Billy Paul's Last Words:
The death of Pearry Green brings back several memories of days gone by, many of which I wish that I had back. When I think of all the many times we sat under the message ministers that Branham appointed into elite positions within the doomsday cult, my heart breaks for the children that are being raised under this bondage. Like us, they did not choose to be bound under spiritual abuse. They were not given a choice between the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is explained in the Bible and Branham's version of "gospel" that he gathered from other cult leaders such as Charles Taze Russell, John Alexander Dowie, and Joseph Smith. Many of them will never learn of the New Covenant of Grace, understand the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, or even enjoy reading scripture in full context of the author's intent.
I look around at the many elders in this religious system, those who are old enough to have known Branham personally. Only a handful remain, and their days on this earth are numbered. Some of them struggle with mental faculties, as was evident with Fred Sothmann in his video proclaiming to the world that William Branham was really Jesus Christ in the flesh. But all of them have a story to tell.
Those who are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have been close to the men I consider to be "cult royalty" grew up hearing numerous tales of the life and times of William Branham. While "normal" children enjoyed sitting around the fireplace listening to stories from yesteryear by those who lived life to the fullest, these children gathered around to listen as Branham's appointed advertised for Voice of God Recordings. Hunting and fishing stories with a supernatural twist, predictions and prophecies that were so "special" one could never find them on any recording, and useless facts that were special only because they involved the Branham family were repeated often with enthusiasm. Like a primitive people letting their peers catch a glimpse of their shiny rock, these elders had something the others did not have: moments with "the prophet."
But each one of them has a collection of "prophecies" that are of personal nature. They were only meant for their own special insight into the future and not to be shared with others. When William Branham died, those constraints were loosened -- these insights were shared with others in testimonial meetings and speeches in homes, rented buildings, and from behind pulpits. The younger crowd in the following would listen in amazement as they heard Branham's special instructions for them when "that time came," and appears to have given them each a different set of details by which that time would be known.
I sit in amazement as these elders die without these "prophecies" fulfilled, wondering how the "visions" of their life on earth before the rapture can be explained when they are gone? How the man in the wheelchair can die before he "says the right thing and walks again," or how the pilot can die before his plane "carries Branham's tent around the world." One by one, as these that were lifted up larger than life are brought back down to six feet under, their immortalized stories become very mortal and flawed.
Too often, these very physical predictions are transferred into the spiritual realm, as George Smith did with Branham's being in Houston, Texas when the "Mystery Cloud" floated over northern Arizona. When events can no longer be explained naturally, they quickly morph into metaphorical or symbolical prophecy.
When I watch another cult giant fall, I always begin pondering the strategy that will be used when Billy Paul Branham passes. The entire cult remembers the book that Pearry Green published entitled "Acts of the Prophet." And many my age were over-zealous followers of Billy Paul, traveling all around the country to hear his many testimonies confirming Green's description of Branham's "special prophecy" for his own son. Pearry Green describes the conversation as this:
"he [William Branham] turned to his son and said, "Billy, where are you standing?"
"Downtown Los Angeles," Billy Paul replied.
"Where are you standing?" Queried the prophet.
"In front of the May Company, downtown Los Angeles," replied Billy.
At this Brother Branham made a prophetic statement:
"Billy" he said, "I may not be here, but you won't be an old man until sharks will swim right where we are standing."
- Green, Acts of the Prophet, Page 119 (1993 version)
All are aware of Billy Paul's age, and very few can convince themselves that he is not an old man. The crowd that are trained to "say what the tapes say" recall William Branham calling himself an "old man" in 1957 at age 48 (or 49, depending upon which birthdate Branham claimed at the time).
"I'm an old man now. So many things has been done. I've seen the blessedness of God and how He's done great works, and healing the sick, and saving the lost, and calling back the backsliders, bringing brethren together and taking away their differences. I just love to be in that type meeting."
- Branham, 57-0516 - We Would See Jesus
Billy Paul is 80 years old this year, far beyond Branham's old man of 48. Within a few short years, he could actually "die of old age," medically speaking and breaking Branham's special prophecy. How will this play out? What will they say?
I can picture many spiritualizing his "old man" prophecy, claiming that Branham did not mean "until," but instead saw a vision of Billy Paul in his new body. Others, who realize that a new body in downtown Los Angeles would be in disagreement with Branham's prophecies of destruction might spiritualize it, claiming that "Billy Paul's spiritual knowledge is still that of a teenager." Maybe Branham was looking into George Smith's dimension when he saw a young, spiritual, Billy Paul!
I lean more towards thinking that Voice of God Recordings will wait until after the passing to claim that Billy Paul himself peered into the other side as he fades away. A well-embellished tale of Billy Paul talking to himself as he is slipping beyond the curtain of time, exclaiming, "Look at myself! I'm young again! And what's that? The water's rising! I see sharks swimming right were I stood so many years ago!"