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Thousands Prepare For Prelude To Christ’s Second Coming

September 12, 1988 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Scores of religious fundamentalists are heeding an author’s predictions that a prelude to Christ’s second coming is near and some are selling their worldly goods to prepare for the end of the world.

The ″Rapture″ is expected to strike before sunset Tuesday, according to the book ″88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988,″ which was written by former NASA rocket engineer Edgar C. Wisenant.

He used mathematical calculations and biblical interpretations to pinpoint the event to the 48 hours of this year’s Jewish New Year - 40 years and 120 days after Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948.


According to his book, millions of the faithful will be suddenly, silently called to Heaven this week and global disasters will follow.

In West Virginia, a minister reported a baptism boom and in Ohio a retired firefighter spent $3,700 for a newspaper ad to tell people that Jesus Christ will return this week to take believers to heaven.

Ed Koval said the cost of the ad in The Blade of Toledo was ″a pittance, because if this is true and it does come to pass, what’s money anyway?″

Most religious leaders say there is no evidence to support claims that the Rapture will occur this week.

Randy Thompson, director of the Christian Studies Center in New Haven, Conn., said the Rapture appeals mainly to fundamentalist Christians who interpret the Bible as the literal word of God.

″It’s just a sign of the times - people are looking for reassurance that it’s going to happen,″ said Dr. E.S. Hanrahan, dean of the College of Science at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va.

Rabbi Victor Urecki of B’Nai Jacob, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Charleston, W.Va., said he was being swamped with calls from Christians as Rosh Hashana neared.

″I’ve been telling people who call that I’ll see them Tuesday,″ he said. ″I’m not too worried about it.″

But some Christians are taking it seriously and are selling off their valuables in anticipation that they will soon be in the Kingdom of God.

Durham, N.C., television station WTVD reported that several residents last week put their cars and a boat up for sale in anticipation of the event.

Many preachers talked about the Rapture in their Sunday sermons.

″Will it happen? I’m not a date-setter ... but I’m not a fool, either,″ said the Rev. Max Allman of Peoples Memorial Christian Church in Burlington, N.C., who urged worshippers to ″check out their priorities.″

Allman, pastor of Peoples Memorial, said the event had created a revival at his church, with attendance doubling in recent weeks to more than 700 at Sunday and 350 at weeknight services.

″This has made them (people) understand that in a flash this could all be over,″ he said.

″The Lord is coming back. I’m looking at it about any time now,″ said Jerry McLamb, 37, of Coats, N.C. He said he and workers at his automobile engine shop had rushed to complete customers’ orders last week, possibly their last.