How would you feel if a stranger paid off thousands of dollars that you owed in medical debt? A church in Michigan has done exactly that for almost 2,000 people, paying off the medical bills of debtors in four counties, all to show residents that God loves them.
“They owe us nothing,” said Sam Rijfkogel, lead pastor of Grand Rapids First in Wyoming, Michigan. “We just want to show them that there are people out there that love you and, more importantly, God loves you, and we’re trying to show you that He does in this tangible way.”
Grand Rapids First Shows God’s Love
Through the nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, which buys debt for pennies on the dollar, Grand Rapids First was able to use $15,000 to pay for over $1.8 million dollars in medical debt. By doing so, the church is fulfilling one of the core values stated on its website: “We actively seek to draw people to God by touching our city and our world through simple acts of kindness.”
The 1,899 debtors were chosen at random and live in the counties of Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Ionia. This week, they will each receive a letter stating that all of their medical debt has been paid in full. Rijfkogel says, “We’re constantly looking for needs to serve the people and serve in the name of Christ. We just find a need and we fill it. That’s exactly what we did.”
Grand Rapids First is not the only church seeking to serve like Jesus through paying off medical debt in its community. Last March, a church in Annapolis, Maryland, paid for almost $1.9 million in debt for 900 families. That church was inspired in part by a church in Texas that had paid off over $10.5 million in debt the previous year.
What stories do you have of ways churches are showing the love Christ to their communities?