Since Christmas is about giving, I’d like to give you a story.
In Eagle Rock, California, Christian Assembly Church is keeping the holiday spirit alive by doing something incredible for those who’ve been sick and suffered a sore wazoo from paying out it. Or, at least, being obligated to.
For Christmas, the church is canceling over $5.3 million in medical debt.
As reported by Good Morning America, CAC has joined forces with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt to sock it to the woes of those in the red this red and green season.
Here’s how GMA put it:
“This morning, one church is creating their own Christmas miracle. Helping thousands of people pay off millions of dollars worth of medical debt.”
In a video on the church’s website, co-pastor Tom Hughes provided some insight:
“For many people in our communities, medical debt is a crushing weight on them during a most challenging time in their life. In fact, 60% of people who experience personal bankruptcies do so because of medical debt. In fact, medial debt and unpaid medical bills is one of the leading causes of homelessness in our city. Now, you may be thinking if they had medical insurance, they wouldn’t be in that problem, but 75% of the people who experienced this did have medical insurance whenever they were impacted…”
The church has discovered that, in 28 nearby neighborhoods, there’s more than $5.3 million owed by individuals earning less than twice the national poverty line.
The organizations will also work to help repair their credit rating.
5,555 households will be receiving a letter…
And it will read:
“You no longer have any obligation to pay this debt to anyone.”
“We are canceling all of the unpaid medical debt — $5.3 million — as a Christmas gift to all of the poor in all 28 neighborhoods,” Pastor Tom said.
And why would people do this for those they’ve never even met? The letter will explain that as well, as per Tom:
“All of this is being done in Jesus’s name…it’s being done simply because of the generosity of our God and the compassion and mercy that he has shown us.”
Religious attendance is down. Atheism is the biggest religion in America. At this point, what has church become, in the eyes of those who do not go? It seems to me America’s pews were once pillars of the community. Not just because they were gathering places for those with shared beliefs, but because they helped the needy.
Let us look to Christian Assembly as a model of what America’s houses of worship could — and should — once again be.
In James, the Apostle Paul directed the following:
“If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
If followers of faith truly want to change the world, a good start would be changing the lives of people outside their walls…in ways they can feel. That’s how you make faith real — even to the faithless.
What a wonderful gift the church as given.
And that’s what it’s all about, on this Merry Christmas.
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