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Kansas church pays off $2.2 million in medical debt for 1,600 people

Kansas families struggling with medical debt were blessed with an Easter surprise.

The 4,000-member multi-campus congregation of Pathway Church in Wichita used over $20,000 of its own funds to pay off the medical debt of 1,600 Kansas families classified in the “hardship” category by the nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt.

RIP Medical Debt purchases medical debt for pennies on the dollar, making financial freedom possible for those steeped in crippling debt. Because of this incredible return, Pathway’s contribution was able to cover $2.2 million in medical bills.

The donation came from funds the church typically allocates to helping those in financial need and promoting its Easter Sunday services. This year, instead of receiving an invitation to the Easter services, select families received the following note in the mail that read: “We’re Pathway Church. We may never meet you, but as an act of kindness in the name of Jesus Christ, your debt has been forgiven.”

Pathway confirmed that the negative effect of medical debt on a person’s credit history would also be erased with the payments.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to illustrate and picture what Easter is all about!” Pathway’s communications director, Andrew Miller, said. “When we saw this opportunity with RIP Medical Debt to forgive the debts of people around the state of Kansas, we couldn’t think of a better way to look like Jesus and tell His story. In fact, Jesus last words on the cross were ‘It is finished,’ which literally is translated ‘paid in full.’”

Miller noted that even though some of the recipients may not know or accept Christ as their savior, “it’s the love of God that compels us to invest in our community and to see it transformed.”

“When people are freed from debt, it helps them start over and gives them a second chance,” he said. “When that happens, it changes people and it changes our community for the better.”

On Sunday Pathway’s lead pastor, Todd Carter, explained the deeper message they hoped to send to recipients of their generous gift:

“I want you to imagine for a moment what those 1,600 people felt like last week when they got that letter in the mail — what was going on in those houses when they got that letter in the mail, and all of a sudden they realize that their debt, this debt that has been hanging over their head has been forgiven,” he said. “That’s exactly what God in the person of Jesus Christ wants you to feel each and every day – that your debt has been forgiven.”

Of the 1,600 people whose debts were erased, 500 were based in the Wichita area. Miller noted that though the church did not receive the names of those who received assistance, “several individuals” who attend Pathway have self-identified and personally thanked church leaders.

Pathway Church is very vocal about how financial giving relates to its mission of drawing people to Christ. The church website’s “Why We Give” page explains the spiritual significance of generous giving:

“Giving is central to faith in God,” it reads. “We give because it demonstrates we truly trust God and because God asks us to give. He wants to be the top priority in our lives and asks us to trust Him with everything—including money!”

“At Pathway, we don’t give because God or the church needs our money,” Miller shared. “We give because of God’s great generosity demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross!”

“Our church is all about helping see people’s lives transformed, and really that’s what the church in this city is about,” he said, “and we just want to do all we can to continue to leverage ourselves in Jesus name for the good of people in our community.”