With tears in his eyes, Pastor Lee Jong-rak reads a note from a desperate young woman who placed her newborn baby inside the drop box he has installed on the side of his home: “I have made a simple mistake that I cannot bear or handle. I’m very sorry. I know leaving my baby in this baby box is wrong. I will bear this guilt for the rest of my life. I am sorry. I am sincerely sorry.”i
Pastor Lee has received too many notes like this. Due to a complex number of factors, including the stigma associated with unwed motherhood, widespread aversion to children born with disabilities, and complicated and cumbersome in-country adoption laws, many newborn babies have been abandoned on the streets of Seoul, South Korea in recent years.
The Drop Box tells the story of Pastor Lee’s heroic efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society. It is a harrowing and sometimes heart-wrenching exploration of the physical, emotional and financial toll associated with providing refuge to those deemed undesirable and unlovable by the surrounding culture. And ultimately, it is a story of hope, a celebration of the reality that every human life is sacred and worthy of love. The Drop Box points viewers to the heart of God Himself, who “sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6).
Of course, South Korea is hardly the only country grappling with the issue of orphan care. Around the globe, from the thriving cities of the West to the furthest reaches of the developing world, there are more than 150 million orphans waiting for forever families to call their own. The Drop Box challenges viewers to consider how they might get involved in meeting the urgent needs of these precious children. Not everyone is called to adopt, but we’re all called to care for orphans (James 1:27) and to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8).
Focus on the Family and Kindred Image are committed to equipping viewers with the tools they need to advocate for these precious children made in God’s image, whether through adoption, supporting an adoptive family, or raising awareness of the plight of orphans worldwide.
Because in the end, building more “baby boxes” is not the answer. Rather, as followers of Christ, we must work toward a day when baby boxes are no longer necessary, a day when all human life is embraced for its inherent value and purpose.
Pastor Lee would be the first to agree: “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.”ii
Focus on the Family & Kindred Image Team Up
Raising awareness of the plight of orphans.
Two years and four visits after their initial trip to Seoul, Brian, Will and Bryce created Kindred Image, a company created to continue Pastor Lee’s life-saving work. Kindred Image is committed to sharing Pastor Lee’s story with anyone who will listen, implementing fundraising strategies to enable his ministry, and ultimately carrying on his courageous vision for life in other countries around the world.
Focus on the Family’s relationship with Kindred Image began in 2013, when the Focus team was working in Los Angeles to complete the ministry’s first feature-length documentary, Irreplaceable. Through a series of “coincidences”—actually Divine appointments!—members of the Irreplaceable production team met Brian Ivie, who was in Los Angeles at the same time searching for a means to distribute and promote The Drop Box.
Focus on the Family’s plan was—and is—for Irreplaceable to be the first in a series of documentaries exploring the social issues of our day through a biblical lens, pointing directly to the ministry’s 12-part DVD based small group study, The Family Project. After meeting Brian and learning about his film, it became clear that The Drop Box would make a perfect fit for the second documentary in the series. It was a match made in heaven. Focus and Kindred Image’s shared passion for the sanctity of human life and mutual commitment to raising awareness of the plight of orphans worldwide aligned perfectly. It was a pairing that only God could have orchestrated.