***NOTE: Many theaters are adding a special “encore” showing of The Dropbox on Monday, March 16. You can search for local theaters and buy tickets HERE.***
You’ve probably already heard about the film, The Dropbox, which opens March 3 in theaters across the U.S. It intertwines heartache and beauty, as does any true story of defenseless children and those who welcome them in. But there’s also a back-story to The Dropbox that reveals another powerful truth: loving orphans shows the world God’s heart like nothing else can.
I remember well a conversation I had with the filmmaker behind The Dropbox, Brian Ivie, more than a year ago. Brian shared how he’d grown up in southern California in a nominally religious home. The idea of God was always vague and abstract for him.
Most of all, Brian loved making movies. As he grew in the art of filmmaking, it became his obsession – his “god,” as he described it. While still a student, Brian read an article in the LA Times about a pastor in Korea, Lee Jongnock. Pastor Lee and his wife had created a “dropbox” to try to provide a landing place that would be safer than cold front steps and trash bins, where many of the babies being abandoned on the streets of Seoul were left.
For child after child – many of them with serious disabilities – the dropbox provided not only a landing place, but also a doorway into the Lee’s hearts…and home. It wasn’t long before the Lee residence was overflowing with precious, needy young lives.
The story hit Ivie hard. What did the reality of myriad babies abandoned on the streets say about us as humans, he wondered. He felt it was a story worth investigating, a story worth exploring in film. He tried to email Pastor Lee several times but received no response.
But then one day it came: not just a polite note, but an invitation to come and live with the Lees, experience their life firsthand, and – if he desired – to tell the story via film.
Brian had never been out of the U.S. except for a cruise to Mexico. But he knew this was what he wanted. Using Kickstarter, he raised $60,000 to help cover the costs of the film. Over Christmas break, Brian lived in the Lee’s children’s home, sleeping right next to the dropbox
For Brian, those weeks in Korea overflowed with experiences and observations to ponder. It all spun fiercely in his head. When he returned to California, Brian visited a church. The message that day explored how had Jesus had become our infirmity and sin. And somehow all that Brian had been grappling with while living with the Lees and before came to a burning point of focus. It struck Brian that he was spiritually disabled. All the physical deformity and profound need he’d seen in Korea, and the self-giving love of the Lees that had embraced it – that all was a mirror of how God desired to embrace him.
As Brian expressed it, “The adoptive love of God changed my whole life.” The film changed, too. In a moment, a storyline that was supposed to be an exploration of Korean culture became an exploration of the Father heart of God and of the Gospel itself
As we spoke, Brian seemed to marvel afresh at all that he’d seen in the Lees. “What sustains a love like that?” he mused. Certainly, the world has plenty of philanthropist and idealists. But to persevere in love so rare, so unlikely to be repaid? That, Brian had concluded, must ultimately flow from a much greater Love. And through the journey, Brian has come to know that Love as well.
See an interview Brian sharing how researching and filming The Drop Box changed his life:
And see this interview with Pastor Lee Jongnock from our friends at Hope for Orphans: