I was talking to a friend who works for a public radio station in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I once lived. He clued me to this story.

The story surprised him; it surprised me too. But we both were happy about it. For you don’t run often enough into feel-good stories like this one in the news biz. Journalists spend too much time chronicling the worst in people. But people do have plenty of good in them, as this story demonstrates.

In the story, Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., launched a campaign to pay the medical bills of families in the region; $3.3 million later, the church erased the debts of over 3,300 people.

For men like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and others who fly in the financial stratosphere, $3.3 million isn’t what their mansions cost. They have yachts that cost more than that paltry figure.

These ultra-rich have a deep commitment to making more money, but where is their deep commitment to making more lives better?

To be sure, I’m not accusing any of them of not caring about the have-nots, those truly needy folk among us. But I am suggesting that instead of fretting about inheritance taxes, tax breaks for their businesses and lower taxes on their incomes, they spend a minute or two to think about the poor.

Musk can cut a check big enough to pull hundreds of thousands of Blacks, Hispanics and whites from poverty and not alter his standard of living.

Yet since we can’t count on the generosity of the superrich, perhaps that’s a role the church should play.

This tiny church in Carolina can do it, so why can’t mega-churches elsewhere do it?

Without a doubt, some have. Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of the most influential clergymen in the United States, has put the financial firepower of his megachurch behind investing in Black communities. The bishop’s mission isn’t just to minister from the pulpit but to do so as an entrepreneur as well.

In an NPR segment before Easter a year ago, Jakes spoke about his plan, and he struck the right notes when you consider what his church and its wealth have the potential to do — for the mind, the body, the soul and the bankbook.

Using its resources smartly, the church can do what local and federal governments have proved unable to do, such as lending a hand without headaches.

Under Democrats or Republicans, government program after government program has helped in fits and starts; the plight of the truly poor in America, however, has gone unaltered. The rich are richer than ever before, though. Yet they can’t be relied on to do their part, even when their part is simply to pay their fair share of taxes.

In Winston-Salem, the poor had done what poor folk have done forever. They let the liabilities of living poor weigh them down. They had no assets to tap in times of need. Since they couldn’t count on government to help, their church served as their safety net.

Some churches embrace such roles. Can we encourage more of them to do so too?

I’d like to think God’s house can help folks who are downtrodden; if it can’t, they’ll continue to live in hell while on earth.