Psalm 27:10 “My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me.”
A few nights ago Mike and I took our two teenage daughters to see the independent film The Drop Box. The documentary chronicles the life of Pastor Lee Jong-Rak. Pastor Lee began caring for children with disabilities when his own son was born 26 years ago. His eyes were opened to the dignity of every life. Because of his compassion, desperate women began to place babies at his doorstep. Babies were in danger of dying, unprotected from the elements. Nearly 150 babies are abandoned each year in South Korea. Mothers are often afraid to tell anyone that the child even exists. Pastor Lee researched solutions and found that by creating a simple mailbox type door in the side of his home, he could provide an alternative to abandoning babies on the street to die.
When Brian Ivie, the filmmaker, first heard the story, he says, “It was like seeing something real and suddenly everything else seemed fake.” Ivie powerfully captures the moment where Pastor Lee lifts a child from the box time after time. Safe but abandoned. The door latches shut as the empty armed woman slips into the dark. That is the image that fills my mind.
I have spent the few nights thinking about the film. I can’t put into words the emotions I have over watching a glimpse in the life of a family who has devoted everything to literally saving babies from the certain death on the street. My own struggles as an adoptive parent pale in comparison to this pastor’s family who are raising nearly 20 children, some with severe special needs. They jump in response to the ring of the drop box bell, as many as 19 times per month.
These thoughts, this making sense of things, this new reality, it nags my soul now.
I pull into my driveway and walk up to my securely locked front door. It’s cold out tonight. I wonder if it’s cold in South Korea. I know it was cold a few weeks ago when that newborn was found in a local park. Just minutes from my own home. Already dead.
I tuck my children into their warm beds. Kiss them a few times more. Some think my children were unwanted, abandoned, orphans. I’ve never seen them this way and now my heart hurts to see them in that light. Would my son have been left on the street? My daughter, where would she have gone when her parents passed away? Are there more like them? Of course there are. Thousands more.
I pray over my daughter, my hand gently resting on her forehead. She’s sleeping now but I’ve come in to look at her face one more time. I pray for her to grow in character and wisdom. I pray for her to feel acceptance and love. Now I pray for her to know the value of a life. I pray for her to know the value in her own life. She lost her first family. She knows what it feels like to doubt her own worth, to wonder about her roots. I see her look in the faces of strangers and wonder, “Am I like you? Did I know you? Do you know me?” There is a baby left in a box, left in a garbage can, left by the side of the road. If this baby lives, will he ask the same question, “Who am I?” Will he even live to ask it?
I can’t sleep! Not with these thoughts swirling. I creep into my sons’ room and wrap the blankets tightly around them. Did the chill creep in with me? I shiver. In another world, at another time, on another day, that baby in the box could have been one of my sons. The product of a shameful situation. I lean in to smell his freshly shampooed hair. I only feel love. Deep love. No shame here. This child is a story. This child is a miracle, a God-written story.
I’ve made my rounds, I’ve kissed each child. I slip quietly beside my husband into our warm bed. I still can’t sleep. The nagging is still here. I think of another little girl across the world or across my own town, just my daughter’s age. A stranger to me, fearful to tell anyone she’s pregnant, alone giving birth. Does she kiss her newborn child and walk away? Is there anyone there for her?
My thoughts are still clamoring for attention in my head as I think of this film. Was it a unique look into the life of a stranger? Yes. Was it a glimpse of a controversial political issue? Yes. Was it a call to action? I think so. Pastor Lee put his call simply, “I can’t be here and not do anything about it.” I feel the same. For as long as there are abandoned children I will fight. For as long as society turns a blind eye, I will fight. Until each life is valued I will fight. I can’t be here in this town, in this country, in this world and do nothing.
Did you see The Drop Box? What was your reaction?
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