A Texas megachurch used a $100,000 donation to eliminate $10 million worth of medical debt going into Easter weekend.
"While introducing ourselves as a local church to these families, we also showed them that we aren't trying to get something from them—but rather give something to them," said Pastor Stephen Hayes in a statement to The Stream.
Covenant Church of Carrollton, Texas, donated the $100,000 to RIP Medical Debt, a program that buys and forgives medical debt from general public, veterans and local communities.
RIP Medical Debt buys and forgives an average of 100 times the amount in unpaid and unpayable medical debt, according to its site. A donation of $100 may forgive $10,000 in medical debt.
The church initially wanted to help veterans, who often cope with significant medical debt associated with war-time injuries.
"These men and women have laid their lives on the line, and in most cases, the debt they've accumulated medically is because or connected to the service they have given; to know that we can help them is just another layer of impact we just couldn't pass up," Hayes says.
Once the church covered local veterans, they extended their donations to include the medical debt of community families.
Hayes knows firsthand the weight of crushing medical bills. At 17, he was struck by a car and spent 12 days in a coma. Though he eventually recovered —and took over his father's church—the now-pastor says his family struggled with their debt.
"My family has known the crushing weight that can come with medical debt," says Hayes. "I felt strongly that the ability to buy it for just one penny on the dollar was not just a great opportunity, but also an act of good stewardship."
Hayes' parents, Mike and Kathy, founded Covenant Church in 1976. Mike Hayes also founded Churches In Covenant International, a network of churches and ministries in the United States, where he serves as president. Last year, Hayes also launched the relief fund, HelpChurches.org, that brought together a network of 50 churches to help raise money for victims of hurricanes that ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as the survivors of the Las Vegas shooting and the wildfires that swept through California.
One attendee discussed the church's authenticity in a Facebook comment.
"This is the first church I ever attended where they really 'walk the walk' vs just the talk. The leadership here actually shows where your tithes go and during times of trial (Harvey, etc.) rolled up their sleeves and got down to business helping people, instead of just telling others to go help. Glad to have found this place," she says.
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