Did ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ film spur Obama to send troops to central Africa?


By Mark Ellis

Sam Childers

Three weeks after the release of “Machine Gun Preacher,” a film about the life of Sam Childers, a former drug dealer who found Christ and started an orphanage in Sudan to rescue children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the White House announced they would send troops to central Africa to hunt down the LRA’s founder.

Since the LRA has been raping and plundering villagers for more than two decades, and the U.S. has a policy of avoiding military intervention in sub-Saharan Africa, the decision as well as its timing shortly after the film’s release seemed remarkable to some – even to the man at the center of the film.

“From what I hear, there was a connection,” says Sam Childers, founder of Angels of East Africa. “Several weeks back, the people in L.A. sent a private screening in to Obama’s office,” he notes. “There were a lot of things on the table they were thinking about doing, but it (the film) helped to push everything off the table and get the ball rolling.”

Childers with Gerald Butler, who portrays Sam in the film (L.A. Times)

“I’m sure his office got a private screening two to three weeks before he made the decision,” he confirms.

Childers has three projects operating in Uganda, three in Ethiopia, along with the orphanage in Sudan.  During the last 10 years, Childers and his organization have rescued over 1000 children caught in the Sudanese conflict.  Many of the children he rescues and houses at his orphanages were part of the LRA.

The LRA’s founder is a self-described prophet named Joseph Kony, who combines mysticism with cultish Christian rhetoric in leading his group. Kony is on the U.S.terrorist list and wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. His militia has kidnapped more than 20,000 children since 1988 and forced them to become soldiers in his army. The group also rapes women, keeps sex slaves, and mutilates many of their victims.

The goal of the U.S.mission, according to a letter sent to Congress on October 14th, is to assist regional African forces in removing Kony from the battlefield. The first U.S. troops arrived October 12th, and they will be joined by other troops – mostly Army Green Berets — in the next few weeks.

In addition to Uganda, troops will be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. They will

Child rescued by Angels of East Africa

not fight unless fired upon, the letter to Congress stated.

Last May Congress approved the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. The law, which received little media scrutiny at the time, authorized President Obama to send U.S.troops to Africa– something many observers seemed to have missed.

“Just because they are sending troops in doesn’t mean they are going in to solve the problem,” Childers notes. “But it definitely is a step in the right direction.”

Some, such as Sen. John McCain, complained that Congress was not adequately consulted, others criticized the move because Kony and his group pose no strategic threat to U.S.interests.

Childers says the threat may be diminishing in some areas, but is still real. “There hasn’t been anyone killed around our orphanage in two years by the LRA. There hasn’t been anyone killed in northern Uganda in three years by the LRA,” Childers notes. The main problem is in Democratic Republic of Congo and along the border in southern Sudan, according to Childers.

“The LRA has abducted 1,000 since the first of the year and killed 200 more,” he adds.

Childers is largely pleased about Hollywood’s treatment of his life story. “It showed my faith in Christ all the way through the movie,” he notes. “The main message is that Christ changed my life. For Hollywood to do that is something we have to be thankful about.”

The compression of 30 years of his life into a two-hour film left some unresolved issues for Childers, however. “The timeline is really messed up on it,” he says.

“Machine Gun Preacher” is rated R for intense violence and foul language – including 64 uses of the F-word, according to Movieguide, which means that many Christians may not see the film. “There’s no possible way, with the violence, that it could have been PG,” Childers notes. “But I don’t believe the language is any different from what kids hear on a school bus.”

Last week, Childers’ organization took in 15 more orphans inSudan. “The biggest thing is we allow them to be children again.”

When Childers is not rescuing children in Africa, he pastors Shekinah Fellowship Church in Central City, Pennsylvania, located on a 43-acre campground.


  1. I have been following & supporting Sam Childers’ work for a couple of years now. My question is, are they teaching the gospel in these orphanages? I would hope so. I just haven’t seen anything that has mentioned anything about this aspect of his ministry.

  2. Hi Patti! I can answer that question for you: Yes, DEFINITELY! It may not have been advertised, but these kids definitely know the gospel and most of them are very well acquainted with Jesus. 🙂 In fact, there’s a bible study nearly every day at the orphanage (on top of church on Sundays) plus the kids have even started doing praise and worship on their own accord a few times a week. In fact, anyone that visits the orphanage can’t help hearing their songs spilling out of the church building on most nights. I say all this not only as someone who actually works for Sam Childers, but I’ve been to the orphanage myself. The praise and passion of those kids is amazing and contagious. Sometimes I feel we learn a lot more from them, than they could from anything we could teach them. I hope that helps!

  3. So i see the children of afria are being taught the bible. Thats great. Lets give them another reason to hate there islamic brothers and fight for a few more generations. not that i am islamic for the record. I was raised Roman Catholic. I have just realised that religion was an important part in the early stages of civilisation. It teaches us right from wrong to live happy and together. But lets face facts for a minute, today religion is the worst evil. It takes more lives than any plague or war. If there was a god would he not have spoken to all early man, and they simple found there own way to worship him in connection to there current cultures. This being so all gods are one, just by different names and different churches. 2nd option. some highly intelligent lords or kings, invented these gods to simply keep there subjects in order! either way i wish more people followed my personal way. respect all religions and people. never believe anything or anyone can help u anymore than u can help yourself or others. only strike in self defence. How much safer and simpler would the world be if we followed those simple 3 rules.

  4. Hi Mr. Cartwright
    I fully agree that religion, the way you see it, is a nightmare BUT try to teach a kid that has been raped and forced to kill his own parents your three rules…
    It is just as difficult in answering the the question “if there truly is a God, why is he allowing all this…?!”.
    My own interpretation is that my Lord is a righteous one… YES, if He would put a hold to Satan’s work, He would not only be unrighteous but trying by means of his power to force someone to do HIS way…that would not be fair…
    So what does my Lord do….he gets guys like Sam to be a soldier for him AND luckily Sam is one guy that does obey the Lord….I should really put him as a very good example…

    Best wishes
    Gert from Namibia

  5. This really moved me to do something in life, to be more thankful for men like this helping other people in a another third world country.
    i am not putting this up for other people to help out this man or other third world countries and i quote if this man can do this and its
    getting it done little by little can other people, meaning you or me, do it for Mexico, EL Salvador, South America, East Asia and other countries?

  6. they that wait upon the lord shall mount up with wings as eagles! Sam you’re a son of thunder! Godspeed…Been dreaming about Africa for years, would like to go to Africa and help in the fight to free these children from the tyranny of those who disguise themselves as angels of light!…..

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