In this podcast, Amadon DellErba interviews Sam Childers, the real Machine Gun Preacher.
Childers is a full-time missionary and faith minister who remains loyal to God’s calling for him; to rescue children from the war-torn conditions of southern Sudan, Africa.
He reached popular notoriety in 2011 when his autobiographical book, "Another Man's War" was made into a major motion picture called "Machine Gun Preacher" starring Gerard Butler.
The excitement of Hollywood has come and gone, but through it all Sam Childers remains a dedicated servant of God. Today his outreach ministries include The Angels of East Africa, a non-profit aid organization providing a better future for orphaned children in Sudan; 5 orphanages, including Sudan’s largest, serving over 13,000 meals a day; and the 3C’S Church in Central City, Pennsylvania.
You can learn more about Sam Childers, the Machine Gun Preacher, at his website: http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/
And his Facebook pages:
Amadon DellErba: How we doing Tribe? Amadon DellErba here. This is episode 21 of my “Get Real or Die Trying” podcast. I'm very excited and honored today to be speaking with Sam Childers, the Machine Gun Preacher. If you're not familiar with who he is and his work, check it out. But basically over 20 years ago, he had a life-changing event where he dedicated his life to rescuing children in Africa from war torn conflict, and he rescued children from becoming basically child soldiers, a lot of orphans there in the strife of Sudan, Uganda, and he has started orphanages. He has businesses now in Africa where he funds these orphanages, and he's a servant of all and he's a preacher here in the U.S. and a preacher everywhere.
And I first heard about Sam, 2011, I saw the movie that was made about him called “Machine Gun Preacher” where Gerard Butler played him. After that, I got the book and I read Sam's book, I thought, wow, this man is a good man. He's got a heart of service, and he's got courage, and he's doing God's will.
And how God's will manifests in all of our lives can be different. In Sam's life, he was used to rescue children. He was used to go into Africa, into a war torn environment, and save these children and he's done a darn good job of it. And he's continued to do it for 20 years and he's developed and trained these children, now adults, and he set them up and he's changing lives in a very real way.
So I've always wanted to meet and talk to Sam and, all in God's time, it's finally happened here, about 11 years later. And so I'm sitting down here with Sam today, virtually, and we're doing this podcast, enjoy.
“Nothing You Do Matters Unless What You Do Matters”
I’m Amadon DellErba and this is “Get Real or Die Trying”
Amadon DellErba: How you doing Sam?
Sam Childers: Good. Doing good. It's a little early for me too, but now I don't feel really bad cause I know it's really early for you out there.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah. You know, if you see me sipping from my coffee, I'm just kicking the accelerator into motion here. Well, I really appreciate you coming on my show. Like I said, ever since the movie, “Machine Gun Preacher” came out, I immediately ordered your book. I read it and I was just fascinated. I really honored your life choices and what you had committed to there. And I've wanted to meet you ever since.
Sam Childers: Praise God. Now you said you read the book, did you read both of the books or only one?
Amadon DellErba: Only one. “Another Man’s War.”
Sam Childers: I'll tell you what, before we're done I'll get your address, I'll send you out a package because there is a second book, there's a third book also. Just didn’t put it inside of production yet. It's all done. And I'm working on the fourth one now, too.
Amadon DellErba: I appreciate that. I love that. I'll read it for sure.
Well, to all my listeners and anyone, who's a fan of Sam Childers, they probably know your story. And you know, I've watched so many interviews with you the last few days just to get caught up and I'm thinking, “man, if I ask him, ‘tell me your story,’ he's probably getting really tired of just telling the story over and over again.
Sam Childers: When people don't ask about it anymore, then, then it's starting to go away and I hope that the story is going to go on years after I'm dead and gone.
Amadon DellErba: It will.
Sam Childers: Because the story is all about one thing, rescuing children and not stopping, you know?
Amadon DellErba: Well, for the sake of anyone who's new, if you want, give us a little introduction into… you can give the capsule version and they'll get the meal later. But, basically let people know who you are and what you're doing.
