A survey among Batswana reveals disbelief over claims by Family Radio, a United States-based radio station, that Judgement Day will occur next month on May 21.
Interviews held this week show that at most, people here are cold to the claims. While some we spoke to in the churches said it had been foretold from years back that Jesus Christ is coming soon, many do not believe ‘soon’ has arrived.
In Gaborone, three billboards have been put up proclaiming May 21 as Judgement Day ÔÇô one a stone’s throw from BBS Mall, another at the Gaborone taxi rank, and a third near Falcon Crest.
The claims by Family Radio, based on supposed biblical interpretation, have caused some concern and hysteria among the radio station’s followers in the US. Disturbed by the news, some have left their families and their jobs to travel the world warning people about “the coming of Christ”.
Reverend Mongezi Guma, the Dean at the Anglican Church of Botswana, says that churches differ about Judgement Day and that Anglicans believe knowledge of when that day will be only belongs to God.
According to Reverend Guma, it is impossible to second guess whether a year to God is 365 days or 200 days.
“It will come in God’s time,” he says, adding that putting a date on Judgement Day is wrong and causes unnecessary anxiety, “for we know not the day, nor the time of judgement”.
He added: “Humans use the calendar, which is a human invention.” Judgement Day, he said, is beyond human understanding.
A member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, who preferred to be known only as David, says he does not dispute that Judgement Day is coming soon. He, however, dismisses the information prepared by Family Radio to warn people.
“The signs are there which are written in the Bible to show that the end of time is nearing, but putting a date to it is not appropriate,” he said.
The signs he mentions include natural disasters all over the world, nations raging against their leaders, divorce rates overpowering marriages, incest, people turning gay, and the love of people growing cold. He says although the signs are clear and many believers are ready for the moment when everything will come to a standstill, they still do not believe Family Radio’s theory.
Prophet Ramocha of Share The Fire Ministries says for as long as information concerning Judgement Day contradicts the Bible record, it is wrong. He too says only God knows when that time will come.
Harold Camping, the founder of the US-based radio station, is the man behind the hysteria over May 21. Camping calls himself “a tireless student of the Bible for over five decades”.
He claims the “tens of thousands of hours” he spent analyzing the Bible has given him a unique perspective of the entirety of the scriptures. His theory is based on some arithmetic dating from the flood. Camping claims the inhabitants who survive next month’s “terrible disaster” will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description.
A graphic designer based in Gaborone, however, opposes both the Christian belief and the Camping statements, and says the Bible is too complex for anybody to know what is going on in it.
The designer, who preferred not to be named, calls the Bible a book of silly stories meant to scare children and says the belief in hell is unrealistic and defies reason.
“I’ll be looking forward to Judgement Day, if at all there is a Judgement Day,” he says, “because there are so many questions I have for that day.”