In Machine Gun Preacher (out in Dallas now), Gerard Butler plays real life ruffian biker turned gun-toating man of faith, Sam Childers. After a life of crime and drug/alcohol addiction, Childers and his wife (played by Michelle Monaghan) take up the cross in place of the bottle, the needle and the stripper's pole. But Childers doesn't completely leave behind his old ways; his handiness with guns being a skill that he finds is put to better use in the LRA-occupied war-torn country of Sudan.
There rebels force children to be soldiers (numbers estimate this to be around 30-50,000 abducted) with the sole purpose being to rape, pillage, and plunder -- often their own siblings and parents are their victims. It's not necessarily known as a place where conventional methods of revolution are applicable. If speak softly and carry a big bureaucratic stick is the mantra of some aid workers and organizations in Africa, Childers' has always been one to follow the "yell loudly and carry a big stick that goes boom" approach. Which, agree with it or not, has seemed to work.
His Children's Village orphanage is the largest in Southern Sudan, which houses and educates around 300 orphans at any given time and has rescued thousands of others since his first visit in 1998.
With a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other, the Machine Gun Preacher (as he has come to be known) carries on his shoulders an amazing and inspirational story of redemption and the many forms it comes in. Marc Forster's (Monster's Ball) film carries Childers' nickname as its title and exists to tell this great man's story.
I recently sat down with Butler, Childers and Monaghan at a Dallas press conference for the film to talk about translating reality to the screen, Butler on capturing Childers' larger-than-life personality, and their personal thoughts on fighting violence with violence.
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For more info on Sam Childers, the Machine Gun Preacher, and the Angels of East Africa check out machinegunpreacher.org.
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