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“Machine Gun Preacher”

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Sam Childers is a former drug-dealing biker, a tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children, who’ve been forced to become soldiers.

Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), a former biker, decides to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war. Transformed by the horrors he sees, Sam ignores the warnings of more experienced aide workers and breaks ground for an orphanage in the heart of territory controlled by a brutal renegade militia. But establishing a shelter is not enough; determined to save as many lives as possible, Sam leads armed missions into enemy territory to rescue kidnapped children.

In 2003 in southern Sudan, the LRA attack a village and force a young boy to kill his mother.

A few years earlier, Sam Childers, an alcoholic drug-using biker from Pennsylvania, is released from prison and finds that his wife, Lynn, has given up her job as a stripper after accepting Christ as her savior. Dumbfounded by her decision, he returns to a life of crime and partying and doing heroin with his friend Donnie, and one night he almost kills a vagrant. Shaken by the experience, Sam goes to church with Lynn, where he is baptized and offered salvation.

With a new outlook on life, Sam is able to find a stable job as a construction worker and later starts his own company. He helps Donnie get sober and goes on a missionary trip to Uganda to build homes for refugees. While there, he asks Deng, one of the SPLA soldiers watching over his group, to take him north to see Sudan. Deng warns him that it is a war zone, but Sam still wants to go. In a medical tent, Sam is asked by a female doctor to help move a woman who has just had her lips cut off by Joseph Kony‘s LRA rebels. That night, Sam witnesses the large numbers of children who come from their villages to sleep outdoors on the ground at the displaced persons camp because it is safer than staying at home, and Sam brings as many as will fit into his and Deng’s room to sleep. The next day, Deng takes Sam to a village that was attacked by the LRA, and Sam sees a child get killed by a land mine.

Traumatized and changed by the trip, Sam receives a vision from God that tells him to build both a church in his own neighborhood, which will not turn anyone away, and an orphanage in southern Sudan. He begins preaching at the church once it is built and then returns to Africa to build the orphanage. During construction, the LRA attack, destroying everything. Sam calls Lynn to tell her what happened and that he is giving up, but she says it is a test from God and he should start building again. After the orphanage is complete, a young girl brought there dies of her injuries, prompting Sam to start to lead armed raids to rescue children, including child soldiers, from the LRA.

At home, Sam becomes increasingly unempathetic toward his family and their petty problems, his sermons become angrier, and his sole focus becomes raising money to fund his work in Africa. In Sudan, he starts to make an impact, with Kony putting a price on his head and SPLA-leader John Garang inviting him to upcoming peace talks, though Sam does not attend. One night, he and some SPLA soldiers are attacked on the road by the LRA. After chasing off the attackers, they search the area and discover a large group of children hiding in a ditch. They cannot take all of the children to the orphanage in one trip, and when they return for the children they left behind, they find a pile of burned bodies. Events such as this, along with Donnie’s death from an overdose after Sam yelled at him and he broke his sobriety, push Sam away from God and further into despair. He sells his construction company and goes back to Sudan, but his changed attitude leads his men to no longer trust him to lead them in battle.

William, the boy who was forced to kill his mother at the start of the film and subsequently ended up at the orphanage, tells Sam his story and reminds Sam that their fight is already lost if they become full of hate. His faith and purpose revitalized, Sam begins to play with the children at the orphanage and calls his daughter to say he loves her. Later, he goes out with some SPLA soldiers and rescues a caravan of children kidnapped by the LRA. There is again not enough space to take everyone to the orphanage in one trip, but this time Sam and a few soldiers stay to protect the remaining children.

Sam Childers & Navy SEAL Shawn Ryan
Machine Gun Preacher Documentary

This is the true story of the Pennsylvanian biker Sam Childers, who overcame a life of drugs and violence to wage a 13-year war to free enslaved children in South Sudan. Sam’s unorthodox methods of charity work have spiked controversy around the world.

Sam says, “I ask you, if a mad-man came in and abducted your child and I said to you I can bring your child home… does it matter how I bring them home?” This is a peek inside the fascinating life of a complicated man, a missionary who preaches justice with a bible in one hand and a machine gun in the other.

John 8:32

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