Saving children’s lives, one at a time.
The Drop Box is the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society.
A Korean pastor in South Korea, Lee Jong-rak is a simple man with a huge heart. Hundreds of unwanted babies are abandoned on the side of the street in South Korea every year and he saw a devastating problem and thought of ways to change it. Along the way he’s saved hundreds of infants and became a small progressive voice for his society
Jong-rak is the creator of the ‘Baby Box’. A simple concept, the Baby Box is the first and only box in Korea for anonymously collecting abandoned babies who are physically or mentally handicapped, or otherwise unwanted by their mothers.
Knowing he needed to set up a way to save the lives of these precious newborns he built the drop box on the side of his home. He placed a humble sign on the outside reading, “Place to Leave Babies.”
The inside of the box contains a thick towel covering the bottom, and lights and heating to keep the baby safe and comfortable. A bell rings when someone puts a baby in the box, then Jong-rak, his wife, or staff associates come to immediately move the baby inside.
His aim was to provide a life-giving alternative for desperate mothers in his city of Seoul. He even admits that he didn’t really expect that babies would come in. He was mistaken.
The babies came.Some in the middle of the night, others in the middle of the day. Some came with notes, some without a word, and only a very few mothers actually spoke to him face-to-face. Pastor Jong-rak said one of the mothers told him, “she had poison to kill both herself and her baby.”
He responded, “Don’t do that. Come here with your baby.” She did.
One single mother left this heart-wrenching note with her baby that brought tears to Jong-rak’s eyes:
“My baby! Mom is so sorry.
I am so sorry to make this decision.
My son! I hope you to meet great parents, and I am very, very sorry.
I don’t deserve to say a word.
Sorry, sorry, and I love you my son.
Mom loves you more than anything else.
I leave you here because I don’t know who your father is.
I used to think about something bad, but I guess this box is safer for you.
That’s why I decided to leave you here. My son, Please forgive me.”
Pastor Lee Jong-rak is steadfast about his mission. In a country that prizes physical perfection, he sees all life as flawless in its creation.
“This world is seeing how life can be for these babies when we take them in; when we become a voice for the ones that cannot speak up for themselves. They are loved, they are cherished, and they are worthy just the way they are,” he said. “They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world. God sent them here to the earth to use them. I always pray that there will be no more abandoned babies in this country and no more in our baby box. That’s all I want.”
The story of this man and his baby box is reaching the entire world with the 72-minute documentary called The Drop Box by young 22-year-old filmmaker Brian Ivie.
The touching documentary just won the Best of Festival Jubilee Award and The Best Sanctity of Life film award at the 8th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. In total, it has received nine awards from independent film festivals across the nation and is set for a brief premiere in US theaters on March 3-5, 2015. Negotiations are in the works with a major studio to have the film released to a larger audience worldwide.
Ivie was stirred to do the film after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about Pastor Jong-rak’s Jusarang Orphanage and decided to go to Korea to make the documentary. South Korea is not the only country grappling with the issue of child abandonment and orphan care; it takes on different forms from country to country. Around the world, there are more than 150 million orphans waiting for families to call their own, Ivie found out.
After seeing the orphanage’s mission up close for himself, his life was forever changed, Ivie said. In his award acceptance speech, Ivie noted:
“These kids are not mistakes.They are important.
When I started making this movie and I saw all these kids come through the drop box – it was like a flash from heaven, these kids with disabilities and crooked bodies. This world is so much about self-reliance, self-worth, and self-esteem. It’s a total illusion that we can really be self-sufficient.
When it comes to the sanctity of life, we must realize that faith and hope is sometimes the last refuge for people who are deemed unnecessary.”
The Drop Box is a heart-wrenching exploration of the physical, emotional and financial toll associated with providing refuge to orphans that would otherwise be abandoned on the streets.
~Via the Los Angeles Times, LifeNews, Brian Ivie,
Arbella Studios and Vimeo
by Skippy Massey
This post originally appeared at the Humboldt Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.