Sitting in judgment? May 21 your day

A billboard above Last Chance Liquors refers to a last chance of another sort, atonement before the biblical day of Rapture, which presages the end of the world.

The end of days is coming soon, in 25 days to be exact, according to two billboards in Grand Junction.

A media campaign that has traveled the world to announce that Judgment Day will be May 21 has caught the attention of more than a few Grand Junction residents with signs in the area of 12th Street and Ute and Pitkin avenues.

Billboards show the figure of a man praying on his knees and claim “The Bible guarantees it.”

Readers are directed to, the ministry of Harold Camping, a former civil engineer from California who has been one of the leading figures in the doomsday movement. Camping uses the media as well as missionaries to further his message.

Camping has said in media interviews that he calculated the date of Judgment Day by using numbers in the Bible. Camping predicted the world would end Sept. 6, 1994, but attributed that miscalculation to a mathematical error.

Judgment Day, otherwise known as the Rapture, is believed to be the time when the worthy will be taken to heaven and others left for a time to languish on Earth.

Camping further predicts the end of the world will be five months later, Oct. 21.

The pastor of Canyon View Vineyard Church, Kirk Yamaguchi, said it’s not unusual for church members to question him whether recent natural disasters and political unrest around the world indicate the end of the world is near.

Yamaguchi was in Japan, southeast of Tokyo, doing missionary work, when there was an earthquake in March. When he returned from abroad, some church members queried him on whether he thought the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami were an indication of something more than a single calamity.

“I think when the end is approaching, it will be extreme enough that we will know,” he said.

Although it may appear the world already is experiencing momentous events —  killer tornados in the Midwest, flooding that ravaged Australia earlier this year and political upheaval in the Middle East, to name a few — historical records dating back hundreds of years aren’t clear about immensely destructive events, though they likely occurred, Yamaguchi said.

“It is possible that these are the birth pains, but you can’t say for definite,” he said. “It’s too much of a gray area. We just love to get in a tizzy about things, living with fear instead of with purpose and with faith. It really is not our job to nail down the day or the time that He is coming. If we do have the belief that Jesus could come back, every day makes us do the things that we should be doing.”

Proclamations claiming to pinpoint when the world will end may work for some Christian groups in their proselytizing, but blanket messages unfortunately can cause nonbelievers to lump all people who practice any number of Christian faiths to be cast as alarmists, pastor Barbara Johnson said.

“Fear-mongering is not effective in bringing people to Christ. It’s not effective in solving the world’s problems,” said Johnson, of American Lutheran Church. “It doesn’t give people a sense of security.”

Johnson said she hasn’t heard questions from members whether worldwide turmoil may signal the beginning of the end of the world. However, church members are concerned about helping people from around the globe who are victims of disaster, either by natural causes or crimes against people.

“We do pray for those people,  and many people pray with monetary gifts” to organizations that help those people, Johnson said.

“That’s how they respond to those things.”

According to ebible, which tracks the doomsday message and its media, there are 37 billboards in the Denver area with the Judgment Day prediction.

The billboards in Grand Junction will come down on May 2, before the appointed day, said an employee with billboard company Mile High Advertising from Denver.

Roger Ward, owner of Last Chance Liquors, 1203 Piktin Ave., cringed a bit when he saw the billboard that looms over his business.

But he also is looking on the bright side and uses the sign as a landmark when giving directions to his store.

“They can look at the sign, come in and get their last drink,” he said, smiling.


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