Testimony of Brother Ben Howard
I would like to give a testimony of how God has led and brought me to the place in His service that I now stand in this worldwide ministry to the wife of the Lamb. I tell these things, not to honor nor to magnify myself, but to magnify the office that God has called me to, and to tell of the wonderful works that He has done in my life. I give all the praise and glory to God for His leading me by the revelation of His Word, as well as by dreams and visions. So please bear with me as I begin by telling you a little something of myself; for if I tried to tell you all the miraculous workings of God in my life, there just wouldn't be room enough to write it all here.
I was born in 1939 into a large family in a rural mountain area in North Georgia, U.S.A. I was part of a family of 14 children (9 boys and 5 girls), born to Ben and Eva Howard. When I was born, I only weighed approximately two and a half pounds. Everybody said, "The poor thing will never make it." My Mama laid in bed sick for weeks after giving birth to me, not even knowing she was in the world. They didn't believe she would live. My older sister Stella Mae Mulkey (who has passed on now) took care of me when I was born. She would feed me by taking a piece of cloth and putting a little sugar and butter in it, then dipping it in milk (it is what many of the old timers call a "Sugar Tit"). I survived this way until Mama got well enough to take care of me. My sister told me that I was so small that I slept in a shoe box, and that it was a miracle that I lived. I am so thankful to the Lord for the way He has taken care of me since the day I was born.
My father was a sharecropper, so there wasn't much money in our home. We were so very poor. Needless to say, we had very little schooling. We moved out of the mountains when I was about 5 years old to a place where there was a one-room school. A few years later I began to go there some, walking a long distance. There was probably 10 to 15 of us (students); all the grades were in the same room and was all taught by the one teacher, which was one of the neighbors that knew how to read and write some. We all walked to school, and if the weather happen to be bad, raining or snowing, the teacher would not even show up. Needless to say, when the teacher didn't show up, we had a good time; that is, after we got a fire going in the wood stove. "Oh, for those good old days."
This brings us to the early fifties, when I was told that I was in the fourth grade. I was getting to be a teenager and still couldn't read. Later I got a job at a sawmill (sawing logs into lumber), soon I made enough money to buy an old army jeep and learned how to drive it. By this time I was getting into my later teen years. It was now along towards 1956 or 1957, when some of my brothers and sisters started attending church services; and after some persuasion on their part, I went to church with them. It wasn't long until I gave my heart to God and began to fast and pray. This was in 1958, and Brother Harold Pettit was the pastor. The night that I repented, Brother Billy Andrews of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (who has passed on now) was the preacher - and did he ever preach! He preached hell was miserable and heaven was wonderful and lovely. By the time he was finished, I was on my way to the altar.
It wasn't long until I began to feel a definite calling to preach the gospel; but I had a big problem - I couldn't read. I told God (as though He didn't know it), that I could not preach because I could not read. God spoke to me and said, "I will teach you to read." Then I began to try to read in the Bible, but I still didn't know the words. At this time I began to pay close attention to what the preacher would call the words when he read. I would always get the person I sat next to in church to turn my Bible to the place where the preacher was reading, and I would remember what he called each word. Then, I began to see how he arrived at the knowledge of what he called a particular word. I noticed when he said the words "the" and "then" that they were pretty much the same word. The word, "then" was the word "the" with an "n" on it. The same with the word "them". It was the word "the" with an "m" on it. Again, I would watch the words, and I realized you could add "ir" to the word "the" and the word became "their", then I finally began to get the hang of learning to read. I believe it was God showing me how to know words, teaching me to read, just like He said He would.
So in the later part of 1958 I knew enough to read some, and I began to preach the Word of God. Then along the years of 1959 to the early 1960s, I bought a tent from brother Billy Andrews and started holding tent meetings all over this area. Then in December of 1961, I was married to Joyce Pruitt and we were married for 34 years, until cancer took her life in 1995. I remained unmarried until November of 2000, when I married my present wife Barbara, who is also a dedicated Christian and helper in the gospel.
During the early years of my ministry, I preached in churches and under tents. Also, I joined the church of God and had many large meetings. It was at one of those meetings that someone put a gospel tract in my coat pocket, of which I later noticed the title of the tract was "$500 Reward To Anyone Who Can Show Where Anyone In The Bible Was Baptized Using the Titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." As I began to read the scriptures given in the tract, I realized I had been wrong about water baptism, as to what name to use. Then one day while driving along in my car thinking about this, I turned the radio on and a man was preaching on water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. After the message, I listened for the man's name and address. His name was Brother Homer Brown; so I got his address and wrote him for instruction. Then around the same time, I heard another preacher that was preaching water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his name was Brother Mike Canada of Gainesville, Georgia (who has now gone on to be with the Lord). He was telling about a man named William Branham, from Jeffersonville, Indiana. Brother Mike spoke very well of him. He announced that Brother Branham would be speaking over a telephone hook-up on Sunday night. He also said that this man (William Branham) was the prophet to the age and the seventh church age messenger. I thought to myself, "What is this fellow talking about?"
So I went to hear this man speak over telephone hook-up, and after hearing him, I agreed that he was a prophet indeed. So Brother Mike began telling me about the seven church ages and the seven seals, along with many other things that Brother Branham taught. After this, I heard Brother Branham at least one other time by telephone hook-up. Brother Mike informed me that Brother Branham usually had a meeting at his church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on Easter Sunday, and that they were all going. He said that I could go with them if I wanted. So I made plans to go with them to hear Brother Branham in person on Easter Sunday, 1966. But then in December of 1965, I received a call from Brother Mike informing me that Brother Branham had been killed in a automobile accident, and that he and some of the saints were going to Indiana. He told me I was more than welcome to go with them, so I hurriedly made plans to go.
So I attended the funeral services for Brother Branham there in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and met many brethren that believed in what Brother Branham had done for the Lord. At this, for the first time I began to sense that there were differences in what the brethren believed. I was somewhat perplexed by this, but I just listened because I did not know what to do. It wasn't very long until I realized that there was a controversy about the way worship was being carried out. Also, I began to hear the name Junior Jackson spoken about (and also met him briefly), but I did not ask any questions as I was consumed with grief and the thought of what to do now. I began to hear some of the ministers say that they believed Brother Branham was going to raise from the dead and finish the work of "perfecting the bride." I became very troubled at what I saw and just wanted to get back home so i could get alone and think about this thing, which I did as soon as it was feasible.