They have been 30 minute, one hour plus, and nearly two-hour interactions respectively, my recent fellowship opportunities with Candice Adam-Medefind. Each time I’ve gotten a chance to speak with Candice, I’ve very much enjoyed my interactions and have felt she is on to some key things that need to be done here in Merced, CA in order to truly be walking in lock-step with the Savior as His disciples, particularly around showing love to “the least of these”. Candice has served in various roles in our county throughout the years, and her resume is certainly impressive. However, I want to highlight her heart for those in definite and serious need, her and her husband’s heart, Mark Medefind. I had the wonderful opportunity, along with my wife, to talk at length with the two of them. Mark is a teacher and has a very special place in his heart for young ones, and particularly those who do not have steady father figures in their lives. Some of these children in our communities have literally never been appropriately hugged by a loving father figure.
Candice and I just were talking yet again in her office on 18th Street where she leads the Healthy House organization of Merced, CA. She represents her organization well, and her passion for those the organization reaches is unmistakable. Because of my bent toward talking about the local church, I asked for her thoughts on mobilizing the local church. How can we be reaching those Healthy House is able to reach? How can we help as community members to lessen their load and/or volunteer? One of the big things they labor toward is helping minorities to integrate into the community at large and benefit from as well as benefit the community in time. They focus on education, understanding (often through their professional translation services), and integration of minority members into the socio-economic framework of the broader community and even the state/national environment. There is also a focus on maintaining key social and cultural traditions and understandings, a focus on honor and integration.
When minorities are integrated into the majority with honor and cultural support, people know they are genuinely loved and not just worked with for shameful gain. Should we wait for minority members to be fully integrated before we will work with them? Will we wait for someone who is struggling to not be struggling any longer before we will give them our time and ears and eyes in genuine fellowship?
Candice introduced me to Paula Yang, and I was impacted by the two of them sharing about their passion for our community. Paula has an impressive resume as well, including more recently being a TV show host. She has her own TV show! Merced has super stars, friends! Paula and Candice are making a special focus around issues of concern for Hmong women, particularly those in crisis. Hmong women and Hmong men have been brought to my attention for prayer and encouragement on a regular basis. There is so much I admire about this culture, the more I interact and build in relationship with the Hmong people of Merced. Paula worked with General Vang Pao – SEE WIKI PAGE – as his personal translator up until his death a couple of years ago. When he was in trouble and needed defense, she was the one who lead the charge to bring him back to Merced safely. He spoke to the Hmong people of how important it is for there to be equal respect between men and women, and he worked with Paula during the remainder of his life to wrestle for appropriate treatment of Hmong women in particular.
Women’s rights have been a concern in the United States for a long time, and they continue to be something men should be just as concerned about as women. In fact, men should be stepping up and leading the charge even to protect women’s rights. Sitting there with Candice and Paula, I became ashamed of us as men in a very general sense. We tend to be so slow to defend and protect those God has placed in our lives.
My prayer tonight is that the men of Merced, CA would join arms with the Candice and Paula types in our county and really come around particularly anyone we encounter or hear about who is in crisis. Imagine, a community named (by translation from Spanish) “MERCY” living up to her name! We can be the community known around the Valley and even out into the Bay Area, known for how we show mercy with reckless abandon.
Candice and Paula joined their amen to mine as I rehearsed how deeply important it is that we show the love of God to the least of these, and that by doing this we encounter Jesus Christ as He promises will happen! As much as we show love to the least of these, we are showing our love for the Savior, the very God and very man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, may we go and do like these two women and touch the lives of those with real needs.
In His joy and friendship,