In the first minute of the new documentary, The Drop Box, a Korean boy looks past the camera and quietly says, “Before the baby box rings, it’s sort of like Heaven. It just feels good and nice. The children here are just together having fun, but when the baby box rings, it changes from the place where angels are walking around. The atmosphere of the house just changes abruptly – like a car accelerating out of nowhere. It’s horrifying. So at that very moment, it becomes a war – a war in Heaven.”
Thus begins a gripping tour through the ministry of South Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who rescues unwanted babies with the help of a box he installed at his church in Seoul. The box, which has an alarm that alerts Pastor Lee when a baby has been left behind, has received 640 babies since March of 2010. Pastor Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, are currently raising 15 of them, many whom have disabilities.
If Director Brian Ivie had wanted, he could have easily made The Drop Box into a redemptive piece of feel-good, pro-life propaganda. Though the movie is quite redemptive and loaded with life-affirming themes, it doesn’t romanticize the burden of raising children with disabilities, nor does it avoid the uncomfortable questions that accompany Pastor Lee’s effort. In fact, the film features interviews and news clips from people who question the wisdom of the baby-saving operation.
At the same time, the most interesting thing in the film isn’t the controversy over whether Pastor Lee should be doing what he’s doing (as Dwight L. Moody once said, “I like the way I’m doing it better than the way you’re not doing it.”). The most interesting thing is the children and their relationship with their dad, Pastor Lee. He rolls on the floor with them, laughs with them, prays with them, takes them to hospital visits, and ruins his health tirelessly working to keep them feeling healthy and loved. He also describes his nightmares about the children he’s unable to help, and says, “If I don’t do something to protect these children, I could be picking up their dead bodies at my gate.” As you watch the film, you realize he’s telling the truth.
By the end of the movie, you can’t help yourself – you’ve fallen in love with these children; and rather than feeling pity for them, you realize that as reflections of God’s handiwork, they deserve all the honor Pastor Lee and his staff give them every day. And though you’re certain that South Korea has a broken system and culture that need to provide better supports for these kids, the idea that one of those “supports” could be an abortion clinic seems patently absurd. Not that anyone in the film even says the word “abortion” – it wouldn’t have made any sense to do so. The children are too beautiful, too lovable, too valuable. Mission accomplished.
For those who value the life-affirming message of this film or just want to be respectfully challenged, The Drop Box is a must-see.
The Drop Box will be shown in limited release from March 3 through 5. Please note that I write on a contractual basis for Focus on the Family, which produced the film. Keep up with my latest articles (and more) on Facebook or Twitter.