BUDGETING & Churches are forgiving medical debt for pennies, here’s how “RIP Medical Debt” works.

by Joshua Eaton, Sojourners Magazine, 10/10/22.

…First Presbyterian, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination, is one of many across the country raising money through the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to buy and forgive medical debts owed by people who can’t afford to pay them back. The church hopes to raise $50,000 as one of two mission components to its capital campaign — enough to forgive $5 million in medical debt. Douglas told Sojourners they should be able to forgive the $5 million by year’s end.

…according to a report released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation last year. Of those, 11 million owed more than $2,000 and 3 million owed more than $10,000, the report found. And that burden fell most heavily on communities of color, the disabled, and those without health insurance.

… That’s where RIP Medical Debt comes in. Founded in 2014 by former debt collection executives Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, the nonprofit buys medical debt either directly from hospitals or from secondary brokers. Because RIP Medical Debt is buying debt the same way investors do, it gets the same steep discounts. That means it can forgive about $100 for every $1 it spends.

… On its website, the organization says it targets debt owed by people who owe more than 5 percent of their annual income or who make less than four times the federal poverty guidelines. (In 2022, the federal poverty guideline is $27,750 a year for a family of four living in the continental United States.)

… Once a church signs on, RIP Medical Debt sets up a page for the campaign on its website and handles all the bookkeeping. The church just has to get the word out. And once the debts are forgiven, RIP Medical Debt sends out letters to the people who owed it letting them know the good news.

… Because there’s no application people have to fill out to have their debt forgiven, they often don’t even know it will be forgiven until they get a letter in the mail.

“The sense that they’ve been given some grace is incredible,” Sesso said of the responses RIP Medical Debt gets from the people whose debts it wipes out.

Read more at … https://sojo.net/articles/churches-are-forgiving-medical-debt-pennies-yours-can-too?

RECONCILIATION & How Billy Graham stood up against racism and modeled reconciliation, as told by someone who was there: Amos C. Brown.

by Amos C. Brown, Sojourners Magazine, 6/16/29.

… In July 1952, when I was 11 years old, some of my relatives took me to witness the Billy Graham Crusade in Jackson, Miss. Ropes were strung across the athletic field and stands where more than 300,000 people would gather to hear him preach during those hot summer nights. The ropes had one purpose: to keep the crowd segregated by the color of their skin.

image

I still remember, nearly 70 years later, watching as Rev. Graham walked down off the podium where he was to preach and pulled down those ropes. That was the day that he declared he would never again preach to a segregated congregation, because the gospel of Jesus Christ welcomes all equally. It was a courageous act for which he was heavily criticized, notoriously so in the segregated South. Nonetheless, in pulling down those ropes he demonstrated his belief in the words of the gospel, and over the rest of life stood with other religious leaders who were working to bring down the barriers of racism.

From the article “BILLY GRAHAM RAISED HIS VOICE AGAINST RACISM. SO SHOULD HIS SON.” Read the full article here … https://sojo.net/articles/billy-graham-raised-his-voice-against-racism-so-should-his-son

And watch a video here …https://billygraham.org/video/taking-ropes-segregation-part-4/

image

Image: LancasterOnline.com

DISCRIMINATION & how can I be a stronger ally to those who suffer?

“For our white friends desiring to be allies”
by Courtney Ariel, Sojourners Magazine, 8/16/17.

Author’s Note: I’m writing this in hopes that it can be used to lighten the load of marginalized folks, keeping in mind that not all marginalized people want to engage in the ally conversation, and that is perfect as well. For those who do, my prayer is that when someone asks you the question, “how can I be a stronger ally?” you might choose to save your breath/energy and send this in its place.

I have been asked by two dear friends, “how can I be a stronger ally?” Being the slow emotional processor that I am, I wanted to spend some time with this before I answered them. I surely appreciate and love these two individuals, and I appreciate their vulnerability in asking me this question.

1. Listen more; talk less. You don’t have to have something to say all of the time. You don’t have to post something on social media that points to how liberal/how aware/how cool/how good you are. You are lovely, human, and amazing. You have also had the microphone for most of the time, for a very long time, and it will be good to give the microphone to someone else who is living a different experience than your own.

2. For one out of every three opinions/insights shared by a person of color in your life, try to resist the need to respond with a better or different insight about something that you read or listened to as it relates to their shared opinion. Try just to listen and sit with someone else’s experience. When you do share in response to what someone has shared with you, it can sometimes (not always) feel like “whitesplaining” — meaning to explain or comment on something in an over-confident or condescending way. This adds to the silencing of the voices of people of color.

3. Being an ally is different than simply wanting not be racist (thank you for that, by the way). Being an ally requires you to educate yourself about systemic racism in this country. Read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and so many other great books and articles that illuminate oppression and structures of white supremacy and white privilege. Use your voice and influence to direct the folks that walk alongside you in real life (or follow you on the internet), toward the voice of someone that is living a marginalized/disenfranchised experience…

Read more at … https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies