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Our Stories - Sheep Without a Shepherd

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Our Stories - Sheep Without a Shepherd:

My family was one of those unfortunate enough to live a long distance from a "Message" church. There were other Apostolic churches in the small town we lived, but none who believed the teachings of William Branham to be the supreme authority for our lifestyle and doctrine. I remember being shocked the first time I encountered another Pentecostal family who had some of Brother Branham's tapes. How anybody could hear his voice and not drive hundreds of miles like we did every Sunday was beyond me. I often thought they must be "naked, blind, and don't know it" like Brother Branham often said of those who did not accept him as their "prophet".

The "Message" church we attended believed every word Brother Branham spoke came directly from Almighty God. When the pastor preached, he quoted brother Branham just as much or more than he quoted the Bible. He'd often hold up the Bible and point to it when describing what it said. Just as often, he'd hold up a "Spoken Word" book and point to it as he described what Brother Branham said. I never realized until after I decided that I was going to leave the "Message" how much of the sermons we listened to came from Brother Branham instead of the Bible.

Our church was one that invited ministers from all around to visit and speak. Our pastor would welcome them with his full support, let them use his pulpit, and we'd have potluck dinner after. This was very exciting as a child. We planned all sorts of activities for these times and looked forward to each and every one of them.

The next Sunday was what I liked to call the "sermon about the sermon." The pastor would open his speech with a quote from either Brother Branham or the Bible, and then preach a normal sermon like any other Sunday. While doing so, he'd pause here and there to reflect on what he disagreed with in the sermon by the speaker the last Sunday to make sure that his congregation wasn't misled. This didn't sit well with my family, and eventually, my parents stopped coming to the events -- much to my dismay. When I was old enough to drive myself the distance, I attended without them. Over time, my parents began to feel like the group was "sheep without a shepherd", simply because the pastor kept inviting other ministers with theology they disagreed with.

Later in life, I placed much more value on the speaking than I did the activities, and gradually began to feel much the same about these traveling ministers as my parents felt. I began to notice that many of their differences had little to do with the Bible. Most of the "sermons about the sermon" was a disagreement on how the pastor interpreted what Brother Branham said. Logically speaking, if Brother Branham's words came from Almighty God, then Brother Branham was our "shepherd" -- not our pastor. And if the pastor was inviting other ministers to speak who were not in agreement with what Brother Branham said, the pastor was allowing wolves into the sheepfold.

My opinion on those traveling ministers changed when I left the "message". When I realized that Brother Branham was not consistent in what he taught and that he often contradicted himself or the Bible on the tapes, it was hard to fault the ministers for agreeing with Brother Branham. Even if they disagreed with our pastor, they were saying just what the tapes said. If anything, our own pastor was at fault for not knowing what the tapes said and making us think that Brother Branham consistently preached his way of thinking. Our church was still "sheep without a shepherd", but so was our pastor and the traveling ministers of the "Message". Their "shepherd" died when Brother Branham died.

I haven't been back to that church for many, many years. I feel really sad for those people, still sheep without a shepherd. They don't realize that there's no need to hold up two books, the "Spoken Word" and the Bible. If what Brother Branham said matched the Bible, there'd only be need to hold up the Bible. Since it doesn't in many places, they could also just hold up the "Spoken Word" books. I think a lot of "Message" pastors don't only because they realize they'd no longer be considered a "Christian" church. If not for the appearance of looking like "Christians", they'd rather just preach from the "Spoken Word".

Over the years I've come to learn that it wouldn't make much difference trying to help them see what they are doing. Like a friend of mine used to say, "sometimes it takes removing the fence to see that the grass is the same on both sides." Until they realize the problem with the "Shepherd", they will never see that the traveling ministers are also saying what Brother Branham said.

- A Former "Message" Believer