The church had given me two main priorities when I was ordained into the position of Youth Minister: to get the youth engaged in church and give them an understanding of the core Message doctrine to give them a closer understanding of why we were separate from other forms of Christianity. I felt that I had to find the Tim-way of doing this so that they would be safe from the doubts and frustrations I had. I wanted to bring the Bible into their lives as they’d never seen it before, making it real to them. A big part of that was to dig up every article and fact I could about the people in it and taking artistic license to bring it into modern terms for them to understand.
The youth group that had been my sole focus in church for years taught me about being accountable for everything I believed. While tapes and sermons were inspiring and powerful for a congregation, frequently, they failed to explain many of my questions. This was in part because I could not begin a conversation with them and ask things of it when I was lost. I could have researched the transcriptions of William Branham’s sermons, but regardless of how deeply I searched, many of his most famous and referenced quotes rarely followed with grounding and explanation, especially rarely with explicit Biblical support. The one place that always gave me an answer or a direction was the Lord’s Word, so I set the youth group on that same path. In some ways, it was my own failure to find answers for myself within Message doctrine. My inability to continue to follow it, which led to my departure from the Message, was the beginning of the youth’s falling out as well.
On several occasions, the church leadership asked me why I taught primarily the Bible to the youth group, in place of our more exclusive Message doctrine. In consideration of tapes and quoting William Branham, they had memorized and and learned almost nothing, because he was so rarely the answer to their questions, when it came to breaking things down for them.As they participated more in the Question and Answer services, they wanted to know more and more about Biblical concepts to apply in their lives, replacing much of the Branham’s teachings. Finally he came in my classroom early one Sunday when it was just staff preparing for the service, and told me that I needed to be including Branham’s sermons into my lessons. That’s why I was there to be their youth pastor, and I needed to teach them the Message, and that they would learn the Bible through William Branham, as that was the right way to reach God.
I was afraid of questioning my faith in the Message for many years, because all of my spiritual leaders, my father and pastor and the deacons that I had come to know so well, couldn’t see what I was learning. When I backed up, asking things of Message doctrine and William Branham’s teachings that the Bible had answered for me and that deep prayer and desperate conversations with God had opened up for me, I found so much out of place. When I compared the two and one came up short, I could see no other answer than to take time and develop my own direct relationship with God outside of the Message and many of its spiritual leaders. I always believed, even as I left, that if the Message was true and best for my spiritual journey, God would’ve led me back to it in a way I could understand.