A congregation in Michigan was able to eliminate $3.89 million in medical debt for families as part of a nationwide nonprofit charity's effort to help those in need.
Victory Life Church of Battle Creek announced Sunday that they had raised $15,000 for the project, which a nonprofit known as RIP Medical Debt was able to use to purchase nearly $4 million in medical debt.
Pastor James Sunnock explained in comments published by local media on Monday that the funds will go to help people in Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Branch, Barry and Eaton counties.
“All of that $3.8 million was for people within our community, and that's what we loved about it,” Sunnock said, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
“It would be great to do it for anybody, but we wanted to invest and bring change within our community. … The fact these are people in economically hard times, it felt good to do something without expecting anything in return.”
RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014 and garnered major headlines in 2016 when it was positively featured on comedian John Oliver’s HBO series “Last Week Tonight."
Based in New York, the nonprofit has worked with churches across the country to help provide medical debt relief through buying medical debt for pennies on the dollar through the collection system and forgiving the debt so those in debt incur no expenses.
Last month, RIP Medical Debt worked with The Crossing, a congregation in Columbia, Missouri, to erase $43 million in medical debt incurred by area families. This total came from members of The Crossing raising about $432,000.
“Every person whose debt is forgiven will receive a note from RIP Medical Debt saying that The Crossing paid off their debt,” explained pastors Keith Simon and Patrick Miller of The Crossing in a statement at the time.
“The Crossing realizes that our community suffers under the burden of both spiritual and financial debt. Medical debt is one of the leading causes of financial bankruptcy and about half of all debt collection is related to unpaid medical expenses.”
In January, a Maryland church named Revolution Annapolis raised $15,000 for the cause, with RIP Medical Debt eventually using the funds to purchase $2 million in medical debt for about 900 individuals and families in the state.
Revolution pastor Kenny Camacho told The Christian Post in an interview published in March that medical forgiveness was meant to be seen as a gift.
“That is a core part of our belief system and our structure. We think this is a practical and tangible way that we can help people — regardless of whether they are part of a church or not — experience forgiveness that impacts their lives in a meaningful way,” Camacho told CP.
“We hope that is kind of the taste of the larger message that we would like to communicate to people about what it means to have debt forgiven.”