|Born||1963 (age 57–58)|
Grand Forks, North Dakota, United States
|Notable works||Another Man's War|
|Notable awards||Mother Teresa Awards|
|Children||1 daughter, 1 son (deceased)|
Sam Childers (born 1963) is a former Outlaws member who now dedicates his life and resources to rescue children in the war zone of South Sudan. Childers and his wife Lynn founded and operate Angels of East Africa, the Children's Village Orphanage in Nimule, South Sudan, where they currently have more than 300 children in their care.
Sam Childers was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the son of Paul Childers, an ironworker and former Marine. Childers had two older brothers, Paul Jr. and George. He also had a sister, Donna, who died of a heart problem before she was a year old. While he was growing up, his parents moved the family from place to place, following construction projects.
In the spring of 1974, shortly before Childers turned 12, his family moved to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Going into seventh grade he discovered cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol and heroin, which led to many years of drug addiction, drug dealing, and alcoholism. Childers also developed a love for motorcycles and the lifestyle that led him to become a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.
Childers married a woman named Jaszper before converting to Christianity, and had a daughter (Paige) and a son.
Childers converted to Christianity in mid-1992, with the help of his wife, during a revival meeting at an Assembly of God church. That same evening Childers' pastor allegedly prophesied that he would go to Africa. At the end of 1998, Childers made his first trip to Sudan. In that first trip and the many that followed, he was exposed to the acts of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which he described as atrocious. Not long after his first trip to Sudan, Childers and his wife Lynn founded the Angels of East Africa, the Children's Village in Southern Sudan. The Children’s Village currently houses and educates over 100 orphans, with over a thousand children rescued since its conception. The staff at the Children's Village are primarily Sudanese orphans and widows themselves.
Childers details the events of his life and his experiences in Africa in his book Another Man's War and a Vanity Fair article by Ian Urbina. The book bears the endorsement from South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, "The Reverend Sam Childers has been a very close friend to the government of South Sudan for many years and is a trusted friend."
In popular culture
In 2011, Relativity Media released a biopic about Childers entitled Machine Gun Preacher, which was based on Childers' book Another Man's War. The film was written by Jason Keller and directed by Marc Forster. The cast featured Gerard Butler in the title role, Michelle Monaghan as Childers' wife Lynn, and Michael Shannon as his best friend Donnie.
In 2014, a documentary with the same title was produced by Angels of East Africa. It was released in North America by Vision Films (USA).
Sam Childers did a lecture tour of UK churches in 2018. He was interviewed on video in Tamworth, Staffs, UK.
Sam Childers has faced criticism over his actions and representation of himself. Foreign Policy cast doubt on Childers' stories of rescue, stating that "[i]t would take a miracle for all of Childers’s claims to be completely true." It also asserted that the operations of other aid workers are imperiled by Childers' actions. Additionally, the SPLA distanced itself from Childers, stating via a spokesman that "The SPLA does not know Sam Childers."
Other criticism includes allegations that orphanages started by Childers have been poorly run, and that Childers hasn't made a visit in years. A Vanity Fair profile compared Childers' demeanor toward some villagers as "bullying."
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