DOWNEY - Is this the end of the world?Just one glance at a national newspaper or evening broadcast might give some many reasons to fear. With calamity still unfolding in quake-ravaged Japan, heightened civil unrest in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, and an intransigent global recession that continues to beleaguer countries around the world, some groups believe the long-awaited apocalypse may be closer than most people think. For local minister and former City Council candidate Audie Derryberry the end of the world won't start in 2012, but will begin on May 21, 2011. "I'm 110 percent sure of this," said Derryberry. "I've been working on this all my life, over 30 years now. This is not a scare tactic ‚àí we've been warning people for 20 years. We are the last generation. You've got to be ready, you need to be born again...only Jesus can save us." Derryberry, a life-long Downey resident, who served as pastor of Downey Bible Fellowship for 20 years before retiring in 2007, believes the signs couldn't be any clearer. Using dates and prophecies found in the Bible, Derryberry estimates the end of the world will start on Saturday, May 21, exactly 7,000 years after Noah's flood. "In Genesis, it talks about the flood and it tells the day. Using Biblical genealogy we can construct a Biblical calendar and know exactly when the flood was," Derryberry said. "Do the math, there's a lot of math in the Bible and it's there for a reason. "The Bible gives us the signs of the last days ‚àí morality decreases, hypocrisy rises in the church, and the gospel goes all over the world ‚àí but Israel is the time clock. When Israel was reborn in 1948, that let us know that we were in the last generation." Despite the radical nature of Derryberry's message, he's not the only one proclaiming the end is near. Oakland-based Family Radio, a non-denominational, listener-supported Christian broadcasting network, which operates from more than 150 radio stations around the country, has begun a nationwide campaign to both inform and warn Americans of the impending apocalypse. "It's a major production," said Derryberry who turns 65 next month. "They started passing out tracks five years ago, now there are caravans of RVs traveling from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast, giving out thousands of tracks. And today they began a billboard program that will go all over the state and the nation." However, this isn't the first time that Family Radio has predicted the end of the world. In 1992, Harold Camping, founder and owner of Family Radio, published a book entitled, "1994?," which similarly proclaimed that the world would end in 1994. In a released statement last week, Derryberry acknowledged that many of his colleagues and contemporaries, while gracious and tolerant, disagree with his May 21 theory. "I am a member of the Downey Interfaith Fellowship, a fellowship of clergy, here in Downey and the Downey Chapter of CIPAC (Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign)," he wrote. "Let it be known that these good people do not agree with me concerning May 21, 2011. Some agree that the return of Jesus Christ is very near, but not a specific date." Nonetheless, Derryberry depicts the end of the world as devastatingly tragic and catastrophic at best. "When the judgment begins, there will be a terrible earthquake and everything man has built will be destroyed ‚àí it'll be worse than what Japan is going through now," he said. "Those that are saved will be taken up and it will be hell on earth for five months. On October 21, everything will end." Despite the seriousness of Derryberry's message, he hopes people won't dwell on him, but will instead heed the warning. "We don't want to panic people, we want to encourage them to come boldly to the throne of God and pray for God to save them," said Derryberry. "Christ died in our place so we don't have to suffer on May 21. He's a God of justice, and that's what's coming, but he's also a God of mercy and grace. Read your Bible, trust God." Even though Derryberry is adamant and ardent in his belief, he already knows what he'll say if his theory doesn't come to pass. "We were wrong," he said with a shrug of the shoulders. "But either way, we're close, we're on the edge."
********** Published: March 24, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 49