Goals? Really? In 2020? For many, COVID-19 has shattered many personal and collective aspirations this year, but I am grateful that the Lord continues to move in His time and in His power. For example, as a staff, we prayed that the Lord would allow us to give more resources to missions and benevolence this year than we ever have. And would you believe this? In the midst of a difficult financial year for many people and businesses, we are on track to meet that goal! Can I just say, “Wow?”
As a part of that effort, we had the opportunity to partner with an organization called RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys up unpaid and “unpayable” medical debt that has been turned over to collections. This group bridges the gap between donors wanting to help and families in great need of assistance. As RIP states, “Medical debt forgiveness gives struggling individuals a fresh start, allows them to seek the continued medical care they need, and helps along the path to financial stability.” After abolishing each debt, RIP sends out notices to the benefiting families and helps these recipients repair their credit reports. And according to RIP, this debt retirement renews individuals’ access to opportunities and resources that will allow them to rebuild.” For $40,000, we were able to forgive $3.2 million of medical debt in the parishes of Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, and Union, for over 1,400 people. That is an average of $2,000 of medical debt per person! This was done through your generosity, for your giving above and beyond the budget. That is right. No funds from the 2020 budget were utilized; our church family simply saw the need and gave accordingly.
Isn’t this the way it should be? I often hear complaints about governmental aid services, and perhaps there is some truth there. But to be honest, I’m convinced that such programs exist because we, as churches, have failed. We are the ones who should be reaching out, and we are to be ministering to those most vulnerable. This effort is just one way to be the church.
In the letter to the families who experienced the retirement of their medical debt, we identified our love for the community. The Temple family has always loved our neighbors, but we wanted to communicate that compassion tangibly through this effort. Of course, when we made this plan last year, we never dreamed that a pandemic would threaten not only people’s physical health but also their financial well-being. But what a time to help the most vulnerable confront their medical debt!
Hopefully, each family that received our note will know not only medical debt retirement but that their sin debt can be canceled as well through Jesus Christ. It is important that the meeting of physical needs is accompanied by the meeting of spiritual needs. Because if we only help people in the “here and now” and we fail to point them toward eternity, we have missed the mark of His intention! Our aim must be to underscore the truth that forgiveness is available through a man named Jesus!
My friends, thank you again for who you are. Thank you for your heart for ministry. Thank you for your commitment to gospel stewardship. Simply stated, thank you!