Sam Childers: I really believe that my story comes out to everybody else's story. We know the Bible says we're all called and few are chosen. And a lot of people say, “Well, God didn't choose me.” God didn't choose you because you didn't stand up. I mean, God called us all. It's just, I stood up, back in 1994… ‘93, ‘94. I knew I had a call to go to Africa. But at that time I had a successful construction business. I had every reason not to go to Africa. I knew God called me to the mission field, but in my mind, I'm doing construction, I own real estate, I have 17 rental houses. Everything in my life was doing so good, and then all of a sudden, God kind of shook it up. So I started putting money into Africa. I started selling thousands of dollars because I had the money and I was literally saying this to God, “God, wouldn’t you rather have my money?” You know, and I thought… and listen, there's people out there listening right now, come on, let's be real… sometimes we think we can out-buy God. We think we can buy him out and get rid of our calling and we think God's going to change his mind and say, “Well, look, I don't want him as a missionary. I just want him to put money into Africa.” It didn't work. So for years, I mean, I started putting a little bit in, and then all of a sudden, 1996, ‘97, I'm literally putting thousands, thousands of dollars. The one year I put over $50,000 for a small time contractor and businessman, that was a lot of money, you know… and then finally in 1998, I said, “You know what God,” I said, “Okay, I got your point. I'm going to go to Africa and I'm going to preach, and then I'm going to come home and I'm going to get you off my back.” That's what I really thought in my mind, but we gotta remember, God knows every thought. God knows what we're thinking right now. And I went to Africa on this first mission trip and I got into a middle of a civil war, and it was a civil war called the Kony war that literally changed my life. I seen the most horrible things I've ever seen in my life. And I got into a middle and I might be skipping over a lot of the story, but I got into a middle of an ambush where a village was getting raided. And I don't believe I done anything that no one else... I believe everyone would have done the same thing that I did. You had a choice to either run and hide, or pick up a firearm and start trying to rescue people. And I believe I'd done what every man or a woman would have done. You know, a lot of people run, you know, but I chose to pick up a firearm. The only thing different is 20 some years later, I still never put the gun down. I'm still rescuing children.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah, and I think most importantly, not only did you put the gun down and, and are continuing to rescue children, but you're still hearing, hearing from God and doing what God wants you to do in your life. Which is actually a lot harder.
Sam Childers: This is something that I preach about a lot, you know, I'm not a Bible Thumper, okay. I don't go quoting scriptures the whole time. I talk about everyday things that we go through, but there's a scripture that says, “God, won't give us any more than we can handle.” And that's why some people has a little bit and other people got a lot. And I tell people all the time, you need to take care of what God gives you, take care of it. Show him that you can handle more, because it doesn't matter who you are. I mean, if you look at my past, I mean, I was a drug addict, I was a drug dealer, I was a downright thug. I mean, I was a bad guy, but see when I gave my life to Christ and I just kept working for more each day… And in the mission field right now, it all started with a mosquito net hanging in a tree, sleeping on a grass mat. It went from that to now we have hotels, we have restaurants, we have a commercial farm with five working orphanages. Our feeding programs are down right now because of this COVID. Our money dropped down to about one third, but thank God, you know, our businesses are thriving over there. But we were feeding over 14,000 meals a day now we're down to about 8,500. But I mean, this work has got so big and it's only because, remember, God will not give you any more than you can handle. It went from working five, six people, now we work over 500 people a day.
Amadon DellErba: Well, one thing I've admired about you just from your book, and following your calling since you went to Africa... Is that you are real, just a real guy. That's my show, “Get Real or Die Trying.”
Sam Childers: I like that thing, man.
Amadon DellErba: And you've, literally put yourself in situations where you could die, and die trying. To me, the realness is being a love saturated soul and being a real human being, and dropping these facades and these ideas of what we think it is to be godly, to be spiritual, to be good. And you personify that to me in a lot of ways. You come from a rough past, you’ve made wrong choices, you've repented, you've accepted you've made those wrong choices, and you're doing good now… But you're not trying to pretend that you're somebody else. I mean, in your heart, you're somebody else and you're making better choices, but you're still you. And so you're still using the qualities that you grew up with and learned, and who you are, to serve. And I think I remember seeing an interview where some lady was talking about you, and she goes, “Everybody uses God in different ways. If they're a mathematician, they're going to use him somehow to serve in that way. They're using Sam and the way they're using him, because he came from a violent past, and he can use his strength, and what he learned from that to rescue children.” And I know I've seen some interviews where sometimes people are trying to goat you and prod you about, “Oh, how could a man of God,” you know, “have a machine gun?” But you don't have to explain that to me. Cause I'm not like that.
Sam Childers: Oh, yeah. I bet you got one too don’t ya...
Amadon DellErba: It's interesting. What I appreciate is that you’re real, there's no facade… And then, like you said, you don't have to be doing what you're doing. You could have retired, you could be riding your Harley all across the country, and you could be on a fishing boat somewhere, smoking a cigar relaxing, but you're still serving.
Sam Childers: Praise God.
Amadon DellErba: And you're still going at it. So I honor you for that too, because a lot of people might've actually said, “Okay, I've done enough.” And like you said, I think anyone who tries to serve God, also is always trying to bargain with God. I know I am. “So, I'll give you this and you give me that.”
Sam Childers: We have all said, yeah.
Amadon DellErba: “I’ll do this much for you, and I expect this much.” And I think we've all had that learning experience. And I still, as a young man, I'm still learning that myself… But I look at examples like you and like my father, who’s actually had a very similar upbringing to you. And, you know, he grew up in Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh. And his father was a steel worker and a Marine. I believe yours was too. He didn't quite get into the drugs and violence, but he gave his, you know, that you did at the level you did... But at 24 years old, he had an awakening, gave his life to Christ, and has been a faith, and a man of God, and a minister ever since, and a pastor of our church. But, he's real too. He's never forgotten where he came from. You know, he came from the ghetto, Uptown Pittsburgh. He grew up behind the saloon and he's stayed humble and he stayed real, and I think like you, he can reach people because you're not self-righteous, you know. And we see a lot of self-righteousness, oftentimes in religious institutions, any religious institutions. I like that your church is actually doing the work and ministering to the people off the street. The people who are the drug addicts and...
Sam Childers: What is crazy is our pastor now is from Pittsburgh, and he's like 34, 35 years old and I mean, he had a pretty rough past and everything, but he's right out of that area of Pittsburgh where the drugs are really bad and everything. And now he's pastoring 3C’S church. Is right here in Central City, Pennsylvania. It's a church that I founded.
Amadon DellErba: That used to be the Shekina Awakening, right? Shekina?
Sam Childers: Uh, we changed the name to 3C’S. It was Shekina Fellowship. And to be honest with you, I thought it was just too churchy. I don't want to, I don't want people that are Christians to be attracted to our church.
Amadon DellErba: I hear you. Yeah.
Sam Childers: So I want the church to be attracted to the people that have nowhere to go.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah. There's plenty of preaching to the choir.
Sam Childers: And I know a lot of religious people will say no, no, they don't believe in that. But something that I want to share with everybody out there today is; you know, a lot of times when God puts us on a mission, or God gives us something that he wants us to step out and do, we start believing in our mind that it's for us. Now I want you to imagine a 43-acre campground, there's like nine cabins, there's tent sites, there's fishing ponds, paddle boating and everything… And there's a beautiful church, it seats 235 people in the main sanctuary. I want you to imagine building that from scratch, putting the roads, building the roads, and you knew from the beginning, you was not going to be the pastor of that church. God showed me that I would always be the leader until he takes me out, because I'm the founder of the church, but I always knew I would not be the pastor of that church.
Amadon DellErba: And that's, that's in Pennsylvania, right?
Sam Childers: We're about an hour and fifteen minutes East of Pittsburgh, Central City, Pennsylvania. Flight 93 is about three quarters of a mile down the road, okay, from where the plane went down.
Amadon DellErba: All right. I'll have to make it up there sometime.
Sam Childers: We actually, this weekend, we have one of our big events that goes on usually in June, but it was canceled. 21st, 22nd, 23rd we have, okay, a charity ride event, raising money for kids in East Africa. Things are really bad there right now. The country that I mainly work in and live in, I work in Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan. Uganda is like the fifth safest country in the world, but Uganda is still under lockdown. Airports are closed. You can't get in or get out of the country. I recently come home, I come home on a special flight because my brother had a heart attack. But I mean the country is under a curfew; they did raise the curfew to nine o'clock, but after nine o'clock you better not be on the streets. A lot of businesses are still closed. But what has happened, I see children now going hungry more than they did during the Kony War. See in the Kony War, you had children deep in the bush where the fighting was going on that were starving. I mean, starving really bad. But now in the rural areas where small villages, where main roads run through, you got children sick and dying of hunger and also disease. So it's really, really bad.
Amadon DellErba: You said something in one of your interviews that I thought was very interesting and I wanted to touch on that briefly. You know, you were (I can't remember what your interview was) but you were talking about the fact that men aren't stepping up to the plate. You mentioned that women are running your businesses. I want to touch on that because I myself have had quite a few podcasts about the need for men to become more balanced, to become more godly, and to take on responsibility and I think it's a real problem today that that's not happening. There's not a lot of good, good men. Well, I mean, there are good men, they just don't know that they're good yet. I don't know what it is, but as a man yourself, and a man of God, and you mentioned that you've been leading men's groups when you're back in the U.S. What is it that you’re doing to help these men feel confident to take on responsibility and be godly men?
Sam Childers: I believe that men need to focus on... stop trying to get rich quick and focus on pleasing God, and allow God to give you the things of the world that you might want. And I'm talking about a new home. I'm talking about a car. I'm talking about a nice Harley. Okay? A lot of times as a man we will do anything to get rich quick so we can get this item or get this item, but see, God gives us all of those things. See, there's a big difference. Like some people will say, “Man, how you like my new Cadillac Escalade? Look at what God did for me.” But they got a five or six year payment book. God did not give you that Cadillac Escalade. Because God gives you something, he doesn't give you a payment book. Now God can give you the health to make the money in order to make that payment, but see when God truly gives us something, He hands it to us. I can't tell you how many motorcycles I was given, how many cars I was given over the years . But see, God sits back and he watches “What's he going to do with that?” Usually every motorcycle... I got one motorcycle that was bought from California for me, I still have to this day. I probably had about 15 other bikes given to me over the years. I sold every one of them and put the money into Africa. You know, so I believe that as a man, we got to focus on what God wants, and what does God truly want from us? God wants us to help other people. And if you, if you do a little research or a little looking, you'll see that one of the closest persons in my life, a relative, stole over $124,000 from me.
So one of the big things is, I try to tell men, stand up and be a man. You know, even here in the U.S., look who's really leading the church now. Look who’s really faithful going to church. Look who's faithful and teaching Sunday School. Look who's faithful into youth groups. It's usually the women. If we can just get a mindset that we need to stand up and be men, once again. Now Africa is a little bit different, you know, in a lot of countries in Africa, this is bad now… a lot of guys will joke about it, it's legal to beat your wife, or legal to beat your girlfriend. And a lot of men joke around about it, you know, and it's not even good for us to joke around. But see, a lot of these women in Africa, many of them will have one child. And they have been mistreated and misused by men, that when they get an opportunity to get a job where they could make money and take care of their families, see they focus on their family... They don't mess up. I run a security company inside of East Africa, 35% of that company is women. Why? Women are the most trusted. Not just in Africa, I believe around the world.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah. It's interesting, I think you talked about men wanting to get rich quick and I think that's impatience. And there's an ambition and desire for power that makes men oftentimes make selfish, and blind, and stupid choices. And I don't know if it's an imbalance. Until a man, a strong man, or any man, but especially a strong man, is tempered by God and is doing God's will, the man is just doing his will. So... this goes for a woman too, obviously, but in a man… when you're a man, you tend to be more aggressive. And so I think that men, when they're not doing God's will, and they're doing their own will, they have more force and more power making their will happen sometimes, and they can push through. And so they're actually more stagnant, and less ascended in some ways than women, who are activated and doing, making the right choices.
Sam Childers: Over the next few days, you'll see some videos and stuff like on the Facebook. And you'll see my bike shop here in Pennsylvania, I got a bike shop, we build custom bikes, and you're going to see some old cars. And I love to tell this story, okay? I got some beautiful old cars and a lot of people they think, “Wow, Sam must make a lot of money. Look at his cars.” Let me tell you something. I didn't buy them. People gave them to me. You know, a drug dealer in Minnesota and I won't mention no names.... For many years I made a man a lot of money. This man had a 1947 International pickup truck. Solid. Beautiful. Truck is worth a lot of money. So I went up there, I actually let him to the Lord, he's about 10, 15 years older than me. Well, anyways, I led this guy to the Lord, a few years later he said, “Sam, I'm selling that old International,” said “$7,000.” And I said, “Norm, come on. I'm a missionary. I can't afford that. You know?” So make a long story short. He come down to $3,000. He said, “I really want to see you have this, this truck.” So I said, “Well, Norm,” I says, “Can I make you payments on it?” So over like eight month period, I made him payments while I was in Africa. When I come back to the U.S. I went with a car trailer up to pick this car up. When I got there to pick up this car, we loaded it on and everything and he was sitting in a chair because his health isn't real good anymore. And I got ready to leave and he says, “Come here, come here” and he hands me an envelope, and I started to open up the envelope and he started hollering and started cussing me. He said, “Get going, get going, just go, go, now!” He said, “Don't open it till you're down the road.” I got down the road, he gave me every dime of the money back.
Amadon DellErba: There you go.
Sam Childers: So if we just stop… I got a 1948 Hudson. I don't know if you know what that is... Sharp looking car, given to me, you know. But we just got to stay in God's will, don't get excited that we want to push through the door and we want to grab what we can grab quickly. You know, you just hold on and wait, God will open the door and he'll put it right into our hands.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah, brother. Well you're talking about faith, you know. You sound a lot like my father. He's, you know, he's been on a faith walk his whole life, a missionary, and never made a paycheck, you know? And when you do the right thing, uh, things were given to him. He’s a musician so a guitar was given to him, cars were given to him. His first ministry in Tucson, Arizona in 1975, I believe, around that time, a pastor gave him an entire building to have his church, so to speak, but it was more of a halfway house where he took in the homeless, the drug addicts, and the whole house, which was just given to him. And that's been his story. And so trying to learn that, you know, in trying to have faith I think is difficult for people… But there are examples like you and others out there, and my father too, who've done that. And God does give, he'll give you whatever you want, if you serve him.
Sam Childers: We just gotta be faithful.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah, brother. I had a couple more questions here. Well, you know, one of the things you did say in one of your interviews, going along the lines of what we just said is, you know, you said, someone said, “You're very lucky,” and you said, “No, I'm not lucky. I'm blessed.” I thought that was an important reminder that, you know, it's not luck. You're blessed.
Sam Childers: I was lucky if I'd have hit the lottery before, but you know.
Amadon DellErba: I heard in an interview, also, where you were talking about, you know… The mistake that a lot of churches make is that they think you can just be a missionary, and go over and teach these people English, and teach the gospel or… and then leave. And I really like what you said, you know, that's really not helping the and you're not changing their life when they don't have a means to survive. They need to be taught skills, they need to be given opportunity. And I really like that you're training kids near orphanages all the way up to 26 years old, different life skills and they're learning things in these trades, and you’re actually changing their lives and not just, “Oh, here's the word of God.” And then you leave.
Sam Childers: I've been, I've been in most of Africa, two thirds of Africa I have been in, preaching and doing work, and something that I found out watching other missionaries for over two decades… They believe, especially in East Africa, “Oh, let's go there and let's teach people how to pray.” They can teach us how to pray. You know, the problem with us, when we go to church, we think if it's over an hour and a half, we're going to have a talk with that preacher. We're going to give them a piece of our mind. You know, a worship service, if we got to stand up and worship for 45 minutes, we're going to have another talk with that preacher, because it's too long. That's what we believe. And I tell people, don't go to church in Africa. Don't go. Because it's going to be four to eight hour service. People will walk 5 miles and 10 miles to go to church. And they're like, “Hey, I'm not walking two hours to get here and then we're only here for an hour.” They church, man. And for to go there and say, we're teaching people how to pray, I feel we've done nothing. You know, Africa has everything it needs to function on its own. The only thing it needs is people to come in, like we have about a thousand acre farm teaching farming, ranching, and irrigation; some of the top technology ways. We gave away last year, not counting what we use on our own project, not counting what we sold, we gave away over 50 ton of rice last year. We’re getting ready right now, I'm trying to raise a little bit of money right now, so I can give away 32 to 35 ton of rice, once again, to starving people. We fed, last year, 65,000 people on Christmas day. I'm not talking beans and rice. I'm talking we gave cows…
And see here's the other thing, when we pick our cows, my guys, I got three herdsman for the cows, and every Christmas they just drop their head because they know I'm going through the herd and I'm going to pick the best cows, the healthiest cows and I'm giving ‘em away. But it's amazing, they seen this over the years, they don't say nothing anymore because it's like the mamas produced more cows that are just as healthy, you know? So I try to tell people, give your best. Don't give something with a blemish or anything. Like, we’re teaching people, it went from a handful of people, now we work over 500 people a day. I can't tell you how many, like, one young lady came from the village and I started teaching her because we have mission teams come in all the time; about five mission trips a year. So I started teaching this lady how to make Spanish omelettes. I got three restaurants. I love to cook. So I'm teaching her how to make Spanish omelettes, eggs benedict, stovetop quiche. And I'm teaching her all this stuff. So about two years later after she learned how to make all this stuff for the Mzungus (the white people or the people from America or Australia). She goes into Gulu and opens up a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, only. The lady is doing unbelievable. Yes. You know when I hire somebody, I tell them, “Look, I don't want you to work for me the rest of your life. I just want to train you that you can go off and function on your own and help your own family.” And it's working. I got people that are now police officers. I've got people working in customs at the borders. I got a young lady, I said, did you ever have a kid now? I know you're pretty young. If you ever have a kid or someone you put in college for year to year, I started thinking this young girl was making, okay, like a career out of going to college. She works in the president's office in South Sudan. She's one of the main secretaries for the president. But when you see this happening over decades, this is what makes a person happy. Cause you're changing lives.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah, you really are. Are you, do you work with any immigration? Are you able to get any of these African kids who are now adults or orphans out of Africa and placed into Europe, or America, or other programs?
Sam Childers: You know, I could very easily, but that's not why God sent me there. Now I have no problem with people doing Third World country adoptions. God didn't send me there to adopt my children out. He sent me there to change the nation and unfortunately, something about America, okay? America spoils people. Don’t get me started on what’s happening in the world today right now, you know, don't get me started on this whole unemployment thing because I'll get a lot of people upset with me. But, God sent me to Africa to change that nation. You won't change that nation by bringing children, little kids, from Africa to here. What you're going to do, you bring them here and after four or five, six years, they become Americans with the American mindset that everything will be given to them.
Amadon DellErba: Yep. No, you're right. I actually really agree with that. I was more envisioning maybe some of the adults, you know,being able to be ministers and serve. And some of these kids obviously have grown up and seen some horrible things, and come out the other side, and then it could really be a beautiful blessing in other people's lives. But I agree with you, America, we're so spoiled and obviously I've never been to Africa, so I haven't seen what you've seen, but I know in my heart and soul that we’re spoiled just from the education. And I know that we don't even know what it is to struggle. You know, we don't even know what it is to suffer.
Sam Childers: If you look what the government is giving, you know, I want people that's hearing this to realize that the children that I rescue, I have about 350 some children in my care, those children, the only hope they have is us. You know, here in America, I mean come on, we got, I say food stamps. We don't have food stamps anymore. They give you an ACCESS card, like a credit card. So you're not embarrassed. Okay, as far as I'm concerned you should be embarrassed. You know, listen, there's jobs out there. I used to work two and three jobs. You know, I was never afraid to work. I don't have to do anything anymore. I'm 58 years old, but I still go to work every day. I still preach on the weekends. I work seven days a week. I love it. And the more I work, guess what? The more God's blessings come upon me.
Amadon DellErba: Absolutely, brother. You talked about your father in your book and in some interviews, and that what he's instilled in you and, and what he taught you at a young age and one of the things he said is, you know, if you ever noticed someone in need, don't walk away. And that was instilled in you, and whether they're being bullied, or they're a need, or someone who needs help. And you took that to heart. And I think that's what that was instilled in your heart at a young age. And you, you lived it.
Sam Childers: I'm telling you, my dad was my hero and he had a third grade education, but he believed in working. My dad was a 50-some year ironworker building, big buildings and everything…
Amadon DellErba: Was that in Pittsburgh? Where was he building?
Sam Childers: No. Well, I went to like seven different high schools growing up. I lived in Minnesota and North Dakota. I was born in North Dakota. We always had our roots, our home, was always here in Pennsylvania, in a rural area, Central City, but we lived all over. Kentucky. Florida. My dad never drew an unemployment check. He (I know it's wrong to say this) but he believed that unemployment was welfare. And my dad just the, he wouldn’t do it. I mean, he would go to the union hall and he'd say, “where's the biggest building?” cause he worked high in the air building these buildings. So he put in all three of us boys (there was three of us, Paul Jr., George, and me) he put in us the only way to make it in life is work hard. Work hard. And that's what he placed in us. And he told us, never walk away when you see someone in need. He brought us boys up not to be mean and fight. Now, I know we probably were, but he brought us up that if there's a bully in school; bully the bully. That was my dad. You know, he always brought us up don't walk away from someone in need. That's my biggest thing in Africa right now, you know. From the movie, from the documentary, from everything that went on over the years, I literally brought in millions of dollars, millions of dollars. I could have took a million dollars, put it in the bank and walked away. It wouldn’t have been wrong because the money was given to me. You know, it came from movies, documentaries, and TV shows, you know, but I couldn't do it. I mean, it was like, how could I take a million dollars, put it in the bank, and walk away from children when the money really came because of me rescuing those children. That's why at 58 years old, I'm still in Africa. 58 years old I'm still doing everything I can every day to feed people and change people's lives. We built seven schools over the years. I didn't have to do any of that stuff.
Amadon DellErba: Yep. What's been the hardest part for you in serving God?
Sam Childers: For me, the hardest thing was hearing people's promises. You know, a lot of times people will hear me speak, they'll see me in interviews, and I'll probably get a lot of emails from this interview, and people make promises, you know? “I'm going to do this. I'm going to do this.” And I can't tell you how many people walk up to me, I usually, if I'm at a church and somebody comes up and they say, “Listen, when I get home, I didn't bring my checkbook, but I'm going to send you out a check for $10,000.” Before they even finish I usually say, “Shh, don't say that. Do it and we'll be grateful, but don't say something that you can curse your life.” People make so many promises, you know?
Amadon DellErba: Empty promises.
Sam Childers: Absolutely. So it's hard to deal with that, but you learn over the years, just like the movie showed, you know, it seems like the wealthiest of the wealthy are the ones that usually will let you down. I got a story about a lady from Ohio. She called me, wanted me to come and pick up a check from her. So I drove on my motorcycle like four hours from Pennsylvania into Ohio, and I get to this house and it's like all run down. It's fallen apart and I'm thinking, my God, what did I come here for? These people ain't got no money. Her car, I wouldn't even get in her car and ride across town. When I walked up on the porch, I had to walk on the rafters, okay. I go into this lady's house and I sat down to eat lunch, okay. Tinned salmon. The lettuce was brown. I mean, I couldn't believe, and I'm thinking in my head and I know how bad I am. Okay? I'm thinking, what are these people going to give me? And so I eat this lunch, I choked it down. This lady was really old, but she had two girls that were in their forties. And these two girls were mentally ill, and these two girls, she said to them, “Now you go to get your money for the pastor” and they come out with a piggy bank. And I’m thinking, you gotta be kidding me. And then all of a sudden. God started speaking to me, he said, “is this what you're all about? Is this really what you're all about? You came here for money?” So I started weeping because I seen what these little kids were doing. So anyways, I got ready to leave and I thought all I had was this piggy bank, but I didn't care at that time. I didn't care. I was so humble and I was so thankful and the lady says, “Oh, here, here, here's your check.” She handed me a check. I just put it in my pocket. I'm driving back home. I stopped for fuel, sitting at this gas station. I pulled the check out and I figured, I wonder what the check was. And I pulled it out and I couldn't believe it... $5,000. And I sat down I'm on the curb right at the gas pump and I started weeping and crying. But you know something else happened to me then the day, when I was sitting there weeping and crying, nobody asked me, are you okay? That changed my life that day. Cause I couldn't, I couldn't ride my bike. I'm just weeping because this lady gave me everything. She needed that money. Her house was falling apart. Her car was no good, but she gave me $5,000. Changed my life. And I got that story in one of my books because, you know, so many times we think that, you know, people was not going to give you much because maybe their lifestyle, but those usually the people that give it all.
Amadon DellErba: It's true. Yeah. I've found that too. In missionary work they got the good hearts, you know, and sometimes the people with the most money, they had the most money cause they’re the most selfish. Not, everybody, not everybody, but a lot, you know, I've seen it many times.
Sam Childers: I do want to say our ministry has some faithful donors. This year, now I haven't been on the road preaching in like nine months. September I am doing some preaching in West Virginia and Kentucky. Our money has went down about to one third of what we normally bring in, but I will say we have some faithful, faithful donors, and a lot of these donors they're faithful because they see the lifestyle I live. I live a very, not a very high lifestyle, but they know the work that I do in Africa, and they know I could walk away from it, but I refuse to do that.
Amadon DellErba: Yep. Another question I had for you is adversity and misrepresentation and I know that any public figure, anyone who's doing good work and actually has accomplished things, you're going to have the haters coming after you. You're going to have the people hacking at you, like you said. you're going to have people fault-finding, I know that you've experienced that. Has that really ever gotten to you that it's gotten so bad or, you know, that it's really hard to deal with it?
Sam Childers: It used to, but in Matthew chapter five, and like I said, I'm not a Bible Thumper... But if you look at Matthew chapter five, you look at the beatitudes and you get at the end of the beatitudes. It says this, “If you are persecuted for His sake, You'll be blessed.” You know, our church here in Pennsylvania was always kind of a, like a biker church. And I had an ex Navy seal come in there and I mean, he was a rugged, tough biker guy, a big guy, and he told me, he said, “Sam, I heard someone in town talking about you.” He says, “I'm going to go down there. I'm going to work him over.” And I said, “Please don't!” And I was kinda laughing. I said, “Don't stop him. Let him talk.” And he said, “But they’re talking about my pastor” and I read that verse and I said, “The more they talk, the more I'm blessed.” And I had to train myself over the years. And, still to this day, I mean, I have people that still hack on me. But you know, a lot of people that still hack on me, when they look into my life; I never left Africa. Over two decades later, I'm still doing the same thing. I had millions of dollars go through my hands. I said earlier, I built seven schools. I didn't have to build those schools. We built businesses from hotels to restaurants, and everything is focused on training centers to train people. Our commercial farm, what we gave away last year and feeding on Christmas day last year, we could have made a profit of a few hundred thousand dollars, but see, we didn't go for any of that. So, I believe a lot of people that hack on me when they really research and go deep, I believe they change their mind on me.
Amadon DellErba: Absolutely. Honestly, I think some people who do that are jealous; jealous of what you've achieved. I've found that myself. Is that where they're jealous of your walk with God, or they want to be able to have the faith that you have, the courage that you have the fortitude to achieve what you've achieved. And so they attack it cause they're jealous. But that's okay. In time, they'll admire and respect it instead, you know, they're in God's hands. So how can… besides donating to your nonprofit, which I'm definitely going to share the links for everybody and so forth. How can people help you? Do you take people over there to, Africa?
Sam Childers: Now right now because of this COVID, I mean, Uganda is the main country we fly into, they're shut down. A lot of people's hacking on the president there, I think he's done a really good job. To be the fifth safest country in the world. We only had like two people die of it, so far. Over 1,200 cases, 900 and some of them almost a thousand is recovered. You know, the thing that gets me in the world today, we talk about how many people got it, but we're not sharing how many people has recovered, you know. We do about five mission trips per year. What we do. Like if you want to go, there's an application to fill out. Now a lot of people get scared. They say, “Oh, maybe I can't go.” We want to know your skills because when you get to Africa, that's what we use. We use your skills to teach our people. And the big thing that I tell people is when you go over, I mean, a lot of people struggled to get the money to go, but when they come home, I tell them, “tell people about us. Get on Facebook, share your pictures, show what we're doing.” So, I mean, just going on a mission trip can really help. And a lot of people that don't have no money and no qualifications are usually the ones that raised the most money.
