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Our Stories - Ruth Collins

Seek The Truth Blog

Our Stories - Ruth Collins:

The first in our "Our Stories" series comes from someone I know well and love dearly. My aunt, Ruth Collins, is the daughter of former pastor of the Branham Tabernacle, the late Rev. G. Willard Collins.

Aunt Ruth holds a very special place in the hearts of many people, both inside William Branham's "Message" cult following and out. As a close friend to Sarah Branham, Aunt Ruth spent many hours with the Branham family. Many of those memories are special to her, and she has a gift for expressing both cherished and painful memories in such a way that is both unbiased and entertaining. Also under Branham's "blessing" to my grandfather, Ruth was told that as my grandfather's child, she would be saved. It came as a shock to many when she was excommunicated from the "Message".

When my wife and children left the "Message" in 2012, we were also excommunicated by most of our friends and family. Without much-needed support during what would be the most difficult time in my life, Aunt Ruth quickly came to our rescue. I can remember spending hours on the phone with her, venting my emotion and trying to make sense of what had just happened. Looking back, I'm amazed at her ability to talk me through it without bitterness or resentment. She deeply cares for the people still in the "Message", and though she had experienced a side of the group very few were aware existed, she was able to help me find perspective and focus. Since then, she has introduced us to new friends and family, reunited us with old friends and family, and helped inspire areas of research that I never would have considered.

Parts of the testimony she has shared with us today are some that I myself witnessed. I can count on one hand the number of times I was embarrassed to be a "Message" believer, and Ruth's banishment from her parent's wedding anniversary celebration was by far the time I felt it most. After watching the tremendous effort it took for her to make arrangements, contemplating how difficult it must be for her to return as the "prodigal daughter", and then watching my family hide her from other "Message" believers, it left a mark on my mind that I would never forget. Of all the social issues in the cult following that I experienced, this would be the one I would never forget.

I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did receiving it. She has a large collection of memories, each one as interesting and entertaining as this one. I understand that a book of memoirs may be in the works, and I am pre-ordering my copy today!

Here is her story:

My life was changed forever 19 Jun 1968, my eighteenth birthday, the day I received the package of paperwork from the University of Arizona and made the decision to accept a scholarship to attend the University of Arizona and join the Methodist Church. Dad always said: "God first and family second." When it came to family, Dad gave Mom priority and among the children he had his favorites. I always felt like I came in at the bottom of his list of priorities.

When I told Dad about my decision he angrily responded: "Out of the kitchen, out of place. Out of the church and out of the family. If you go that route, I'll help you pack up your things. It is your decision." I immediately responded: "I am going to the University of Arizona." Dad wasn't accustomed to being challenged, especially by one of his children and I sincerely believe that was the last thing he expected to happen. His decisions were always based upon what he believed The Bible and Bro. Branham had set forth as the pathway to Heaven and to question this was an unpardonable sin. That was the day we went our separate ways and I stepped out into an unfamiliar world with a great deal of trepidation.

The pain of separation from my family was great and it did not ease over the years. I was pleasantly surprised and envisioned a joyful reunion when I received a formal invitation to attend my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration. I immediately made arrangements for my daughter and myself to fly back to Indiana for the celebration. When the plane landed, I phoned Mom and Dad asking them to pick us up at the airport. They were taken completely off guard. Unbeknownst to either of us, the invitation had been mailed to me accidentally by someone helping them address the invitations who didn't realize we were estranged.

My presence at their 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration presented a big problem to Mom and Dad. During my absence, Dad had accepted the position as Pastor of the Branham Tabernacle, the original church founded by Bro. William Marrion Branham. As a Believer of the "Message" and pastor of a movement which had grown internationally by leaps and bounds, Mom and Dad lived under a microscope. They were subject to criticism and jeopardizing Dad's position as pastor if anything at all appeared in the slightest way to be in conflict with the "Message", causing them to be under tremendous pressure.

This was further complicated by the fact that during one of his sermons Bro. Branham prophesied: "Brother Collins. I've known him for a number of years--sweet precious Christian, a real man of God. He and his wife and family is all under the order of--God's order of the Bible." Dad had publicly announced his interpretation of this prophecy to mean that he, his wife and family would all make it to Heaven as they were all under the protection of God and Bro. Branham. He believed that Bro. Branham was the embodiment of Jesus Christ in the flesh and the words from Bro. Branham were the same as if God had said them, himself.

Bro. Branham had frequently taught that for a woman to make it to Heaven she could not cut her hair. He called women who cut their hair: "Jezebels, dogs of the earth." Mom and Dad had spent every minute of their lives doing their very best to live their lives exactly as Bro. Branham had instructed and never wavered. For twenty-seven years, I had been absent and most of his congregation weren't aware of my existence, much less the the fact that I had cut my hair. How was he going to explain my appearance to his congregation who would be attending the 50th Wedding Anniversary? There was no time to think it over and a quick decision had to be made.

Mom and Dad picked my daughter and I at the airport. With a grim and embarrassed expression on his face, Dad explained that the invitation had been accidently sent to me. He handed me the keys to Mom's car and instructed me to drive to Campbellsville, Kentucky and spend my time with Mom's family who were not Believers of the "Message". When I returned Mom's car, Dad and other members of my immediate family had a nice lunch at a restaurant in Louisville where I was able to meet the additions to our family so the trip was not a total loss.

Although I was unable to attend Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding Celebration, they did send me photographs.

Ruth Collins
Daughter of Former Pastor of the Branham Tabernacle, G. Willard Collins