Mary’s Meals releases Love Reaches Everywhere featuring Gerard Butler

For those of you that miss Gerard Butler, LOOK what he’s up to!

Love Reaches Everywhere

You may be wondering why I’m blogging about Gerard Butler. Anyone who knows me will understand but the truth is, I’ve been a big fan since 2003 when I first saw him in the movies Timeline and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. The tall, handsome, Scot with the piercing blue-green eyes, immediately captivated me with his talents and I made it my mission to look for his acting work. I bonded with one of my closest friends, Gaye, who is an avid movie buff, when we met in 2005 and I turned her on to Gerry’s work. We watched a lot of his films together, even some that we weren’t all that keen about, and we still talk about him to this day. I have seen 35 of his films and continue to follow his career. The thing that makes Gerry so special is not his good looks or his acting talent, but rather, the size of his heart.

I learned about Mary’s Meals because of Gerard Butler and it is because of him that I have made it my number one charity. I was fortunate to be among the first people in Canada to view the exclusive premiere of Love Reaches Everywhere on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 and the documentary, which is so full of joy, hope and beautiful children, left me with a huge smile on my face, a lump in my throat, and a renewed commitment to do what I can to support Mary’s Meals. Today, Thursday, June 25, 2020 is the day that Love Reaches Everywhere launches in Canada.

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TORONTO, Canada.

Mary’s Meals, the school feeding charity, has teamed up with longstanding supporter and Hollywood star Gerard Butler to release a new film Love Reaches Everywhere, which follows the actor and producer as he travels to Liberia and Haiti with the charity’s founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, to experience the charity’s work.

Filmed before the Covid-19 crisis, Love Reaches Everywhere shows the transformative power of education and the desperate need for food in school for some of the most vulnerable children in the world. These children continue to need support even though Covid-19 has closed many of their traditional places of education.

“We are in a time of unprecedented global crisis that is impacting the way people around the world are living, working and being educated,” said Magnus. “Children are especially vulnerable and at risk in this situation and there is a significant danger that they are forgotten amid the fear and confusion of this new world.”

“As a charity that is committed to feeding children in some of the world’s poorest communities, it is more important than ever for Mary’s Meals to keep its promise and support those children by delivering food to them in their communities and homes, which are their new places of education.

“By sharing his experiences with Mary’s Meals through this film, Gerry is helping us to shine a spotlight on the children we feed and ensure their voices aren’t lost.”

Gerard Butler, who has starred in films such as 300, Angel Has Fallen and P.S. I Love You, was able to meet some of the real-life heroes at the heart of Mary’s Meals. In the film, Gerard says:

“Going on this journey hit me from so many different angles – emotional, spiritual and physical. I make movies about heroes, but often they’re in big, over-the-top settings … and then you go to Liberia and Haiti and you see that the teachers in the schools are heroes, and the kids are all heroes that come here on empty stomachs every day to get an education.

“Every meal served by Mary’s Meals is a piece of charity and a little piece of love. And that all passes down into the families and communities and gives that sense of hope. It’s the difference between a kid saying, ‘I want to survive tomorrow’ and ‘I want to be a doctor.’”

The film shows Butler immersing himself in community life – teaching a math’s lesson, dancing, planting crops in a school garden, preparing food, carrying water from a local well, and even sharing acting tips with some children ahead of a school nativity play.

The global launch of LOVE REACHES EVERYWHERE is now available.

For More Information:
www.marysmeals.ca
Irene Carroll | Irene.carroll@Marysmeals.org | 416-366-5473 

Kindly Note:

  • Mary’s Meals feeds over 1.6 million children a day through school feeding programmes in 19 countries: Malawi, Liberia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Kenya, India, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Benin, Lebanon, Syria, Myanmar, Thailand, Ecuador, Niger, Madagascar and Romania.
  • It costs $26.40 (CDN) to feed a child for a whole school year or .13 cents a day
  • Mary’s Meals is owned and run by local communities in the countries in which it operates. Where possible, meals are prepared using food that has been grown locally. This helps to support families and boost the local economy.
  • While schools are closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity’s work continues. Through community distributions of food parcels and essential hygiene items, Mary’s Meals is continuing to reach almost every child enrolled in its feeding programs, enabling parents or guardians to cook daily meals for the children at home, in their temporary place of education.
  • Mary’s Meals began in 2002 when Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow visited Malawi during a famine and met a mother dying from AIDS. When Magnus asked her eldest son, Edward, what his dreams were in life, he replied simply: “I want to have enough food to eat and to be able to go to school one day.”
  • In 2010 Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow was named a TOP 10 CNN Hero
  • In 2015 Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow was named one of TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 Most Influential People

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow and Gerard Butler for Mary's Meals

Timeline of a Friendship
The Background to Love Reaches Everywhere

2010: Gerard Butler presents Mary’s Meals’ Founder and CEO, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, with a ‘CNN Heroes’ award in recognition of Mary’s Meals’ work, feeding hundreds of thousands of children in some of the most impoverished communities around the world. Gerard has already heard a lot about the charity from his mum, who is a big supporter of Mary’s Meals and has always wanted Gerard to get involved too.

After chatting with Magnus backstage, Gerard says, “I just thought, ‘dude, you’re amazing!’ and, from that moment on, we became fast friends.”             

2013: Magnus invites Gerard to travel with him to Liberia to see Mary’s Meals in action and visit some of the schools where feeding is happening. The trip sees Gerard pitching in to help volunteer cooks prepare and serve up Mary’s Meals. He also teaches a class of orphans, plays football with kids, loads a truck with sacks of rice, plants pepper seeds and pineapples at a school garden and dances with villagers.

During the trip, Gerard says: “I have been struck by the strength of peoples’ dignity – Mary’s Meals is all about respecting and promoting the lives and cultures of people and showing just what they’re capable of.”

Magnus says: “Gerry has a great gift with kids and I hope that through his commitment to raise awareness of our work, we can reach many more children with Mary’s Meals.”

2014-17: Gerard continues to support Mary’s Meals and features in one of the charity’s key film releases, Generation Hope.

2018: Gerard calls Magnus to ask if he can accompany him on another trip to a Mary’s Meals programme country. Together they set off for Haiti, where they visit schools where feeding is already taking place and others where no food is yet available. They meet an inspirational array of people including children and teachers, programme staff and volunteers, all with their own stories to tell. Gerard witnesses first-hand the dire need of some communities and the difference it makes when Mary’s Meals finally reaches them. The trip has a profound effect on Gerard and he says: I make movies about heroes, but often they’re in bigger, over-the-top settings. And then you come here and you see there’s a hero right there… the teachers in the school are heroes, the kids are all heroes that come here on empty stomachs every day to try and get an education.” 

Gerard Butler Mary's Meals
Feb 2020: Magnus and Gerard meet again at another awards ceremony… but this time it’s Magnus handing out the honours to Gerard, as he is recognised for his work with Mary’s Meals at the ‘Cinema for Peace Awards’ in Berlin. Previous winners of the accolade include Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio. Magnus says: When Gerry speaks about our mission, and those we are serving, he does so with deep understanding and compassion, and because of that, he has inspired so many around the world to take action in support of Mary’s Meals. I could not be more thrilled that he is being honoured and recognised in this way!”

June 2020: Love Reaches Everywhere is released – a film which captures both of Gerard and Magnus’ trips (to Liberia and Haiti) and explores themes from friendship and community to love, hope and everyday heroes.

