"The cold, hard reality is going to hit them that they did this, and it was false and they basically emptied out everything to follow a false teacher," he said. "We're not all about doom and gloom. Our message is a message of salvation and of hope."
As the day drew nearer, followers reported that donations grew, allowing Family Radio to spend millions on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the doomsday message. In 2009, the nonprofit reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.
Marie Exley, who helped put up apocalypse-themed billboards in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, said the money helped the nonprofit save as many souls as possible.
She said she and her husband, mother and brother were glued to the television on Friday night waiting for news of an earthquake in the southern hemisphere. When that did not happen, she said fellow believers began reaching out to reassure each other of their faith in the prophecy.
"Some people were saying it was going to be an earthquake at that specific time in New Zealand and be a rolling judgment, but God is keeping us in our place and saying you may know the day but you don't know the hour," she said Saturday, speaking from Bozeman, Mont. "The day is not over, it's just the morning, and we have to endure until the end."
Camping, who lives few miles from his radio station, was not home Saturday at midmorning.
But Sheila Doan, 65, Camping's next-door-neighbor of 40 years, was. She said the worldwide spotlight on the prediction is far more attention than Camping's 1994 prediction got.
Doan said she is a Christian but that she doesn't buy into his views and is not among his followers.
"I wouldn't consider Mr. Camping a close friend and wouldn't have him over for dinner or anything, but if he needs anything, we're there for him," Doan said.
Associated Press reporters Don Babwin in Chicago, Mike Householder in Detroit, and video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco contributed to this report. Garance Burke can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/garanceburke.
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