The Machine Gun Preacher’s Journey to Darfur.

MGP TV’s Zac Simpson talks about the Machine Gun Preacher’s recent trip to Darfur.

In hindsight, the journey to Darfur was equal parts exhilarating, daunting and horrifying.

Leaving the relative safety of the orphanage at Nimule we didn’t know what to expect, although we had considered that this journey could be our last.  The particular region we intended to visit had been off-limits for years and anarchistic rebel forces continued to destabilise the area.

We made slow progress, mostly due to the wet season turning the roads into a coarse muddy soup that threatened to swallow our vehicles.  On either side of the sea of dirt, thick stems of green grass burst from the earth to tower above our heads.  The growth formed a beautiful natural wall on either side of the road but also provided the cattle rustlers and bandits who tried to rob us with acres of cover.  In the end though, circumstances always seemed to tip in our favour (it may have had something to do with all the guns) and we made it to our target. 

We scouted the border and discovered that the other NGOs had abandoned the area.  We visited regions without fresh water, watched hundreds of orphans scamper the streets in search of food, and passed thousands of squalid shanties that appeared to have been hit by a tornado.  Such was the devastation.

As we made to leave, we spotted a corpse beside the road: the body of an elderly woman. I distinctly remember looking at her hands.  Her fingers clutched at the dirt as though somehow, if she could have just held on to the bare earth, she might have lived. 

And then she moved.

We sprang from the vehicle, bundled her emaciated body into the back of the tray and sped toward the local medical centre.  We carried her into the shallow building, where the reek of defeat and lack of hope crushed against our chests like a slab of grief, and laid her on an empty gurney.  The well-fed doctor arrived, diagnosed her with cerebral malaria and gave her an IV injection that saved her life.

The doctor was administering the last scraps of medicine left behind two years ago by a retreating NGO.  We had no medication to give him but promised to do what we could.  We pushed on, thinking that we had seen the worst this region could offer.

But Turalei was worse.  As we entered the town we were greeted by a toothless madwoman who cackled and beat at her chest.  It was an ominous display of the human misery we would soon encounter. 

Within a few minutes we knew this town was in bad, bad shape.  Villagers were eating mud and drinking sewage to survive.  Haggard adults, more bone than flesh, limped across the carcass of earth to beg us for food. 

We stayed overnight, helped the people we could and shot some video to ensure that we could raise the funds to return.  And then we left.

We began to fight towards home, only this time we took another route and were soon surrounded by stranded vehicles and tractor-trailers that had fallen sideways to be swallowed by the earth.  We passed an airliner that had crashed in a paddock, shot Hyenas that were harassing local villagers and drove through bandit territory in the dead of night.  We made it through but the guy ahead of us wasn’t so lucky: he was shot and killed as he struggled to guide his van in the sludge.

By this stage our Mitsubishi L200 King Cabs were beginning to disintegrate.  We had lost the braking system on one truck and were reliant on gears alone to slow us down.  The other vehicle was also plagued with problems.  In the end, we had to drive slower and slower just to keep the cars on the road.

As we neared Nimule we began to relax but we weren’t out of danger yet.  We rounded a corner and hurtled in a tribal clash between the Acholi and Madi tribes.  4,000 fighters, armed with pangas (machetes), rudimentary bows, spears and clubs, stormed back and forth looking for someone to fight.  In amongst the drunks I saw an elderly man poised for battle and a young woman with a bow in her hand and a baby slung across her back.  As the situation escalated we had no choice but to lock and load.  Shots were fired and we drove through the screaming remnants of the volatile mob.  Luckily, no one was killed.  We rolled down the range, careful to stay in low gear lest we plummet off the side of the mountain, and snuck back into Nimule.  The Children’s Village, an oasis of safety in a country at war with itself, welcomed us with open arms.

