Picture this: You grow up in Pennyslvania and in your teenage years your father is fond of saying “Boy, somebody’s gonna kill you one of these days!” Then you sell hard drugs and sleep with married women, sink into a life of crime and become a Shotgunner—an armed guard for drug dealers, meet a stripper and marry her.
Then you change.
Then you examine your life closely, set forth to a small village of Yei in Southern Sudan, Africa, run a mobile clinic at first and most importantly an orphanage, smack in the middle of where the bad boys Lord’s Resistance Army have kidnapped 30 thousand children and murdered hundreds of thousands of villagers.
Inspiring, isn’t it? Sounds like some fiction, right? Not really.
This is the inspiration of the movie The Machine Gun Preacher released in 2011 of a man who during the evening slept under a mosquito net slung from a tree: bible in one hand, AK47 in the other. ( Why Machine Gun Preacher? Well, the villagers nicknamed him that name). And this was the life of Sam Childers before he got God’s message of building an orphanage in Yei, aptly named Angels of East Africa and The Children’s Village. Fifteen years later the orphanage is the largest in Southern Sudan and has fed and housed over 1,000 children. Today, more than 200 children call the orphanage home. Unfortunately there are still many Sudanese children suffering and in need of rescue.
It is gratifying to learn that Sam’s biography, Another Man’s War, made into a Hollywood feature film starring Gerard Butler was due for release in September last year.
Well, a synopsis of the movie:
Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers, the impassioned founder of the Angels of East Africa rescue organization in Golden Globe-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption.
When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region’s vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it’s most needed in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens.
But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA’s intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives - and eventually his own. The explosive, real-life tale of a man who has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease and enslavement, Machine Gun Preacher also stars Michelle Monaghan (Due Date), Kathy Baker (Cold Mountain), Madeline Carroll (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Academy Award® nominated Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Souleymane Sy Savane (“Damages”).
The story of Sam is an inspiring one. In fact, they have expanded into 2 different countries—Uganda and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, in a place called Nazret, they have an orphanage for children whose parents died of HIV and AIDS and a feeding program of about 165 children. In Kampala, Uganda, they have 15 children from South Sudan being schooled and feed over 770 children per day. In Gulu, they have a home where they house 15 children for over a decade now.
You could read more about what the Machine Gun Preacher does and see how you could support his Ministry here.