The images and video broadcast around the world triggered shock and disgust: a team of Chinese firefighters sawed open a narrow sewage pipe and removed a screaming newborn baby. The tiny boy, whose only name was “59,” after the number of his hospital incubator, miraculously survived after being flushed or dropped — we’re still not sure — into a public sewer, where he became lodged.
Realizing what she says was a mistake, the baby’s mother notified authorities, who rushed to the scene and dismantled the pipe piece by piece until the exhausted and frightened baby appeared. The young single mother says she meant to abort the baby when she found out she was pregnant — but couldn’t afford the procedure.
Well, the good news is that Baby 59 is doing well and has since been taken home by his mother’s family. And more good news is that the incident has brought China’s abominable "one-child" policy back to the fore of the world’s attention, and highlighted the fact that — whatever the details of Baby 59’s case — countless infants are abandoned by their mothers in China every year because of this terrible, terrible law.
That’s to say nothing of forced abortions and infanticide under the policy, another gruesome example of which emerged just days ago when a six-month pregnant woman died of hemorrhaging following a forced abortion.
But China isn’t the only Asian country where being born alive is no guarantee of safe conduct. In South Korea, hundreds of infants are abandoned on the streets every year. The problem is so severe that one Korean pastor decided to take unprecedented action.
His story is the subject of an award-winning documentary by 22-year-old American film student, Brian Ivie.
Stirred by a report in the LA Times about Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his unique solution to infant abandonment, Ivie raised enough money to lead a team to Seoul, South Korea to capture this tiny but inspirational ministry.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak calls it his “Drop Box.” The concept is simple. Instead of aborting or abandoning their infants, mothers who either can’t keep or don’t want their babies bring them to the wooden box affixed to Pastor Lee’s house. They say goodbye, and shut the door. The box, which is equipped with lights and a heater, reads in Korean, “Please don’t throw away unwanted or disabled babies, or babies of single mothers. Please bring them here instead.”
When the box opens, a bell rings, and Pastor Lee, his wife, or a volunteer comes and takes the child inside. Since Pastor Lee installed the drop box in 2009, as many as 18 babies a month have arrived, and the same number of children currently live in his home, which doubles as an orphanage. He and his wife have even adopted ten of their own — the maximum number local authorities will allow.
Sometimes he speaks to the mothers face-to-face. One told him she intended to poison herself and her newborn before hearing about the Drop Box. Another simply left a note, which read:
“My baby! Mom is so sorry. I am so sorry to make this decision … I hope you meet great parents … I don’t deserve to say a word. Mom loves you more than anything else. I leave you here because I don’t know who your father is. I used to think about something bad, but I guess this box is safer for you. … Please forgive me.”
Brian Ivie’s award-winning film of this incredible story is set for public release this fall. Come to BreakPoint.org to learn more about it.
The fight for life is more than just political. In so many ways, it’s decided in the cultural imagination — and heroes like this provide the inspiration we need to replace cultures that spawned Kermit Gosnell, sewer pipes, child abandonment and forced abortions with a culture that looks more like the home of Pastor Lee Jong-rak.
That, my friends, is overcoming evil with good.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: June 12, 2013