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Sam Childers

Machine-Gun-Preacher

Familiar to many from the biographical film Machine Gun Preacher, Sam Childers and his organisation, Angels Of East Africa, work to help conflict orphans in some of the most dangerous places on Earth. On the eve of his Western Australian speaking tour, he talks to TRAVIS JOHNSON.

Sam Childers was a bad motor scooter. Prior to his conversion to Christianity in 1992, he was an addict, an alcoholic and a violent criminal. Now he is a world-renowned – albeit controversial – humanitarian, working tirelessly to help war orphans in South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia. You can watch a version of his story in the film Machine Gun Preacher, or you can read his own account in his two books, Another Man’s War and Living On The Edge. Alternatively, you can hear the man himself speak on his WA tour.

“It’s about inspiring people to get up and do something in life,” he says of his speaking engagements. “I’m talking about, whether you are a bad person or a good person, whatever you have done in life, most people don’t wanna help other people. I believe hearing my testimony inspires people to get up and do something. You’ve got to remember, mission work begins in your won community, your own town, and what I ask people is ‘What are you doing?’

In his work, Childers faces adversity from a number of sources, ranging from the very real danger of armed conflict to the more abstract threat of bad publicity. Asking what the most pressing issue is, however, elicits a surprising and thoughtful answer. “You know, I think the biggest issue we deal with, and I think it’s something that every non-profit will have to deal with is that you can’t save ‘em all, you can’t feed ‘em all, you can’t take all the children in. I think that’s the thing that I have a hard time dealing with and I think most non-profits, especially the founders of ‘em, it’s something we have to deal with every day is knowing we can’t feed ‘em all, we can’t save ‘em all. And we have to learn to do every day and live every day the very best we can do. And what I mean by that is every day you do the very best you can do.”

His raised profile, largely thanks to the Gerard Butler-starring 2011 film, Machine Gun Preacher, has allowed him to access support and resources from a broader range of sources, although it’s not without its downside. “Really, to tell you the truth, the last few years it’s been good. You gotta remember the movie was based on a book that I wrote, Another Man’s War, and Hollywood took that book and the screenwriter went into Africa and got stories form other people and that’s how they made the movie, and that’s how they got things that are not exactly true.

“I think the biggest thing is that sometimes they make me out to be some crazy guy with a gun, and if you really look into what I do over the past few years, you’ll see I’m really big into education, I’m really big into a future. I don’t worry about what other people says about me, I just try to concentrate on me doing the very best that I can. You’re always going to have people hacking on you, and I’m okay with that.”

 

Sam Childers appears at Metro Church, Mandurah and Metro Church, Perth on Sunday, August 24, Church Of the Way, Coodanup, on Monday, August 25, and The Velvet Lounge on Tuesday, August 26. For more information, go to machinegunpreacher.org.