A single congregation has paid the medical debts of 1,899 Michigan families living at or below the poverty line, who will learn the good news this week. The medical debts owed by the West Michigan families across four counties "has been paid in full as a result of a gift from this church," pastor Sam Rijfkogel of Grand Rapids First in Wyoming, Mich., announced at Sunday's service, receiving a standing ovation. The church partnered with New York-based debt purchasing nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, which paid pennies on the dollar to purchase $1.8 million in debt using a $15,000 donation from the Grand Rapids First's missions fund, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Rijfkogel was inspired by a Texas church's decision to pay the debts of more than 4,000 families last year. His Assemblies of God church is now one of more than a dozen churches around the country to partner with RIP Medical Debt on this issue. The anonymous recipients from Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Ionia counties—including one person owing $75,000—will learn of the "no-strings-attached gift" in a letter from RIP Medical Debt this week. "They may be a God-lover or a God-hater," but "I want people to realize that someone cares," Rijfkogel said, per MLive. "So many with debt feel like nobody cares about them. We want to show them, 'God loves you and we love you.'" (Read more uplifting news stories.)