The Early Church of Yeshua opened its doors here in Jeffersonville, Indiana on 8th Street. When we moved here from Buffalo, New York, we wanted to gather at the Branham Tabernacle to listen to the Word, since it was there that the prophet preached, and because there were the brothers who believed in his Message. We thought that the fact that Brother Branham's children were there would mean that the same Message would be taught there, as in the time of their father. We were well welcomed on the first day of our arrival. Brother Willard Collins was still alive and invited us to introduce ourselves. We said that we were from the DR Congo, where the End Time Message had the most followers worldwide. We also added that we were the fruit of this Message and that we were happy to be among the believers. Our testimony had been so well received that some brothers invited us for fraternal communion in their homes, saying that we would meet around a barbecue while listening to some songs played on the piano. It was on a Wednesday, a weekday when there were two services (one in the morning and one in the evening).  In the afternoon, the very same brothers came to cancel the invitation and apologize for not being able to have us there, without giving us much explanation. Very surprised by this unexpected turn of events, we were stunned and just nodded our heads.

There are a number of reasons why we did not remain in fellowship at the Branham Tabernacle. We quickly realized that no one was preaching on a regular basis and that only recorded messages from Brother Branham were being played back over the loudspeakers. However, the brothers seemed to be diligent and the sisters had a Christian appearance with long hair up to the waist. Children seemed to be obedient to their parents and people were respectful in the tabernacle. Brother Collins had preached on a certain Sunday and so had his associate.  Apart from that, there was only tape listening. While the appearance of the members seems reassuring, there are still some disturbing facts that worry about the identifying signs of this tabernacle. The first one that jumps out is membership. Indeed, it looks like everyone has a testimony on the reasons for his presence: either he is the son of someone that Brother Branham knew, or he married a member of the Branham family, or he married a member of the family of someone that the prophet knew or had been acquainted with. Someone else even told us that he was a "tape boy" and another said that he was the son of one of the boys who played on the tree near the tabernacle and that Brother Branham mentioned in a sermon.

When we hear all these testimonies, we get the impression that everyone wants to have his or her own label, and it seems that any observer would feel almost automatically excluded as a member, if he or she has no connection with Brother Branham or his family, which he or she can claim. He or she would think, "What about me? Nobody knows me; therefore I am not a Christian! How can I be a member of this tabernacle?" One sister told us she got a privileged position because she had the original tapes of Brother Branham's sermons, while another one confessed Joseph Branham as a prophet, basing all of his confidence on the initiation seminars at the Young Foundation youth camp and the baptism he received there. It goes without saying that such brave people will never be able to tell the difference between biblical doctrine and false teaching. Especially since they would fear the punishment of being ostracized from this community whose membership confers spiritual and social recognition. All of this sounds like a prestigious club which one joins only to take advantage of the solidarity that exists between affiliated members and the benefits that come from the association.

Nonetheless, in Five Precise Identifications of the True Church of the Living God, preached on Sunday, September 11, 1960, at the Branham Tabernacle, the man of God identifies five fundamental criteria.  "What is the Church? Who established it? What is Her Message? How do we become a member? And can we go to Heaven without being a member?" The summary of his answers can be found in paragraph 180: "What is the identification of the Church? What must She be? What has She been? What is it? The group that was called out. Who set her up? Jesus Christ. Not a bishop, not the Catholic Church, not the Methodists, not Luther, not Wesley. No sir. Who set it up? Jesus Christ. What is His Message? Repentance, water baptism, the baptism in the Holy Ghost, Divine healing, salvation. How do we become a member? By entering it through Birth. Can we go to Heaven without it? No, Sir. "For God will bring back with Him those who died in Christ," and no one else but those who died in Christ. Jesus comes to take back those who died in Christ."

Brother Branham hammers out in paragraph 99 that the believers in the organizations are like this: "That's the way they do it today. Oh, we've got to have some kind of name that we can be identified by. We have to be able to tell people, when they ask us, "that you're a Methodist, a Baptist". Just say you're Christian, right, "like Christ". If you are a true believer, you do not claim to be the seed of any patriarch; "If you are a Christian, you are a born-again creature. You are in a-a mystical Kingdom of God. Your eyes are not focused on the things of this world, but on the things from above. And that's when you're in the Church. That's what the Church is. It's not an organization. It never will be an organization. Notice what I'm telling you. Say. The Church of the Living God can never be some particular group. It can' t be an organization. It can only be a mystical body, the Holy Spirit."

In fact, it is quite normal that those brothers who have lived in Brother Branham's circle of friends may have children who knew each other, socialized with each other and even got married.  But at the Branham Tabernacle, it is as if those who are most respected are so because they are family by marriage. When Paul speaks of those who are most esteemed in the epistle to the Galatians, he refers to the apostles who were with Jesus-Yeshua.  On his first trip to Jerusalem, he only met Peter, with whom he stayed for fifteen days (Galatians 1:18). He saw no other apostle except James, the Lord's brother (1:19). Peter had received the keys to the Kingdom, but it is known that he was not a member of the Lord's nuclear or distant family. When Paul went up to Jerusalem for the second time, fourteen years later, he mentions those who were reputed to be important, namely James, Cephas and John (2:1, 6), who were reputed to be pillars but who were also not members of the Lord's family. Jude and his brother James were the only members of the Lord's biological family who became servants of God. However, they were not the most respected and their family ties with the Lord was not the criterion for selection to minister. Anyone can serve the Lord without being a member of the family of the leading servant of God in a particular generation.

We tried to get an appointment with Billy Paul and Joseph Branham to talk about it, but to no avail. We will explain other reasons why we left them in other articles. To make a long story short, the deacons made us understand that we had become unwelcome and the brothers who had been so kind as to welcome us were clearly afraid to be seen in our company. So we decided to look for a place where we could listen to the Word and stayed for a while in the basement at Brother Thomas' house. However, we were looking for a building for sale in the area and several addresses were offered to us. We were very interested in the former "Save A Lot" on Allison Lane (next to the Dollar General), which had a large parking lot, but there was too much work to be done to turn it into a place of worship. We were just about to take a medical office on 10th Street, when the real estate broker told us about another place on 8th Street, at #1805. When we visited it we made a report to the church who immediately loved the property. As it was well located and free and vacant, we entered into a contract and bought it. We are grateful to the Lord for this new acquisition which is located quite unexpectedly in the neighborhood of the Branham Tabernacle and the dwelling of the prophet. God has His way of doing things that surpasses all understanding. It was not our choice, but His!