CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Sam Childers, otherwise known as The Machine Gun Preacher, is a former gang biker and drug addict who decided to take a mission trip to South Sudan to build a school for refugee children 21 years ago. He says what he saw there made him re-devote his life to faith, and spread a message of hope. There was also the 2011 movie "The Machine Gun Preacher" starring Gerard Butler, which was based on Childers.
"You know when you look at who Sam Childers was 30 years ago, I was the scum of the Earth. I couldn't read, I couldn't write. Now I have two books that are sold in every book store across the world," said Childers, before speaking Sunday at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Conway.
Childers says he decided to take a missionary trip to east Africa 21 years ago to build a school for kids, and after witnessing a small child killed by a land mine, decided he needed to do more. It wasn't long after that he became known as the Machine Gun Preacher.
"About 16 years ago, somebody saw me in the middle of a civil war walking with children on both sides of me, and I had a machine gun strapped over my shoulder," Childers said. "So they wanted to discredit me as a preacher, as an evangelist, as a man of God, so they started telling people he's not a man of God and the next thing I know there was a clipping that came out in the newspaper. They titled it 'Machine Gun Preacher' and it really hacked on me bad."
Since then, Childers has embraced the title, and spent years in South Sudan, rescuing children and refugees.
"There's now seven orphanages in East Africa. We've built five schools. We're working on number six now. We have number seven which we'll be starting on in 2017. We've drilled more than two dozen wells just the last few years. We serve over 7,000 meals a day six days a week," said Childers.
Childers says he now plans to tour across the states, preaching his message to others, who may follow in his footsteps. Dennis Devorick is a pastor at Centenary United Methodist in Horry County who recently returned from a trip to Africa with Childers.
"While we were there, we began building a school. We dug a foundation for a new school. We wanted to show the kids that even in the midst of a civil war there was hope and a school will be there. And so we're just putting the building blocks in place. How can you change a nation torn by war for so many years? And I believe through education and faith. That's the foundation." said Devorick.
Childers says he will continue to use his fame as the Machine Gun Preacher to bring awareness to war torn countries, in order to save as many lives as possible.
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