Going to work for many means driving to an office and wearing a suit and tie. But for Sam Childers it means picking up a machine gun, rescuing children from war zones and starting an orphanage in Sudan. Childers’ life is portrayed in the movie, Machine Gun Preacher, starring Gerard Butler. Risen interviewed Childers in 2012 and talked with him about his relationship with God and how he overcame drugs and alcohol.
Childers opens up about how he sees God in what he does and how he prioritizes what he does.
“If God wasn’t in what I do, I don’t believe I’d be alive. One thing a Christian pastor said after seeing the movie was, ‘I can’t stand here as a pastor and say I agree with everything the reverend has done. But I will say to those who don’t agree, what would you think is the answer [to injustice]? Because, if you don’t agree with what he’s doing, then you should have a way to fix the problem yourself.’ If a person doesn’t agree with my ways, that’s fine – that’s what freedom is all about, that we believe in what we want to believe in. But if you’re not going to believe in something, and if you’re not going to support something, you should have another way that would fix the problem…I do put Africa first…it is God’s work. And if we’re in alignment with God, it’s not about putting your wife first or your children first, it’s about putting God first; then your wife and children. I never abandoned my family. My wife was okay with me going, but my daughter did feel like I put the African kids before her. And for many years of my life, my daughter and I had a problem. After seeing my dedication over all those years though, my daughter now runs the nonprofit.”
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:17-19
Childers shares what has been the biggest challenge in his relationship with God and challenges others who haven’t done drugs or alcohol that their story is just as significant.
“In the movie, it showed that I had a really bad day and went back to drinking after I quit…that was Hollywood, not part of my life. I never went back to drugs or alcohol in twenty some years since the day I quit. I never went back to drugs and alcohol one time. I was a little worked up about it, but one pastor told me, ‘Sam, for all those people who do mess up, it shows them that Christ will accept them again.’ There are so many times people do mess up and some stay in that pig pen thinking God isn’t going to forgive them, so there will be some good that will come out of that liberty in the story…What you’ve got to remember is that my testimony is not a good testimony. The best testimony you can ever have is when you can stand up and say you’ve been free of drugs your entire life. That’s a good testimony. My testimony has a lot of scars in it and constant points of sin. There are things in my testimony I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. So I don’t call my testimony a good testimony. I think if a man or woman can stand up and say, ‘I’ve always been drug free, I never drank, never smoked, I’ve always held onto the word of God and to my faith,’ well that’s a good testimony.”
Share your story. Whether you have struggled with an addiction in the past or have lived a drug and alcohol free life, God wants to use your story to impact the lives of others. Take time this week to write down your faith journey – your life before you met Christ, how you became a Christian, and what God is doing in your life now. Share it with a friend, small group member or pastor and ask for their feedback. Then, pray and ask God for opportunities to share your story with others. He might want you to share it with a friend or with a large group of people. Remember that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct your words.
Be an advocate for change. You don’t have to grab a machine gun and head to a war zone to be an advocate. Start with ministries or causes in your community. Pray and ask God to show you a group to get involved with. It could be serving as a volunteer or lending your expertise. It might even be rallying your friends, small group or family to attend a benefit or serve together.
Pray for the those in the war zone. Pray for the children that they would be protected. Pray for Sam and others that serve that area, that God would give them wisdom and guide what they do.
To read our entire interview with Sam Childers, click here.