THE MACHINE GUN WHO???
If you're a fan of Gerard Butler (what lady on the planet isn't) -then you will know who the Machine Gun Preacher is, and more so because Hollywood made a motion picture about his life - the REAL Sam Childers that is. Gerard Butler starred in the main role of this movie based on Sam Childers life - A self proclaimed Hillbilly from the mountains of Pennsylvania, USA.
Check out the movie trailer on the right - this will give you a bit of an idea who the real Sam Childers (more commonly known the Machine Gun Preacher) is.
Sam Childers on the search for missing children, - on
the road to Juba, South Sudan 2009
Image by Kevin Evans
It's fair to say that most Western Culture outside the USA does not agree with gun possession - and I admit you have to look at what a gun does in the wrong hands - but, in the right hands, it becomes a tool to save people. I know I'm going to receive a lot of criticism, but I have to stand up for what this guy does. He RESCUES CHILDREN from rebels in the war-torn zones of South Sudan.
Life is cheap in this part of the world and children are slaughtered like animals, woman are raped and killed because of their tribe or religion - conflict is inevitable in this part of the world. Sam Childers aka The Machine Gun Preacher is one guy that's not going to stand by and let innocent children be taken and used as pack mules or trained to be child soldiers. Sam's organisation, "Angels of East Africa" runs a large orphanage in Nimule, South Sudan.
I first met the man known as the Machine Gun Preacher around 2005/6. I remember seeing part of a news story from Dateline NBC in 2005 about Joseph Kony - the Infamous Warlord of the North of Uganda at that time. I'd recently returned to Australia from Cambodia and Vietnam, (where I had been working on photographic assignments) and was leaving on a plane to Uganda with another team of Australian mission workers. One member of the team on that trip had also heard of the Machine Gun Preacher.
We meet Sam Childers at the tail end of the trip. I did a lot of photography in the south of Uganda before we travelled north to locate this "Machine Gun Preacher". It wasn't long before we tracked him down - after a few phone calls and asking some directions and we met Sam at the dingy bush hotel where we were staying.
It was a... I know this guy, kind of feeling, and I wanted to do something to help his work. Its hard to explain. I really felt for Sam and the work he was doing. I could sense that he had no money - he was struggling to feed the hundred plus kids that lived in his orphanage at that time. I looked at his clothes, they were old and worn out, he had holes in his boots, his vehicle - a 12 year old Mitsubisha Pajero was not much better, having 4 bald tyres and 4 spares on the roof showing even less tread on them.
You can find out more about Sam's amazing work by going to the Machine Gun Preacher website or by checking out the documentary trailer on the right hand side of this page. I was blessed to be the Director of Photography on this project - it took up around 7 years of my life - on and off - which I've packed into this little film. I've also attached a video I produced in May 2016, that explains all the projects Sam and the Angels of East Africa are currently working on at the moment. If you watch the video, I'm sure that you'll agree Sam and his team have their hands full of projects.
My task with MGP was to document, film, write and photograph whatever I could, for the purposes of raising awareness of the work of the organization (communications/public relations). It became a major part of my life for many years. When you see the terrible things that evil can do to an innocent child - its hard to walk away from. Like Sam, I knew I could do something - that something wasn't to pick up a gun - but I could tell the stories from Sam's side and help him raise the valuable attention , needed to assist in rescuing more children.
For me, my new challenge was to show and tell the world about the Machine Gun Preacher.
Some of the images I took for Sam's first book in 2006
The MGP documentary - director of image making 2014 - Kevin Evans
This video will give you an idea of current projects at MGP
Filmed May 2016 by Kevin Evans
SLIDE SHOW OF IMAGES
Below are some of the images that I've taken over the years. Some have won major awards around the world.
I don't say this to brag, I feel that I needed to raise awareness for the work of the Machine Gun Preacher. By achieving awards for photographic works and filmmaking - in a small way, certainly helped with the branding of the name: The Machine Gun Preacher.