Church Pays Off $4M in Medical Debt for Families in East Texas

Hundreds of homes throughout East Texas got an unusual yellow envelope in their mailboxes, thanks to one Southern Baptist church in Texas.

It wasn’t a church invite or junk mail. Instead, it could be worth tens of thousands of dollars for the recipients.

Facilitated by more than $45,000 in generous gifts in August, Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, is working with a nonprofit toward paying off $4 million in medical debt for their East Texas neighbors.

David Dykes, the church’s pastor, noted that Tyler is the medical capital of East Texas, with several large medical facilities. “Through my relationship with Mother Frances Hospital, I know just that one hospital is carrying like $157 million of unpaid bills,” he said.

“It’s a problem that’s crippling many families.

“The Bible says to ‘bear one another’s burdens and so we fulfill the law of Christ,'” he noted. “The only law of Christ is to love God and love your neighbor. Because the need was so great, we felt like this was the perfect thing for us to do.”

Helping with medical bills is part of Green Acres’ larger Kindness 25:40 initiative, based on Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

As part of the initiative, Green Acres challenged its members to participate in a variety of acts of kindness in the community. The church encouraged members to go through fast-food drive through lines and pay for their bill and the bill of the car behind, for example. They also gave away free water at a local park, washed the windshields of hundreds of cars in their parking lot during a local school district event, and paid for people’s laundry at local laundromats.

To pay off the medical debt, Green Acres contacted RIP Medical Debt, a national nonprofit that has helped organizations, like churches, abolish $715 million of debt since its 2014 founding. Green Acres members gave more than $45,000 to the effort.

Founded by a pair of men with experience as debt collectors, RIP Medical Debt began as a response to the growing impact of debt on the lives of the poor nationwide. Craig Antico, one of the cofounders, noted that half of all debt collectors are collecting money for medical debts and, according to a recent article in The Atlantic, half of all overdue debt on Americans’ credit reports is from medical expenses.

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Source: Baptist Press