Note: This film has since been released on DVD and I can only highly encourage you to watch it if at all possible. It will break your heart and make you cry - exactly what it should do - but don't be frightened away from it. Facing hard things is what God frequently uses to break our hearts and do great works in the world for His glory and for His name.
Pastor Lee's story is compelling and inspiring. It raises legitimate questions about the value and sanctity of life - no matter what condition that life is in. It makes some to wonder how they can reach out and love those who are considered to be the less desirable in society. It also inspires the person watching the movie to begin asking what they might to to make a difference in this world. Staying home and putting one's feet up, relaxing the time away almost seems egregious. (I'm not saying that it's bad to relax. I am saying though that if you spent the majority of your life relaxing you might want to rethink what life is all about. God didn't place you here simply to kick back, but to do a great work. So what's your work? Perhaps it is not raising orphans but you can rest assured there's something for you to be busy with.)
In The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever Brian details his growing up years wherein he enjoyed making home movies with his friends. When he was in high school he knew that he wanted to make movies, although his parents were rather skeptical of his ability to make a living out of such a career. Nevertheless, he applied to and attended USC to learn about film. During his tenure as a student there he ran across an article in the paper about the drop box which caught his attention. Traveling abroad was popular at USC at the time so he thought he'd give a go at contacting Paster Lee and seeing if he could come to South Korea and make this documentary. Pastor Lee wrote him back saying that he wasn't quite sure what all the movie business was about, but that Ivie was welcome to come and live with him for awhile if he liked. He liked.
I think it's important to note here that although Ivie was not a Gospel-believing person, he considered himself a Christian prior to his experience in S. Korea. He thought he was basically good but there were behaviors (which he shares about in minor detail) in which he was ensconced that were keeping him mired in sin. Being exposed to Pastor Lee, his life, and the children made Ivie to see that (basically) being a good person wasn't enough. His heart was full of sin that needed to be confessed and he was brought to a point of true repentance and belief. He writes:
"Even with nice parents and a nice house, I was an orphan in my heart. I was begging for people to love me, to approve of me, to want me. And what I learned is that when you're an orphan, even just in your own heart, you can love only those who will love you back. You can love only those people who have something to offer or who can reciprocate your feelings.
But as a child of God, you can be completely alone and still love people who have abandoned you. As a child of God, you can go to the people who have nothing to offer and give them all of you like Jesus did for all of us." (Chapter 14, He Could Just Give, page 169)
Upon realizing these things, Ivie realized that the movie that he planned to make needed to be remade into something different - something more. He says:
"Now knowing that life was more than movies, and knowing Jesus Christ for real, I refused to show the world a picture of Him that was anything less than the most authentic and beautiful picture I could create." (Chapter 14, He Could Just Give, page 162)
I have to say that I think he accomplished his new goal - that of bringing glory to Christ for the work that He has done for each one of us on the cross.
The book The Drop Box was an interesting read because it is the "behind-the-scenes" of the movie. From the perspective of the storyteller, you hear his own journey of how this film ultimately came to be and his story is indeed compelling. The writing style isn't exactly my preference, many parts being laid out as if they are scripts to movies to help the reader understand Ivie's personality and emotions a little bit better. I understand why that method of storytelling was chosen but it's not my favorite. I was glad to hear Ivie's story but I have to say that Lee's is the one that nabs me. I would recommend the book to give a more complete picture of the film but if you were going to devote a few hours to something, I'd highly recommend the documentary over this book!