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May 18th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Tick tock goes the doomsday clock

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - For months they’ve been spreading the word, answering the biblical call of Ezekiel 33 to sound the alarm and warn the people.

Their message, which they say the Bible guarantees, is simple: The end of the world is near.

And now, it’s suddenly really near - so near that if these folks are right, you should probably pass on buying green bananas.

Perhaps you’ve already noticed, what with the billboards and signs dotting the landscape, the pamphlets blowing in the wind and the RVs plastered with Judgment Day warnings weaving through cities. Or maybe, as the birds chirped outside and you sipped your morning coffee, a full-page newspaper ad for the upcoming mass destruction caught your eye.

May 21, 2011, according to loyal listeners of Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network based in Oakland, California, will mark the Day of Rapture and the start of Judgment Day (which, they say, will last five months). Those who are saved will be taken up to heaven, and those who aren’t will endure unspeakable suffering. Dead bodies will be strewn about as earthquakes ravage the Earth, they say. And come October 21, they’ll tell you, the entire world will be kaput.

It’s the kind of belief that riles up churchgoers who insist no one can know when Judgment Day will come, and the sort that many say does a disservice to Christianity. And it’s the kind of message that delights the types who are planning tongue-in-cheek End of the World parties and are responding to a Facebook invitation to attend a post-rapture looting. Rapture events, including one at a tiki bar in Fort Lauderdale, are being hosted by American Atheists. News outlets, comedians and even Doonesbury can’t seem to resist a good end-of-the-world prophecy.

Billboard battle over Judgment Day

Earlier this year, CNN traveled with a team of believers - all of whom had walked away from friends, families and jobs - as they set out to share this serious message aboard a caravan of Judgment Day RVs. These ambassadors or co-laborers in God’s work, as they see themselves, let us into their world. Along the way we met other supporters, as well as a sea of skeptics, many of them drunken pirates gathered for an annual festival in Florida.

Read about that journey and the roots of this doomsday message

With only days to go, we wanted to know how the ambassadors are feeling now. Are they making special plans and saying goodbyes? Have their convictions stayed strong, or have doubts crept in? Are they at peace, excited or maybe afraid?

“We’ve been a little busy, as you can imagine,” said Fred Store, the team leader on our journey.

Reached at a motor home park in Providence, Rhode Island, Store spoke of the surge of support he’s seen in recent months – the 60 like-minded people (including someone who works for Homeland Security, he boasted) who joined his small crew on the Mall in Washington, and the hundreds who gathered in Times Square in New York.

But at the same time he said resistance from those who don’t believe has grown, too. The more people heard about the May 21 warning, the more they discussed it with their pastors and came prepared to argue.

Learn about doomsdays throughout time

And the media, while they’ve helped spread the message, will be turned away in the coming days. CNN hoped to be with Store and his team on doomsday, but the members said they needed that time to focus on their relationship with God. Perhaps that’s just as well, as an official at Family Radio headquarters pointed out: “What makes you think you’ll be able to get to them? The roads will be a mess," he said, referring to the expected earthquakes. Plus, Store said, even if we got there, there would be no time to edit and publish, so what's the point?

Store’s faith remains unwavering. Come Saturday, he and his team will be in Boston, standing in a spot with heavy foot traffic, passing out their pamphlets – which they call tracts – and doing what they believe God called them to do until the very end.

No longer with the team is Darryl Keitt, who ditched his caravan on May 6. He said his time on the RV was a “gift from God,” but he decided he needed to spend the last couple of weeks focusing on his non-believing family and friends in New Jersey. It was a decision he prayed about for several weeks.

His Elizabeth, New Jersey, apartment is pretty sparse, seeing as he gave away most everything before hitting the road.

“I was able to get my old place back,” he said. “But we only have four days to go, so I don’t need much.”

He’s reaching out to old friends and hoping his family will come around and believe what he says he knows to be true.

“I have not seen any signs that they are believing the message,” he said. “But I can’t read anybody’s heart; only God can. And I’m still praying for them. All I can do is continue to share my convictions.”

Tisan Dawud may not share his older half-brother's beliefs, but he supports the positive nature of what Keitt's doing and is awestruck by his dedication.

"He's trying to spread what he believes is the word of God, and I can't knock him for that," Dawud said Tuesday evening. "I became Muslim when I was very young, and he remained Christian. But I've always had respect for his beliefs, and he always had respect for my beliefs."

And rather than criticize or ridicule his brother, who he said isn't hurting anyone, Dawud wishes people would focus on those who deserve examination and condemnation - those selling drugs, molesting children, raping women or embezzling money, for example.

Keitt spends his days in prayer, reaching out to people on Facebook, listening to Family Radio and walking around his neighborhood in his Judgment Day cap and T-shirt. He ran out of tracts some time ago, and at this point it’s too late to order any more, he said. As for where he’ll be on Saturday: “It’s a good question," and one he's still considering.

He doesn’t like goodbyes, he said, and only told two people in his caravan team of 10 that he was leaving. He gave those two men, one of them Store, a quick hug and that was it.

