“Im Rich” or What the Church Can Learn From Spam…

Good news,   I received an email this past week….

 Turns out that there was a Sudanese prince who passed away just last month, and decided in a great act of Christian charity and benevolence, that he was going to leave me the bulk of his estate, of which this Sudanese law firm estimates to be $365million dollars US.

Unfortunately, the prince has no known heirs, and has chosen me because of my sound character and good clean Christian personality.    I can do with it as I wish, as the prince knew I would make all the right choices. 

Sadly the Sudanese government is not happy about so much money leaving their borders and will try to stop it, if the lawyers and I do not act quick.  I have been requested to email my bank routing and account numbers so that they can quickly wire me the largest portion of the account.

 You know what?…   I just might be the luckiest guy in the whole world, as I have exactly 7 others in my email inbox just like this….  By my calculations, I have $2.6Billion dollars headed my way!   

 Okay….with all seriousness…   I hope that I do not have to warn you all that this, and all similar emails and offers, like them are not legit.

Delete them post-haste!

Without exaggeration, my junk mail filter catches more than 20 of these each day…    It works hard to catch and delete them, but ultimately there is always some sort of spam that makes its way through.    Maybe its Viagra.   Maybe it’s a hair growth formula.   Maybe their Rolex watches.  

Whatever it may be, in the end, Spam has been constantly streaming to my inbox for years.

In a stroke of better and legitimate fortune, my spam filter will find a slightly easier go of it for a few days last month.

 It will be easier because of the arrest, of a 23 year old Russian man, named Oleg Nickalenko.

Oleg has been reffered to as the King of Spam.

As it turns out a few months ago, a crooked businessman was arrested for selling fake rolex watches through spam emails.

In an attempt to save his own hide, he decided to turn on, poor old Oleg.  Turns out, this businessman gave Oleg $2million dollars to send spam for his watches.

The FBI launched a silent investigation, and Oleg was arrested this past week in Las Vegas.  They report that he was hijacking computers and via these unknown users, was sending 10 billion emails across the world…

Each and Every Day!!!!

Although I am by no means a hacking wizard, nor do I pretend to understand how these things work…but what is most fascinating is how this crime started.

According to a report on NPR, approximately 3 years ago, Oleg wrote a small piece of code, that once it arrived to your computer stayed dormant for a while.

When you executed a series of instructions, such as backing up your system, it triggered a switch and the virus turned on.    The software then made a bee line for your address book, and resent a spam email to a subset of the names you had listed.

Once the email was sent, an entry was made on a log hidden on some computer network off in cyberspace.

Oleg’s first attempt was with less than a handful of computers,…and those computers relayed the message to another, and they sent it to another, and on and on…   That first hit on less than a half dozen computers, was said to have produced over 500K emails.

Although I don’t pretend to know all the details of how the computer end of this stuff works, or even if this is an accurate depiction of the tools Oleg used, but I do know, there is a lesson in spam.

In Oleg’s act of fraud, we catch a glimpse of the power of relationships and connections.     Oleg abused the connections of others to spread a message across the world, 10 Billion times a day.

What can you and I learn from his hubris?

Imagine if we utilized the relationships we were in, to spread our message?   Imagine if we sent not messages about Rolexes, Viagra, or the like, but of the blessings and promises of our faith.

Imagine if we weren’t afraid to spark a conversation, invite a friend, or reach out to another.    Imagine if we made a difference to that small handful of people we come in contact with.   What if we change just that one person,…and they in turn did the same…and on and on and on.

How long do you think it would take to fill our pews each Sunday?

Could we have an impact like Oleg Nickalenko?

The truth is, the only way for us to fill our pews each and every Sunday, is exactly in that manner.    When we change one person for the better, we create a daisy chain.   When we make a difference for one person, we make a difference for an entire community.

To fill 40 empty seats in church, we must first fill pew number 1.

 It begins with a willingness to take the risk, and open your world up to another.   It involves telling them about the gift that is available to them.   It’s about spreading the invitation to come to a place that makes sense and makes a difference.    It’s about showing them we are a different type of people, who have a different purpose in life.

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