OAKLAND, Calif. – They spent months warning the world of the apocalypse, some giving away earthly belongings or draining their savings accounts. And so they waited, vigilantly,  Saturday for the appointed hour to arrive.

When 6 p.m. came and went at various spots around the globe, including the East Coast of the United States, and no cataclysm occurred, Keith Bauer – who drove his family 3,000 miles from Maryland to California for the Rapture – took it in stride.

“I had some skepticism, but I was trying to push the skepticism away because I believe in God,” he said in the bright morning sun outside the gated Oakland headquarters of Family Radio International, whose founder, Harold Camping, has been broadcasting the apocalyptic prediction for years.

“I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth.” But he added, “It’s God who leads you, not Harold Camping.”

Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver, began the voyage west a couple of weeks ago, figuring that if he “worked last week, I wouldn’t have gotten paid anyway, if the Rapture did happen.”

After seeing the nonprofit ministry’s base of operations, Bauer planned to take a day trip to the Pacific Ocean, and then start the cross-country drive back home today  with his wife, young son and another relative.

The May 21 doomsday message was sent far and wide via broadcasts and websites by Camping, 89, a retired civil engineer who has built a multimillion-dollar Christian media empire that publicizes his apocalyptic prediction.

According to Camping, the destruction was likely to have begun its worldwide march as it became 6 p.m. in the various time zones, although believers said Saturday that the exact timing was never written in stone.

In New York’s Times Square, Robert Fitzpatrick of Staten Island said he was surprised when 6 p.m. came and went. He had spent his own money to put up ads about the end of the world.

“I don’t understand it. I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t understand what happened.

“Obviously, I haven’t understood it correctly because we’re still here,” he said.

Though the sun rose Saturday without the foretold earthquakes, plagues and other calamities, the delay was a further test from God to persevere in their faith, many followers said.

“It’s still May 21, and God’s going to bring it,” said Family Radio’s special projects coordinator, Michael Garcia, who spent Saturday morning praying and drinking two last cups of coffee with his wife at home in Alameda.

“When you say something and it doesn’t happen, your pride is what’s hurt. But who needs pride? God said he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.”

At Chicago’s Millennium Park, hours before 6 p.m. arrived locally, people continued to take photographs of the famed Cloud Gate as they do every other Saturday – and poked fun at the Judgment Day prophecy.

“I guess the whole school thing was a waste of time,” said Sarah Eaton, 19, a college student visiting the city from St. Paul, Minn.

The Internet also was alive with discussion, humorous or not, about the end of the world and its apparent failure to occur on cue. Many tweets declared Camping’s prediction a dud or shared, tongue-in-cheek, their relief at not having to do weekend chores, pay bills or shower.

The top trends on Twitter at midday included, at No. 1, “endofworldconfessions,” followed by “myraptureplaylist.”

Camping’s radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website are controlled from a modest building sandwiched between an auto shop and a palm reader’s business.

Family Radio International’s message has been broadcast in 61 languages. He has said that his earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994 didn’t come true because of a mathematical error.