Machine Gun Preacher

Childers with a Sudanese orphan

The true story behind the feature film

Story by Robyn Pliscott

 

When he was a young teenager, Sam Childers’ father told him, “Boy, somebody’s gonna kill you one of these days!” An unpromising start for a missionary.

 

Childers was raised by decent, honest people. But by the time he was in his teens, he was constantly fighting and selling drugs. His list of violent crimes grew longer, and he became an armed guard for drug dealers. It was a long time before Childers remembered his father’s words, and when he did he worried that he was going to be killed by the ruinous lifestyle he’d fallen into.

 

Childers knew he had to change. He started distancing himself from his former life. He found a job in construction and started to prosper. His wife Lynn returned to the church she had abandoned as a girl. Childers himself began to reestablish a relationship with God. Lynn gave birth and Childers started his own construction business. Things were starting to look okay, especially considering where they had started, but everything was about to change.

 

Sam arrived in Yei, Sudan in 1998. The country had been ravaged by the fighting during the ongoing Second Sudanese War. Childers’ pastor had urged him to join a mission group to help repair homes ruined by the conflict. During this assignment, Childers found a child’s body that had been destroyed by a landmine. At that moment, he swore to God that he would do what he could to help the Sudanese people.

 

Several months later, Childers returned to Sudan to help operate a mobile clinic. His promise to God was still in his mind, and he decided to venture across the entire country, from Yei to Boma. As he passed Nimule, a village on the Ugandan border, he received a message from God: build an orphanage for the children, and build it here.

 

Childers and wife Paige ride a tractor at a 1000-acre property in Nwoya, Uganda

Childers and wife Paige ride a tractor at a 1000-acre property in Nwoya, Uganda

 

The local people thought Childers was crazy. A rebel militia named the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had kidnapped thirty thousand children and murdered hundreds of thousands of villagers. They were destroying the area and its people. If Childers built his orphanage, they feared the LRA would be drawn back to Nimule. But Childers knew that God knew what He was doing, and he decided to continue on the path God had set for him. Childers returned to America, sold his business, and sent the money to Africa. The orphanage slowly started to take shape, guided by its benefactor. Childers cleared brush and built huts, sleeping at night with a Bible in one hand and an AK47 in the other.

 

The orphanage was finally finished. Childers led armed missions to rescue children from the LRA. Before long, stories of his adventures spread all across the surrounding are, and the locals started to call him “The Machine Gun Preacher.” Nearly twenty years later, the orphanage is still open. It is the largest in Southern Sudan and has taken care of over a thousand children. Over two hundred children live there full-time. Childers’ orphanage receives no funding from governments or political organizations, so the day-to-day survival of the orphans is dependent on individual donations. The money provides water, food, shelter, education, infrastructure, counseling, and/or rescue.

 

 

Childers and his ministry, Angels of East Africa, can be reached at www.machinegunpreacher.org, 800-757-0535, or correspondence@angelsofeastafrica.org.

 

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Pliscott FOR WEB

Reporter, Robyn Pliscott, writes news and media reviews for The Brandon Beacon.  

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