South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak could hardly fathom the reality of what he was seeing in the streets of his city.
What could compel a woman to leave her newborn alone in a cold alleyway, destined to die a harsh and cruel death?
He decided to do something about it.
The baby box
Pastor Lee, who leads a home church known as Jusarang Community in Seoul, built a “baby box” and invited all those who would otherwise abandon their newborns to entrust them to his church’s care. The baby box is a warm, safe receptacle where an infant can be left anonymously. Most of the children left in the box have special needs, birth defects or disabilities.
Focus on the Family’s newest film, “The Drop Box,” tells the inspiring story of this man who has made caring for “unwanted” babies his mission. It explores the motivation behind this sacrificial work, as well as the physical and emotional toll it takes.
To date, more than 600 babies have been left in Pastor Lee’s care. No matter their condition, when the babies are received, they aren’t anonymous additions to a bustling orphanage. Pastor Lee and others at Jusarang treat each of these precious children like a member of the family.
Where does such a perspective come from?
Could it be love?
The boy who started it all
God loves each of those broken children the same way he loves the so-called “perfect” child. And in Pastor Lee’s heart, that love was awakened by God at the birth of Pastor Lee’s own son, Eun-man.
Eun-man was born with severe physical deformities and cognitive disabilities. He spent the first 14 years of his life in a hospital. His twisted limbs are unable to bear his weight. Eun-man, now in his late 20s, has been confined to a bed his entire life and needs constant care.
Pastor Lee is very honest about his reaction when he first saw his son.
“When Eun-man was born, I asked God at that moment ‘Why?’ Why did he give me ‘that kind of baby’? Why didn’t he give me a healthy baby? That thought immediately came to my mind. But it wasn’t even 30 seconds before I repented, ‘God, I am sorry. Thank you for giving him to me.’ So step by step, with faith, prayer and his words, I lived. That’s how I started this work.”
Through Eun-man, Pastor Lee learned the worth of each human life, even those that many might consider to be of diminished value.
That conviction helps drive the work that has saved hundreds of lives and touched thousands of others. That it’s still going on, despite all the challenges Pastor Lee faces – exhaustion, pressure from the local government to close the box, health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes – is a testament to God’s faithfulness and the strength He provides.
The courage to love recklessly
“The Drop Box” will inspire you and it has a unique message for almost everybody.
Churches will be reminded of the impact they can have if they’re willing to venture out into the community and love recklessly. Some families might receive the inspiration or confirmation to adopt. Prodigals may be inspired to come home and freely receive the extravagant love of God the Father.
No matter what God may have in store for those who view the film, I know their lives will be positively impacted after meeting Pastor Lee and the children of Jusarang.
That’s why we’re encouraging church groups to go together, to buy out theaters, and watch “The Drop Box” as a community. Take in the message and engage in conversation afterward. Let that dialogue give birth to dreams, and let those dreams turn into good deeds that visibly demonstrate God’s love to a hurting world.
“The Drop Box” debuts at select cinemas nationwide on March 3, 4 and 5. The special event includes an exclusive panel discussion featuring Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, President of Show Hope, Mary Beth; Brian Ivie, Kelly Rosati, Focus’ vice president of community outreach and myself.
Tickets are available at thedropboxfilm.com.
See you at the theater!