Adopting for Life live blog: Jedd Medefind

Communications Staff — February 26, 2010

Jedd Medefind is the executive director and president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Medefind previously served as special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Medefind said he is aware of people all across the nation who are awakening to a desire to adopt. Henry Blackaby says when you see God doing something, join Him there. That is what we are doing here.

Medefind read verses from six different Psalms to begin: Psalm 118, Psalm 22, Psalm 34, Psalm 102, Psalm 24, Psalm 88.

Medefind challenged people to respond to the choice at the crossroads of light and darkness because God beckons people through orphans at this crossroads.

Medefind recounted a difficult situation in an orphanage of a two-year-old girl who spent more than 23 hours a day lying on her back in a crib. Medefind held this girl and the smell of human urine and feces almost overpowered him. As he walked out of the orphanage, Medefind was almost in tears at the profound fallenness of the situation.

This is our world.

And yet, this is not the whole story.

Light in darkness

The language of darkness and light is the language of the Bible from the very beginning. Darkness hovered over the waters and God said, “Let there be light.” The same imagery is used to describe the incarnation. John called Jesus the Light of the world.

Isaiah says, if you spend yourselves on the needs of the hungry then your light will rise in the darkness. Our role is to be light in the midst of this darkness, reflecting the glory of God. And light shines the brightest in the midst of darkness.


I spent time in a genocide museum in Rwanda and I left stunned. There were tens of thousands of people in prison. A few years later, the governor of Rwanda – under a lot of outside pressure – released the prisoners. Adopting someone coming out of this situation is being light in the midst of intense darkness.

Personal adoption story

A year and a half ago my wife and I began an adoption process from Ethiopia. We were waiting and waiting. Finally, we got a picture in the mail from our adoption agency of the girl who would be ours. We began to make plans to go get her. Then, one afternoon I got a phone call. Our adoption agency was calling and they told me to go home and call them back from home because they had some difficult news. I drove home and we called and they told us that our little girl had died from pneumonia. She was only six months old and her body was not very strong. We shed many tears in the months that followed.

We knew that we were tasting a small piece of what goes on in Africa every day: parents losing children.

On the day of that little girl’s death, there was no one there with her who would claim her and say, “She is ours.” But on that same day, there was a mother and father and siblings and our whole church family who would say, “She is ours.”

Portraits: light in darkness

Medefind showed a series of portraits that depicted darkness, twisted darkness, and a series that showed light. Medefind said portraits that are all light do not depict the life that Christians are supposed to live. Christians are to be light in the midst of darkness. Medefind showed portraits by Rembrandt and Caravaggio, portraits that depict light in the midst of darkness (including a portrait of Abraham and Isaac by Rembrandt). These portraits are what should characterize Christians.

Someone once said to me that people are afraid to get close to suffering because they fear that it is contagious. The purpose is not to seek discomfort, but it is to seek the place of great darkness where light can shine the brightest.

Even the Son of Man did not come to serve but to be served and to give His life as a ransom for many.

What does this mean for Christians?

There are three important implications for Christians:

1. We need to count the cost.

A few months ago, I learned of a story of family who had adopted a Russian orphan who was a special needs child. The mother told me that this has been the hardest year of her life. We need to realize that.

We need to know up front that it will difficult. We need to count the cost. If we imagine that we are exempted from suffering because we are responding to a call of God, then we are going to be disappointed. We cannot obligate God. God has loved us and we are to respond to that. We can know that all be well in the end, but between now and then anything could happen.

Hebrews 11, the hall of faith, is one of the most inspiring and at the same one of the most terrifying chapters in all of Scriptures. That chapter carries verses that speak of people putting foreign armies to flight and people being fed to lions and being sawn in two.

We need to know that if adoption is something we are thinking about, we need to be frank up front and count the cost.

2. We must speak openly and boldly about the struggles.

I am passionate for the cause of orphans and I am passionate about adoption. Adoption is a beautiful thing, but we need not be merely cheerleaders for adoption and orphan care. We can’t be like Toyota. Toyota was not upfront about the problem with their vehicles. They tried to downplay it at first. They tried to keep it out of the limelight. We can’t that be that way. We have to be honest.

If we are honest, we can bear one another’s burdens. We can say, “Hey, I am having problem in this area.” We can ask each other for help. We need not run away from the whole host of issues we will face. We can talk about those. There is no need to push issues to the side. We must speak honestly about the issues.

If we are afraid to acknowledge issues and speak frankly about them, then we are not going to be the free, open and loving people that we need to be.

The analogy of this is marriage and preparing people for marriage. We want to be upbeat, we want to be positive and we want to share with people that there are challenges in marriage. People spoke honestly with me about challenges in marriage up front and because of that I went in prepared and it has been amazing.

This is a healthy way to approach marriage and it is a healthy way to approach adoption and other forms of orphan ministry as well. The church needs to be the community that wraps around adoptive families and walks with them through this journey.

3. We need to know why we are getting involved.

When we realize the magnitude of what we are up against, our work in orphan care and adoption cannot be merely a response to what we see. Don’t get me wrong: we should weep at the brokenness of the world.

But here is the thing: the world’s pain will always overwhelm your enthusiasm. Going up against the world’s great sufferings equipped only with a sense of obligation or righteous anger or guilt is like trying to cross the Sahara Desert with only a canteen: you will run dry.

Guilt and duty are powerful forces. Enthusiasm as well. We should feel holy pleasure in using our energy and gifts to serve the Lord. But these things are not enough. They will not sustain us.

But there is one wellspring that never runs dry. We love because He first loved us. Those are springs that never fail. We serve a God who pursued us when we were wayward and alone and He draws us to Himself and He invites us to call Him, “Abba,” to live as His sons and daughters. And it is this God who calls us to do the same throughout the world. And to be as He is, as a match in a cave.

When we choose to enter such places it will not leave us the same. When we come as Christ’s light into the blackest places it is a powerful, transformative thing. It transforms the places we go and it transforms us as Christians as we encounter Christ in the flesh in a way that we never have before.

And it doesn’t just transform orphans and it doesn’t just transform us and the churches we are a part of. It has a transformative effect in the world as well because we are making the Gospel visible.

I believe God is once again waking us to be a people who respond to the call of the fatherless.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.