Wyoming church buys off medical debt

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 2,000 families in West Michigan had their entire medical debt paid off thanks to the efforts of one church.

About $1.83 million worth of medical debt was paid in full by the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt through the donations of Grand Rapids First in Wyoming.

“It took a $15,000 donation to help eliminate $1.8 million worth of medical debt that will never be able to be paid by these folks,” said Sam Rijfkogel, lead pastor of the church.

RIP Medical Debt is a New York-based nonprofit that purchases medical debt for pennies on the dollar, leaving the debtor with no bills or tax burdens.

In the next week, 1,899 families from Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Ionia counties will receive letters informing them their medical debt has been paid off with no strings attached.

The largest debt paid off was $75,581, which was attributed to three different debt accounts owned by the individual.

“They owe us nothing,” Rijfkogel said. “We just want to show them that there are people out there that love you, and more importantly, God loves you. We’re trying to show you that he does (love you) in this tangible way.”

Rijfkogel says his debt crunching idea came from his church’s mission statement.

“We’re constantly looking for needs to serve the people and serve in the name of Christ. We just find a need and we fill it. That’s exactly what we did,” Rijfkogel said.  

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