William Branham often mentioned the converted Mexican General that made his meetings in Old Mexico possible.
The first time this general is mentioned is in 1956. There were supposedly 400 churches involved, and they were expecting a hundred thousand at that meeting.
Branham claimed that this was the first time in history that Protestants were welcomed in Mexico, but this general of the Mexican army was born again with the Holy Ghost. The general supposedly claimed to have used his clout with the "Governor" of Mexico to grant them clearance with military protection.
Though the name of the "general" giving by WMB changes a few times, and none of the names can be found in the list of Mexican generals. Worse, most of the claims made in the ever-changing story do not seem to be factual.
And then on the sixteenth we begin in Old Mexico, Mexico City, Old Mexico. Mr. Arganbright just called me, and they secured the big bull arena there, that has a seating capacity of sixty-thousand. And there's four hundred churches cooperating, already signed up. We're expecting a hundred thousand at the meeting. And it's the first time this--we have something to praise God for, the first time in the history of Mexico, that the government has ever welcomed a Protestant in and give us a place to come, the first time in the history of Mexico a Protestant ever been welcome.
And General...?... is a General of the Mexican Army has just been borned again and received the Holy Ghost. And by his courtesy to the Governor of Mexico, gives us the government rights to go in with the militia protection. And--and we're--I've got the big bull arena; that's the biggest thing there is in all Mexico; it seats sixty-thousand round like this, besides the--the room where they do the fighting at, you know, in there. And we got it for ten straight nights now without any interruption, right straight through for ten straight nights. Be praying for me. I just feel the--hear the sound of abundance of rain down there. I just... The Mexican people are very simple, humble believers, and once convinced... They're Catholic, and once convinced that a truth is the truth, then that settles it for all.
In 1956, the picture painted about this mostly Catholic country is not an accurate one. And William Branham was not the first Protestant welcome in Mexico.
Presbyterians were the first Protestants to begin work in Mexico, starting in 1872. There was a time when Protestants were not welcome in Mexico, but that time was almost a hundred years before 1956. In 1857 that changed.
Until 1857, all forms of religion except Roman Catholicism were forbidden in Mexico. Liberal leader Benito Juarez passed legislation permitting freedom of worship, and started encouraging development of evangelical (Protestant) churches.
In 1872, the General Assembly voted to establish a formal mission in Mexico, building upon the work of these earlier leaders. The Board appointed the Reverend and Mrs. Henry C. Thomson, the Reverend and Mrs. Maxwell Phillips, the Reverend Paul Henry Pitkin, the Reverend and Mrs. Merrill N. Hutchinson and Miss Ellen P. Allen as its first missionaries.
Presbyterians were not the only presence in Mexico, Methodists had also grown in number. A young group of men called the "Brothers Ten" studied at the Methodist Seminary in Mexico City from 1946 through 1956, and went throughout Mexico establishing Methodist churches.
The only thing really unique to Mexico in 1956 was the arrival of Samuel Aun Weor to Mexico City. In 1956, Weor moved from Columbia to settle down in Mexico City and spread his secret religion of Gnosticism, which was considered heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. Though there is no solid connection to Weor and Branham's meeting in Mexico City, there is a strange and eerie connection between Weor, Branham, and Jim Jones.
In Branham's first mention of this Mexico City trip, he describes the meeting plans of Mexico City along with his meetings at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis, IN. The two campaigns supposedly had no connection whatsoever, yet WMB links them in the same campaign plan.
Branham and Weor believed that the end was 1977. Weor even mentions this fact in his book entitled The Three Mountains, in a chapter entitled "The Resurrection" In 1977, Branham had already died, Weor died that year, and it evidently spooked Jim Jones. He took his congregation to South America and took the lives of his entire congregation. Jones was also known for frequenting Mexico City, the location of Weor's following.
Notice, in the second retelling of the story with the general, a planned meeting turns into a vision.
I come back home. Well, I went out to pray. Many people were there, and Brother Arganbright come up from down in there, and he said, "Brother Branham, here's the General Valdena and many of the Mexican government, and the first time in all the world's history, or the history of Mexico that ever a Protestant was invited in by the--by the government." And said, "You must come."
And so I said, "Let me pray first." I went back out to the woods and I prayed. And the next morning before daylight, the Lord came to me, give a vision. And said, "Go on back down to Mexico; I'll be with you."
