March 2, 2009

Answering the Branham Challenge in Africa

Jesus’ warnings about false prophets in Matthew 7 are being played out all around us, and on a scale never seen before.

The question is, how will we respond?

Last week I gave you a glimpse of my recent visit to the international headquarters of William Branham Ministries (also known as Voice of God Recordings, or VGR). Today I want to offer a few more reflections on that unforgettable trip.

William Branham Ministries HeadquartersVGR headquarters draws a stream of Branham followers from all over the globe. On the day I went, a local member brought along a friend from Nebraska so she could see the facility firsthand. Just going through VGR with them was educational; I saw how intently they listened to the guide as he summarized the various stages of Branham’s life and gazed with wonder at the pictures and paraphernalia on display. As a former Mormon, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the exaggerated devotion many Latter-day Saints pay to their founding prophet, Joseph Smith.

Branham PulpitVGR displays (and actually uses) Branham’s original pulpit. His desk sits below a framed picture, along with sheets of his handwritten sermon notes. These and many other artifacts testify that, for his legions of devotees, Branham is much more than a gifted and anointed man; he’s God’s unique and final prophet, and one can be only be prepared for Christ’s return by believing and following his divisive “message.”

Something else stands out in my memory: Seeing racks and racks of Branham’s booklets in other languages on prominent display as I first entered. VGR prints in at least 16 indigenous African languages, plus some 60 others. Actually seeing row upon row of these booklets left a deep impression on me. These are the very booklets that are drawing men and women in towns and villages across Africa to another Jesus and a false gospel, booklets that spread Branham’s errors with little or no resistance from Christians equipped with God’s Word.

Branham Distribution CenterIt was deeply troubling to watch Branham’s disciples dispatch such vast quantities of false teaching from their distribution center. I watched in frustration as scores of pallets, filled with booklets, tapes, and other materials, were lined up and readied for shipment.

What can we do?

The answer is powerful, yet simple. ACFAR’s mission is to equip African Christians with tools and training so they can recognize and resist cultic groups like Branham’s—putting scriptural answers into the hands of thousands of pastors so they can warn their flocks. And the best part is that believers who know how to test the claims of false prophets like Branham can also lead his followers to a saving knowledge of the true Jesus.

You and I can answer the challenge of Branhamism—and we must.

Pray with me that God will bring the support we need to launch ACFAR in Uganda this year!