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

66 responses »

  1. Daniel Pinkelman says:

    Kirk,

    This is why I count you as the mentor in my life. The great examples, like this one of Sam, are what compell me to dig deeper and answer the call He is giving us. Thanks for continuing to stretch my thinking.

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Dan… The history of mankind is crash, bang, boom! Hurting, suffering, and pain like so many of have never had to know. We just have to ask ourselves, ‘what’s my purpose, and how can I use it to make more of a difference?’ You’ve been called for times like this my friend!!! kb

  2. Awesome post! Did you actually watch the movie? (if so, does it live up to the picture you painted in this blog?)

  3. Kortney Cox says:

    What an amazing story!! We are truly blessed with an amazing opportunity to reach so many people hurting in this world! Thank you Kirk and Cassie for leading from the front and for your continued support and guidance! We have ALL been given a gift to change this world through L.I.F.E. It’s time….It’s time!

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Kortney… you bet! The key word is opportunity! How are we using our opportunity to glorify God, and make a difference! Are we maximizing our potential? Are we using the purpose God has given us as the ultimate dream builder as Brady and Woodward talk about in their best seller Launching a Leadership Revolution?

  4. Jason D Wilson says:

    Awesome post KB. I love this story and ministry. A good diet of such stories is what I seek to keep me focused. There is so many medium forms that promote laziness, entitlement and victim thinking. I love this blog because it is like eating good food…. God food. Thanks again chef KB!

  5. melvinia says:

    We are a very spoiled country and really do take everything for granted even the small things. We get caught up into the world’s drama and chaos and forget what is right in front of us.

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Melvina…. You got it! We need to remember our gifts and privileges to pay it forward and make a difference! If you have an opportunity to build a business, make some money and influence more people, we better do it and stop playing small!!!!!!!

  6. melvinia says:

    We are a very spoiled country and we forget to celebrate the little things because we are so focused on what others have and what we don’t. This is always be a wake up call reminder that it can always be worse.

  7. Kim Decker says:

    The sad part is that it is and has been happening around the world for so long..It was an awesome post Kirk and yes this is another way to help the children there as well as the ones who suffer from abuse or neglect here right in the states. Start with the parents..we all can make a difference..i get out and talk to as many who will listen..LORD help all of us follow in your footsteps and save a life somewhere AS YOU DID SO MANY YEARS AGO. BLESS THE TEAM/LIFE FOR A START THAT WILL BE HELP TO ALOT OF FAMILIES.

  8. jeff peterson says:

    I am so honored and bless to be a part of something that has truly changed my thinking and my heart. you all are great. you are a blessing kirk. thanks

  9. Mike Hartmann says:

    Thanks for recalibrating the urgency for each of us to go out and make a difference in this world! The images and stories are so terrible and we are so removed that most will never even consider how we can help. Isn’t it amazing that our modern media news sources don’t even mention this tragedy that going on each day? Thanks for your well-thought through article – your blog will make a difference!

  10. Chad Reno says:

    Watching that video, and reading the post has not only convicted me about how easy we have it, but it also makes the LIFE business so important. Without the leadership in LIFE I’m sure I would have just gone on with my life and never gave it a second thought. It’s such a travesty what’s going on over there, and yet it just keeps going on. We all need to take our freedoms more seriously, cause people all around the world especially Christians are dying everyday for their right to worship the one true God.

    • Daniel Pinkelman says:

      Chad,
      I remember the guy I met in February of 2011 & when I compare him with the Man I know now, he is doing something about his Freedom. You are a living example of Galatians 5:13 and He is using you brother. As Kirk says, keep up the good fight.

  11. Jasen Nail says:

    Wow!! Sounds like our leaders!

  12. mfcreno says:

    That is very eye opening, I feel very convicted to appreciate the freedoms we have, to worship the way we choose without the threat of being beaten or killed. I’m so very glad that we have leaders like yourself that are not complacent with your position in life and choose to still stretch yourself and the ones you lead. We are all very blessed to be where we are in life. May God bless those poor people and their circumstances.

  13. Amanda Groves says:

    Wow Kirk!! A blessing of a post!! I cannot wait to watch the movie & share this with others. We are all so blessed it is time for us to become a blessing to others like Sam did and like you and Cassie are doing. 🙂 Thanks!!

  14. Anne says:

    http://www.gfa.org/?cm_mmc=Google-_-AdWords1-&gclid=CLXs3rT4ybACFUKc7Qode2zVXw

    What an amazing man and ministry! Your posting directly relates to a book I am reading titled “Revolution in World Missions.” I just texted you today about this. Get your free copy at “Gospel for Asia” website. Link above. The author/founder talks about how abundantly blessed we are in the Western world and for a reason… so we can help those in need. One way we can do this is by sponsoring missionaries around the world. “Need” is not three cars in the garage… or even 1 nice one for that matter. People are in need of the love of Jesus and salvation. We must spread the Good News of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. Kirk, why did God put this on your heart?
    Love, Anne

  15. Bill Schulz says:

    What an example of somebody using their freedom to help those who don’t have any! Improving yourself to become more effective in the lives of others is what the LIFE leaders are doing on a daily basis. Thanks for leading the way Kirk!

