The Book: Another Man’s War
The Biopic: Machine Gun Preacher
” It’s not the ones I saved that I think about; it’s the ones I had to leave behind.”
Sam Childers grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania. His parents were decent folk, but at an early age Sam started to show a knack for getting into trouble. His father, a former marine, grew fond of saying ‘Boy, somebody’s gonna kill you one of these days!’
By his early teens he was constantly in trouble. Whether it was fights, drugs, or married women. Sam slid deeper into a life of violence and crime. He eventually became a ‘Shotgunner’ – an armed guard for drug dealers. It was during this stage ofhis life when he met Lynn, a stripper, who would later become his wife.
Haunted by his father’s words, he became increasingly concerned that he was going to be killed because of his lifestyle and began to distance himself from it. He found a job on construction and prospered, despite his continuing drug and alcohol habit. Lynn, meanwhile, returned to the church she had forsaken as a young adult.
Sam also sought to re-establish his relationship with God and began to live a clean life. Lynn gave birth to a healthy baby girl and Sam started his own construction business. Little did they know their greatest challenge was just around the corner.
In 1996, urged by his pastor in America, Sam arrived in war-torn Southern Sudan with a missionary group to help repair huts damaged in the conflict. One afternoon he stumbled across the body of a child, torn apart by a landmine. He fell to his knees and made a pledge to God to do whatever it took to help the people of Southern Sudan. God sent him a message back: Build an orphanage for the children, and build it here.
The local people thought he was mad. At the time, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal rebel militia that had kidnapped scores of children and murdered hundreds of thousands of villagers, was laying waste to the area. Sam was adamant and held fast to God’s message. He would build the orphanage there!
Slowly the orphanage began to take shape. During the day Sam cleared the brush and built the huts that would house the children. During the night, he slept under a mosquito net, with a bible in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. Sam began to lead armed missions to rescue children from the LRA. It wasn’t long before tales of his exploits spread and villagers began to call him ‘The Machine Gun Preacher.’
13 years later the orphanage is one of the largest in Southern Sudan and has fed and housed over 1,000 children. Today, around 200 children call the orphanage home. Unfortunately there are still many Sudanese children suffering and in need of rescue.