Machine Gun Preacher: Man on a Mission
- Friday, September 30, 2011
Let’s go back to Marc Forster for a little bit. In observing him on the set or in working with him before filming began, were you ever nervous at all wondering how he would direct or interpret your story on-screen?
I’m going to say yes I was. I was very concerned. A lot of the people would ask me, “Well, what did you think of Marc Forster?” I don’t think it really matters what I think of him. He’s one of the top ten directors out there. And I was very concerned with everybody, you know. When you sell your life rights to Hollywood, it’s gone. So I was very concerned through the entire stage of this whole thing. But I’m satisfied with the end product, you know. There were a few things like I said earlier that I didn’t like, but there was enough good that it overcomes that.
In the film, the struggle of time spent in Africa and being away from your family and your church is portrayed as very real and hard for you. Is that still the case?
Now, you know that was when it was all first started. You have to remember the movie is all pre-2008. And the book was pre-2008. So now my daughter actually runs the nonprofit. There have been at least ten or more people from my church go to Africa already, so now it’s everybody who’s caught hold. Everybody has kind of seen the vision, and everybody is working for it now. Now you know we’re not a church of a bunch of rich people, but our church gave school supplies to over twenty-five kids and put school clothes on over twenty-five kids. We have a food pantry that we handpick people that we give bags of groceries to every two weeks. So we do a lot inside of our area [in Pennsylvania]. We do a lot for other people. And it’s like our church caught on to the vision, so everyone’s working to do the same thing that I do. We’ve got a very good team now. That’s how I’m able to sit and say all the things that we’re doing. I couldn’t say that years ago, but now I can sit and talk about the things we’re doing in the U.S., what we’re doing overseas in four different countries—only because there’s a large team of people now working.
The film reminds me of the impact that a powerful life testimony can have. . . one that you’d hear in a church service. Would you agree?
Yes . . . yes. And we have it every week in our church. I mean every Sunday there’s testimonies in our church. And I believe it all depends where you’re going. Some ministers don’t like testimonies because they take up too much time in the church. And people get up and they start talking “stupid stuff.” But we still do them in our church, but I tell people right off the bat what a testimony is. A testimony is not getting up and complaining [about] all the bad crap that’s happening to you. A testimony is getting up and saying what you have overcome and what you went through this week and you overcame it all. That’s a testimony.
Why do you think it’s so important that people hear about the kind of rough stuff that others have gone through?
Because that helps the other ones that are standing there that are going through a storm or a trial. It helps them to know that there is hope on the other side. So that’s why we do them every week in our church. And I mean, I’m kind of a hard person when I’m in the church. I don’t let people drag on with long testmonies that turns into five minutes. I believe a testimony should last two or three minutes. And if it’s a “stupid” one, I’ll say, “Alright we’ve heard enough.”
Because of the R-rated rough stuff depicted in Machine Gun Preacher, this will likely be a hard sell for some Christian viewers.
The movie is definitely not for religious people. But I always say, “Okay, religious people are the same ones who hung Christ on the cross.” So there’s going to be some religious people who will try to hang me on that cross too, I’m sure. But you know when the movie was being done, I didn’t want it to be a movie for Christians, because then you’d only have Christians watching it. So it had to be a movie for the world and of the world to give them hope. And I’m not standing here to preach a message to people. But I am standing here trying to give people a little bit of hope. And I mean last year alone just through the messages I’ve spoken around the U.S., we’ve had over 15,000 people make life commitments. And why I like to say it like that is I don’t want to sound like a religious person. I believe that when a person walks out of hearing me and they say, “You know what, I’m walking away from drugs,” I believe he just made a life commitment. And if he can be inspired that much by my story to walk away from drugs, he’s going to remember that “After I done it, then that’s when I gave my life to God.” So hopefully they’ll keep following. My life is about getting people to make life commitments when they hear that message of hope.
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