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Columbia congregation pays off more than $400,000 in medical debt

Perhaps the only thing more stressful than a serious health challenge is worrying about how to pay for treatment. Numerous patients in mid-Missouri can breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to the generosity of The Crossing Church in Columbia, Mo.

Pastors Keith Simon and Patrick Miller of announced on Sept. 15 that the church had raised enough money to pay off $431,597.30 in medical debt.

“That’s what you, The Crossing, have generously given because Jesus paid off our spiritual debts,” the church announced on its Facebook page with the hashtags #JubileeForMissouri and #JesusPaidItAll. “Thank you to everyone who donated. Your giving will forgive medical debt for thousands of families in Missouri and make God’s love known in our community.”

The Crossing partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization in Rye, N.Y., that will use the church’s donation to purchase medical debt for a penny on the dollar

“Because their medical debt is unlikely to be paid, collection agencies are willing to sell it off for one penny on the dollar,” the pastors said. “This means that one dollar can buy $100 of medical debt. One hundred dollars can buy $100,000.

“The people of The Crossing gave $431,000, which RIP Medical Debt will use to purchase and then forgive $43 million of medical debt. Every person whose debt is forgiven will receive a note from RIP Medical Debt saying that The Crossing paid off their debt.”

The pastors went on to explain that they called their effort a jubilee in tribute to the practice in ancient Israel in which every 50 years, all debts were forgiven. “It was called the jubilee,” they said. “A day of liberation. Debts forgiven. Indentured servants released. Mortgaged property returned. And on this same day, everyone’s sins were forgiven.

“The Crossing realizes that our community suffers under the burden of both spiritual and financial debt. Medical debt is one of the leading causes of financial bankruptcy, and about half of all debt collection is related to unpaid medical expenses.”

The Columbia church is not alone in taking on the task. Churches across the nation are partnering with organizations to bring relief to thousands of families and individuals across the country.

More information about RIP Medical Debt is available at www.ripmedicaldebt.org.