28 Responses to The Machine Gun Preacher’s Journey to Darfur.

  1. Sandra Bank says:

    Thank God for what you do and Thank You for what you do and those that also are assisting in helping these people. I saw your interview on joni lamb’s show, I know it was a divine apointment. I had already been praying for Sudan and it’s people for several years and have wanted to help somehow but lacked a connection. I will be in prayer about what exactly I am to do. We are a missionary family as well! We love the nations and especially those that haven’t seen God’s Salvation!!! We have been in Africa as well many years ago on the West side and South Central. God Bless keep up the good work and we will help!

  2. chad says:

    I know it is true. But it seems so unreal from where I stand. God Bless you all and keep us in the loop.

  3. Cindy Traves says:

    Wot tragedy u all witnessed. I pray that God opens the eyes of those who r willing to b part of the solution to the many & varied issues they are facing. Send me Lord, I wil go.

  4. Emma Parady says:

    This is horrible, there should not be such horror, violence and sadness in the world; anywhere. It is an utter disgrace the U.S government hasn’t stepped up and helped. This is INHUMAN and needs to be taken care of. The people of Africa are in my prayers and my thoughts. God bless those who are helping <3

  5. I have been trying to get in touch with you. I will be out of the country for one month, and immediately afterwards, I am prepared to fly to Africa and rescue children. I am wanting very much to bend your ear and will travel wherever necessary.

    Thank you,

    Zen Guerrilla

  6. Aaron says:

    Hi there, I would be interested to know when you passed through Turalei. I have been working all over Sudan, including South Darfur, Warrap State (I was in Turalei and Wunrok for almost two months), Western Bahr El Ghazal and Northern Bahr El Ghazal over the past four years.

    To Emma Parady, in fact, the US government has stepped up significantly over the past two decades on behalf of Sudan. The US donates more food and other emergency supplies than any other country by far and the leading donor to all the NGOs in the area that I know of including the one I have worked for is US AID. Frankly, Sudan has had more assistance than any other country in Africa except Egypt. And the people here are not responding to it. We have struggled and struggled to redefine policy, to rework our programming in light of the failures, but nothing is working. These people like to fight, it seems as if it is their national sport.

    And to the author of this blog, as far as people drinking sewage and eating mud, this sounds a bit like sensationalized speech. I believe it has happened here in Sudan and I don’t doubt that you witnessed it. I have seen that and worse. This country is Hell for those who live here (A strong argument for Rob Bell’s recent book, but that is another discussion). But why point it out? Just to make it sound desperate? You jumped from Nimule to Turalei in a few paragraphs and skipped the rest of the country.

    There is a lot going on in this country that a few short words cannot explain. There is a lot behind the scenes that even people who have spent 4 years here cannot yet understand. What I am saying is that I think you should be careful writing a blog like this since it seems you have had very short, very cursory experiences in Sudan and some of this information could be quite misleading.

    You mentioned a few shocking experiences that include guns, tribal fighting, severe malnutrition and starvation, banditry and terrible roads. Maybe you didn’t see anything else, but I would guess that the interesting stuff is only the shocking stuff. Besides, who wants to read a blog that says “In Mundri, South Sudan, I came across a village that was for all intents and purposes, self suficient, sustaining and otherwise a pleasant place.” I have been all over this country and seen so many wonderful places that are socially and politically in tact.

    Imagine, if I just focussed on all the crazy stuff, what a story I could write on New York City, or Baltimore or London?

    • Gdugger says:

      In response to Aaron’s post May 10th, 2011.
      I see that you attack Sam’s work in a passive-aggressive literary style. Instead of attacking him, you should repent of your liberal feminized theology(Rob Bell follower) and apologize for trying to degrade his reputation and his ministry.

  7. Charles Canter says:

    Sam u r a insoireation to many men in Christ, when you came to Have Bible Will Travel with pastor Pat Rankin i knew you were a true man of God. You have inspired me to do many things like help people in many different ways. But say you r risk ur life to help these kids and i think that is amazing. And someday i would love to be by yourside and help you.

  8. JD says:

    I’m very impressed by your work. I’m an Army Veteran. I’ve put in work in the Balkens and Iraq. Do you have any jobs that my skill set would be appliacable? I don’t want to donate and chant about in justice, I want to put in work and save lives….