“Preferably we’ll meet each other again,” Keitt said, “in heaven.”

Dennis Morrell was driving through Jacksonville, Florida, pulling his Judgment Day billboard trailer, when we reached him on his cell phone. He wasn’t part of the caravan of RVs but was among the Floridians who joined in to help Store’s team when they were in the city.

Morell and his wife quit their jobs to focus on warning others, a move that’s left their four kids – ages 17 to 24 – thinking “Mom and Dad are crazy,” he said.

He still hopes God will “open their spiritual eyes,” he said. “But they’re at an age where they love their lives. They don’t want this world to come to an end.”

His faith, though, is as firm as ever, and he wishes others would open their minds and hearts to this possibility.

“Why would you wait to see if this is actually going to happen? You have that option to cry out for mercy,” he said. “I don’t want to die and go to hell. Do you?”

He plans to spend the last days praying, up until the early hours of Saturday - when he’ll both pray and wait for 16 hours.

Why 16 hours? Morrell explained that the massive doomsday earthquake will start at the International Date Line before moving west. New Zealand, he said, will get hit first – at 6 p.m. local time. And then that wave of destruction will roll around the world, wreaking havoc at 6 p.m. in each time zone.

While Morrell expects he’ll reserve Saturday for private time, Benjamin Ramrajie of Ocala, Florida, doesn’t have any special plans.

We met Ramrajie in Tampa after his 7-year-old daughter issued a doomsday warning about how the sun would “turn red like blood.” He stood by and nodded his approval as she spoke about dead bodies and her fears of dying.

“Most of my family doesn’t agree 100 percent, and I don’t blame them because it is far-fetched,” he said. “I strongly believe it’s going to happen. But I just figure I’ll relax, maybe watch TV. If that’s the day we get raptured, great. If not, we’ll move on.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • End times

soundoff (6,292 Responses)
  1. rob2tall

    Wow! This saturday eh? I hope it ends after I finish my chores-I would not want rapture to catch me off guard and in a cluttered apt.Dang-just as the sun starts to shine here in Everett,WA the world comes to an end,I wonder if my suffering will be really long or just a quick drop into the fault line under my apt? Does this mean I wont have to worry about Junes rent?Will AT&T give me a rebate on my monthly bill?
    Any of you who plan on suicide on saturday please forward your bank acct routing numbers and acct numbers to me first-no sense in all your $$$$$$$ go to Obama.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  2. Dee

    Plain and simple the Bible say's that no man will know the time of the end, not even the angels – he will come like a thief in the night, nobody know's or can predict. That clown that gave up his life savings will be living on welfare (us hard working people) for the rest of his life.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  3. Trista williams

    This church pastor had taken this Ezekiel 33 chapter out of text. This is a vision given to Ezekiel about our times, however not even Jesus knows the day time or hour. There are prophecies that still need to be fulfilled. The church will not make it if you declare it will happen this day. However, I do believe we are in the end times because I have dreams and visions myself. You have to be very careful on setting a date. Our spirit being right with God isn't based on a date. It's based on living right with God ,so that when it happens like he says in Matthew 24 ( Jesus will rapture the church and will come like a thief in the night). He even speaks in that chapter about false prophets. Remember this. It is said in the word of God ( the holy Bible) that if someone declares something and says God told him this and it doesn't come to pass, then it is a false prophet. And because of this not happening, people will be hurt and may even turn away from wanting to know God. This is upsetting to God because it makes the Body of Christ confusing to people. We as Christians need to be careful how we inter pet the word because it can lead people astray and confuse them. We shouldn't be confusing another about the word of God. If someone prophesies about something coming to pass, the. It must line up with the word of God and if it happens, then surely you will know he is a true prophet of God. Earthquakes and weather patterns are told in the Bible. We already know this is going to get worse coming close to the rapture of the church. but there are still millions to reach and God will not take his people until every person has heard about Christ and the Gospel. So this pastor is saying lives aren't important to God if hevsays may 21 2011 is the day of rapture. The time is near, but instead of focasing on a date, I would be focasing on asking God to extend his time for us on earth so we can reach more people for Christ, and be excited to humble ourselves learning more on the word of God and the relationship he wants with you. Get your lives right , but not in fear of being left behind, but only fearing God's love for you that makes you realize he loves you so much. Your trust should only be in God for your future, not in the pastors. It's a foolish thing to say these things . I do agree we all need to pray for Israel and for this world because people need Jesus. It is not his doing of the earth quakes or weather patterns or wars against another, but the earth is quaking and falling apart because Satans knows Christ is coming. It's a result of Christ coming, but it says in the word of God it is only the beginning of birth pains. I have dreams and visions, but I always , and i mean always, line them up with the word of God even if I see Jesus in my dreams. Jesus tells me in my dreams to always line them up with God and not to twist his words in the word of God . When this happens, Jesus says people fall away from him or turn another direction away from knowing him, this saddens him he told me in a dream. I do not want to make Jesus my Lord sad and angry. I only want to be on his side, and keep my tongue from stumbling and saying foolish things. If this pastor is wrong, love on him, forgive him, and move on. Let God deal with him and let him realize the enemy came and tried to attack him and confuse him. Pray against Satan because he is the one that tried to keep him from hearing from God. We are all not perfect , but we must forgive. So what if he is wrong, Pray that he can make it right and people will forgive him and God will redirect him to stay on a path where the enemy cannot intervene and affect hid relationship with Christ. I do believe I will see the pastor in heaven someday and I do not doubt his Love for God. He mis interpeted a scripture. That's all. I'm sure he will learn from it or maybe he will go back and figure out what the scriptures are suppose to mean.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  4. francisco

