He was so humble in everything he did, and he never pushed himself forward.
Once I asked him, “Brother Branham, about these fossils and things they find in rocks. I’ve had Pentecostal people tell me that they were just put there by the devil to deceive people.” He said, “Yeah, I know they say things like that. But they are a form of life and they were here, we just don’t know when. The Scripture says that God made the heaven and the earth; then, there was a period there after that verse in Genesis and we don’t know what happened between then and when history started to be recorded. So they were here.” I appreciated hearing that, because I had studied geology and I know that geologists had a lot more questions than they did answers about certain things.
I just believe that it was more than a Message that was preached, it was a Message that has been lived before us. It is proof that God can live in a man’s heart. Not that we can all be prophets, but by the Lord being the key in our lives, in whatever way He sees fit. We must just yield to Him.
Above interview provided courtesy of Angel Smith from her book Generations.