When I first traveled to Nimule, South Sudan in 1993 (at the urging of Rep. Frank Wolf) I noticed that only two NGO’s were doing relief work in the area—most humanitarian relief workers were scared away by the fighting.
In subsequent visits, I learned that some journalists and aid workers preferred more comfortable assignments instead of enduring the hardships of life in the Sudanese bush.
But not Pastor Sam Childers. He made his first trip to South Sudan in 1998 and started a ministry called, Angels of East Africa. I visited Pastor Sam at his orphanage in Nimule during one of my many visits to Sudan.
Sam’s not your typical minister. He’s a former motorcycle gang member, former drug dealer from Pennsylvania. He says he used to be one bad dude, but God changed him after he accepted Christ.
He’s risked his life countless times to help free children from abuse and slavery in Uganda and Sudan. Many of the rescued children had been kidnapped by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
I suffered insomnia when I stayed overnight with Sam at the Nimule orphanage. The persistent screams and wails of traumatized children echoed throughout the compound during the night.
“Many of these kids have been raped,” Sam told me. “Girls AND boys.”
I met a 5-year old boy and his brother--both had their arms cut off. Other children had witnessed the burning of their villages; their parents hacked to death during raids by LRA troops.
Sam gives them a comfortable bed, healthy meals, medicine AND hope. All are told about Jesus; they pray and sing Christian hymns and even laugh and play at a playground constructed by Childers and his staffers.
Hardened, traumatized children become softer, their anxieties, fears, and bitterness are replaced by the love and peace of Christ. It’s an amazing transformation.
And Childers is an amazing man. His story is now told in a movie to be released later this month. It’s called "Machine Gun Preacher," starring Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan.
The film’s publicist describes it as a “hardcore film due to the nature of the context, but has an empowering, redeeming storyline.” It is rated R because of some profanity in the first 15 minutes of the movie (Sam’s BC days) and because of war violence.
Sam says he’s pleased with the movie because it shows his character preaching the Gospel. He prays "Machine Gun Preacher" will lead people to Christ.
The trailer for the movie can be viewed by clicking on the video below. You can also see Sam next week on "The 700 Club" and our various news shows.