Rich CEO Richard Ellis encounters homeless beggar Lazarus on his way to the office every day. He ignores him, but also teases and belittles him when he’s with his young colleagues. When Richard throws an empty sandwich wrapper at Laz and sniggers uncontrollably, someone films the incident on their phone and it goes viral on social media. In this story, heaven and hell are both worlds on the internet: the vilified rich man is trolled, while Laz becomes an internet legend. An army of online fans give Laz a better life by setting up a fundraising page for him and by bringing attention to his plight and that of others like him. The media and news stations follow his story of mental ill health and losing everything. Richard tries to use his money and influence to get the film taken down, to bribe Laz; he is desperate and will stop at nothing to hang on to his riches and status in life. He tries to resurrect himself by filming his own video, justifying himself and warning others, but ‘the internet’ decides who lives and dies, and Richard’s efforts ultimately come to naught.
My story is based on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31), a tale that resonates incredibly today. The chasm between rich and poor is greater than ever. It is not that money in itself is bad, but how often do the rich ignore the poor and sit idly by? In #Pray for Laz, the rich man is wealthy, greedy CEO Richard Ellis, and Lazarus is the beggar, a homeless man in his 20s. 'Abraham' here is the army of Laz's online followers, his publicist etc. and the rich man's 'brothers' are fellow rich businessmen who also do not use their wealth for good, while the dogs in the Bible story are Richard’s young colleagues. There are two chasms here: the one between rich and poor, and the one between heaven and hell – you reach heaven or hell NOT according to how much money, power or influence you have, but according to the way you live, your intentions, the state of your spirit and your relationships with others (including God). Richard has reaped what he has sown and there is no way back. Ultimately, ‘Abraham’ can’t help him and Richard reaches the point of no redemption.