  16. Kenna Knapp says:

    I just finished tucking my boys into bed and read “keys for kids” to them. The “key” thought for our reading tonight was, count your blessings! I was talking to my boys about how we need to count our blessings everyday! We talked about kids who don’t have a warm bed to sleep in, or even food to eat, or a place they can call home. Then I just read your blog and my mouth was hanging open! Wow! We do have the best opportunity to get out there and serve others in a world where so many are hurting!

    In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

  17. Susan Holkeboer says:

    I love My upline Jasen and Jenny Nail. I also am enjoying the challenge groups!

  18. Joe Schoonveld says:

    To walk in faith. To not judge anyone. We never know how someones life will turn out. There are so many bad people in this world, but there was only 1 great person. He died for us some 2000 years ago. We all must learn from Him. We all must… You fill in the rest! We say we will so few actually do. I am one of those people have great intentions but the follow through part is hard. Sam is a great example of someone who just one day decided to change. He on a daily basis I’m sure is struggling with his past. I to am struggling. I recently found GOD, I’m glad he didn’t give up on me like I gave up in the past. I decided one day that I don’t have to make up for my past. I don’t have to be someone I’m not. Today is a new day and I learned from all of my sins and with GOD I will decide to change the course of my life. If you reader are different than you want to be don’t judge. Allow yourself the time you need to be someone you want to be. Everyday I ask myself would I want everyone in the world to be like I am today? My answer is always NO but With our great system and LIFE information I know I can be. I don’t want to imagine my life without. GOD bless everyone on their journey to be that Sam.

  19. Thank you for putting our situation into perspective, Kirk! Each and every bit of outreach will make a difference!

  20. seltrib says:

    What will we do? The people of North America are blessed beyond what most of the people in third world countries can even imagine. God forgive our greed and compel us to action. We will not be remembered for what we have accumulated on earth but rather for what we have given away. Thanks Kirk for showing us how fortunate we are and how humbled we should be………..Lead the way, we’re behind you.

  21. John J Torres says:

    Kirk thanks for that post just a good reminder to give thank every day for are blessings.

  22. Jim Croyle says:

    Kirk, you and Cassie are truly servant leaders. At many different times in my life, I have looked for and thought that I had found my purpose. I wasn’t until I connected with this community that I even met somebody else that clearly had found their own purpose. I have been blessed to have found this association; men and women of true character of which you and Cassie are truly front runners. Your hearts are as big as they come and your service to those around you speaks volumes. Thanks for helping me find my purpose and guiding me down the road to realizing it. This is an amazing post that demonstrates the true size of your heart and inspires me to continue my journey. God Bless!
    Jim

  23. Wow Kirk. That is an amazing story! We really have no idea how good we have it–even at the “worst” of times. Thanks for fresh perspective.

  24. Kathy Troast says:

    Talk about reframing our situations to have better attitudes of gratitude! Thanks for that story, Kirk.

  25. Andrew Rockwell says:

    Kirk,
    You are right on! We are so blessed in this country, and most people don’t even realize it. Everyone is so caught up in their own lives and own “struggles” (if you can even call them struggles compared to many other people around the world) that we don’t sit back and appreciate what we have. I think if people appreciated what they have more, they would be more likely to give to others. This story is great at helping us appreciate our own blessings, and hopefully will inspire more people to reach out to those in need.

  26. Krista Beach says:

    Having a purpose beyond ourselves is what truly gives us JOY in our lives. Thank you for that reminder, Kirk.

  27. Erin Gregorski says:

    Kirk-
    Thanks for another amazing blog! I can remember reading a book about a girl who lived (barely) through the genocide in Rawanda. It was like reading about the horrors of the holocaust, but it happened in 1995 when I was in high school and I knew NOTHING about it! I felt sick that while I was living a blissfully ignorant life; being a cheerleader, going out with friends, living a careless life, there were people suffering so greatly. I read that and wanted to do something, but felt helpless and so easily put that book on my shelf and the story on the backshelf of my mind. As I read your blog I am reminded that I can do something, I can build my business to build my level of influence to reach those who are hurting. Most of all I can pray, pray for those beyond my circle of influence and pray for the soldiers God is raising up in L.I.F.E. Band of Brothers lead the way…..

