Christian Assembly Church in Eagle Rock, California, will be giving struggling families the greatest gift this Christmas: Canceling over $5.3 million in medical debt.
According to Good Morning America, Christian Assembly partnered with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt to bring $5.3 million in aid to families crushed by the weight of medical bills.
“This morning, one church is creating their own Christmas miracle,” the report said. “Helping thousands of people pay off millions of dollars worth of medical debt.”
In a video released online, co-pastor Tom Hughes said the gift will have “no strings attached,” noting that 75% of people struggling with medical debt went bankrupt despite having health insurance.
“For many people in our communities, medical debt is a crushing weight during a most challenging time in their life,” said Tom Hughes. “Medical debt is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy and contributes significantly to the likelihood of a person experiencing homelessness.”
“For some people, it simply becomes too much of a weight and a burden for them to carry,” he added.
With the generosity of their donors, Christian Assembly chose the poorest families in 28 Los Angeles neighborhoods that were most impacted by medical debt.
“We mapped out all of the active households that call Christian Assembly Church home, and we chose the top 28 neighborhoods. This gift is really impacting the poor in the 28 neighborhoods where we live,” said Hughes. “Because of the generosity of the people of Christian Assembly Church, we are able to make this gift possible. All of this is being done in Jesus’ name because of the generosity of our God and the compassion and mercy He has shown us.”
In a press release, Christian Assembly reported that 5,555 households will be impacted by this generous Christmas gift:
The 5,555 impacted households will receive a letter letting them know that Christian Assembly Church has paid their unpaid medical debt as a way to love our neighbors well — no strings attached.
Households that will be impacted by the medical debt payoff gift are located in the City of Los Angeles (including Eagle Rock), Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, La Crescenta, Altadena, South Pasadena, Arcadia, La Canada, Alhambra, Monrovia, Sunland, San Gabriel, Tujunga, North Hollywood, Montrose, Sierra Madre, Glendora, Sylmar, Duarte, Azusa, Temple City, Van Nuys, Granada Hills, Sun Valley, Montebello, and Hollywood.
“Many years ago, we asked ourselves, ‘If Christian Assembly disappeared, would anyone who does not already attend our church notice?’” said Hughes. “People matter to God and so we are always working to ensure that we make life better for others both locally and internationally.”
Founded in 2014 by two former debt collections executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, the non-profit RIP Medical Debt has worked to cancel $1,020,232,792 billion in medical debt while “providing financial relief for over 520,000 individuals and families,” according to the organization’s website.
“Medical debt destroys the financial stability of large segments of America’s most vulnerable communities: the sick, the elderly, the poor, and veterans,” says the organization. “It also targets the middle class, driving many families who are barely getting along into poverty. Medical debt isn’t the result of bad decisions. It’s a debt of necessity.”