By Conference Minister Diane Weible
On Ash Wednesday, 31 East Bay churches, serving in the Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, joined together with a lofty goal—to raise $44,000 in order erase a combined $4.7 million in medical debt for their neighbors.
They partnered with RIP Medical Debt in this effort. RIP Medical Debt purchases medical debt that has been in the collection system for years and, therefore, can be purchased at the cost of $1 for $100 of debt. Relieving people of the burden of this kind of debt that has been weighing on them for years, even decades, is what Jesus means when he says, “when you did it for these, you did it unto me.”
The original plan for these churches was that on Good Friday they would join together for worship at one of their churches to pray for all those burdened with this debt and on Easter Sunday they would celebrate the successful completion of this six-week campaign.
These faithful churches did join together for worship on Good Friday, but it wasn’t in a church. It was online. And they prayed. And they sang. And they were together.
On Easter Sunday they did celebrate how far they have come and the success of their campaign to this point. They thanked God for all the families they will help with the $29,167.40 raised so far. And they prayed for strength to make a final push to raise the remaining $15,000 to be able to help all the families. They are not giving up.
This pandemic has shed light on the painful realities in our communities—hatred towards Asian Americans has escalated; people of color are becoming infected at a rate that exceeds the percentage of their population; essential workers—grocery store workers, post office employees, garbage collectors, hospital workers, to name a few—are putting their lives on the line every day to meet our needs so we can shelter in place; individuals have been laid off or have lost business and are worried about how to put food on the table for their families; isolation and loneliness is rampant, especially in hospitals because families cannot come and visit their loved ones in ICU due to quarantine rules; and individuals already under the weight of medical debt are feeling the effects of this economic shutdown in ways most of us cannot even begin to understand.
While the COVID-19 crisis may be the reason that the churches have not yet met their fundraising goal, it is also the reason that we are able to better see and understand the suffering of our neighbors and how much they need our help. This campaign offers one way to help. Will you consider a gift to this campaign to help our siblings in the East Bay Churches raise the remaining $15000 to give people the chance to be free of their medical debt and start over? Click HERE to learn more about this important campaign and to make a donation.
And, whether you are able to make a gift or not, please join me in praying for these individuals and families and for all who are searching for safety, strength and peace in these difficult days.