A Nebraska church has helped local residents relieve some of their financial stress by raising over half a million dollars to pay off their medical debt. According to The Christian Post, First-Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln launched a fourteen-month campaign hoping to raise at least $8,000, but ended up raising far beyond that thanks to the compassion and generosity of 10,000 people, many of whom do not attend the church. With the money raised, over 500 families have been helped thanks to this kind effort.
In his Easter Sunday sermon, Senior Pastor Rev. Jim Keck explained that “the church decided that there were too many homes right in our neighborhood that were saddled with medical debt. … The church decided that every dime that went into the collection plate … would go to forgive the medical debt of homes right here in central Lincoln.”
Keck further explained that “sometimes love has to be expressed in actions.” He said the effort was following the guidance of Jesus who called on His followers to “love their neighbor,” and the Lord’s Prayer.
Keeping the recipients’ identities anonymous, the debt collector only shared the family and financial information about those who needed help. The only known information about a recipient would be, for example, “a single mother with two kids owes $1,000 is paying $50 a month and isn’t ever going to get on top of it.” Other recipients included a single parent receiving little child support who owed $600, and a food service worker who owed $1,300.
“The church’s website explains that the campaign began in March 2022 to erase medical debt in the Near South Neighborhood and surrounding communities by ‘committing all of our loose offerings (not pledges) to this effort until Easter 2023.’ The campaign was done in conjunction with the Debtor’s Defense Project, which works to provide ‘more transparency and protection for those going through the legal process of debt collection in Nebraska.'”
The effort to help pay off medical debt from church collections has become more common lately as it threatens the stability and security of families across America.
Reflecting on the success of his initiative, Keck said he had no idea it would “go viral,” and regrets underestimating people’s generosity. Raising more than $500,000 for their neighbors, First-Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln has not only lifted a burden off many people’s shoulders, but they have reminded them of the power of faith and love, and likely restored hope for the families who were helped.