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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. Binod

    oh! no it cant be true.lots of plan,lots of time to enjoy.I dont agree with this.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  2. Jordan

    The lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
    -Genesis 8:21

    I don't think doomsday is on Saturday.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  3. NowHwat

    To me it all means: PARTY TIME ON 22nd !!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  4. 1111CB

    I thought we were supposed to share the Good News of Christ. I missed the push by Jesus when I read the Bible to preach the end of the world in our Great Commission.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  5. BobZemko

    Gee, it was really nice knowing all of you.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  6. Briana

    is this real? i hope its not i am only 15 and i dont want to die yet :(.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Does anyone know the truth?

      I hope it's not true either. I'm only 16 and now I don't even know what to do or believe. I heard of past predictions, but never in my lifetime; except for 2012. But knowing it could possibly be 2 days away is scary. So I really really hope it's not true either, I don't want to die so young; before i've had the change to enjoy life.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • awaysaway

      No it is not. Just some sad deluded people.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Kim

      "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

      That is what the bible says about the last day. The man that is telling people this is very old and his mind is not good.
      Don't worry we will all be here on Sunday 🙂

      May 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • linda

      I agree with Kim...the Bible tells us no one knows the day or the hour...so even if it was supposed to be this weekend...He would not come to show this man he is wrong.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • LinCA

      Wake up. There is no god. The bible is a book full of fairy tales. Nothing out of the ordinary will happen on Saturday.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • antigo

      This is not true Briana.Only GOD knows the time of judgement day.according to matthew24:36.just try to read your bible if you have.And visit the website of brother eliseo soriano.www.eliseosoriano.com and he will answer all the questions that you have if ever yuo have your questions.do not be afraid.takecare and do always pray.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  7. Tha_Dude

    Don't you think they would have made a movie about it first??? duh.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  8. MommaC07

    Rev. 3:3 and Matthew 24:36. There, now that wasnt so hard to understand from my Bible reading.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  9. sd

    Why anybody is taking this crackpot seriously is beyond me. See you all May 22nd!

    May 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Christy

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

    Someone didn't do their research properly.
    Instead of being worried of judgement day, why don't you pick your Bibles up and prepare yourselves and enjoy what God has given you. The matter here is not to WONDER WHEN judgement day is but to PREPARE for it.

    May 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  11. TampaMike

    Ya'll can vote for Palin in 2012, since the world will end before then anyway!!

    May 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Kelly

    Sorry there wrong... Its ending in 2012 with a huge Zombie attack.....DUH....Sigh........

    May 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  13. zammy

    I wonder how they arrived at that particular date? They've got guts, but I think they're setting themselves up for major spiritual crises. I believe the rapture will happen, but not this soon, and not the way they describe. There are events that are supposed to unfold leading up to it which haven't taken place yet. Saturday will come and go as uneventfully as every other day. It's too bad, in all their Bible readings, they didn't catch Matthew's warning about false prophets.

    May 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  14. Timmy

    Judgment Day and Armageddon are TWO different events in the Bible. Armageddon is simply God's War to end all wars and eradicate the wicked earthly element, but not Satan and his demons for they will be bound for a literal 1000 years. For what purpose? Judgment Day. Judgment Day according to the scriptures is the 1000 or known as Christ Millennium reign in which he resurrects millions perhaps billions of people to give them an opportunity to learn about God's ways free from Satanic and demonic influence. Based on how people react to God's requirements (this is where the judging comes in from Jesus himself) will determine if you get to live forever or not. Yes, at the end of the 1000 year reign after everyone in God's memory has been resurrected to perfect life, living in sound health, and educated in God's ways free from Satanic and Demonic influence then Jesus will let Satan and his demons out ONE LAST TIME to briefly test perfect mankind to see whether or not they truly want to do what God wants or what the Devil wants. After the test then only the Righteous in God's eyes will be left over in the earth.

    I will be more than happy to provide scriptural reference to any who want to back up this logic from the Bible itself.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • A Lost sheep wondered from the great crowd

      I too think the way you do to timmy im disfelloshiped are you a jw

      May 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Savannah (age,14)

      i personally would love to know the verses ur talking about :] ... im ready to take on what God is ready to give out<3

      May 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Timmy

      Well Savannah Lets start where Jesus describes his own role in Judgment Day in John chapter 5 starting with verse:

      21: Jesus describes the power he has been given to do just as his Father in the heavens has to resurrect
      22: Jesus explains how God his Father has delegated the responsibility of Judging to his to him.
      23: Jesus explains the reason for God delegating the Judging is so that people would be forced to recognize Jesus new authoritative role in his purposes
      24: Those that recognize and obey Jesus will not have to fear receiving a bad Judgment from him and ultimately losing out on life.
      25: Resurrection will soon begin for those who lived in the past and lead obedient live according to the Biblical standards
      26: Jesus had new powers as Judge: to tell someone they can live forever or be dead forever
      27: As "Son of Man" Jesus deserves these powers because he was willing to give up his heavenly to be born as a perfect child, grow up into a perfect man and die as a perfect man to pay for the sins of mankind, but more importantly what Adam had lost.(1 Corinthians 15:21,22)
      28: Don't be too amazed at what Jesus performed while living on earth, because once he gets back to heaven, in God's due time ( Acts 17:30,31) he will instruct Jesus to resurrect ALL those deserving
      29: This is Judgment Day at its peak or late hour. As a individual resurrected what will be your situation in life after you had a literal perfect opportunity to make a good impression with God and his Son Jesus? If you lived up to God's standards then your resurrection will have judged worthy to receive eternal life. But if a person does not live up to God's standards that your resurrection will have been judged to eternal death or simply nonexistence forever.
      30: Jesus admits that even though great authority and Judging has been given to him, his judgments are based not on his standards but that of Father (God).

      This is just one small portion of the Bible that provides details on the true authentic events and portrayal of Judgment Day. This is why the Bible is so amazing and easy to understand if you are a true student of the Bible. I will share some more later Savannah!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  15. Rorschach

    THE END IS NIGH

    May 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  16. mightyfudge

    The Bible says "no one can know when Judgment Day will come"... How coooooooonnnnnnnnnnveeeeeeeeeenient!

    May 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  17. winetourgirl

    Im drinking lots of wine on Friday night cause I won't have to worry about a hang over on Saturday its the end!!! Yeaaaa Im so excited

    May 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  18. Zack Linder

    Yes. It's coming, but not as a sudden flash.
    Enjoy the teaser and trailer on http://www.tomorrowsedge.tv or in YouTube .
    If destiny would rest in your hands....How far would you go?

    May 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  19. james day

    belief impedes release

    May 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  20. Scarlet

    Let's see if any one in the group is "really" taken!

    May 19, 2011 at 3:11 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.