The Machine Gun Preacher

sam childers orphanage

Sam Childers helping children in his orphanage

sam childers with southern sudanese militia

Sam Childers with his anti-LRA militia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of the man that the Southern Sudanese call the “Machine Gun Preacher”? If you haven’t, then let me tell you a little bit about the man who has risked everything to save the children of Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda in Africa. The name Machine Gun Preacher was bestowed upon Sam Childers by the Southern Sudanese locals after witnessing several of his missions. Sam decided to build an orphanage in one of the most militarily active villages in Southern Sudan named Nimule, which borders Uganda. In addition to operating the orphanage, Sam Childers actively hunts down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to rescue children from the brutal rebel forces. All the while, Sam Childers sold his business in the U.S. and anything else that he could to help fund his own efforts.

As a child and young adult, Sam Childers was a trouble maker. While consuming and selling hard drugs, Sam eventually took up arms and engaged in extreme violence. He learned how to use a shotgun so that he could protect his partners and intimidate his competitors. However after many years of drug fueled violence, Sam began to fear for his life. His wife Lynn began going back to church and with time she was able to convince Sam to come with her. Gradually, Sam began to leave the hard drugs and start working a legitimate job as a construction worker. A few years later he became drug free entirely and opened his own construction business.

Sam Childers was now an avid church goer, a faithful husband and a Father. One day after listening to a pastor from Africa, Sam joined the man on a mission to South Sudan. The trip changed Sam Childers forever. He saw terrible things when he went to South Sudan. Children missing limbs, mothers being hospitalized after being brutally raped and many more horrifying injuries. The experience led Sam to venture on his own until finally stumbling upon the border village of Nimule, where God inspired him to build an orphanage. From that point on, Sam Childers has been fighting the LRA and operating his orphanage.

In 2011, a movie titled “Machine Gun Preacher” chronicled the story of Sam Childers. Today Sam Childers continues to fight the LRA and help the orphaned children of Southern Sudan. After watching the film and researching his story, I found that some people find his mission to be controversial. They claim that his use of weapons and violence reduces the effectiveness of his mission. However, I do not share the same opinion. While I may not agree with everything the man does, I recognize that sometimes, drastic problems require drastic solutions. Today, Sam’s orphanage has helped over 1,000 children and it is the largest orphanage in Southern Sudan. This story has inspired me and shown that one man really can make a difference in the world.

Visit http://www.machinegunpreacher.org to learn more about Sam Childers mission. There is a link on the page where you can donate money to his cause. If you were inspired by Sam and his mission, then please help him maintain his operation by giving a donation. If you decide to give money to his mission, leave me a comment and let me know that you did. I would love to hear back from you guys and know what you think about his mission.

South Sudan in Africa

South Sudan in Africa

Children in Turalei

Children in Turalei

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Lessons of Love #2

Keep things fresh and avoiding routines

Do you ever feel like your relationship is boring? Do you feel like it lost its momentum? Well I wouldn’t be too worried about it because luckily there’s a solution to that problem. The first thing that I do when I see that things are getting boring is identify the routine. Routines, while useful for certain tasks, are probably the worst thing for relationships. Once you fall into a routine, you risk making things boring and stagnant. So I try to identify the routine and make that the first thing that I change. For instance, if you get home from work every day and then eat dinner, shower and go to bed, try to change that up. Instead of doing it every day, take your partner to a restaurant or go on a pic-nick a couple of days out of the week.

One time I fell into a routine of going to the same restaurants over and over. Although we enjoyed going to restaurants, my girlfriend and I eventually got bored of going to the same ones. The joy that we once felt for going out to eat was diminishing. The solution to that problem was making a point of only going to restaurants that we had never been to. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad because the whole point of going was never to be food critics but rather to have fun, and we did. This is only one example of thousands of possible routines that I encounter on a daily basis. However try to change just one at a time. You don’t want to change everything that you do. Try to find things that used to be fun and no longer are, and start changing those.

I promise that every time that you start to change things up, you will notice that you and your partner have more fun. Also, doing new things together gives you something new to talk about. Spending years together with someone could tend to cover all possible topics of conversation. But doing new things will allow you to engage each other with fresh topics. That’s why I say to keep things fresh. Keep in mind that none of us is perfect and we are going to fall into some sort of a routine eventually. The trick is to realize that they can and should be changed. If your partner is the one who fell into the routine then try to talk to them about it in a calm and casual way. Let them understand that you want to change the routine and that you are willing to do things differently too.

I hope this little tip helps someone out there with their routine. If you have been through a routine and overcome it I want to know about it. Please let me know your story and what they outcome was for you after changing your routine.

 

 

Lessons of Love #1

 A relationship always has room for improvement.

About a year or two ago I remember my girlfriend Jessica asked me if I was truly happy with our relationship. I remember thinking then that our relationship was good enough. That was the problem. “Good enough” is just another way of saying tolerable. Neither of us wanted to say it but we were lacking something from our relationship. It lost its momentum somewhere along the way and comfort replaced feelings of passion. We soon realized that we were not satisfied with a relationship that was just “good enough”. We wanted more. We wanted a relationship that was amazing, like it was when we first started dating. That’s when a miracle happened. Someone recommended a book on relationships to Jessica, which she went on to read. When she was finished she begged me to read it. So I opened up the book and started learning about the art of giving and receiving love. That was a turning point for us.

After reading and applying what this book taught us, our relationship improved astronomically. That’s when it hit me. Relationships, like anything else, improve with practice, dedication and hard work. If you never put any time or effort into learning how to improve your relationship and then apply those lessons, you shouldn’t expect a relationship to get any better than it already is. Once those initial butterflies start to disappear, you and your significant other are faced with a choice. Either part ways and look for someone else, or choose to continue loving each other and work on bringing those elusive butterflies back. If you’re thinking of the latter, then I suggest that you start making an effort to learn more about relationships and love. None of us were born as experts in anything, so don’t assume that you can’t learn something new about love or relationships. Personally I recommend that you read a book titled, “The Five Love Languages”. This book has been the equivalent of the Bible for me, as far as relationships are concerned, and I’m certain that it could help you too.

Today my relationship is stronger than it has ever been. This does not mean that we don’t fight, argue or get on each other’s nerves because we certainly do, a lot. But rather it means that both of us make a genuine effort to love each other better each day. I hope this lesson of love helped some of you out there looking for answers.

What about you? Did you read a book, attend a seminar or meet with a counselor that changed your relationship for the better? Tell me more about it, I would love to hear your story of love and what you learned.

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries