Saving kids a hard business

Sam Childers
Sam Childers Brett Wortman

CHEWING on a toothpick with tattoos down his arms, Sam Childers looks as tough as they come.

A former drug dealer and bikie, he's been described as Africa's Rambo, the machine gun preacher who has unashamedly armed himself to rescue child soldiers kidnapped in Sudan.

Rev. Childers' remarkable story has now made it to the big screen in a film directed by Marc Forster and starring Scottish actor Gerard Butler, of the action movie 300.

But during his visit to the Coast this weekend, the rough as they come reverend is more intent to promote the plight of malnourished and abused children than plug his picture.

He is particularly disturbed about recent developments in Sudan where a staggering 2.5 million have died during civil war spanning more than 20 years.

The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, is the only head of state in the world facing two international arrest warrants for war crimes.

Bashir has been accused of air attacks on civilians and the direct killing of members of ethnic groups.

Rev. Childers said that with oil sanctions against Sudan and increased bombings, he was preparing to buy Army tents to house children fleeing the conflict zone.

"We believe we are going to be hit very hard in South Sudan with orphaned children."

Already his Angels of East Africa charity runs orphanages in Sudan and Ethiopia while feeding about 700 children a day in Uganda.

He says his ministry costs more than a million dollars a year to run, including the cost of dishing out about 3500 meals a day.

Rev. Childers was hoping the movie of his life would have done better at the box office in the US but said suffered because of poor marketing, despite getting rave reviews and a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival.

However he hopes as more people see his story it will at least make them stop to think about the plight of children.

"It's not about children in just Africa, it's about children around the world."

Rev. Childers will speak at Coolum Christian Family Church on the corner of Yandina Coolum Rd and Arcoona Rd tomorrow at 6pm. The church will screen the film on February 25.

He also will be at Noosa Christian Outreach Centre on Sunday at 9.30am and Calvary Church on Crosby Hill Rd, Buderim at 6pm.

Topics:  child soldiers, gerard butler, machine gun preacher, marc forster, sam childers



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