I like to tell the story about these two little girls in Maryland. These two little girls in Maryland, they were in a rural area, small town. They said to their mom, they said, “Well, we want to sell Kool Aid, and we want to give all the money to the Machine Gun Preacher” their mom was like, “You're not going to sell no Kool Aid here.” They said, “Mom, don't say that.” These are little kids. They were like seven, eight, nine years old, you know? So the mom said, “Okay, I'll let you sell the Kool Aid.” So the mom kept looking out the window and she's seen a couple people stopping, not a whole lot, but around, it was like in the late afternoon, the mom says I'm going to take some money out, and I'm going to go out and I'm going to get buy a couple of Kool Aid from these kids, you know? So the lady takes her dollar and she goes out to buy Kool Aid from her little girls, and she pays… the little girls hand her a cup of Kool aid, and the mom hands them a dollar. And the little girl just kind of looked at her mom and her mom said, “What's the matter? Huh?” She said, “That's all you're giving us?” And the mom said, “Well, yeah, that's how much it is.” And she said, “Well, mom, we're telling everyone what we're doing. And people are stopping, they’re giving $20, they’re giving $50. People are giving us money!” And the mom's like, “What?” And she looks in this box and the box is full of money. So if little kids, seven, eight, nine years old can raise, I think the first check they gave us, the mom brought the check from Maryland to the church, It was like $800. Little kids did that. So, you know, people look, if you really want to help our work, there is ways to help us in the raise money. And most of all, God looks at our effort. God looks at what we're doing.
Amadon DellErba: Well, I think we're at 45 minutes. I don't want to take up your time too much longer, Sam. I really appreciate you coming on. And like I said, you're a real man. I appreciate that you've, served God for the last 20 years or more in the ways that you're doing it. And you've made sacrifices and you're willing to keep going.
You're an example of that. And like you said you don't have to be churchy, it's not about the Bible, it's about having a heart of service and a heart of love. That's what Jesus taught. When he came to this planet, He didn't say, “you have to be in this church, you have to read this book.” He said, “be a servant of all.” He said, “be of service.”
Sam Childers: Praise God. You know, I want to say this last thing here to the people. The harvest fields are ripe right now, I only been back in the U.S like three weeks, and I have led over 50 people to the Lord. Giant Eagle grocery store, Walmart, going to people, those houses just uptown. I'm telling you, people are scared now. People are searching, but see so many Christians we want to keep our mouth shut. We'll talk about everything else, but so many times us religious people, we don't want to tell people about Jesus. People’s hurting. People searching. And I want to tell all the Christians out there, get a heart for Jesus, work the field. What does the Bible say? The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. This is when God wants us to work right now in the middle of this panic that's going on around the world. People are waiting to hear about Jesus.
Amadon DellErba: Yeah. You know, the good seed is being separated from the bad seed right now and I think there's a spiritual, purification happening on the whole planet. It's all related with the pandemic and everything. And people gotta turn to God and not turn to man.
Sam Childers: So true.
Amadon DellErba: Sam will you close out and say a prayer, say a prayer for us, brother?
Sam Childers: Yeah
Amadon DellErba: Thank you, sir.
Sam Childers: The big thing I want to say. I believe there's going to be people here today that's going to be listening, that maybe they never made that commitment. You know, sometimes to become a Christian, the church complicates things. And I just want to tell you it’s very simple, and I'm going to ask those people that's listening, watching, or whatever today, to just follow me in a short prayer, very short prayer, follow me in this prayer. And then I'm going to pray for everyone.
Father, I come to you today in the name of Jesus Christ.
And Lord I want to ask you to forgive me of all my sins, all the times I walked away, all the times I've cursed you, all the times I didn't believe, I ask you now, forgive me Lord
And I ask you to allow me to be part of the Family, the Family, Lord
And Father, I'm asking Lord, that you'll fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can be a pillar to my community, and I can be someone that can speak to people uptown and change lives.
I ask all this in Jesus' name.
I want to pray with you this morning. Father I know you're working on all of us. Father there's one thing that I love about you is you never stop working on any of us.
Lord, I ask that your Holy Spirit will just fill this message today that people are going to want more of you.
Father I'm asking for miracles to be birthed here today off people hearing this
Father I'm asking in the name of your son Jesus that you'll just go out into the fields Lord, and just give us the opportunity that we can tell people about you.
Use us all, in Jesus name. Amen.
Amadon DellErba: Thank you, Sam. Hey, I really appreciate you. Love you, man. Thank you for taking the time to come on my show. It's an honor. Hopefully… I wish I could just fly up to Pennsylvania this weekend and hit your rally. But, I don't think I can, but…
Sam Childers: Our rally this weekend too, there's a special website. A lot of people around the world would like to come. There's a special website if you go to Facebook: Samuel Childers, Machine Gun Preacher, Sam Childers, all of these Facebook sites you can click on at the bottom and go right to this thing, even though you're not here, you can still be a part of it and still help us feed children. So God bless you.
Amadon DellErba: God bless you. And thanks for your time, sir. Keep up the good work. I know God will continue to protect you and bless you.
Sam Childers: Alright. Thank you.
Amadon DellErba: Thank you, sir. Have a good one.
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