Preacher fights for what’s right
Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Pennsylvanian (USA) biker Sam Childers, who overcame a life of drugs and violence to embrace Christianity and wage a 13-year war to free enslaved children in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. The film was recently released on DVD, serendipitously during the Kony 2012 media storm. ADRIAN DRAYTON talks to Childers about the film and his calling to rescue children in war-torn Africa.
Kony 2012 has caught people’s attention. What are your thoughts?
First I’d like to say that Kony 2012 is about six or seven years too late. I do a lot of work in Uganda and the country is furious about it. The same day that it came out I had government people calling me in the US. [Kony 2012] made it out that northern Uganda and Uganda was an unsafe place.
They haven’t had people killed from the LRA for many years in Uganda. There hasn’t been anyone killed in the north in nearly four years. The movie Machine Gun Preacher was based on a book that I wrote pre-2008.
There is still a big problem going on in South Sudan. Right now as we speak there are people dying and the big thing is that the same guy that supported Joseph Kony, the president of northern Sudan, is the same guy that’s murdering and killing people in Sudan and Dafur right now.
Joseph Kony is not a threat to any country right now. He’s hiding out in the Congo and he’s a small part of the picture. If we’re going to go after Joseph Kony — because he needs to be brought to justice — we need to first go after the head and the head is the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir.
Tell me about the mission of Angels of East Africa
It’s a non-profit that was formed in the US. We do a lot of work in the US as well but now it’s got fairly large we work in three different countries in Africa. The main part of our mission is rescuing children, feeding people and educating them out of their dire situation.
How does Shekanah Fellowship, your home church, support you in your ministry?
Our church is a big outreach in the community. We’re a small church with low income, hardworking people in Pennsylvania. We do a lot of outreach that includes a food pantry and work with drug and alcohol addiction.
Our church is a missions church. There are a lot of churches in the US that have a lot of money. Ours will never have money because we are constantly helping people.
The message that’s really important for people to take away from the film is that we need to be “God’s hands and back” to get the work done. This is a core Christian message that comes out of the film. Is this message important to you?
Absolutely. I’ve had a lot of religious people kind of knock the film. But I tell them that this film was not made for Christian people. That film was made for the secular world to know that Jesus is still alive and still doing miracles.
How involved were you in the making of the film?
You’ve got to remember that, when you sell your life rights, you lose your life rights, so there were a few things that were in the film that I didn’t approve of. But in life today you got to weigh the good and the bad out and, if the good outweighs the bad, we need to be satisfied in this world that we live in. I was on set a few different times.
Were you happy with the final film?
People ask me how close to the truth the film was. The entire film was based on the truth but, then again, you tell one person the truth and they can tell someone and they tell someone and by the time it gets to the end of the line it’s twisted a little. So the movie is based on the truth. The only thing the movie got wrong was the timeline. You have 30 plus years put into a two hour and ten minute movie.
A handful of films came out last year portraying men of faith in a positive light, one being Machine Gun Preacher. Do you think we need to see more “men of faith with an extra dose of bravado and machismo” as Christianity Today mentioned in a recent article?
Right, well one of the big things that I tell people all the time is not about being a violent person but being a person that is going to be just. Someone that’s going to stand up for what’s right, no matter what the odds are.
To find out more about Sam Childers’ work go to machinegunpreacher.org.
Read the Insights Machine Gun Preacher review here