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Erin… I remember that book, ‘Left to tell’. What a powerful true life story about the depravity of man and overcoming all odds through God’s grace! It was like a wildfire book in our family, you couldn’t stop it from being passed on and spread to the next person!! Thanks for sharing, kb

  28. Powerful post Kirk! It is so important for all of us to be reminded of how blessed we really are as compared to the rest of the world. And many times it takes stories like this to shake us a little. I was working with a leader in my group this morning and he is an ironman athlete. He actually just completed a race in which he ran 34+ miles straight. He said that sometimes when he is running his long distances it gets so tough that he wants to give up and the pain just gets so bad but he has to reframe his thinking by visualizing what real suffering is. He used the example of Christ on the cross. And how it would feel to have nails going through his hands and feet – now that’s suffering. Or in the case of your story, these children and families who are being raped, beaten and killed on a daily basis – that’s suffering. And he said that it helps to remind him that any struggle or suffering we may think we have is nothing in comparison to Christ’s suffering or in the case of your story, the children suffering in East Africa. Thanks Kirk for this reminder as we go out and serve more people and bless more lives with the blessings we have received.

  29. Brandie says:

    What a great story about a man who found his purpose and was willing to do whatever it took to pursue it!

  30. Abbey Dyke says:

    Kirk, if my child was starving, abducted or anything bad happened to them, I would be really off balance. Children mean the world to me and when I see posts of missing children on doors at the store or on the store community boards, it worries me. Society today is corrupt and unruly and when Team and L.I.F.E come into someone’s life, their lives can be turned around.
    As a young adult, I was a rebellious kid who always tried running away from my problems, often times going to strangers houses that I didn’t really know. It never worked out. My dad always tried stepping in, but I was too stubborn. When I was introduced to the Team in 2007, I felt a revelation come over me like never before. For once, I felt like someone appreciated me. The Nails have given up so much of their time, to work with all of us and I am blessed that they are in my life. When I see my loving Curtis come in and he becomes an amazing leader with a big heart, it brings tears to my eyes, knowing that we both came from broken families and Team has saved our lives. The world needs Team and the world needs hope from the many leaders of Team. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else, but around the Team heartbeat and all that is has to offer for anyone! It’s like having a second chance again and turning your life around. Amen to the Team and Kirk you are awesome!

  31. Elizabeth Bondie says:

    Kirk,

    Caleb & I saw this movie on the shelf at the rental store and commented to each other that we needed to rent it soon. Now we definitely will!

    I had lunch with a friend today and we got to discussing our passion for finding our God-given purpose and pursuing it in order to serve others. The Galatians 5:13 verse you included in this blog made me realize more than ever that what we are doing with the LIFE business is exactly what we are meant to do. God has put this business in our lives as a vehicle to achieve financial freedom so that we can go and share our time, knowledge, financial resources and love with those less fortunate, those less “free” than we are.

    Thank you for continuously providing such great vision and direction. Thank you for leading the way.

    Caleb & Liz

  32. Frank says:

    Kirk-

    This is an amazing story! I believe that one of the reasons why you posted this is because you are a TRUE leader, and you have a heart of gold. Thank you for being an amazing example. We will continue to fight the battle with you:)

  33. Kirk Birtles says:

    Kirk, What a powerful and needed wake up call! When I find myself actually complaining about my perceived trials, how meaningless they become when I give a moments though to what these kids go through. I am so thankful that God has given you a gift and heart to lead our family and teach this perspective to our kids, that it’s not about what you get but it is about what you GIVE. Keep up the good fight!!

  34. robbyandemily says:

    Thanks Kirk! For making me cry… It’s crazy how helpless we can feel, like we can’t actually make a difference, but we can!

  35. Kirk, this is a very moving story. We are so blessed and yet we complain if our fast food takes more than 30 seconds. Wow this puts it all into perspective. It also is a call to make a difference and use the freedom and opportunity God gives us for the good of others. Thank you for this blog.

  36. pmit2188 says:

    Kirk, I was just telling my grand daughters how much we have to be grateful for and this is just another example of why. We might not all be inspired to go into a hostil country and save childerns lives, but we will be called to lead others to freedom all around us daily. Freedom from condeming others, freedom from blaming ourselves for past mistakes, freedom from abusing our own bodies with drugs, alcohol, profanity…..
    I was blessed to be introduced to the TEAM in a time in my life when I was looking for something to fulfill my destiny. I had always felt God tugging at me to do more but I wasn’t sure how. The Mental Fittness Challenge is just another outstanding tool the LIFE team offers to better equip us for the job God wants us working on. It has got me thinking alot about my life plan and what I want to do with my life. That’s such a hugh goal just to figure that out.
    In the last few months I’ve had some medical issues that I must focus on if I’m going to live long enought to fullfil those goals. The MFC is helping me to desern exactly what I need to work on.
    I’m proud to be associated with such a Godly, passionate, careing, community, and leadership. I challenge everyone to take the challenge ! Pam

