FORMER outlaw motorcycle-riding bad boy Sam Childers, aka the Machine Gun Preacher, has arrived in Australia for a four-state tour that will take in Guyra and Tenterfield.
Childers will do a month-long speaking tour in youth detention centres, prisons, schools, churches and businesses, in the hope his story will inspire the people of Australia.
He’s in the country to raise awareness of the “bloody civil war happening” in South Sudan, when “they say there’s a supposed ceasefire”.
“All we see is hundreds and hundreds of women and children hiding from the war,” he said.
He said he believed that if a “scumbag” like him could make a change for the better, anyone can.
- Childers will appear at Guyra Central School this Tuesday, September 11; details from Dan McGinty on 0409 399 270.
- He will also speak at Tenterfield RSL Memorial Hall on Thursday, September 13; call Fay on 0402 026 637 for more details.
‘Anything in my power’
Childers gave up his life of drugs and crime in the US outlaw biker world after his then-wife Lynn – a dancer at a Florida strip club – started going to a local church and invited him to come along.
After his pastor prophesied he would go to Africa, Childers made his first trip to Sudan in 1998, where he saw the body of a child, torn apart by a landmine, lying in the burnt grass.
He recalls he stood over the body and said, “God, I'll do anything within my power to help these people.”
Little did he know it would be the start of an incredible journey to save thousands of children’s lives in South Sudan and Northern Uganda.
With an AK47 in one hand and a Bible in the other, Childers has become internationally recognised as the “Machine Gun Preacher”.
His story was published in his best-selling biography Another Man’s War, which was turned into a 2011 Hollywood film called Machine Gun Preacher, starring Gerard Butler.
Making a difference
Childers built his first orphanage in South Sudan after selling nearly everything back in the US.
Most of the children have lost their parents due to terrible atrocities perpetrated by then-warlord Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army).
Childers rescued many child soldiers and sex slaves from local militia groups such as the LRA and the then SAF (Sudan Armed Forces, Northern Sudan, which were in civil war with South Sudan 1983 to 2005).
“Kony was wanting to destroy me ... and I wanted to get a hold of him to pay for his heinous crimes against innocent women and children,'” Childers said.
Childers’ charity, Angels of East Africa, has seven orphanages and eight schools, and has drilled about 40 wells for clean drinking water.
He also has a 600-hectare farm in the north of Uganda and a new truck roadhouse under construction, where he teaches trades and skills to victims of war.
Childers’ organisation also prepares about 12,000 meals most days.
“We don't want them to be begging on the streets; we want to train them for tomorrow, give them a skill, a trade and send the smart ones to a university,” he said.
“We want them to be national leaders, but we cannot do that unless we give them an education” – something Childers said he’d never had.
In 2013 he received the Mother Teresa Award for International Social Justice, following people such as the Dalai Lama, and the only American ever to be bestowed with the honour.