    O shut does it mean, that I have to pay my debts, and apologize to the people that I made mad? O well I guess I just have to join the rapture party after word

    May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  5. tatertaut

    Someone needs to keep an eye on these people. I sure hope they don't pull a "Jonestown" when May 22 dawns.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Grimm

      pray they do lol

      May 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  6. pleasedotell

    Behold my children, America, the class clown of the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  7. Jesus

    What if its not the rapture but something better than that.What if its God's Divine Mercy poured out onto us making us be-aware of our sins and giving us the choice to truly repent or choose darkness.However if it is the rapture only a very small handfull of people will go straight into Heaven, because it is said that nothing unclean shall enter his Kingdom.Can you say you are truly clean from sin to enter, I know I cant and I try my best to live a genuine Catholic Christian life.If anyone should be raptured it should be our children of course children upto an innocent age.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  8. omar

    no one know when the world is going to end but God , its obvious! get real people !

    May 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  9. Jesus Follower

    HAROLD CAMPING AND THESE WACKOS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. THEY BELONG TO THE HAROLD CAMPING AND COMPANY WACKO CULT!! THEY MAKE LIES AND FALSE CLAIMS UP AS THEY HAVE DONE MANY TIMES BEFORE!! NOBODY KNOWS THE TIME OR HOUR JESUS CHRIST WILL RETURN NOBODY ACCEPT GOD!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  10. East Coast

    I wish I could have talked one of these idiots to sign over their house and accounts to me. Then Sunday, they might have regret. I wonder what the Bible says about the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away? Idiots.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  11. omar

    wow how stupid are these people ?! no one knows when the world is going to end but God. serioulsy people get real , and think practical .

    May 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  12. Billy N

    If the world ends on May 21, how is the December 12 theory going to work? These theroys are all insane... My roomates little brother thinks he can create the grid from Tron with a Mac and some Velveeta... This is the direct result of reading into something... Religion is meant as a means of faith for those who believe. Not a means to scare the crap out of one another. Yankee fans thought the world was going to end when we "broke" the curse of the Bambino. All that was is folklore and choking under pressure. If the world ends Saturday, than someone better bring me my XBOX!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  13. Kevin

    i think judgement day on may 21st is just a big joke it does not say in the bible that the world is gonna end on that date who ever thinks that are idiots and i will be laughin so hard that we are still here on may 22nd and note u can not perdict the end of the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  14. Scott

    Are these people SERIOUS? How STUPID can someone possibly be? Do they really believe the world is going to end this week because a 1000 year old book written by a handful of random people says so? hahahaha! I pity their lack of education. They sure will feel dumb when everything is just fine a week from now. I wonder what fairy tale they'll use to explain it! hahahaha LOL. wow.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Robin

      Lol I Hope CNN is there to interview them on 22nd May.

      PLEASE CNN DO IT!!

      May 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • J.C.

      How can those blind to the truth expect to be saved by the truth, Scott?

      May 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  15. kmhowe72

    f'n lunics they scare people and should be arrested for fraud

    May 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  16. Pilfer

    The day after Friday is Doomsday, Doomsday, going to get down on Doomsday – We so excited!!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  17. J.C.

    Let those who wish to believe do so. What harm does it do you? Is it not better to believe with an open heart, than to criticize with blind hatred?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Jamie

      What harm does it do you to let people not believe?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Mick

      The harm is that people are quitting their jobs, giving away their possessions, and spending their life savings.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • J.C.

      So be it. It is their life. Who are you to judge them?

      May 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • J.C.

      Jamie, There is no harm to me if others chose not to believe, it is their choice. I say to you all let them be, as you should let believers believe. If a non-believer has been given the choice, and choose not the way, it is only their judgement that will come to pass.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  18. cristino

    The Rapture? the bible says no one knows the hour, and there is no biblical verse to support the pre-tribulation rapture.
    as for global earthquake, it is possible, with all the almost daily earthquakes happening now all over the world, global
    earthquake is just around the corner. we will see what happens on May 21st. i am a believer in Christ but date setting
    should be avoided but giving warning base on biblical verses, there is nothing wrong because the bible says it will
    happen, when? no one knows.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  19. Jef

    Why do people find ambiguity so disturbing?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  20. Rock God

    Is that 6 pm Daylight Savings Time? I might have an extra hour to live! God, please take the Christians off this planet. Thanks in advance!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.