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Pam… Your heart is pouring through your comments! You are and will be a blessing to so many people, making a difference everywhere you go. I continually see you growing and changing for the better. We are blessed to have you on the team! God bless, kb

  37. Its when I read stroies like this that I am reminded of how much in life I take for granted everyday. Its easy to sit and think your life is so bad or how awful things are, until we take a real look at the world around us, and see the real suffering so many have to experience. We are truly so blessed here in america, almost too blessed. It has caused us and our children to be spoiled, selfish and close minded to the real problems in our world. It is our responsibility as parents to try to instill this respect and selflessness in our children that most people seem to care nothing for. It is like swimming against a strong ocean current, but it is very much possible. I am so thankful to life and the wonderful blessings and oppurtuinities it is bringing into my life and that of my family!! It feels great to know there is a much better way out there! I love knowing our kids will have a chance at a real, positive, giving, God filled life because of this amazing business and all it has to offer our world!!! Thank you! Sarah

    • Kirk Birtles says:

      Sarah… You and Scott are leaders in the making! Which is good, because 1000s of leaders, and God’s will is what it is going to take to change the tide from decay to revival in the world. Keep shining brightly for people to see. They are watching!! kb

  38. joey finch says:

    great video another true leader out there doing the lords work

  39. Renee P says:

    What an amazing story, Kirk. God surely has his hand on all of you and all of those who wish to follow in his footsteps. Leading a life of character and integrity, vision and focus – we will reach all those who so desparately seek His word and works. Thank you for sharing this so we can all go out and serve others.

  40. Aaron Thomason says:

    Kirk,

    This is what we need to keep a grateful and thankful spirit is to focus on someone and something bigger than ourselves. This is why we were created to serve others. When focusing on making a difference in your life in the place and space you have been given, then we begin to lead a life that is pleasing to God. It’s not about “me, mine and ours”. We need to change our prayers and change our focus.

  41. Andrea Clark says:

    WOW! It is simply amazing how God can use people. Seeing this video makes me look at the world around me and see how complacent everyone is. So many freedoms we just take for granted. We have a choice! There are many soldiers and Christians who continue to fight for our freedoms without so much of a thank you from most of us. They still do it anyway. I look at what I have done to help others….not nearly enough. Lets continue to pray and grow. Never forget the sacrifices Jesus Christ made for our sins. And the blood that has been shed for our freedoms.

  42. Chris Brady says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kirk! There is always so much to learn from the lives of others…helping us reframe our perspective and our priorities.

  43. Laurie Tallio says:

    Kirk, the story of what this man has done to be a blessing to so many is so inspirational, but I want you to know the earlier part of this story has made a huge impact on a team mate. Reverse the circumstances — wife battling addiction, husband enabling — needing answers, but seeking God. This article has helped him realize that he can only work on himself and his faith journey, but will hopefully inspire others to follow his lead as they witness his growth. Thank you!

  44. James Helm says:

    Kirk, It was a great flick and it was another example of someone who is living their convictions out and not living a life of convience! Thanks for sharing!!

  45. Paul Brown says:

    Kirk, this is amazing! This guy is the coolest guy I’ve ever seen. He’s living out his dreams and passions! Really cool post!

  46. Kirk,

    Great post! I’m about 1/3 the way through the Mental Fitness Challenge and I love it! What Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady have done with the LIFE business is astounding! I am excited to be a part of this truly amazing movement. Thanks to Orrin and Chris as well as Claude Hamilton, Bill Lewis, George Guzzardo, Tim Marks and Dan Hawkins for putting together an amazing opportunity. I’m so glad they had the courage to stand up to Amway and risk everything for doing what was right. Plus they wouldn’t have been able to fix the issues with multi-level / network marketing (they wouldn’t have known about them) and create a whole new industry. It’s great to be able to lock arms with a community of leaders focused on personal development and applying truth to their lives. Can’t wait to live the life i’ve always wanted!

  47. Steve Meixner says:

    Kirk,
    I just happen to be reading a book right now called “Tramp for the Lord” by Corrrie Ten Boom. In chapter 16, Corrie is stopped at the Gate to enter East Berlin. She has a book with her written by Billy Graham called “Peace with God” The officer picks it up and shouts “What, A book by that Machine gun of God!” In the next Chapter she goes to Africa. I don’t know if you ever read the book but I just thought it was a strange coincidence and wonder if it had anything to do with the movie. I will be done with the book today and think it’s a great read. I will now have to see this movie. Thanks for the great posts, Steve

  48. Kim Decker says:

    I watched this whole movie and it really is something for all to see. What this man has done is amazing and we should all learn from this…hold our dreams close to our hearts and they will come true…we can make it to a million…

  49. Dan White says:

    God bless you Kirk for spreading the word. I can only say that after watching the movie, I too was deeply touched. Keep up the amazing work that you do!!!!

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