It has often seemed that in the Providence of God, that His chosen vessels have been ordained to live their early lives in circumstances of extreme poverty. Sometimes they have been permitted to taste deeply the cup of sorrow. No one knows how to feel for another in distress or affliction unless he has gone through similar trials himself. Rarely have those who have received an unusual calling from God been reared in homes of the rich, or have come from aristocratic families.
The Saviour Himself was cradled in a manger. When His parents took Him to the temple for circumcision, the family could only afford merely two turtle doves for the sacrifice. According to Lev. 12:8 this was to be the sacrifice if the parents were too poor to afford a lamb.
Because he appeared in such rude garments and his preaching was so rugged, the critics in those days questioned the authority of John The Baptist, the forerunner of Christ's First Coming. He lacked the style and polish of the ecclesiastical schools of learning of his day.
When they questioned Jesus about John, He pointedly asked, "But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold they that wear soft clothing are in King's houses." In other words the Lord was showing them that they should not look for Prophet's of John's stature to emerge from an enviroment where they had been pampered and sheltered from the stresses of life.
Humility and sturdiness of character are developed best amid the rugged life that comes from hardship, suffering and poverty. Let's stop here and let Brother Branham, in his own words, tell us of his home, his childhood days and his father's struggle with poverty...
I've seen dad come from the log woods so sunburnt that mother would take scissors and cut his shirt loose from his back. He worked hard for seventy-five cents a day to make us a living. I loved my father, even though he drank. Sometimes he gave me a whipping, but I never got one but that I needed another. He used to keep the Ten Commandments on the wall with a large hickory switch over them. I got my education out in the woodshed when I did wrong.
I It's no disgrace to be poor. But it's hard sometimes. I remember that I didn't have proper clothes for school. I went one whole year without even a shirt to wear. There was a rich woman who lived nearby that gave me a coat with a sailor emblem on the arm. I would wear that coat and because I had no shirt on I would button the collar right up around my neck. I would get really hot. The teacher would say, "William, why don't you take that coat off?" But I couldn't; I didn't have any shirt on. So I would fib and say, "I'm chilly." She would say, "All right, sit over there by the fire." And I would sit there while the perspiration would run down on me.
Well, it was pretty hard going. My toes would stick through my shoes like turtle heads. But then, one day I got a "shirt". It was a girl's dress which belonged originally to my cousin. It had a lot of curlicue stuff (ruffles) on it. I cut the skirt part offand just ware the upper part. I put it on and you should have seen me strut going to school. Then the other children got to laughing at me. They said, "You've got on a girl's dress." I had to fib again. I said, "No I haven't, that's my Indian suit." But they didn't believe me and laughed again - I went off crying.
There was a boy that lived near us, who was selling those little PATHFINDER magazines. After he sold so many they gave him a prize - a boy scout suit. My, how I liked that suit. it was wartime then (WW1) and everybody that was big enough was in uniform. I always wanted to be a soldier. I was too little then. Even in this last war (WW2) I wasn't large enough to go. I have four brothers that went. But God has given me a uniform anyway - the armor of God - so I could go out and fight against sin, sickness and disease thats binding the people.
But how I admired that Scout suit, with it's hat and leggings. I said, "Lloyd, when you wear that suit out will you give it to me?" He said, "Yeah, I'll give it to you Billy." But, my, that suit lasted longer than enything that I ever saw. it seemed to me that he would never wear that thing out. Then I missed it for a while and so I went to him and asked him for it. He said that his mother had cut it up to make patches for his dad's clothing BUT there was one legging left. I said, "Bring me that!" So I took it home and out it on. I thought that I was a real soldier. I wanted to wear it to school and I didn't know just how to do it. So I pretended that one of my legs was hurt and I put that legging on as if I were protecting my injured leg. But at school the teacher sent me to the blackboard. I tried to hide my leg that didn't have a legging, and all the children got to laughing at me. I started crying and the teacher made me go home.
Iremember how with my brothers we struggled together and how hard it was for us - not enough food to eat and not enough clothes to wear. In school we wouldn't eat our lunch with the rest because they had nice things to eat but we couldn't didn'y have very much. Sometimes we would get a real treat - mother would give us Pop corn in our school lunch.
You know it was a great struggle for mother and dad to raise so many children during those ppor times. Being sort of a daddy's boy - I admired him. When I saw him roll up his sleeves and I'd see those big muscles, I used to think, "My father will live to be a hindred years old." But he was only fifty-two years old, still ungreyed, curly-haired man, when his precious head lay across my shoulder and God took him home.