COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Christian Examiner) – "When the bell rings for the baby box it's like a war starts," says Ru-ri, a Korean orphan. "A war in heaven."
Ru-ri, a talkative 10-year-old missing some toes and fingers, is one of the orphans adopted by Lee Jong Rak, a pastor living in Seoul, South Korea, with his wife. Ru-ri speaks in a gripping feature-length documentary – The Drop Box – that is to open in a limited run March 3, 4, and 5 in select theaters nationwide.
And the film has been life-changing for at least one person, even before hitting the big screen.
Director Brian Ivie was in Texas to accept honors the film had won when he explained.
As Ivie received the "Best of Festival" award for The Drop Box at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, he surprised the crowd by sharing, "I became a Christian while making this movie.
"When I started to make it, and I saw all these kids come through the drop box, it was like a flash from heaven," he said. "Just like these kids with disabilities had crooked bodies, I have a crooked soul. And God loves me still."
Produced and distributed in partnership with Kindred Image of South Korea, Pine Creek Entertainment, Focus on the Family and Fathom Events, The Drop Box is an intense film about a pastor's passion for rescuing discarded youngsters in the community of Seoul where he has ministered for the last 30 years.
"The Drop Box is ultimately a story of hope," said Focus on the Family President Jim Daly. "Even in the midst of a heart-wrenching situation, we see the heart of a father's love in Pastor Lee.
"Not everyone is called to do what he's doing or adopting a child themselves, but all Christians are called to care for orphans," Daly continued. "Watching this documentary changes a person; it draws you to care even more deeply for the most vulnerable among us."
It is a simple story made powerful because of the selflessness evidenced in Pastor Lee's ministry.
Eun-man – his name means "full of God's grace" – was born with crippling cerebral palsy 26 years ago to Pastor Lee and his wife Chun-ja.
"I asked God why He gave me 'that kind of baby,' and 30 seconds later I repented," Lee told Ivie. "With faith and His words, I lived."
Over their son's first 14 years, almost all of it spent in hospitals, Eun-man's father worked long hours at several jobs and still found time to be with his son, visit other special needs youngsters and minister to their families.
He became known as a defender of the defenseless, and one winter morning in 2009 found an infant nearly frozen in a cardboard box outside his gate.
Soon after, he installed an oversized "baby box" for women to put their babies in. When the bell rings that announces a new arrival, Pastor Lee runs to greet his new charge.
"I saw so many babies abandoned on the streets," said Pastor Lee, now 60. "That's why we made the baby box."
Children born to unwed mothers and children born with disabilities both are scorned by many in South Korea. Pastor Lee has created an environment of love and hope for at least 600 of them, who otherwise would have been abandoned on the streets.
His and Chun-ja's unassuming three-bedroom home has grown into a vibrant church and group home for orphaned, abandoned and disabled childred now called the Jusarang (God's love) Community. A portion of the film's profits will support Pastor Lee's ministry.
The Drop Box is a powerful story of faith and hope developed to inspire people to make a difference. It is the second in a series of films that focus on "reclamation," the importance of marriage, family and a Christ-centered response to the social issues presented in each film.
The first film, "Irreplaceable," in May 2014 drew more than 130,000 viewers in more than 700 theaters across the U.S. and Canada.
"We're drawn to compelling stories," Daly said in explaining why Focus on the Family is investing in film efforts. "There's a reason Jesus chose to teach in parables. ... Audiences will leave theaters empowered to make a difference. It happened with Irreplaceable and it will happen with The Drop Box."
For more information about The Drop Box, including theater locations, see www.thedropboxfilm.com.