The other day I ran across a movie called ‘The Machine Gun Preacher’, starring well-known actor Gerard Butler. It caught my eye because it was a true story of a reckless drug dealing criminal who found God, changed his ways, and was now fighting for the lives of the thousands of orphans of East Africa. Sam Childers is the Machine Gun Preacher!
Sam Childers was born and raised in the hills of Pennsylvania in a good family, but somewhere along the way his life was darkened with anger, drugs, crime and violence. Sam was always a man of action, but it was always action doing the wrong thing! He was in and of trouble and jail when his wife asked God to come into her life and He totally changed everything. Sam continued to run from God and pushed everything good in his life aside. To the few friends and family he had, he was an angry man with a death wish. He was like an out of control, runaway locomotive headed for a deadly train wreck. Finally, after thinking he had stabbed someone to death while high, drunk and angry, Sam desperately reached out to his wife for help and God came into his life. His is a great story of the power of God, and his ability to forgive and save those who repent and believe! From that moment, Sam was compelled to use his strong sense of action as a force for good in his family’s life and in God’s kingdom.
On the journey of turning away from all the chaos and sin and focusing on turning his life around, Sam was convicted by a message at church given by a pastor from Africa who was asking for help for the people of the Sudan. The pastor painted the picture of a terrible civil war in this region of East Africa, and how food, clean water, shelter, safety, etc… was very much-needed. Sam answered the call, thinking that his construction knowledge and skill would serve well to hopefully make a difference. God used this short little mission trip to Africa to help convict Sam Childers of his purpose that he fights passionately for still to this day! While in East Africa, Sam got to see the off-limits war zone and saw first hand the suffering of the people being brutally abused or killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Sam now had a cause, much bigger than anything he ever expected, seared into his conscience when he held a dying boy who just had stepped on a land mine while out chasing his dog. He left Africa, and went back to Pennsylvania a different man. He was so moved by God and by what he had seen in Africa that he developed a vision and a plan to build an orphanage smack dab in the middle of the war zone of the Sudan in an attempt to make a difference in the lives of some of the thousands of children who were being orphaned, maimed or killed on a daily basis.
Fast forward 13 years, and you will still find Sam in action: loving, saving, and protecting many of the orphaned children of East Africa. He is attempting to fulfill the mission God has given him, what Orrin Woodward calls to ‘work and keep’. ‘Working’, to save, feed, care, and provide shelter for suffering orphans of the region, and striving to ‘keep’ them safe in the arms of God! The war in the Sudan region is not a war anymore, but what some would call ‘genocide’. Over 400,000 men, women and children have been killed by the LRA and over 40,000 children abducted to be used as soldiers or to be sold as a sex slaves.
I don’t quite know why I am writing this post, other than I was very touched by this story and I believe Sam Childers ministry is a worthwhile cause. As I sit here in my air-conditioned office, with my kids swimming safely with some friends, I feel and see a huge dichotomy between my family’s life and the life of the suffering thousands in East Africa and in many other parts of the world. . We so take for granted the blessings we have in our lives here in the states and Canada: fresh water, food everyday, safety, love, and opportunity! I mean come on, nobody is trying to kill us and abduct our children!!! If you know history, this makes us some of the most blessed people who have ever been! I ask myself, ‘What can I do to help’? Well you just read the last blessing I listed that we take for granted, opportunity! Sam Childers, the widows and orphans of East Africa and millions of others around the world desperately need time, money, energy, prayer and love from us!!! As Galatians 5:13 says, ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
In closing, let me ask you this, if your child was scared, starving, maimed and abducted, what would you do?…..what would you do? How you can use your freedom and opportunity to better serve the hurting people of this world? For more information on Sam Childers, the children of East Africa and his ministry, watch the following short video and go to machinegunpreacher.org. God bless, kb