MEDICAL DEBT FORGIVENESS
Medical debt can hit any family. My name is Lilia and I’ve been with Titus for twenty years and we have four daughters. A few years ago, I had gone in for a simple corrective surgery that was supposed to be outpatient, real quick and fast, and a short recovery. Unfortunately, it didn’t go smoothly. The surgeon made a big mistake and, performed the wrong surgery, which caused just a tornado of problems for me internally. I felt like I had been protected for a season of time, but that season expired and I lost my job, I lost everything. I lost the benefits that came with my job, the pay, obviously.
Then in July Titus had a workplace injury that literally almost took his life. Eventually, I was able to get the information that he was out of surgery and he still had a hand and even though he’d lost a lot of blood he was still alive. Here, we were thinking we made it, and thankful God has carried us past another storm. But sadly, just when thought the water was calming, the storms kept coming, and I was hit with another big wave. The doctors told us that I now had uterine cancer. In the middle of it all, I’m struggling. This one’s tough because there’s not a lot I can do this time. It’s not going to be reconstructive. And I’m tired. And the copay, the premiums, the prescriptions, the bills. It never stops. And, for us, it hasn’t been one medical incident, one medical need. It’s been ongoing and for so long that it can take you under.
Eastside stepped in to help us with the medical situation, with prayers, and just never-ending love and support. It is a humbling time, not just for us, for a lot of people, especially with those who are dealing with complications from COVID. I could see where so many people are struggling because having a medical crisis can literally eat up what little savings you have. With one accident, you can lose everything.
But, Lilia and Titus represent just one family amongst almost 75 million families that are experiencing medical debt as a burden. They’ve lost loved ones, or gone through getting tragic news for a loved one, or for themselves. And they go to the mailbox every day wondering if it’s going to be another bill, another debt collector asking for money, another bill they can’t make.
So we put our heads together and Eastside has partnered with RIP Medical Debt, an organization that helps to purchase medical debt. This debt has already gone to debt collectors at a bulk rate and RIP purchases the debt and then partners with churches and organizations to forgive the debt. Through this partnership we were able to send out letters to the recipients, saying your debt has been forgiven, we are with you and we are for you.
We are so excited to be able to unleash compassion in this amazing way, by spending $43,000 we were able to wipe out $7.9 million of medical debt. Three-thousand, seven hundred people received a letter saying, your debt has been forgiven. You don’t have to worry about debt collector calls, or letters coming in the mail asking for more money. We’ve been able to bring hope to the hopeless. We’ve been able to wrap our arms around families that have wondered how they’re going to make it through next month. And to remind them that we are here for them, we love them, and we are with them. The recipients received a no-strings-attached gift that removed their obligation to pay a medical debt that was owed. What this means is that the debt has been canceled. As a gift, our hope is that they begin to feel much-needed hope and some financial freedom. We know how burdensome medical debt can be, and it can strike anyone. The problem cuts across age groups and educational levels. Even worse, some individuals avoid getting much-needed medical care to avoid debt.
Our vision here at Eastside is simple. To transform homes, community, and world by pursuing God, building community, and unleashing compassion, one neighborhood at a time. We believe that if we keep these three initiatives as our highest priorities, God will take care of the rest. We believe this faith is for everyone. No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, everyone has a home here at Eastside Christian Church. Our doors are wide open to you. And our church is not a place. It’s not contained by one address or city or country. Eastside is a community of believers with relentless love and commitment to using their lives to shed light in the darkest of places. We yearn for all to know God. We present the gospel and love people in the most creative and innovative ways. Our goal is to develop the gifts within people and support them through the journey of discovering how God is calling them to use those gifts in the service of others. We would love to invite you to visit us in person or online at eastside.com. If you would like to find out more about Eastside please visit eastside.com/about.