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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. chicken

    Run everybody.........lol

    May 19, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  2. Louise

    Oh No!!!! I was planning on going to Old Navy's $1 flip flop sale this Saturday.........

    May 19, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  3. Glynda

    It is my belief that the bible tells us – " that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the Angels of heaven, but my Father only". Yet, we are to ready ourselves for the what if.....today, tomarrow, or the next.....mocking others belief is not the answer.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  4. AceRyder

    Darn – Saturday is my day to sleep in. Think the end of the world will be loud or will I be able to sleep through it?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Athiest

      Hey, the quake don't hit until 6PM, you've got most of the day, and certainly can sleep in!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  5. ZiOn

    Is that EST or UTC time. LOL
    1.1994 he said it would happend. NOTHING HAPPEN
    2.HE IS A FALSE PROHET
    3. TEST ALL SPIRITS
    4. YET WHEN we are still here (OH wait I was wrong ) BLA BLA BLAAAA

    May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  6. svann

    This guy made hundreds of thousands of dollars off this nonsense. This is not like normal religion that tell you "by and by someday you will have heaven". This guy set a date and when that date comes will be shown to have been fraudulent. Will he be made to give back the money?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • AceRyder

      No, he will say something like "god decided we weren't ready" or "oops, I should have carried the 7; the REAL date is now August 12, 2017."

      May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  7. Breaching Vista

    Our new song "GIVE ME A REASON" is your official anthem for the Armageddon!

    Also check out our song "LETTERS" as it pays tribute to the families with loved ones serving in the armed forces.

    Here's a link to find our new record "Vera City" on iTunes!
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/give-me-a-reason/id435956673?i=435956754

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/breachingvistamusic
    or follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/breachingvista
    or join us on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/breachingvistaTV

    Breaching Vista

    May 19, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  8. Nathan

    Ha Ha Ha Ha . . . wow!! How many times are people going to fall for this scam?? This is done every year by some wacko wanting attention and they end up with hundreds of followers!! I'm amazed at how easily people are swayed into believing outrageous statements such as this!! (though I probably shouldn't be) Let me just end by saying this...stop believing a man made book!! And ask this..anyone ever heard of Stephen Hawking...HE is who I'm listening to, my word people!! WAKE UP!! There is no rapture, there is not heaven / hell....stop following fanatical egotistical attention seeking people and get a life of your own!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  9. Richard

    The world will NOT end!!! If you think it will, keep that to yourself because NO ONE FREAKEN CARES WHAT YOU THINK!!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  10. Sharon

    As a Bible-believing Christian I do believe that the rapture will happen, but also believe that NOBODY knows when.
    If this has done any good at all, it has raised some people's curiosity about the rapture, judgment day, etc.
    I've already had one friend ask me about it which allowed me to share the Gospel. Hopefully others are now
    questioning and researching and asking questions, too.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Dwiteschrute

      Thank you for sharing how crazy you are with us.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Richard

      LMAO!! Who doesn't know that?!? Even the sun has to burn out at some point in time! You poor Christians... This is why I will never be religious. You guys are all brain washed.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  11. DEBlueHen

    Here is a prediction I am pretty confindent will happen....the Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup!!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Breaching Vista

      Vancouver.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  12. Robin Bray

    This is why I am no longer a christian. All it is ever about is doom, gloom and control. What a fraud it has always been and will be.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Glynda

      I'm sorry to hear you are no longer a Christian dear. The Word of God is not always doom and gloom. I choose to believe it is joy, peace, love..... doom and gloom are for the unbelievers.....:)

      May 19, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  13. kristen

    life is full of poeple who always some how think there more important then God.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  14. Grateful

    Mathew 24:36 "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  15. lol

    Why is this crap still on the front of CNN"s website!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • ANDREW SHEPPARD

      COMET ELENIN IS APPROACING EARTHS ORBIT AS WE SPEAK, IT IS AT ITS CLOSEST POSITION OCTOBER 17, COMET HONDA, LEVEY AND 4 NEAR EARTH ASTEROIDS ALL MAKING THEIR ROUNDS WITHIN THE NEXT 5 MONTHS. I THOUGHT HE WAS B.S.ING UNTIL I SAW THE OCTOBER DATE. IT WONT BE A RAPTURE LIKE EVERYONE THINKS. THE BODY HAS TO DIE FOR THE SOUL TO LIVE ON. JUST LOVE YOUR FRIENDS FAMILY AND DO WHAT YOU WANT AND DONT WORRY.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  16. capnmike

    It is so pathetic and sad that thousands, MILLIONS of gullible brainwashed fools actually believe all this religious nonsense. Religion was INVENTED BY HUMANS. There isn't any "god". "heaven", "hell" "angels" "devils", "spirits" or "souls"...it's all a crock of baloney, used by some to explain things they don't understand, by others as a crutch to allay their fears, and by the priest-class to control and sponge off their followers. The bible is just another pack of lies interspersed with a few historical factoids to make it more believable to those who have had it drummed into their heads since birth. The sickest part is that humans continue to murder each other over a PACK OF LIES AND FAIRYTALES. Time to Wake Up!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Dwiteschrute

      Preach on!!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Athiest

      Amen brotha, preach it!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. mino pavlic

    The unbelievers are just as ignorant as the so called believers. 2 Corinthians 5:8 clearly says; absent from the body present with the Lord!!! There is a rapture, but it's a personal one. Tomorrow as of yet doesn't exist, and MANY around the world may never get to see it. If you don't believe that, tell it to the one's that perished in these horrific disasters.

    I don't care what you believe, it's given unto every man to die once, and we will. However, it could be ten years from now, or it could be ten minutes from now. All of us need to be organ donors today and give our hearts to Jesus.

    We're either going to hell or heaven for ETERNITY when we die!!! WHERE WOULD YOU RATHER BE? Without the baptism of Jesus, NO ONE is seeing heaven...

    May 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  18. AHHHHHHH

    God... Let me live to buy the iPhone 5!!!! PLEEEEEEEAAAAAAASSSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    May 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  19. worldEnd

    World is going to end now – 1,2,3,.....

    This is stupid!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  20. Theo

    The irony will be that he is predicting his own death. I will pray for him.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • worldEnd

      may be

      May 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • chicken

      I am so scared. I am going to start my packing-bread, water, clothes, especially my laptop.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
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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.