A couple of years ago I was speaking at the Cru meeting at USC. I was speaking out of 1 Kings on the life of Elijah and talking about living life in exile – how to be a believer in a culture going the opposite direction. It was a good message but I wasn’t super confident about my ending and final conclusions/application points. When I sat down, a student came up to share with the room.
His name was Brian Ivie. He had seen a newspaper article about a man in Korea who had built a mailbox in his home for abandon babies. As Brian told us the story it was clear he was moved by this man’s life and he told us of his decision to make a film about it. He told us about his kickstarter campaign to raise the $ necessary to produce this movie.
On Thursday, I went to watch the Dropbox Movie in the theater. There was quite a bit of buzz in the Christian subculture – at least on Facebook and consequently the theater was packed.
I was gripped by the story as Brian unpacked it back at USC and I was curious to see how he could artfully portray this in a way that would appeal to an audience. I thought it was interesting that the first and last few minutes of the movie were built on a live event, the actual premier of the movie – with a host from Focus on the Family and a solid musical opening from Singer/Songwriter, John McLaughlin. This set the tone okay for the film but was a little clunky overall – I’ll explain more later.
The film was straightforward but told a compelling story of this man, Pastor Lee, who’s own biological son is severely disabled, and how God directed he and his wife to begin taking in abandoned children. In South Korea, it has been common practice for single mothers to just abandon special needs children. As word got out about Pastor Lee and his “Dropbox,” women would have a safer place to anonymously leave their children. At the making of the film, more than 350 children had come to the Lees’ home, Pastor and Mrs. Lee having adopted several of them.
The film gave us a glimpse into the lives of his adopted children – which was a fun element to the film. Overall, I was blown away by the dedication of this pastor and his wife, the value of life and their devotion to care for many special needs children. It was a very moving film.
My only critique of the film was the placement of Focus on the Family in the center of it. Maybe I know too much. Thinking about this kid at USC who wanted to make a movie and following the kickstarter campaign and rooting for this film to get made. It had a grassroots feeling to the project and an organic Godliness much like Pastor Lee himself. As much as I love Focus on the Family, I was a little bit disappointed in how this became a bit of a self-promoting vehicle for them. I loved it when Brian shared his story and how the making of the film impacted his own life and I loved the shot of Pastor Lee in the audience as those around him gave him the applause he richly deserves. But I felt a bit annoyed by the president of Focus on the Family running the event like it was their idea. It bugged me.
I think the message of the film is a strong one – worth watching for sure. I think Pastor Lee and his wife are living illustrations to my Elijah message – how Christians can live lives contrary to the culture in ways that impact the world around them. And I am grateful to Brian Ivie for telling it.