He does admit that he was not the only one involved in the meeting, there were Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian sponsors that asked him to come:
And General Valdena, which is my friend that got me in by the Mexican government as a non-Catholic to come and have the meeting, and so he's invited me back again in the churches. My sponsorship there was Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and so forth like that, who brought me into the city.
"Ten straight nights" quickly becomes one single night, which makes it clear that WMB was not the only speaker at this event. It had been planned, organized, and approved beforehand.
Down in Mexico City last year, when General Valdena--the Ge... Many of you brethren (I guess) know General Valdena the--one of the outstanding generals in the Mexican army. I had the privilege of being the first Protestant ever invited to Mexico City to pray for the sick people or have a meeting, by the Mexican army; and that was through General Valdena. I just met him the other day at the convention, the Full Gospel Businessmen, shook hands with him. "Try and come back again."
We was only there three night. I'd went to the bull ring, but we didn't get that. So they had a great big place out there in the field--a big--another big arena like. And the people... Now, talk about wanting Christ, they come there at nine o'clock in the morning, no place to set down, and I didn't even arrive till nine at night. They'd just lean against one another, like sheep standing in a field.
It's interesting that WMB claims that his background is Catholic, when we've already found that he was from a Baptist and Methodist background. He starts building "General" Medina up as a great and mighty military man, placing him as a focal point to the story of his barely getting into Mexico:
Now, we find that in this virgin birth, many of the people... You precious Catholic people... My background's Catholic too, you know. So we find out that today you take Mary and make her a goddess, an intercessor.
Brother Valdena, here somewhere on the platform, I believe, was down in Mexico. General Medina, Medina. He was here the other night. Put his arms around me, and spoke through his interpreter, and said, "Brother Branham, I admire your courage to stand on your convictions." Said, "Stay with it, son." He's a man, military man; he knows what it means to give an order, and stand out there on the front line, "You stay at your post." That's what God wants His soldiers to do: stand at the post of duty regardless of what comes or goes. Stay there. Stay right there. So he said...
In 1962, the story really starts to change. It becomes a good vs. evil story, with all odds against him. He ties "poor and illiterate" to these people attending the meetings in the story.
Listen. I was in Mexico about four years ago, and they told us we could have the bull ring. General Valdena had brought me down, first American non-Catholic that had ever been brought down. When the bishop of the Catholic church went up before the president, and said, "Your honor, sir, this man is coming in here non-Catholic," and said, "he gets government support, from General Valdena, military support." Said, "Our nation doesn't stand for that."
And so the president said back. He said, "The man's a reputable man."
Said, "Oh, he's--he's just a renegade."
Said, "I don't think tens of thousands of people would go out to hear a renegade."
And he said--he said, "But you see, sir," the bishop said to the president, "you see, sir, only the poor and illiterate is the only thing that goes to hear him."
He said, "You've had them for five hundred years. Why are they poor and illiterate?" That was a good question.
He then increases the story, telling the congregation that he gained entrance by military force. The Catholic bishop protested, but their "ignorance" was again the reason WMB was allowed in.
Reminds me of a little story we had down in Mexico, where the Christian Business Men's "Voice" had an article of it here not long ago. We went down there and the... General Valdena was the one who had me down there. And so they got in a little trouble about the Mexican government bringing in a Protestant, and so--by this military force. And so the bishop went over and said, "Sir," said, "you know this man's not a Catholic?"
He said, "No," but said, "I guess he's a reputable person. Thousands come to hear him preach, they say."
He said, "Oh, it's just the ignorant and unlearned that goes out to hear a person like that."
Said, "You've had them down here for five hundred years. Why are they ignorant and unlearned?"
Guess that was a good shut-up. So they let us have a place out there, and thousands gathered in. And I was to be there about three nights. One night on the platform, I looked, and here come a poor old Mexican brother, blind as he could be, his feet bare and calloused all over, his old hat in his hand, sewed with cords, his trouser legs tore off up there. I looked at him, dusty all over. He was coming along there holding his hat in his hand. He was mumbling off something to the man that was bringing him. When he got close to me, he reached down in his pocket and got out a little crucifix and begin to--to say a "Hail, Mary." I had him to put it up.
Again, the good vs. evil story later that year:
Here not long ago I was down in Mexico (closing). We was having a great meeting. General Valdena, many of you know him, that great Mexican general, he went to the governor, got permission for me to come in. And the bishop in Rome, or Roman bishop, Catholic bishop, went to him and said, "Sir, this man coming in is not a Catholic." He said, "Our government shouldn't permit such as that."
