Story of hope draws huge crowd

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

A POW­ER­FUL mes­sage of hope has helped raise more than $10,000 in one night to go to­wards a preacher’s work in wartorn African coun­tries.

Close to 300 peo­ple from around the re­gion gath­ered at Beech­worth’s Me­mo­rial Hall to hear from Amer­i­can man Sam Childers, a for­mer drug ad­dict and dealer with a his­tory of crime and vi­o­lence who turned his life around through re­li­gion.

A cap­ti­vated au­di­ence lis­tened to an in­cred­i­ble story told by the man known as the Ma­chine Gun Preacher, about his jour­ney into the min­istry and his life-sav­ing work that started in Africa 20 years ago.

Mr Childers since then has res­cued hun­dreds of en­slaved African chil­dren.

The 56 year-old mo­ti­va­tional speaker on tour with his 12th visit to Aus­tralia in the past decade has spo­ken in 27 coun­tries around the world on his mis­sion to save peo­ple’s lives and change oth­ers.

“I’m tak­ing a mes­sage of hope – what we all have in com­mon – to all na­tions,” he said.

Un­til last year he led armed missions in south- ern Su­dan and north­ern Uganda to save kid­napped chil­dren from the bru­tal Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army.

Through his char­ity The An­gels of East Africa, Mr Childers built his first or­phan­age in south­ern Su­dan in 1998 – now the largest in the coun­try – that has cared for more than 1500 chil­dren from that time.

His teams have con­structed an­other four or­phan­ages as well as schools and nu­mer­ous wells for clean drink­ing wa­ter across north­ern Uganda and Ethiopia too.

The projects pro­vide and fund over 12,000 meals a day for nu­mer­ous East African pro­grams.

With a fo­cus on giv­ing war vic­tims ed­u­ca­tion, skills and trades for their fu­ture, among an­other eight projects, un­der­de­vel­op­ment is a pur­pose­built six story build­ing in Ethiopia that will pro­vide a bak­ery, cafe, ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, con­fer­ence cen­tre, shops, bank, su­per­mar­ket and home to around 60 chil­dren.

A 1000 acre com­mer­cial farm op­er­ates in north­ern Uganda with a high­way truck stop project in progress that will in­clude a mo­tel, restau- rant, ser­vice sta­tion and a su­per­mar­ket al­ready in op­er­a­tion.

He said as well as ed­u­cat­ing, train­ing and em­ploy­ing vic­tims of war, needs of the com­mu­nity and tourists are met through the projects that also help with fund­ing.

“It takes one decade for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of war vic­tims,” Mr Childers said.

Beech­worth’s Paula Rangi who was be­hind Mr Childers visit to the town will be lead­ing a two-week mis­sion to help with his projects in Africa in mid-July next year.

“I would love to hear from peo­ple who want to give back and help those in need from war-torn coun­tries in Africa,” she said.

Beech­worth’s Louise Tay­lor who watched the movie The Ma­chine Gun Preacher based on Mr Childers bi­og­ra­phy An­other Man’s War, wasn’t dis­ap­pointed with the talk.

“He’s gen­uine with a pas­sion for God and peo­ple,” she said.

The Sal­va­tion Army and Beech­worth Lions sup­ported the talk which drew peo­ple from as far as Be­nalla, Broad­ford and Gipp­s­land.

MES­SAGE OF HOPE: Amer­i­can Sam Childers, known as the Ma­chine Gun Preacher, de­liv­ered a cap­ti­vat­ing talk about his work in Africa to a packed crowd at Beech­worth’s Me­mo­rial Hall last week.

PHOTO: Coral Cook­sley.

IN­CRED­I­BLE STORY: Sam Childers with Beech­worth’s Paula Rangi (left) and Sal­va­tion Army Cap­tain Pauline Mid­dle­ton at his talk.

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