Last Saturday I needed to purchase a shirt for a wedding that I was playing for, so I decided to make a trip to Oakland because I knew of a store that had exactly what I wanted and they stayed open late. As I was driving down the 880S, I looked at the clock in my SUV and noticed that it was about 5:50 pm; exactly 10 min from Harold Campings prediction that the world was going to end.Since the clothing store stayed open late, I drove past it and decided to be nosy by visiting Family Radio located on Hegenberger.
As I drove past, I could see a huge party going on. There were revelers from various gay rights and atheist groups mocking the Christian faith and saying all sorts of blasphemous things on account of Campings failed “prophecies.” There was also a Christian church from Milpitas talking to people, offering the love of God to people, and doing some open air preaching. There were also various Christian individuals in the crowd .
As I moved through the crowd I encountered two young men named “John” and “Jeff” who both claimed to be Campings followers. One was holding a sign over his head that read “Repent Now.” I approached them and said “it’s 6:19, why are you still here, and why is everyone here still alive?” They immediately began to make a plethora of ridiculous excuses for Camping (who is still MIA), and told me that I needed to get right with God. I ignored the comment and showed them from scripture where Camping erred. They responded by stating that they only accept scripture that they were comfortable with and discard what they disagree with. Since I could not get anywhere using scripture with them, I began to quote Campings failed prophecies regarding May 21, 2011 at 6pm. At this point, they looked down and I could see that they were fighting back tears, and still holding their sign, and sitll passionately defending Camping.
They knew that they had been let down, and they knew that I knew that they had been let down. I could only have compassion for them because I knew exactly what they were feeling. A few years back, my wife and I were a part of a church that stared off good, but ended up becoming a cult. Most Christians can’t imagine what is like to come to grips with the fact that your spiritual leader has lost their mind. They have no idea what it’s like to have to leave friends behind, only to watch them go through the abuse that you were strong enough to walk away from, nor do most have any idea what it’s like to have the people that you love turn their backs on you. Many say that they understand, but they really don’t, it is a very lonely and painful experience.
Thankfully we joined a heathy church with pastors that walked with us through our pain. I write these things because I have seen a lot of Christians mocking Harold Camping and the members of Family Radio and gloating over the fact that scripture was right, and that Camping was wrong. Well that’s a given; scripture has, and will always be right, and Camping (and others who predict the end) will be wrong.
Our job as the church is not to mock them, our job is to reach them for Christ, to love them, and to show them compassion. This is exactly what I did when I saw their eyes well up; I hugged both of them and gave them my contact info. I let them know that I was available if they needed to talk. I also found myself in tears for them and others as I drove back home. I could feel the disappointment and pain of those that had believed in, and had given everything to a leader that only proved himself to be a false prophet, a liar, and a charlatain that left his people to pick up the pieces of their shattered faith.
My encouragement to all of you is to pray for John and Jeff, as well as those like them as they will be dealing with alot of questions. Pray for divine appointments with Campings followers so that you can point them to Christ. There is much more that I can say but I will stop here. Blessings everyone!
Oshmin Oden is a husband of one, father of three, and a musician. With a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Patten University in Oakland, while working on his M. Div at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley – Oshmin has future plans to be Pastor.