Saved by the internet.
Maybe; or, maybe not. Al Gore’s invention (“During my service in the United States Congress, I took initiative in creating the internet…”) has a checkered history. It has become as ubiquitous as Big Macs in the world of 2013, but it’s simply a tool.
Gore claimed (partial) credit for the web; it’s hard to find anyone who will take credit for the Affordable Healthcare website experience on Opening Day. The digital clipboard – where the new “sign in, have a seat, and the doctor will be with you in a few minutes” offer was supposed to welcome people to our newest medical fix-all – was Dead on Arrival. The healthcare.gov website is in the congressional morgue, in the middle of a CSpan obituary at the hands of a bunch of angry committee members.
Some websites work like a fine Swiss watch. Silk Road had that kind of reputation… until it was interrupted by the FBI.
Instead of eBay, Silk Road was eBad. The primary product available on the site was illegal drugs – LSD, cocaine and the like – but the product mix had expanded to include other hard-to-find items like fake IDs, hacking software and automatic weapons. Purchased with the web’s cross-over, untraceable currency called BitCoin, goods were then shipped to the buyers door through conventional delivery providers.
Silk Road’s mastermind entrepreneur was Ross Ulbricht, a 29-year-old Bay Area tech genius who was AN unremarkable “regular guy” to his two unsuspecting roommates. Since the site went live, authorities estimate Ulbricht’s take – in fees, as a middle man – at about $80 million. He’s busy now on the other coast: indicted in New York for narcotics trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking; and in New Jersey for hiring a hit man to take out a hacker who was messing with him. (Maybe, after he’s convicted, he could work on the healthcare.gov site – instead of the prison laundry – and get it up to speed?)
And, then, there’s Walt Wilson. He has an interesting mix of past-life assignments, from his stint in the US Marines to his early career experience with Apple Computer as managing director of US Operations. Four decades of experience – working mostly from Silicon Valley – kept Walt on the front line of the digital frontier.
Before the internet replaced direct human interaction, Walt saw the potential to exploit technology with theology. Paul wrote to the sophisticated Christians who lived in the Capitol of the World, Rome: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:13-14) If salvation is the objective, communication is the imperative. How could the followers of Jesus use the world wide web to get the word out, about Jesus?
Global Media Outreach is Walt’s baby. In less than a decade, they have seen over 88 million people indicate their decision to follow Jesus Christ from their various websites (track ‘em on their dashboard, GreatCommission2020.com). They match inquirers from around the world – many from some of the world’s most closed countries – with “online missionaries” (Christians just like… you) who meet the inquirer via a website, and usher them into early steps of the faith.
Saved by the internet? The internet cannot save anyone; I just said that to get your attention. The internet may kill some careers in Washington in the near future; the internet will put Ross Ulbricht in publicly-funded housing for 25-to-life; the internet will be the street corner where millions of lost people heard the Gospel, met Jesus, met a Christian half-a-world away, and caught a bus to Heaven.
What world-changing idea has been sparked from your day job that could be a game-changer against the backdrop of Eternity?