  9. zac simpson says:

    Hi Aaron,
    All of your claims will be proven to be illegitimate when the documentary is released in November – everything was filmed.

  10. Karissa Brady says:

    You are an inspiration, I have always wanted to help with the children who have escaped the LRA and am currently studying psyhcology aswell as education so I have the skills and assets that would be useful. I have been moved ever since I was a small child about the horrific scenes and information brought to us by people like you and cant wait to start helping. God has provided for you and now youare able to provide for these people.

    Thankyou for what you
    are doing

  11. Desira says:

    WOW!!!! I’m Praying for You and your Staff, and your bravery to be a blessing for the Kingdom of ‘GOD’. It brought me to Tears when I for the first time learning about you and the love your sharing with the children of ‘GOD’. I’m ready to help in every way ‘GOD’ blesses me to help you. I Thank ‘GOD’ for you and I Plead the BLOOD OF JESUS over You and your Staff and those of bravery and those who are fighting this battle with you. Prayer for your Love ones as well. I have a passion to help those in need around the world as well. Thank You Mr.Sam Childers Thank You Very Much!!!!!!!

  12. Jason Loyd says:

    I am a soldier, and seen you on tv today and I was moved by what you do. I am unable to continue my service duty. I wish I could help, I am a soldier and will always be a soldier at heart. I can’t stand to see children in need. I have a disabled son, and so I wish everybody could help. I plan helping disabled soldiers who come home and need help. Maybe there is something I could do here to help you as well. But would love to fight by your side for the need of the kids and everybody who needs help.

  13. C Borden says:

    Nothing here surprises me. I have been interested in missions since I was a teenager, and have done all I can to get involved as He has shown me quite clearly that He has other plans for me. However, I was first introduced to the many horrors of Sudan from SIM missionaries in the late 90′s. Since my first introduction to the persecution against Christians, among tribes, and against anyone who does not agree with whichever raiding party, I have followed progress, or lack thereof through SIM and through VOM.

    Over the years, yes, some countries, to include the US, have become more aware of the violent dynamics in Sudan and other countries. Sudan is not alone in its incredible violence, which is why most countries have not truly stepped in and done more. It takes INDIVIDUALS like Mr. Childers, like those who go help him help these children, like all the missionaries, like all the humanitarian groups, like those who donate items or money. We can sit on our butts and blame a country for not doing anything, but are YOU?!?!? If you are a person who does help, are YOU capable of helping every single person you come across? I seriously doubt it. So lets not knock the countries who do not appear to be helping, and let’s focus on the private groups and individuals who are!

    As for the questioned validity of this accounting- There are hundreds of sites on the internet both from individuals, from churches, from mission groups, from humanitarian groups who ALL attest to the tragic way of life in countries like Sudan. However, in all I have seen and read, Sudan is one of the worst, one of the most insanely violent countries in the world. Of course, there are little oasis here and there. Of course, there are now villages who are self-supportive, those little success stories can be attributed to the fact that some reporter, some photographer, some volunteer got back to their “civilized” country and shared what they witnessed, and people like Mr. Childers took a step to help.

    God bless anyone and everyone who sees a chance to make a difference and acts on the opportunity! God bless Mr and Mrs Childers, their ministry, and all those who they reach out to!

    For more information about SIM and VOM, I included the links to their sites- They will truly open your eyes, and offer you more opportunities to learn about what Mr. Childers was up against, is up against, and how you may help:

  14. Ginger Gibbons says:

    This is to ‘Aaron’ about his comment on May 10, 2011–I am glad you gave testimony to the fact that there are some ‘good’ things there in Sudan. But Sam’s job is not look for those places, but to go to the places the ‘blogger’ decribes as desperate. Jesus said He did not come to help the righteous but the sick. The well do not need a doctor.

