NC Church Reenacts Jesus’ Fishes Story for Medical Bills in the Community

zimmytws /
zimmytws /

Back before Easter in March, the Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was able to do what Jesus once did and tend to the community around them. Armed with just a little more than $15,000, the church’s “Debt Jubilee Project” joined forces with the NY-based nonprofit “RIP Medical Debt” to help the people in their area get out from under that crushing medical debt.

Hospitals can be incredibly pressing with their billing department, and many are unwilling to negotiate with anyone besides the insurance companies. For low-income people, these bills can be devastating. When hospitals are charging $500 for an aspirin, $750 for a band-aid, and $1200 for a bag of IV fluid, it makes sense how people would become in deep debt so easily.

With 3,355 people having bills that add up to over $3.3 million in debt, the organization had their work cut out for them in trying to negotiate a deal. Yet, much like Jesus with only a few fish and a few loaves of bread was able to feed 5000 people, this $15,000 paid for the bills of these people. This kind of stretching to cover something this big is a Jesus-like miracle.

In this day and age, many worry that taking advantage of programs like RIP Medical Debt will destroy their credit or taxes going forward. Thankfully, that’s not the case. As their website details, they make deals to save people and help at the same time. “We buy debt in bundles, millions of dollars at a time at a fraction of the original cost. People across the country receive letters that their debt has been erased. They have no tax consequences or penalties to consider. Just like that, they’re free of medical debt.”

Thankfully, churches like Trinity Moravian are not alone in taking on these kinds of missions.

In 2019, Northview Church in Indiana was able to wipe out $4 million in local medical debt as they got their 10,000-member congregation to donate a few dollars each. 2020 saw Crossroads Church in Cincinnati take down $46 million in medical debt for 45,000 people in the area.

While the concept of rallying against medical debt is something nearly every member of American society can get behind, it is a deeply personal message for many churches. Inside the Old Testament is the Book of Leviticus, and there they describe a “jubilee” to be held every 49 or 50 years. During this time slaves were to be freed and all debts to be forgiven to show the mercy of God. Many in the church see these medical debts as a form of modern-day slavery.

A mission like this is one God himself would be proud of. The medical system in the US has been a never-ending cycle of debt for many Americans. Given the lessons of the Good Book to encourage us all to love our fellow man, it’s a beautiful thing to see these churches taking this so seriously. It also sends a message to the public that has been lost over the years; being a member of God’s flock means all your needs will be tended to in time.

Many believe the Lord will only nurture your soul, but it will not provide for your pocketbook, stomach, or home. Yet true members of the church know when God provides it is on his schedule, not yours. You may have to go through tests, trials, and tribulations before he gives you what you need.

It is this mindset that helps encourage the churches and their parishioners to give what they can to help those in need. It’s not charity, but a selfless hand-up. Something the Bible tells us all to give each other when we need it. Something that has been lost along the way, and it’s a surprise that someone has yet to try and make this practice illegal. Given how they have allowed the hospitals to overcharge for medical care, it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone end this to ensure their profit margins.