What the Stethoscope Misses: Caring for Broken Hearts


It is so common for orphans to be written off as damaged goods. To justify their emotional struggles as inevitable results of their losses. To believe that by simply providing food and shelter, that their lives are being saved and protected. 

I am here to tell you that it takes so much more than that. To tell you about her…

This precious girl was brought to one of our partnering orphanages early last spring. In the very instant I met her, my heart was filled with empathy for this child. She was always sitting alone with no interest in playing with other children. I would hold her close in my arms and her expression would remain completely flat and unaffected. For months I watched her refuse meals and walk through days with so little strength. 

No matter my persistence I could not manage to catch even a glimpse of her smile or hear one word uttered. On the opening day of our hospital, this child was among our first patients. She was not your typical hospital admission, but her condition mattered so much to me. 

My heart told me that there was hope. That this vicious cycle could be broken. 

We started with eating. I knew that, whether or not the loss of appetite was because of her sadness, it was certainly not helping it. That just maybe, if I could boost her appetite and nourish her body with nutritious foods that her liveliness would follow. 

It was not immediate. 

There were many hours caregivers spent watching her stare at her plate. But this time the plate would not be taken away. Their would be no rush to clean all the dishes or to get 50 other children in bed. We would wait patiently for her will to eat. Mixing in high calorie protein so that every tiny bite could renew her strength. Slowly by slowly, you could start to see the trust building. 

It started with the glimpse of her smirk. A light touch of my shoulder as I carried her across the room. That first sparkle in her eye as she watched the other children play. 

Then one day that smirk grew to a smile. The smile to a full belly laugh. 

The light touch became a hug and crawling into your lap just to be close. Now more than watching others play, she seeks friendship and joins all the games. Within these 11 days alone, I can assure you there is so much hope for these orphans. That with investment and patience, they too can have more. 

While some would argue that this child had no identifiable illness, I will forever stand by the belief that her condition was equally desperate for a cure. We didn’t formulate a perfect drug regimen or conduct any advanced procedure. 

We simply loved her and waited for her trust. 

As this little one prepares to return to her orphanage, I can rest easy knowing that she now has the will to eat, play, and love. She is more than just another bed to fill or mouth to feed. 

Her life is a beautiful gift that God has entrusted to our world and commanded that we protect.