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The next story was sent to us from a family that we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time a couple years ago. She and her husband are some of the most genuine, sincere people we've met, and it is an honor to have such wonderful friends.

Her story is one that touches me, personally, after having overcome similar battles with depression and having lost family members to suicide who did not overcome. Shortly after the website started in 2012, we received mail from the first of many cult members who were struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Each time a person is brave enough to speak about it, several other members and former members become brave enough to get help. I cannot express enough how important it is for those who overcome and are able to support those who are struggling, and to direct them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). I also cannot express enough how thankful I am for people like Jennifer, who are willing to stand up in public as an example of one who did overcome.

Here is her story:


I grew up in the "Message". My parents joined it while living in Louisiana when I was around 5 years old and my younger brother was 3. They had a troubled marriage and I think they were looking for a deeper, spiritual life for themselves and together as a family. They were baptized shortly after joining, but as a child, I didn't see much change in my home life. Most of my childhood memories are of verbal and mental abuse from my father, some physical abuse (which was often endorsed by Message doctrine), with my mother shrinking back being the perfect submissive Message wife.

My dad stopped going to church after a while, and by the time I was 8, he left us to live with his girlfriend. With my mom not able to support the 3 of us, we moved to northern Arkansas to live temporarily with my grandparents until she could get a job. Thankfully, not only did my mom get a job there, but she decided to go to nursing school. It was probably a first for any church member to go to college where we attended, because by the time I decided to go to college 8 years later, I still got quite a bit of backlash from ‘friends' and their parents. Even then, my career choice was 3rd on my list, because I was told the first 2 wouldn't allow skirts as uniforms.

Fast forward 12 years, I had graduated college, moved to Ohio, and married my husband, Jeremy, who I had met through "Message" friends. The church we attended started seeing some significant changes to the tone of the ministry. Ironically, we originally prided ourselves for being a "Bible based" Message church. Some "Message" people even didn't think our church was "Message" enough. We followed the prophet because "he followed the Bible". Then, with the change of the Believe the Sign website, our pastor's sermons became completely fear based. Across the pulpit he tried to scare anyone away from visiting anti-"Message" websites. And of course, we should never question or doubt the prophet. We rarely heard anything else preached for the last year and a half or so we attended services there. Eventually, I saw doctrines not lining up with scripture or even William Branham's own words. As I started to study the prophet's sermons, a recurring theme appeared: he conveniently changed his beliefs from one sermon to the next depending of which church he was invited to preach in. How were we supposed to pick which version to believe and live by? We requested to meet with our pastor to discuss some questions we had as a couple, but he refused to for 3 months. He only wanted us to email him the questions we had. There was something obviously wrong! When he finally did meet with my husband and a few other men from the church, he had no answer for our questions except that when the prophet's words contradicted the Bible, his words should supersede scripture. We finally had the answer we were looking for and shortly afterwards left the "Message".

All non-Biblical doctrines and supernatural fabrications aside, the number one theme of William Branham's teachings that were personally destructive in my own life was his hatred towards women. While in the "Message", I believed the negative quotes about women were to protect us. Now I realize not a single one was scriptural (women require a man to make all decisions for her, no working outside of the home, men have the right to beat women and girls into submission, female body was designed by Satan, women can't remarry except after death of husband, women aren't intellectual enough to vote/drive, etc). I look back on my life, as have so many women leaving the "Message", and realize how detrimental these teachings were. There were so many cases of sexual abuse going on that were simply covered up and ignored by the ministry. I know of several girls who were molested that were simply sent back home to live with their abusers. And nearly every time, the blame was placed on the girl! I look at my own mother who's had to remain a single parent since I was 8 because William Branham said only men can remarry. Or that even while she was married to my father she was required as a "Message" woman to stay with him through his abuse and promiscuity. My experiences with "Message" doctrines of women and my home life taught me self-hate, low self-esteem, and caused me to develop anxiety. As a teenager, I became severely depressed, suicidal, and would often cut myself with knives as a way to deal with my inner pain. The crazy part to me, is that I couldn't even begin to deal with those issues while suppressed in the "Message". For one, I now realize some of the traits of self-hate are predominate among "Message" women. Plus, as "Message" believers, we were the "elite" "super-Christians" who 'never' struggled with hurts. We for sure couldn't share our hangups with each other as "Message" believers for fear of judgement and gossip. I wasn't even aware of my self-destructive tendencies towards self-hate and anxiety until I surrounded myself with healthy, honest relationships and Biblical teaching outside of the "Message". Now, I've found absolute joy and peace and discovered my life's purpose in helping other suppressed women find freedom.

Jennifer Hamilton
Former "Message" Believer