William Branham is a man known for many things. In Charismatic Christianity he is known as “the father of modern faith healers”1 and the “principle architect of restorationist thought”.2 In mid-century Pentecostalism he was known as the “prophet to our generation“.3 Who is William Branham?
Bro. Branham was born in 1909 near Burkesville, Kentucky. When still a boy his family moved to southern Indiana near Jeffersonville where he grew up. He set out on his own at age 19 and moved to Arizona where he worked on a ranch. He returned to Indiana after hearing of his brother’s death in 1929 to attend his funeral. Shortly after that he was converted to Christianity and began attending the First Pentecostal Baptist Church of Jeffersonville where he was soon ordained as a minister and took part in church leadership. The church burnt down in his second year of attendance, and by 1933 the congregation was able to purchase a tent to hold meetings in, and subsequently constructed the Branham Tabernacle building.
Georgia Carter, a young woman in nearby Milltown, Indiana, had been sick and dying of tuberculosis and was given up to die by the doctors. After being prayed over by Bro. Branham in 1941, she miraculously recovered. Stories of the healing were carried among Pentecostal circles in the Midwestern United States. In 1945 an extraordinary event launched Bro. Branham to national fame. Upon hearing the Georgia Carter story, a prominent minister in St. Louis invited Bro. Branham to come pray for his own sick daughter. Bro. Branham did so, and the young girl also recovered. In June 1946, Bro. Branham was invited by the same Pentecostal minister to hold a revival meeting in St. Louis and to pray for the sick. The revival meeting ended with numerous reports of additional miracles and healings further spreading his fame. Bro. Branham soon began receiving invitations from minister all around the region to minister at their churches and hold revivals. By August 1946, he was drawing crowds of 25,000 to his meetings and the reports of miracles continued unabated.
This was the beginning of the great healing revival that would go on to sweep the world. Bro. Branham’s fame spread far and wide and he began to campaign internationally across Europe, Africa, India, and North America. Bro. Branham drew large crowds around the world, from 70,000 attendees at his Vancouver, Canada meetings to 200,000 at his Durban, South Africa meetings. At the time, his meetings were the largest religious events to occur in many of the cities he campaigned in.
His evangelical team included Gordan Lindsay, founder of Christ for the Nations, Ern Baxter, and the preeminent Pentecostal minister F. F. Bosworth. By 1948, other ministers began to join the cause and launch their own campaigns. The most prominent evangelists to join the revival were Oral Roberts and A. A. Allen. Dozens of lesser known ministers also joined. By 1956, the peak year of the revival, 69 evangelists were holding campaigns. During these years, Bro. Branham was viewed as the leader of the movement and was the most prominent minister in the Pentecostal world. The miracles ascribed to his ministry caused him to be almost universally viewed by Pentecostals as a “prophet to the generation.”
From 1956, the revival period began to wane. The Pentecostal denominations began to withdraw financial support which prevented most of the evangelists from being able to secure venues for their meetings. This was a transitional time when most of the revival’s evangelists began to use more economical means to reach their audiences by using radio and television to broadcast their message. Bro. Branham did not go on to take part in the television or radio ministries like Oral Roberts and others did. Instead he continued his in-person campaigning, though preaching to much smaller crowds. He also began focusing on doctrinal teachings instead of miracles and healings.
Bro. Branham viewed the teaching ministry of his later life as his greatest achievement and continued to travel and teach diligently. A fellowship of dozens of churches and several thousands followers formed the core of what was the start of the Branham movement.
While traveling home from meetings in December 1965, Bro. Branham’s automobile was hit by a drunk driver. Tragically, he died from the injuries he sustained. While he passed on to his reward, he left behind him a wealth of teachings and scriptural insights. The men who followed him in his teachings then defined the next chapter of this story.
Find out more
We have a collection of articles to help you learn more about Bro. Branham including
- Vindication of Bro. Branham’s prophetic gift
- Verification of miracles that occurred in his ministry
- Discover the core teaching of Bro. Branham’s message
- Sheryl, J. Greg (2013). “The Legend of William Branham” (PDF). The Quarterly Journal. Personal Freedom Outreach. 33 (3). ISSN 1083-6853.
- Moriarty, Michael (1992). The New Charismatics. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-53431-0.
- Harrell, David (1978). All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-525-24136-1.