Many people have a relatively narrow focus, being concerned mostly about people and things involving just their local community.
Jedd Medefind, on the other hand, has a global perspective. The Merced native is president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, a worldwide coalition of more than 100 respected groups from adoption agencies to global service organizations.
While the alliance is headquartered in Washington, D.C., Medefind works from Merced. That affords him more time with his wife and five children, between a considerable amount of travel throughout the United States and abroad.
"There is a grass-roots movement of Christians to recapture the historic vision of the church in caring for orphans," Medefind said. "It is growing significantly at this point. The alliance is a rare model of Christian unity among groups that could be competing with each other. It speaks with a united voice, inspiring and equipping Christians to care for orphans through adoption, foster care and other global initiatives."
The 37-year-old Medefind is one of four full-time staff members with the alliance, the others working in Washington, D.C., Seattle and Atlanta. He travels about twice a month within the United States and a little bit internationally, using modern technology including Skype and emails to keep in touch with far-reaching interests. He jokingly calls it "extreme telecommuting."
Before becoming alliance president three years ago, Medefind directed President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative program for four years. From 1999 to 2005, he was chief of staff for Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City.
"I really love what I'm doing," Medefind said. "I'm 100 percent focused here for the season. I never could have dreamed of this wild adventure in life. It's a privilege to experience the world but I've also come to see the most important change happens at the local level with individuals and organizations serving their neighbors."
Mike Douris of Plano, Texas, is president of Orphan Outreach and on the nine-member board of Christian Alliance for Orphans. He said Medefind has an incredible ability to motivate, organize and make people feel they are part of a mission.
"Jedd's done an amazing job," Douris said. "We were thrilled to get him and I think very highly of him. It's a real joy to be his friend. He has a passion for orphans and serving the Lord."
Medefind points out the alliance doesn't represent any dissatisfaction with what other groups have done. There are 18.3 million children worldwide who have lost both of their parents. In the United States, there are 500,000 children in the foster care system; about a fifth of them need to be adopted.
Not every Christian is called to adopt a child, Medefind stresses, but all people are called to care for orphans, mentor them and support work for orphans around the world.
"It's clear throughout the Bible that we're to care for the orphan," Medefind said. "Care for orphans mirrors the gospel story itself. Most of these children (orphans) are in the developing world and are most vulnerable to exploitation, human trafficking and other evils."
Numbers this large can be paralyzing, Medefind said, but the most important statistic is that it just takes one caring individual to change the life of a child.
Leslie, a Carmichael resident, former assemblyman and state senator who retired after 20 years, said Medefind has a very good moral core and is one of the finest young men he has ever known.
Add book author to Medefind's résumé. After spending 1997-1998 visiting many countries of the world, Medefind and three close friends wrote "Four Souls," a book that grapples with life's big questions of faith, community, individual responsibilities and America's role in global affairs. It sold more than 12,000 copies but is out of print now.
Medefind's next book, "Upended," will come out at the end of this month. The 240-page nonfiction book he co-wrote asks questions about faith in Christ and our influence with others.
The Rev. Henry Greene, senior pastor at Merced's Central Presbyterian Church, said Medefind is one of the brightest and most articulate people he has ever known.
"He has a thoughtful passion for meeting the needs of children," Greene said. "The source of his life and work is his deep desire to live on purpose for Jesus Christ."
Medefind said he spent some time with President Bush during his four years in the nation's capital. He led 50 people in Bush administration efforts to have private groups, along with the government, address the deepest human needs.
"He (Bush) was very much the same man when all the cameras were gone as he was in public," Medefind said. "He is strong in conviction and character, with a sense of responsibility to the nation, history and to God."
Medefind's concern for orphans is stirring in Merced as well. Families at Gateway Community Church are adopting locally and globally. First Baptist Church of Merced is starting a Safe Families program, in which pre-foster-care children can voluntarily go to homes until their parents get back on their feet.
Central Presbyterian Church in Merced sponsors an array of orphans' programs through Compassion International and other groups, Medefind said.
Medefind graduated from Atwater High School in 1993 and four years later from Westmont College with a dual bachelor's degree in economics and communications studies.
One of his teachers at Atwater High was Greg Bell. He said Medefind is an extremely hard worker with a strong heart for people. Medefind was president of the school chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and exhibited strong leadership in the classroom, Bell added.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.
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