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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Saving Society’s “Disposable” Children
April 5, 2015

On June 20, 2011, USC filmmaking student Brian Ivie was eating breakfast and reading the Los Angeles Times when he came across an article titled “South Korean Pastor Tends an Unwanted Flock.” It shared the story of Pastor Jong-rak Lee, who had built a drop box for unwanted babies into his home and church. Why?

Many babies born disabled or to single mothers in Seoul, South Korea, were simply abandoned on the streets to die because the culture often views these things as shameful. With a heart full of love for these children, Pastor Lee and his wife started taking them in, finding them homes, and even adopting 18 themselves. To date, over 600 babies have been saved because of their efforts.

Ivie felt that this story cried out to be told so he raised money, traveled to South Korea, and temporarily moved into Pastor Lee’s home to shoot a documentary that came to be titled “The Drop Box.” The condition of many of the children was shocking to Ivie at first. He observed, “These children were seen as the most disposable kids. They were missing limbs, a lot of times they were missing pieces of their brains, missing eyes.”

These children weren’t Pastor Lee’s first exposure to disability. His own son, Eun-man, was born with a cyst that blocked blood flow to his brain leaving him permanently brain-damaged. This led to a crisis of faith for the man of God. Ivie observed, “I think Pastor Lee did have a crisis, where he said, ‘Why wouldn’t you give me a healthy baby?’ But what ended up happening is he realized his son wasn’t a mistake. God put him on earth in this way because the weak shame the strong. He uses people that are weak and helpless to change the world.”

Eun-man is 29 years old and he’s lived his entire life in bed with twisted limbs, unable to speak. Despite this, Pastor Lee and his staff call Eun-man’s room “the happy room.” Ivie said, “I think for them, there are two ways to look at this world: that it’s pitiless and indifferent—or there’s a purpose, and God’s going to bring something beautiful out of the ashes. Also, even though [Eun-man] has severe brain damage, he has one of the best smiles. So for Pastor Lee, [calling it the happy room] is a rebellion against what society would call satisfaction or happiness.”

That doesn’t mean Pastor Lee doesn’t feel the pain and suffering around him. His Christian faith remains the cornerstone of how he deals with it, though.

Ivie concludes, “[Pastor Lee] doesn’t put on a plastic smile when he sees women come to him with crippling grief, when children die in front of him. It is not the way he deals with it, nor is it the way anyone in the Bible deals with it. That’s why we have the Psalms. We need to return to this idea of lament. Christianity offers unrivaled resources for suffering. We have a God who got into the mess with us. So the reason why people are attracted to Pastor Lee is because he embraces the suffering of the people in the world. As a church, that’s what we’ve always been called to do. Not just say, ‘Don’t have an abortion, don’t abandon your child.’ It’s, ‘Bring the children to me. I’ll help you. I’ll love you and I’ll embrace your suffering with you.’”

For more information about where you can see the movie, visit the website www.TheDropBoxFilm.com.

 

 

 For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, ANGELS: MESSENGERS FROM GOD, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org