World to end on Saturday, say New York preachers
It's raining in New York, and everyone tries to get out of the rain. Not Manny. Unflappable, he stands on a corner with his umbrella, warning people that on Saturday, May 21, the world will end.
All over New York, preachers armed with T-shirts, brochures, books and posters are preaching the end of the world. Using a complex numerical calculation from the Bible, there are even advertisements on the New York city subway warning of the "great earthquake" that accompanies the advent of Judgement Day.
"According to the Bible, in the Book of Revelations there will be a worldwide earthquake," Manny said. "We're not sure if it will happen at the same time everywhere, because times are different. But it is supposed to happen simultaneously around the world," the 56-year old from the Dominican Republic told AFP.
The date of May 21, 2011 may seem random, but it is based on a numerical analysis by Harold Camping, the president of Family Radio, a religious broadcaster based in California.
"According to Genesis, when the flood occurred in the year 4990, God told Noah that in seven days he would destroy the earth," Manny explained. "And he destroyed it in seven days.
"But Peter said: 'I know that one day for me is like a thousand years.' So 4990 plus 7001 years (the equivalent of seven days) equals 2011," he explained.
Not only that, May 21 coincides with the 17th day of the second month of the calendar used during the Biblical flood, according to Camping.
Nearby the corner where Manny is prophesying, Borce, 43, is handing out leaflets and explaining to anyone who will listen that they have a few hours left to find salvation.
"Right now there is still salvation, but when May 21st gonna come, the salvation program is finished, God gonna shut the door, and after that only five months remain for the unsaved of the world, and they're gonna be suffering and on the 21st October, God gonna destroy this world with fire," Borce said.
If Manny and Borce are out on the noisy New York City streets everyday spreading the word, they are planning to be in a quieter place when the fateful moment arrives.
"Until Friday, I gonna still pray for God for mercy. Saturday I'll be at home, just watching the news, because the doors will be shut," said Borce, who is American.
"I will kneel and ask God's mercy to see if he can save me, because God wants salvation for everyone," said Manny, who was at his side.
Despite their faith, both men realize that their message is often ridiculed. "People do not believe it," said Manny. "It is typical of what happened in Noah's time, where only eight people were saved. According to the Bible, only 200 million people will be saved" this time, Manny said.
To Borce, that reaction is predictable. "The people are laughing, they laugh at us," he says, adding: "Pray until Friday."
Meanwhile, enterprising atheists across 26 states have set up a business to care for the animal companions of any Christians who are selected to go to heaven when Jesus Christ comes back
"You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes, what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind?" Eternal Earth-Bound Pets says on its website, offering to "take that burden off your mind."
The post-doomsday pet rescue service already has 259 clients, who have paid $135 for the first pet and $20 for each additional pet at the same address, to ensure the faithful animal companions are looked after and loved even when their Christian owners have gone to the other side.
All the rescuers are sworn atheists, which means they will definitely be left behind on Earth, ready to rescue pets after the Rapture.
When judgment day happens, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets co-founder Bart Centre "will notify all of our rescuers to go into action and they will drive to the homes of anyone who's signed a contract with us, pick up their pets and take them home and adopt them as their own, keeping them happy and healthy for the rest of their lives.
"This will happen only if and when the Rapture happens. So we do not expect to have to do anything on Saturday," Centre told AFP.
Contracts are good for 10 years, just in case the Mayan calendar prophesy, which predicts the world will end in December next year, comes true.