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Paid In Full: Why The Crossing Erased $43 Million in Missouri Medical Debt


Why Call it a Jubilee?

Imagine you received a letter in the mail telling you that all your debt was forgiven. School loans? Paid off. Mortgage? Gone. Credit card? Abolished.

As crazy as it sounds something like this happened every fifty years in ancient Israel. It was called the Jubilee. A day of liberation. Debts forgiven. Indentured servants released. Mortgaged property returned.  And on this same day everyone’s sins were forgiven—even spiritual debts get paid off. Our English word, “jubilation,” comes from this day. And anyone can see why: if you were poor, indebted, or oppressed, then the Jubilee was a day for Jubilation.

Fast forward many centuries. A poor carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth sits down in his town’s synagogue to teach a short section of Scripture. He handpicks the passage. And it’s a passage about the Jubilee. The day of liberation.

But not just any day of liberation. The ultimate day of liberation from all debts.

He read to the watching crowd, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk. 4:18-19).

Jesus understood something fundamental about every human: we all have a debt of guilt before God. The question is, “How can my debt be forgiven?”

Jesus died on the cross so he could send every human a letter that says, “Your spiritual debts have been paid.”

When we receive that letter, it frees us. It liberates us to be generous with our time, treasure and talents. It’s a little bit like what happens when you’re waiting in a drive through line and discover that the person in front of you paid your bill. How do you want to respond? You want to pay for the person behind you.

Jesus didn’t just pay one bill. He paid it all.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Though Jesus was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” The church, at its best, has been giving out of the wealth of Jesus’s sacrificial love ever since.

Paying Off Missouri Medical Debt

The Crossing realizes that our community suffers under the burden of both spiritual and financial debt. Medical debt is one of the leading causes of financial bankruptcy and about half of all debt collection is related to unpaid medical expenses. Living under unpaid medical debt can lead to receiving threatening letters, a ruined credit rating, and even the embarrassment of the collection agency hounding family and friends.

Because Jesus set us free from our spiritual debt, we feel called to set others free.

That’s why we teamed up with an organization called RIP Medical Debt to pay off all medical debt in mid-Missouri for anyone making less than twice the poverty rate.Because their medical debt is unlikely to be paid, collection agencies are willing to sell it off for 1 penny on the dollar. This means that one dollar can buy $100 of medical debt. $100 can buy $10,000.

The people of The Crossing gave $430,000, which RIP Medical Debt will use to purchase, and then forgive $43 million of medical debt. Every person whose debt is forgiven will receive a note from RIP Medical Debt saying that The Crossing paid off their debt.


Why We Gave

Imagine someone opening up that debt-forgiveness letter and asking, “Why? I don’t deserve this.”

Do you know what we would like to say in response? “Neither do we.”

None of us deserved to have Jesus pay our spiritual debt. None of us deserved to be freed at the cost of his life. But he did it anyway. So now we give out of the wealth he’s given us to set others free from debt—whether it’s financial or spiritual.

Sometimes people think churches are so focused on heaven that they forget about life on earth. That’s probably a fair critique sometimes.

But at The Crossing, we don’t think heaven and earth are opposed interests. So we’re burdened for the materially poor… and the poor in spirit. We hurt for those shouldering financial debts… and those shouldering a debt of guilt. We want to care for the sick… and those who are sick with sin. We hope today is small Jubilee for Mid-Missouri. A small appetizer of what happens when heaven and earth are brought together.

So if anyone asks why we wanted to do this, the answer is very simple. Jesus did it for us. Now he’s freed us to do it for others.

Want to learn more about the Missouri Jubilee and why we gave? Listen to this podcast episode from The Crossing pastors, Keith Simon and Patrick Miller.