State of the Ministry 2019: God guides, protects SMI as we approach 25th anniversary

Ted Pittenger

As Samaritan Ministries enters its 25th year I am amazed at how God has guided, protected, and blessed us. We’ve come a long way from humble beginnings when a small group of friends gathered around my dining table to discuss how the Body of Christ could minister to one another through health care needs. We recently passed the 80,000-member household mark, and we are sharing more than $28 million dollars in Needs each month!

God has faithfully seen us through many challenges along the way, and we must continue to trust in Him as we face the challenges ahead.

Looking back over the years I recall how God provided growth and gifts from members at just the right times so that we could purchase four different buildings completely debt free. And how in 2010 He orchestrated events so that key language protecting health care sharing was inserted into what is likely the most heavily lobbied law in history, the ironically named “Affordable Care Act.”

And, of course, we should not forget to thank God that our share amount has remained affordable, despite the very difficult health care environment where relentless inflation and steep rate increases are common. It’s now been more than two years since our last Share increase.

And here’s the latest victory we can thank God for: Just last month, a four-year-long federal lawsuit brought by six Christian organizations—including Samaritan Ministries—was finally resolved. A federal judge issued an order permanently blocking the government from enforcing an ACA provision that compelled Christian employers to cover sterilization and abortifacient contraception in their employee health care plans.

Looking ahead I wonder how we will see God’s hand at work when new public policy challenges arise or as we continue to work on our important pilot project to help members get more competitive pricing on health care.

Through it all, it is good to remind ourselves that Christians should be applying a Biblical worldview to all areas of life, including health care. Many people today are placing their hope for health care in things that are finite: doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, new technologies, insurance contracts, and government programs.

God has faithfully seen us through many challenges along the way, and we must continue to trust in Him as we face the challenges ahead.

Ted Pittenger

But Samaritan Ministries’ first foundational principle is this: “Jesus Christ is our Provider for every need. As the Creator of all things, He is the only One with all the resources necessary to meet every need that occurs in His creation.”

This principle compels us to covenant together in faith to bear one another’s burdens in a way that gives the glory to God. This is why we ask each household each month to commit to praying for the member you are assigned to send your Share to. Apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing. If we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit.

Another of Samaritan’s foundational principles is this: “God has made us stewards of His resources. As a first line of defense, members of the Body of Christ are responsible to use the resources they’ve been given by God to care for themselves, their family, and others.”

This principle prevents us from succumbing to the entitlement mentality so prevalent in our culture, especially in our health care system. To the contrary, we are called to steward resources prudently and give sacrificially to help one another.

The many notes we receive from members living out this principle are so encouraging. Here are some highlights:

  • Alicia wrote to say she was using Healthcare Bluebook to guard against being overcharged for her maternity ultrasounds.
  • Phil did research ahead of time to get a fair price on his surgery and minimize time spent in the hospital.
  • Pamela did a lot of reading about her stubborn foot problem and decided that surgery was not going help. She found a much less expensive therapist who solved the problem.
  • Paul was told multiple times by hospital personnel that he would have to pay list price for his wife’s maternity bills. He persistently asked until he got to the right person, who was happy to work out a package deal.
  • Terry accumulated $600,000 in bills for bone marrow cancer but stayed in touch with providers by email until the bills were down to $200,000.
  • Dave was referred for an MRI but was appalled at the $3,000 price quote. He found an independent facility that did it for $600.

So many of the problems in our health care system stem from third parties that disconnect the consumer of health care from price and quality considerations. I’m thankful we have engaged members who want to steward resources well for the sake of each other.

Here are three simple ways we can bear one another’s burdens:

  • Visit Dash.SamaritanMinistries.org to sign up for eSharing so that Shares can be more easily and quickly received by a member with a Need.
  • If you require medical services, use the Health Resources app on Dash to proactively evaluate the quality and cost of health care providers.
  • Participate in Member Assistance to help members with unshareable bills, either by giving directly to the member or the Member Assistance Fund.

I believe that following the principles of trusting in God and stewarding resources carefully have been integral to Samaritan’s first 25 years of successful ministry, and they will remain just as important in the next 25 years.

As we continue to trust in God and walk in faith, please pray for God’s continued guidance for this ministry. Pray for the Samaritan Board and staff as we work on three strategic goals:

  • Enhancing member-to-member connections.
  • Refining processes and developing even more online tools to improve the health care sharing experience.
  • Achieving fair pricing and improving the member-provider relationship.

Finally, pray that more Christians would catch a vision to glorify God with health care, and that we would have positive a influence on our country and spread the Gospel as we bear one another’s burdens.

For The Kingdom!

Ted A. Pittenger, Founder & International President

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