The following is a short story by Charity Graff, the director of Gentle Hands Orphanage in the Philippines. Through her eyes, this story expresses the conflicting emotions she experiences as a director. As she defends and protects the children she cares for, she also finds herself moved with Christ-like compassion toward their mothers — the very ones who abandoned and neglected the lives of the children she now tries so hard to restore.
It is easy.
It is easy to defend the rights of the child…
When they are brought to the door in the dark of night after being found on the street alone, hungry, naked and abandoned by their mother, and you must hold them through the screams.
It is easy to be angry and curse under your breath…
When you bandage wounds morning and night that are unthinkable and due only to the blatant neglect of a selfish mother.
It is easy to harbor bitterness…
When you are left to force feed a little one that is suffering from severe malnutrition before they have even had a chance at life.
And it is easy to judge. Harshly…
When you are the one calming a hysterical 10-year-old that has been beaten so that most of his body is bruised. When his outbursts are full of fury and hate and you must tell him he has worth, that he is loved and that God has a beautiful plan for his life…and he spits in your face.
What is not easy…
To look for and find the mother of one of these precious children and listen to her story. To look at her tattoo covered body that is far too exposed, to notice the self inflicted wounds that she tries to hide, and then look deep into her eyes and see her broken soul.
It is not easy to watch her tears fall as she tells you her own story of abuse, pain, and loneliness. It is hard to imagine how she had her first baby at 12 years old and how drugs have become her lifeline and her livelihood. It is hard to listen to the words between her broken sobs saying, “I miss my little girls.”
And it is hard to comprehend that she is just 17 years old, though she looks aged beyond these years.
And I cannot explain it, but I am moved with compassion to hold her as I do her two little ones in my care. I am compelled to tell her that she has worth and that she is loved and that there is always hope. As her body shakes, I keep my arms around her. And as her tears soak through my shirt, I fight back my own.
And I pray for God to forgive me for being nothing but angry at this poor broken soul. I pray for Him to make a way for her to see Jesus and His great love for her. And I pray for her children. There are tough decisions to be made and no one way is easier than the other.
As she walks away, I sit alone, aware again, of my own human frailty.
Humbly, I ask for wisdom and grace. It is not always easy to love…but I know there is hope in love.
And my hope comes from my God. I will depend on His unfailing love and that…
…is easy to do.
Story by Charity Graff and Brianna Bentley
Photos by Mia Baker