Date: May 14, 2023 (Six Sunday after Easter/Mother’s Day)
Scripture: John 14:15-21
Scripture Reader: Wendy Baker
Sermon Title: “Never Alone”
Preacher: Rev. Dr. Bob Jon
You can also listen on Podcast from iTunes and Spotify. Search for “Podcasting from Rev. Bob Jon.”
In South Korea, there is an extraordinary drop box. When you hear the word “drop box,” you might think about the UPS or FedEx Box where people drop the items to be shipped. But it is not that kind of drop box. When you open the box, there is a little newborn baby, often crying in hunger. Every year, there are hundreds of babies are abandoned by their parents. Some of them are unwanted. Their parents are too young to raise them, or they struggle financially. Some of them are born with disabilities, and their parents do not want them. So, as the words spread that there is a drop box for babies in Seoul, some parents come and leave these babies in the box with a note, “I am very sorry for doing this. I am very sorry.”
The couple who installed this special drop box is Pastor Lee and Chun-Ja. When their second son was born through a C-section, they could not believe their eyes as their child was born with a huge lump on his face. Immediately, he was taken for surgery, and the lack of oxygen caused him to lose much of his brain functions. He became paralyzed and could do nothing except blink his eyes. Their son was kept in the hospital for the first 14 years. Pastor Lee confesses that he complained to God, saying, “God, why did you give me such an unhealthy baby?” “If you are going to take my son away like this, why did you give him to me?” As he prayed, his complaints were turned to thanksgiving, surrendering his life to God.
As he went to the hospital every day to see his son, Pastor Lee even visited other rooms and prayed for other patients and their children with disabilities. There was a boy who had brain cancer, and the doctor told his family that he had only weeks to live. So, Pastor Lee went to pray as he usually did. As he was praying for his son, he felt the Holy Spirit nudging him to pray for this boy with brain cancer. So, he ended up praying for him instead. When he went back to the hospital, the boy’s mother told him that his son was healed and going home. There was another girl who was blind, and the doctors told her family there was nothing they could do. Pastor Lee invited the family to come together and pray. After 15 days of praying, she could see.
So, the word spread in the hospital quickly. He was not even the chaplain for the hospital. But people started coming to Pastor Lee to pray with him. One day, an old woman came to him and said, “I don’t have too many days left, but there is no one else to take care of my granddaughter. Everyone in my family has disabilities. Please take care of my granddaughter after I die, and I will believe in Jesus.” He felt overwhelmed to hear this proposal as he was already struggling to take care of his son. There was another couple going through a divorce because they just had a disabled child. So, he took that child, too, and all of a sudden, they ended up adopting four children.
One night, a baby girl came to them in a fishing box left at his church door. When Pastor Lee and Chun-Ja found her, they were afraid that this baby was going to die from hyperthermia because it was freezing outside that night. That was when he came up with the idea of the baby drop box. The box had a mattress on the bottom and a heating system in the winter. As soon as they hear the sound of a bell installed on the drop box, they rush to it and open it. They find a baby wrapped in a blanket. Pastor Lee says that his heart is broken but at the same time feels grateful as if God has sent them another gift. He holds and looks at the one-month-old baby and says, “She is so pretty. She is so wonderful.”
Of course, there has been pushback against Pastor Lee and his wife. The government deems it illegal to install a place for babies to be abandoned. Another pastor in the community criticizes him that the ultimate goal should be to find the parent who abandoned the babies, not to encourage them to do so. Some people say that it is better for them, especially children with disabilities, to go to heaven as quickly as possible because their lives on this earth would be tough and challenging, let alone their families. To these, Pastor Lee says, “God sent them to earth with a purpose. Disabled children teach many people, change many people and help people reflect upon themselves, which is why they are the educators of society.”
If you are inclined to watch this documentary, the title is “The Drop Box.” The director of the documentary is Brian Ivie. As a young man, he was studying film and television at the University of Southern California. Upon learning the story about Pastor Lee and the baby box, he decided to travel to South Korea and make the documentary observing Pastor Lee, his wife, the children and babies, and volunteers from their church. The first time he saw these abandoned babies, he felt pity for them. However, as he was sleeping on the same floor with these children, looking at their disabilities and deformities, he felt a kinship with them because of his own brokenness, being in an abusive relationship, addicted to pornography.
Then, Ivie realized that the drop box was more than just a box where the babies were abandoned. It symbolizes where everyone belongs. Although we might feel abandoned and alone in this world, God never abandons us. Although we often foolishly believe that we do not need God in our lives and we can find our own happiness and salvation, God never gives up on us. We belong to God. We are rescued by God so we can rescue others. While filming this documentary, Ivies says he became a Christian by witnessing the radical love of God who cares for all God’s children, even when they are abandoned by their parents, their friends, their neighbors, and their society. God never leaves us alone in this world.
And that is what Jesus tells his disciples. As he shares the last meal and is about to be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders and soldiers, Jesus promises to his disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit, another Advocate, to them. And he says, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” He knew that all his disciples would abandon him. He knew that they would deny him to preserve their lives. He even told them that one of them would betray him. Nevertheless, Jesus promised them that he would not leave them orphaned. He would not abandon them as they would abandon him. He is coming to them. And his disciples would witness that Jesus is in God, we are in him, and Jesus in us. There is nothing to separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There are words inscribed on the top of the baby drop box. They are the words from Psalm 27:10. “For my father and mother have forsaken me. But the Lord will take me in.” From time to time, we may feel like we are abandoned alone in this world. Some of us had good parents who loved us and showed us the love of God. Maybe we did not have such parents. But we are here to share the love of God with one another because we believe that there is God who takes us in as God’s precious children.
 Risen Magazine, https://www.risenmagazine.com/pastor-lee-jong-rak/ (Accessed on May 10, 2023)