SAFETY DEPOSIT: A drop box for unwanted infants at Lee's church (Kim Hong)
Film spotlights South Korean pastor's work--and overflowing joy--saving disabled and abandoned babies
This is a story of a film that celebrates life saving--and changed the filmmaker's life.
In December 2011, University of Southern California junior Brian Ivie and his crew of 10 flew to Seoul, South Korea, to film Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his house full of disabled children who had been abandoned. The result is a 72-minute documentary called The Drop Box that won the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival's "Best Sanctity of Life" award and the "Best of Festival" Jubilee award in February.
Ivie, now 22, received a $101,000 reward, which he said he would use to continue telling important stories: "I would rather tell the plainest truth with $100,000 than the most sophisticated technological lie with $10 million." He also said creating the film changed his life because he became a Christian while making it: "I saw all these kids come through this drop box with deformities and disabilities, and eventually--like a heaven flash--I realized that I was one of those kids too; that I have a crooked soul, and God is a father who loves me still."
The story of the film begins 26 years ago with Pastor Lee's love for his son, born with cerebral palsy that led to brain damage. At first Lee could not understand why God allowed this to happen, but looking at his son, Eun-man (which means full of God's grace), he saw the preciousness of life. Lee started visiting other disabled children in the hospital. Soon people started asking him to care for their disabled children. Many left babies at the doorstep of his four-room home, nestled in a Seoul neighborhood.
Lee's house also functions as a church and an orphanage, housing about 20 disabled children ages 2 to 26. In 2009 he created the drop box at the side of the building to keep the babies warm. Next to the box a sign in Korean says, "This is a facility for the protection of life. If you can't take care of your disabled babies, don't throw them away or leave them in the street. Bring them here to a place of safety and protection." When someone pulls the latch, a bell rings inside, alerting Lee that a baby awaits.
The government has tried to shut down the home, saying it doesn't meet safety regulations and encourages women to abandon children. But Lee has fought back, countering that the drop box has saved many lives--and he is working on building a larger home.
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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine