HighRidge Church Pastor Tim Ingram, along with other area ministers, wants to show people that they are cared for.
So his Longview church and three others have teamed to wipe out medical debt of families in Gregg, Harrison, Upshur and Marion counties at a total of $1.2 million.
Ingram, the Rev. Marty Strait of Pathway Church in Longview, the Rev. Stephen Warnock of New Covenant Church in Longview and the Rev. Eric Love of Church on Purpose in Longview were set to make that announcement Thursday night at the Unite Leadership Conference at the Belcher Center.
Business, church and community leaders gathered at the conference to discuss and attempt to solve issues facing Longview. The group originally was founded by the four churches but grew to include others.
Douglas Case, organizer of the event, said the medical debt that was cleared was debt that was sent to collection agencies. The churches worked with the nonprofit group RIP Medical Debt to clear the charges. RIP Medical Debt is a national group that buys and forgives medical debt on behalf of individual donors, philanthropists and organizations.
“We worked with them because we thought, ‘That would happen if we could do something to lessen people’s burden?’ “ Case said. “This has a $1.2 million impact. Imagine if we had more people come to the table to help us and what we could do.”
The cleared debt applies to any medical debt of any size, as long as it was sent to a collection agency, Case said. People will be notified that their debt has been cleared with a yellow envelope in the mail.
Ingram said anyone in the group could have done something small to help people in the community, but by all the churches coming together, they had a large impact.
“We’re hoping that they will see people do care and, that ultimately, the Lord sees their need and uses other people to meet it,” he said. “We just want to bless people. We want to help people.”