CONNECT WITH MARY’S MEALS: https://linktr.ee/marysmeals.ca

Machine Gun Preacher: The Remarkable True Story of Sam Childers

DVD REVIEW
Title: Machine Gun Preacher
Studio/Distributor: Relativity Media
Director: Marc Forster
Principle Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker, Souleymane Sy Savane
Length: 129 minutes
Released: June 5, 2012
Stars: 3.5

I’m a big Gerard Butler fan and I must confess that when I first heard that he was doing a film called Machine Gun Preacher, I cringed and thought, oh no, another piece of crap like Law Abiding Citizen and Gamer!  When is he going to make a decent movie?!  However, after watching Machine Gun Preacher on DVD because I needed a Butler fix, I’m very pleased to report that I was dead wrong in assuming that it wouldn’t be any good because it is in fact, above average and compelling to watch.

Machine Gun Preacher, directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner) is based on the true, inspirational story of Sam Childers, a former biker gang member and drug-dealing criminal, who hit rock bottom, found salvation in Jesus, and underwent an astounding metamorphosis through which he discovered an unanticipated calling to be the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children in the Sudan.

The movie, which tanked at the box office when it opened, is violent, visceral and filled with coarse language, but the story is one that needs to be heard.  There are enough breaks in the brutality to make it bearable to watch, the African children will melt the hardest of hearts, and Gerard Butler as Sam Childers (he’s also one of the executive producers on the film) gives one of the best performances of his career as the small-town Pennsylvania hillbilly turned preacher seeking redemption for his sins.

This volatile film opens with drug-addicted gang biker Sam being released from prison in Pittsburgh only to find that his stripper wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) has quit her job and become a Christian.  Sam’s mother Daisy (Kathy Baker, in a very small role) and Lynn try to convince Sam that he needs to find a new path, but the angry Sam is not interested, shows little interest in his young daughter, Paige, and continues to drink heavily and do drugs.

Then one night, Sam and his best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon of Revolutionary Road and The Greatest, in another impressive performance), both high on heroin, pick up a hitchhiker who threatens to slash Donnie’s throat.  Sam freaks out, wrestles the knife away from him and stabs him repeatedly, throwing him out of the car and leaving him for dead.  Later that night we see Sam in his bathroom, frantically trying to wash the blood out of his t-shirt, when his wife walks in on him.  The look of agony and fear on Butler’s face is priceless as he pleads with Lynn to help him.  She ends up taking him to church where he’s soon baptized and later lands a construction job.  He’s so successful with his new trade that he starts his own business.

Soon after, Sam meets a preacher with a missionary in Africa and, intensely inspired by his work, he decides to visit Northern Uganda and South Sudan to see if he can be of any help.  In Sudan he discovers the young victims of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), whose parents have been murdered and who have been kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers.  Sam is so devastated by what he witnesses that he makes it his mission to build an orphanage for the children and to protect them at all costs.  However, for Sam, it’s not enough to shelter the LRA’s intended victims.  Backed by freedom fighters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), he leads armed missions into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, constantly risking his own life.  And so he becomes a legend known as the machine gun preacher.

Apparently, according to imdb.com, the real Sam Childers shows screenings of a heavily-edited version of the film in churches around the world to raise proceeds which are used to support his ongoing work with the Angels of East Africa in South Sudan.  He’s reported as having said that the film is heavily “Hollywoodized” and if you read the bio on his website, the order of events in his life have been significantly changed for the film, but he says that more than 70% of it is true.  Childers recently authored a book called Another Man’s War about his experiences and you can read the truth about his story in it.

Civil war in Africa is usually a news story that I try to avoid reading about or watching on television because it’s a situation so horrifying, depressing and seemingly hopeless, that it’s heartbreaking.  Most of us aren’t thick-skinned enough to look at genocide straight on or to ask how we can help because we’re just too petrified of what might be asked of us.  Even if you don’t agree with his religion, his politics, or the fact that he kills in the name of the Lord, Sam Childers is a remarkably courageous man who continues to try his best to help those who much of the world would let burn, and for that he deserves to be recognized.  It’s for that reason, as well as Gerard Butler’s portrayal of him, that you should watch this movie.