Another Man’s War is the true story of Sam Childers’ 15 year battle to save the children of Southern Sudan. I had the privilege of meeting Sam Childers when he visited Australia earlier this year. I had first watched the film, Machine Gun Preacher starring Gerad Butler. I don’t really know why I went to see it because I don’t usually like violent films. Maybe it was the ‘Preacher’ part of the title that intrigued me. Maybe it was because it was being screened at a church that had me wondering why a major Hollywood feature film, starring Gerad Butler would be attracting the attention of churches. Does God really work in mysterious ways? I found the film disturbing but brilliant at the same time. Hollywood, after all, can work magic, which is why I chose to read the book and get the full facts of how Machine Gun Preacher can equal God’s work.
The film made a huge impact on me, and my teenage children. Hearing Sam speak, during his visit to Australia, made an even bigger impact, and reading the book completed the picture and convinced me that God does have a plan for everyone’s life, no matter what your roots, past circumstances, or beliefs to the contrary. One person can make a difference, and change the circumstances for thousands of people. The only explanation possible for how Sam stayed alive over the past fifteen years, fighting LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebel soldiers in Sudan, was that he was supernaturally protected. The book gives details of how Sam and his troupe of four Sudanese soldiers fought off hundreds of rebel soldiers, repeatedly dodged bullets, and ambushes; walked straight past the enemy without being seen, and survived assassination attempts multiple times.
Another Man’s War is no fairytale. It’s brutal, deeply disturbing, and sometimes unbelievable. Sam writes candidly about how he was no saint for the first half of his life. He was a hell-raising drug and sex addict who started dealing drugs in his mid teens. If drugs weren’t enough to give him a high, then fighting did the trick, especially when the odds were stacked against him. As much as he enjoyed fighting, Sam would only ever fight to protect people who couldn’t protect themselves. He fought the school bullies who made life hell for the so called ‘nerds’. Sam admits that if he had died during those hell-raising years, he’d have gone straight to hell.
Sam writes that although he regrets the people he hurt, it was those wild years that prepared him for the work that was to come when he was called to fight for the protection of the Sudanese children. Sam is adamant that his narrow misses with death were attributed to supernatural intervention. There were times when people questioned Sam as to whether he was even making a difference. He was criticised and was told he was wasting his time. Sam wrestled with his thoughts and the sacrifices he was making to help these African children. His own daughter was growing up without him, and he barely saw his wife.
So many times my experiences remind me of how one person can make a difference, and I find I need reminding from time to time. When you look at me and our tiny operation it’s easy to think, That ragtag little outfit can’t help anybody. Life proves otherwise. One time we came into a village on the Juba Road that had just been raided. Small fires were still burning here and there. The smoky air carried the sharp stench of burning flesh and the cries of the wounded calling out weakly for help. Some of the victims had collapsed along the road trying to escape and lay dying in pools of their own blood. Too far gone to talk, they spoke worlds with their vacant, hopeless eyes.
We heard a commotion and saw a cluster of LRA around a young woman … as soon as they looked up and saw us, they ran. The woman was exhausted, hysterical, gasping for breath, and drenched in blood. The soldiers were cutting her breast off with a machete and had about halfway finished the job. She was badly butchered and had obviously lost a lot of blood. We covered her wounds as well as we could, carried her to our truck, and drove her to the hospital in Nimule.’
About a year later, when he was in Nimule again, a young woman came running up to him and hugged him. In her broken English she explained that she was the woman who he had rescued from the LRA soldiers. Since that day, Sam knew that there was nothing anyone could say to him to convince him that one person cannot change a nation.
‘Some days my faith seems so weak. Then I start remembering all the dangerous situations I’ve been in, all the people who have died around me, and I think about how I’ve never even been wounded in all these years when I should have been killed a dozen times. If it weren’t for my faith, I think I would have already been killed. And that faith is renewed every day.
I’ve seen cancer fall off of people in Africa. Seen a man with polio straighten out his withered leg. I’ve seen blind people have their sight restored. Miracles like that strengthen my faith. But sometimes I believe I’m a lot like Thomas – I need to put my hand in the wound. I need real-world proof of God’s power. I think sometimes I lack faith because I want to be reminded one more time of that power. Miracles will do the trick.’
Another Man’s War will captivate you. I would have preferred to read the story in chronological order rather than the flash-backs of Sam’s life that are interspersed throughout the chapters, but on the whole I appreciated the honesty with which Sam wrote about himself. I highly recommend reading Another Man’s War, and hopefully it will inspire you to support Sam’s mission. Donations can be given through his website: Machine Gun Preacher.
Sam’s the real deal, with a heart for God and serving others. His dedication to keeping the children of Sudan safe is to be admired. It has not been an easy journey and after 15 years of service, from humble beginnings, all his hard work is paying off. He never in a million years imagined that a Hollywood film would be made about his life and mission, but it sure has helped to make people take notice of the suffering that is going on in Africa.
Another Man’s War can be purchased at: http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/