Sam Childers will speak about his work in Africa, in
Queenstown and Invercargill next week. Photo by Kevin
It's 22 years since the man behind Hollywood movie
Machine Gun Preacher left his bad boy, biker lifestyle behind
to rescue children in southern Sudan.
Next week the American ''Rambo'' with a big heart for kids,
Sam Childers, is coming to Queenstown to tell his story and
raise awareness about his humanitarian work in Sudan, Uganda
In his first trip to New Zealand he will spend three nights
in the South Island, speaking in Queenstown, Invercargill and
A former hardened and violent criminal, Mr Childers became a
Christian in 1992 and by the late '90s he was on his first
missions trip to Africa where the atrocities he witnessed on
children in Sudan moved him to take action.
His ministry now operates farms, trade education centres and
safe homes for young people, as well as southern Sudan's
Government figures show he has saved more than 1500 children
from the hands of Joseph Kony's guerrilla group the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) in Sudan, since his first notorious
armed rescue using machineguns.
Mr Childers has been criticised for the violent methods used
to rescue children kidnapped as child soldiers and forced by
the LRA to kill their own families.
In an interview from overseas this week, he told the Otago
Daily Times nobody had been killed by the LRA for seven
years. There had been little violence around his Sudanese
orphanage for several years.
''Things are not like they used to be years ago. From time to
time we go in and rescue children.''
However, the country was still extremely unstable and
thousands of people were dying and starving.
He described himself as a ''freedom fighter bringing a
message of hope''.
''A lot of people have a problem with guns and the force of
violence. I used to be a violent person 30 years ago. Now I
rescue children. I believe I will do anything needed to
rescue a child.''
He challenges his critics by asking them if their child had
been kidnapped, was being raped, beaten or stabbed, would it
matter what he had to do to bring them home?
''When you're rescuing a child and bringing it home, you
can't say a man is being violent. A man is just doing what
needs to be done,'' Mr Childers said.
Now based in Uganda, he is part way through building a
five-storey children's trade school in Ethiopia, where he
also runs an orphanage.
His six African mission projects provide about 4000 meals a
Orphans Aid International is hosting Mr Childers in the South
and chief executive Sue van Schreven said it was a ''huge
privilege'', as there were great synergies with their work.
''He's a modern-day hero. I just love what he's doing and
applaud his amazing humanitarian work.''
Where and when
Sam Childers - Machine Gun Preacher: (Free entry. Food item
for local food bank appreciated)
Queenstown: Wednesday, September 18, 7pm. City Impact
Church, Hansen Rd, Frankton.
Invercargill: Tuesday, September 17, 7pm. Harvestfield
Christian Centre, Waverley.
- Sue Fea