New documentary shares pastor’s mission to save abandoned Korean babies
It usually happens just before dawn.
A doorbell chimes, and Pastor Lee’s heart drops.
He rushes to the door. It’s a very small door, and he opens it gently.
Behind the door is a box, and in the box a bundle sits. A newborn baby disguised as a package. Before peeling off blankets, Pastor Lee thanks God for saving this little life. He has, since building the “drop box” in 2009, said that prayer hundreds of times.
Lee Jong-rak is the pastor of Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea. Jusarang means “God’s love.” Pastor Lee says his son, Eu-man – who was born with serious disabilities and spent the first 14 years of his life in the hospital – truly founded Jusarang.
Lee and his wife adopted four children with disabilities once Eu-man came home, and then “people started bringing babies to our door.” He eventually built the drop box as a warm, safe alternative for babies – especially those with disabilities – who would otherwise be left outside for dead.
An estimated 200 babies are abandoned in the city of Seoul every year. In South Korean society, unwed mothers are stigmatized and pregnant teens kicked out of school. That contributes to the “common practice” of leaving unwanted children on the streets.
“These things happened in secret,” says Min Hwang, Director of the Women’s Hope Pregnancy Crisis Center in South Korea. Now, because of Pastor Lee’s drop box, “it’s a [public] issue.” People are talking about it.
Lee’s idea is not new. During the Middle Ages, monks and nuns rescued babies from foundling wheels in church walls. Today, from the Czech Republic to the state of California, baby boxes have been installed in hospitals to help save little lives.
In every case, critics warn these boxes will encourage irresponsible parents to dump their children. Adoption agencies worry about incomplete records. But Pastor Lee knows that God sends each person to earth with a purpose. For the children falling through society’s cracks, he is – just as the righteous man God described to Ezekiel – steadfastly standing in the gap.
The back story
“I had no idea while I was making a film about saving Korean babies that God was going to save me.” Director Brian Ivie read a news piece about Pastor Lee’s drop box and decided to make a movie. During the two years it took to film, Ivie himself became a Christian and started a non-profit to support the Lee family. Focus on the Family Canada paired with Ivie’s organization to help distribute his documentary. The Drop Box will play in theatres across Canada on March 4 & 5 only; see dropboxfilm.ca for local listings.