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John Oliver Just Forgave $15 Million Worth of Debt and It Reminds Us All of a Growing Ministry Need

In an act of goodwill toward fellow humans, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver forgave nearly $15 million dollars of medical debt. Not only did he forgive it, he set a new record for the amount of money given away on TV, beating Oprah’s record of $8 million dollars in 2004.

The process began in April when Oliver and his team set up a company called “Central Asset Recovery Professionals, or CARP.” It was intentionally named after the bottom-feeding fish. Its purpose was to go after medical debt, purchasing names, social security numbers and debt attached to those pieces of information. Most companies do this with the intent to collect the debt owed, usually to the harassment of the debtor.

But Oliver did something completely different. He took the medical debt collected by his company and forgave it. When he announced it on TV, Oliver said that the point of the experiment was to expose the awful debt practices of companies and, obviously, to have the largest giveaway in TV history. But above all that, “It was the right thing to do.”

Oliver’s company purchased the debt for $60,000.

As wonderful as the forgiveness is, the segment highlights the debt problem for many Americans—medical or otherwise. Consider these numbers:

  • In Q4 of 2015, the average American household carried $15,762 of credit card debt.
  • Bankruptcy filings in 2009 reached 1.4 million.
  • The average graduate in 2014 carried $33,000 worth of student loan debt.
  • The amount of the National Debt that sits on every American is $59,143.

As we look at John Oliver’s debt forgiveness generosity, we need to be aware of the underlying problem underneath it. And to understand it, church leaders and congregations need to be educated on it.

Financial teacher and radio host Dave Ramsey says, “I believe that through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible for all of us.”

And Solomon reminds us that we must honor the Lord with the money He’s given us, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” Proverbs 3:9.

There are many ministries who can help your church learn more about money, how to get out of debt and steward their finances. For more information, you can visit their websites:


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Carrie Kintz is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She works with ministries and individuals across the country, helping them figure out what to say and how to say it in the digital space. Carrie has also spoken at conferences such as the Best of Social Media Summit and That Church Conference. When she's not writing (or tweeting), she enjoys hiking, time with friends and a good cup of coffee