Samaritan Ministries Member; ‘This Is the Kind of Ministry We Should Be Doing as the Church’
‘The Samaritan Story’ Began in 1994 With Christians Applying a Biblical Worldview to All Areas of Life—Including Health Care
PEORIA, Ill.—Over 25 years, the tens of thousands of members of Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org), one of the largest health care sharing ministries in America, have prayed for one another, wept together, celebrated together and, over all the years, shared millions of dollars in medical needs.
Samaritan Ministries founder Ted A. Pittenger was there from the beginning.
In the late 1980s, Pittenger joined a health care sharing ministry and was inspired by the potential for this non-insurance option to provide Biblical, affordable health care for the Christian community. Intrigued by this method of sharing health care costs, he began prayerfully considering how he might improve the process to reach more people, share medical needs more efficiently, and maintain Biblical foundations. His new model became Samaritan Ministries International, which began sharing medical burdens in 1994.
Now in its 25th year, the rapidly growing Samaritan Ministries has a team of nearly 350 staff, based in Peoria, Illinois, and has welcomed nearly 82,000 member households (267,000-plus individuals). As these members honor God with their health care, they send $28 million monthly in financial shares directly to other members, and also pray and send encouraging notes and cards. In fact, from 2007 through 2017, Samaritan Ministries members shared $1.2 billion in medical needs.
“Jesus Christ is our Provider for every need,” Pittenger said. “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 truth is basic to the life of every believer and critical for the continued success of our health care sharing ministry. It not only reminds us that we are completely dependent on Him, but also of the temptation to place our faith in other things.”
As he reflected on another year of challenge, growth and change at Samaritan Ministries, Pittenger said he was struck by how countless member letters tell the Samaritan story.
“God is a faithful God, yesterday, today and forever,” said a member named Patricia. “He always meets our needs!”
Patricia, Pittenger added, expresses the reminder that Samaritan Ministries’ members—and all Christians—should remember that our hope should be put in the eternal.
“We need to recognize that 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,” Pittenger said. “Only God is able to truly meet our needs, which is why our first step when facing any kind of need should be to look to Him in prayer.”
That focus and commitment to prayer among Samaritan members is not lost on Samuel.
“I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this ministry,” said Samuel. “It’s been wonderful for all my medical bills. But even more important were all the prayers, encouraging notes, Scriptures and personal words. They truly were from the Lord.”
Samuel has realized, Pittenger said, that our needs are more than physical.
“Human beings are more than just a collection of cells, and we have needs that go beyond the physical body,” said the Samaritan founder. “Our members come together to meet the financial, physical, and spiritual aspects of each medical need. We have stacks of letters like Samuel’s, telling us that direct member-to-member ministry to the spiritual dimensions of the need makes all the difference for getting through a health care trial. That is why we ask every member to commit to praying and sending a note of encouragement to the member they are assigned to each month.”
Samaritan members, Pittenger noted, also contrast Samaritan’s Biblical approach with what the world offers:
- Carrie wrote to say she was relieved to find Samaritan because her insurance covered abortion.
- James wrote, “God has divinely opened a door for believers to be able to help each other instead of being subject to an unconstitutional government mandate.”
- Lisa said that her family couldn’t find any insurance options for less than $1,500 a month.
- Phil and Amanda struggled to afford insurance cost increases for years, only to have their plan cancelled. The replacement offered wouldn’t even be accepted by providers in their area.
- Donna wrote that her insurance had made it nearly impossible to get the care she needed because of waiting on complicated approval processes and medical referrals. With Samaritan she doesn’t have to worry about the red tape.
- Morrison summed it up this way: “This is the kind of ministry we should be doing as the Church. It was a pleasure to report to unbelieving doctors and medical staff how this works, which opened the door to share Christ’s love with them.”
“These comments remind me of how important it is for Christians to be applying a Biblical worldview to all areas of life, including health care, as we seek to develop ways of ministering to one another that are ethical, compassionate and effective,” Pittenger said. “That is our desire at Samaritan, and we need every member engaged to realize that vision.”
Samaritan Ministries’ hundreds of thousands of members overwhelmingly say they are “happily uninsured” and plan to stay that way. They appreciate that health care sharing through Samaritan has provided an affordable, Biblical and transparent model of health care, as well as a way for them to pray for and send monthly financial shares directly to their fellow members and bless them with encouraging personal notes.
Each month, Samaritan’s growing Biblical community shares approximately $28 million in medical needs person to person, yet the monthly share has never exceeded $495 for a family of any size and is even less for two-person and single-person households. This direct-sharing approach also allows members to not only help fellow believers with their medical financial needs, while connecting them each on a regular basis.