Drive down Interstate 5 south on the way to Imperial Beach and you will run into a billboard that reads:
“The Bible Guarantees It. Judgment Day May 21. Cry mightily unto God.”
The same message has been printed on billboards throughout the country by Family Radio, a Christian ministry radio station owned by 89-year-old Harold Camping, a former radio broadcaster and religious figure.
The billboards are used to spread Camping’s prediction that on May 21 Jesus Christ will return to rapture his church, or meet true believers in the sky and bring them to Heaven.
Five months later, Camping said, Oct. 21 will be the end of the world.
He said his predictions are based on a mathematical equation of 7,000 years from the date of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood.
This is not the first time Camping has made such bold predictions. In September of 1994, he incorrectly predicted the world was going to end. He has since stated that a miscalculation was to blame for the mistake.
In a blog published last week by the Washington Post, Camping explains why his earlier prediction failed.
“It’s just like anyone who invents something or comes to a truth or any technician they don’t immediately make a finished product. ... I did not come to the finished product until three years ago. It was at that time that God showed some exquisite proof.”
This time Camping believes he got his calculations right.
So does Max Shineman, a 37-year-old Imperial Beach resident.
Shineman could not be reached for comment but his friend Al Amador said Shineman quit his $80,000 a year job to prepare for the rapture and may give away his car.
According to Shineman's Facebook profile which includes a link to familyradio.com, watching television shows and movies are a waste of time, but he still enjoys body boarding.
On his YouTube channel, Shineman has made a series of videos detailing why May 21 is the day. In his most recent video posted Wednesday, Shineman announced he has canceled a sermon he was going to conduct at Pier Plaza on Friday, May 20.
“It just doesn’t feel right. It just feels as if though I’d be boasting about the fact that God has saved me and not saved other people,” he said.
He goes on to advise people to go to the Bible instead of taking his word for it.
Pastor Carey Norman of Westview Bible Church disagrees with Camping’s prediction.
“Family Radio's billboard campaign is exploiting rather than explaining the teachings of the Bible. Jesus clearly taught that no man knows the day nor the hour of His return,” Norman said in an email. “It's sad to me when false teachers make such predictions like the May 21st one.”
Norman also said Family Radio's use of the word rapture is inaccurate.
“One of the definitions for the term rapture in the dictionary means to be caught up in ecstasy," Norman said in an email. “The term rapture does not occur in the Bible.”
Norman also called Camping a “false prophet” and that Jesus said many false prophets would arise the closer we get to his coming.
He said it will be sad when people realize on May 22 they were deceived.
Family Radio did not respond to phone calls seeking comment for this story.