February 24, 2009

Visiting Voice of God Headquarters

Front SignI recently had the opportunity to tour the international headquarters of William Branham Ministries (also known as Voice of God Recordings, or VGR). While most Americans have never heard of William Marrion Branham (1909–1965), the message of this American “prophet” is rapidly spreading throughout the world. And given his cult’s special focus on Africa, it cannot be ignored.

Who was William Branham? His followers believe that he was God’s unique end-time prophet sent to prepare the church for Christ’s return. Branham is considered the promised Elijah to the Gentiles (Mal. 4:5), the “angel of the Laodicean church” (Rev. 3:14), and the mighty angel with the rainbow on his head (Rev. 10:1). Branham fiercely denied the Trinity and taught that Christians need to become part of “the Bride” (i.e., those who follow his teachings). Branham’s messages are seen as Scripture, and the printed books and booklets include verse numbers for easy reference. His ministry is the key to being ready for the Second Coming, so his followers zealously seek to spread his message as widely as possible in these last days.

Printing WarehouseEverybody at Branham headquarters was very friendly and open about their ministry, and I was surprised to see how involved they are internationally. My tour guide proudly gave the following statistics:
  • 65 offices around the world (with 5 offices in South Africa alone!)
  • Active in 177 countries
  • Printed materials in 77 languages
  • Audio translations in 40 languages
VGR’s outreach efforts are focused and aggressive. Their immense printing warehouse can produce 64,000 32-page Branham booklets per hour. VGR also has high-tech audio editing and duplication capabilities. A worker in their audio department told me that they can average 2,000 cassettes a day between their two main machines. Since I know a little about how difficult it would be to translate and record audio messages into other languages, I was shocked to learn that they’re also currently translating about five of Branham’s messages a week.

Branham's DeskTheir hard work is paying off. My tour guide estimated that VGR produced and shipped ten million booklets last year alone. They can deliver an oceangoing container filled with material to South Africa in just four weeks (less time than they can get material to parts of Europe!). Branham is estimated to have followers numbering in the hundreds of thousands in Uganda alone, yet most evangelical Christians I ask have no idea who he was.

My tour was eye opening and sobering. I left more certain than ever of how important it is for us to counter Branham’s false message with the true gospel of Jesus Christ!

Next week I plan to share more of my reflections. Until then, be sure to join the new ACFAR cause on Facebook. I just uploaded a photo album of my visit, so you can see many more photos of my time at VGR headquarters.