"Oh," the bishop said, "General Valdena is bringing him in. I guess he's a reputable person. He... They say he has great crowds of people and so forth."
"Oh," he said, "nothing goes out to hear them things such as that but the ignorant and unlearned."
The gov--the president said to him, said, "Sir, you've had them for five hundred years. Why are they ignorant and unlearned?" Said, "As far as I'm concerned, he can come."
Then, he adds the fear in the tone of voice from the bishop, fear that WMB would bring thousands of people out of Catholicism.
Here not long ago down in Mexico (And I'm closing.), we was having a meeting there, and I had a great thing. It's a great Catholic country, and all of you, pretty near, you ministers know General Valdena. He--he was the one taking me in.
The government... The bishop of the Catholic church went up, told the president, said, "Well, you're bringing a Ca--a non-Catholic in here."
He said, "Well," said, "General Valdena says it's a reputable person."
Said, "Well," said, "there isn't nothing like that in here." Said, "You... We can't do that."
He said, "Why," he said, "they tell me that thousands of people come out to his meetings," the president said.
He said, "Well, nothing goes out there but just the ignorant and unlearned."
He said, "You've had them five hundred years. Why are they ignorant and unlearned?" Guess that would crop off the feathers. See?
He continues the same story a few times, and then adds ropes and a ring to the story, showing how difficult it was for a Protestant to gain entrance in a Catholic country. What is interesting is that between 1962 and 1963, the general's name changed.
And General Valdivia taken me in. I guess you knowed of him, he is one of the Christian businessmen. And first protestant ever taken in under the government protection. General Valdivia in Mexico, so then I was...
262 That night I got in, they let me down on some ropes, back out the back of the ring. I come down into it like this, by ropes, from back off of a car. And while I got down into the ring, I walked over there. And Billy come to me, my son, he said, "There is a fellow there been giving out prayer cards." I call him MaÃ±ana, that means "tomorrow," he was so slow, and he never would come get me. So he would give out the prayer cards.
The story grows more as WMB starts believing that "Elijah of the last day will come as the Lord Jesus Christ". He healed the sick and the blind, and the audience just wanted to "touch the hem of his garment."
When I look at this, it reminds me of down in Mexico here, a few years ago in Mexico City. We were there one night, there had been a blind man, the night before, come on the platform, totally blind for many years. I looked at his feet. I was standing there with a good suit on, pair of shoes. I looked at his. He was blind, no shoes on, ragged trousers, standing out there in that rain. Oh, maybe thirty thousand, or more, standing there in that rain, leaning against one another, no seats; been there since early that morning, just waiting to get there that night. And there had been this blind man, had received his sight.
9 And the next night, much, about twice the size of this bench here, whatever we'd call it, but just on the platform, was just ricks almost as high as what that curtain hangs, of just old shawls and coats, and that the people had wore and thrown up there. "Just that we might touch it!"
Most all were Catholic, of course, there in Mexico City.
10 And I got in, being the first Protestant ever come in under military invitation. That was from General Valdivia, our good friend here, Full Gospel Business Men.
Last, he takes away the seats of the bull ring, and has the audience standing in the hot sun and rain for multiple days:
I was in Mexico City about three years ago. How many knows Brother Espinoza, you Spanish people here? Well, I guess many of you. He was my interpreter. We was down there in Mexico City. I was, far as they know, the only Protestant ever come in there, sponsored by the government. But General Valdivia, you remember him, his is one of the Christian Business Men, had received, been saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, and he had got through the government and got me in.
145 And so we got another big ring out there. It seated several thousand people; didn't seat nothing, they had to stand up. And you--you think about having to stand here for two or three hours in this room, them people stood in that hot blazing desert sun, there from nine o'clock at morning, till nine that night, day after day. And, one night, pouring down rain, they stood there; and them young Mexican women, the hair hanging down their face, and it raining so hard I couldn't see halfway across the audience. Didn't make any difference to them; they was holding onto that Word of Life.
The question is, since there is no record of this general "Medina" "Valdena" or "Valdivia" being in the Mexican army, who was he? Was this man Samuel Aun Weor, who had a similar Gnostic faith? Did WMB tell Weor about the 1977 date, or did Weor teach WMB about his 1977 vision? Was Jim Jones also involved in the Mexico City meetings?
EDIT: updated for accuracy.