From a life of crime to in­spir­ing oth­ers

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - NEWS -

By CO­RAL COOK­SLEY

A FORMER Amer­i­can drug dealer with a his­tory of crime and vi­o­lence, who turned his life around and since helped save hun­dreds of African chil­dren, is vis­it­ing Beech­worth next month.

Sam Childers is known as the Ma­chine Gun Preacher – also the ti­tle of a 2011 Hol­ly­wood fea­ture film made about his life – is com­ing to Aus­tralia on a seven-day tour and while here will be shar­ing his story at Beech­worth Memo­rial Hall on Septem­ber 5 at 7.30pm.

The movie based on Childers’ book – a bi­og­ra­phy called ‘Another Man’s War’ – turned him into an overnight celebrity that has seen him speak to au­di­ences around the world.

Beech­worth’s Paula Rangi said she can’t be­lieve that Mr Childers will be in Beech­worth.

“I saw the movie six years ago, con­nected with his amaz­ing work and since then have been fol­low­ing him on Face­book,” she said.

With the dis­cov­ery that he was com­ing to Aus­tralia, Ms Rangi li­aised with his agent and found out that Mr Childers hap­pened to be trav­el­ling from Mel­bourne to Can­berra for an event.

“I ap­proached the Sal­va­tion Army’s cap­tain Pauline Mid­dle­ton who sup­ported the op­por­tu­nity,” Ms Rangi said.

She said Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Ger­ard But­ler who played Mr Childer in the movie, be­came a strong fi­nan­cial sup­porter of the former crim­i­nal’s work.

Mr Childers turned to re­li­gion as he fought to free enslaved chil­dren in South Su­dan and North­ern Uganda and has since been a re­cip­i­ent of a Mother of Teresa Award for in­ter­na­tional so­cial jus­tice.

He be­gan to lead armed mis­sions to res­cue them from the Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army - which led to vil­lagers call­ing him ‘The Ma­chine Gun Preacher’ in the war torn zones.

Since then, through his char­ity An­gels of East Africa, he has built seven or­phan­ages which have fed and cared for 1,500 chil­dren.

His teams make around 12,000 meals ev­ery day for East African feed­ing pro­grams, has built seven schools and nu­mer­ous wells for clean drink­ing wa­ter, as well as other ma­jor projects in Su­dan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Ms Rangi said Mr Childers built a road­house last year where chil­dren could progress from or­phan­ages and learn a skill such as in hos­pi­tal­ity that con­tin­ued to change their lives.

Cap­tain Mid­dle­ton said Mr Childers story is an in­spir­ing one and en­cour­aged the com­mu­nity to come along to hear from him.

“This is huge for our com­mu­nity and an amaz­ing visit for a ru­ral town,” she said.

Although a free event the Sal­va­tion Army will be col­lect­ing do­na­tions for Mr Childers’ on­go­ing work.

“We’d like to con­trib­ute in help­ing him to save more chil­dren,” Cap­tain Mid­dle­ton said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.