In 1980 I started to work for Toyota Motor Sales, U. S. A. and we moved to Southern California. We bought a home in Irvine, California about thirty-seven miles from the headquarters office that required a daily commute on the I-405 freeway. The traffic was frustrating, exhausting and relentless. In order to escape, during the morning commute I listened to Omar Andeel on the Christian Family radio station and in the evening going home occasionally Harold Camping’s Open Forum. I had taken a pay cut to change jobs. We were house poor with three children but found a way to send money to Family Radio to support the station. I was transferred to Cincinnati in 1985 and drifted away from listening to Family Radio.
Then in 2011 Family Radio burst back into my life in an upsetting way with Harold Camping’s heralded announcement that Judgment Day was coming on May 11th. When it didn’t happen Camping explained that May 11th was the spiritual judgment and October 21st would be the physical judgment. Family radio spent five million dollars advertising the coming of the end times. Believing the world was coming to an end and Family radio would not go on, Camping told Matt Turner, one of his executives,” God has raised up Family radio just as a platform for me.” Some listeners depleted their savings, others sold their homes and one mother reportedly stated she would kill her children rather than have them be subjected to the coming tribulation. On October 11, 2011 Family Radio closed its’ offices in Oakland, California and waited for the end to come. I didn’t happen.
Camping was ridiculed as a religious crank and made the butt of jokes around the world. Family Radio was thoroughly discredited. Donations dropped 70%, employees had to be let go and some of it’s radio stations sold. Camping had tragically deceived himself into believing he knew something even Jesus didn’t know. He offered a weak apology saying, “ It seems embarrassing but God is in charge.” But the damage was done not only to Family radio but also to Christianity.
Every generation since Jesus, including the disciples including the Apostle Paul, has anticipated that God’s restoration would happen in their time and have been wrong. We do know it will happen and we know we are one day closer to it happening than yesterday. Maybe we should act like Jesus and accept the fact that only God the Father knows when creation will be fully restored and all will be revealed. Today, we are to focus on loving, forgiving, treating others with respect and bringing honor to the name of Jesus so that others will be drawn to faith in God rather than thinking the followers of Jesus are a bunch of end of the world wackos. JDI