Jesus’ younger brother, James, wrote that faith divorced from action “is dead.” And a megachurch in Carrollton, Texas, is living up to that Scripture passage.
On Easter Sunday, Covenant Church senior pastor Stephen Hayes announced that a chunk of the congregation’s tithes and offerings had paid more than $10 million in medical debts, The Christian Post reported.
Tune in TONIGHT at 10pm to NBC 5 to see Pastor Stephen talk in depth about the 10 million dollars of medical debt that was paid in full this weekend by your generosity, Covenant Church!https://t.co/iK63QC8xE4#CovenantChurch #Easter2018 #DebtFree pic.twitter.com/lMRYY0Z7LA
— Covenant Church (@CovLive) April 1, 2018
Hayes said in years past, the church would have used the $100,000 sum to promote its Easter services on the radio, with TV commercials, billboards, and mailers. But this year, the church did something different.
Rather than invest in self-promotion, the house of worship partnered with an organization called RIP Medical Debt, which buys up medical bills for pennies on the dollar and then forgives them.
Initially, the church wanted to spend $50,000 to pay for all its local veterans’ medical bills. But staff soon learned there weren’t enough veterans within a 20-mile radius of each of the megachurch’s campuses to use up all the cash. So it opened it to everyone in its community — including veterans.
— Joe Clemko (@EsquireMBA13) April 3, 2018
“Right now, there is no veteran in our radius where we minister that will have [medical] debt from this day forward,” Hayes announced Sunday, noting many of them had outstanding bills due to injuries suffered during war. “It is already paid. Really cool.”
In the end, Covenant Church paid off medical bills for 4,229 families in their area, totaling $10,551,618 in debt. Hayes told parishioners it was “the easiest decision” the church had “ever made.”
“I don’t think [advertising is] a wise investment,” he told KXAS-TV, “so we decided this year for Easter to send a different kind of mail. It may not be to as many people, but it will have a much greater impact.”
Hayes, who was racked with his own medical bills after spending 12 days in intensive care following a car accident when he was 17 years old, likened the letters people will be receiving — informing them their debts have been paid — to the Easter message of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection three days later.
“[Y]our debt of sin is paid. You are covered,” the preacher said. “He wrote a letter to us, too. How do we not respond when we see the letter and understand what it means?”
He pointed to John 19:30, which chronicles Jesus’ last moments before he died:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“How do I not want to send letters to others and say, ‘Guess what? I received it, would you consider receiving it?’” Hayes asked.