    Sam and his people go to places others are unwilling or unable to go. These are the dregs of the world. I hope you will remember that Jesus said that”What you do for the least of these, you have done it for me”. Sam does not care if the world notices or not what he is doing, he is doing his work as before the Father, who sees the thoughts and the intents of the heart. The book and the movie are to raise awareness of a forgotten people and the need for help from ‘regular people’ who live here (USA) in thier comfort zones, NOT the government.

    As for focusing on all the ‘crazy stuff’ that’s what this blog is supposed to do. That’s the stuff I need to know about and that my prayers and donations are working in the worst of these places. I need to ask you something…are you a Christian? If so, then pray that your eyes and heart will be opened to ‘real’ needs of the Sudanese people…I doubt that fighting is thier national sport and as for responding to help…have you prayed for that? I’ll be praying for you Aaron…for as you have judged…so shall you be judged the same way.

    Come quickly Lord Jesus,
    Until then, Thy will, not mine, be done…
    Ginger G.

    • Sis Cheryl says:

      the heart of a missionary specifically called to a nation is always misunderstood by those who do not have the goods aka fruit of the spirit, one of which is long-suffering. Sam Childers is fighting the good fight of faith and has a crown of righteousness as his heavenly reward, being created with heavenly stones to adorn it which is each one of the precious lives he is saving in the Sudan. No Christian should ever be so ignorantly puffed up as to say that these things Sam is in the midst of are not so…The Spirit of God leads us into ALL Truth. When Our Righteous Lawgiver and King, the King of Peace rules the nations with an iron rod, Sam will be set on one of the thrones as a choice saint set apart to render judgement on the earth. In the meantime, I will pray for Sam’s protection and ministry to the little angels of Africa on a daily basis, which is of a huge matter to the heart of Our Lord. Praise Him for His Mighty Fulfilling Power to Save & Redeem all mankind from the curse of ignorance and unbelief!

      King James Bible
      Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? I Corinthians 6:2

    • Bryan Adkins says:

      @ Ginger – your comments at Aaron are interesting considering, from the sounds of it, you have never been to any region of Sudan. And to ask whether or not he is a Christian? Are you not sub-consciously doing the same sort of judging you are accusing him of? It is that type of comment that would make many Christians in this world simply want to run and hide. It is interesting that so many self proclaimed followers of Christ on this page are cheering on a man who goes around purporting to kill other people, in a context which he knows nothing about. And if his claims are not true, you either have a man killing people or a man telling lies. Time to come clean Sam – at least as a group of Christians, I am sure most of your followers would be compelled to forgive you.

  15. Tony Carico says:

    To Sam: I just found out about what your are doing in Sudan. I have friends there with Make Way Partners. God Bless you for what you do. I hope to be doing God’s work somewhere soon. Have heard the call, patiently waiting to hear from God as you as to where it is.
    To Aaron and Ginger’s comments: I understand your thoughts on showing the success stories too, but as Ginger said I think maybe this blog is to show where the need still is. Ginger you are spot on with you thoughts on scripture, and the example that Christ set for those who follow him. He did not come here to live a lavish life in a nice home, matter of fact for all intents and purposes he was homeless. He also ask his disciples to drop everything and follow him. We as Christians need to be more willing to do this, and Sam obviously heard this call and did exactly that.
    God bless you Sam and if you need me there I will find a way!

    Here I am send me, Lord

  16. Dee Smith says:

    I was one of many people that was able to listen to part of Sams story at our Church in Tacoma,
    WA. a couple weeks ago. I go on Saturday night and it was awsome to hear that this man is brave enough to follow God’s messages to him and do God’s work in this world. He is someone that has had God on his side for years, just did not know this. God had been preparing him for this mission from the time he was a kid. I do not think that just anyone is able to go into these areas of the world, without first being tested and trained by our God. No one can do this without very strong faith and will to do for others. The guns are scary to a lot of people and lots of people can’t see the importance of their use. If God tells Sam what he want him to do, God then allows Sam the way to do what needs to be done. I am sure that Sam is one of the few people that really hears his savior and is able to make a difference in our world. Bless him and the others over there, and here that help him do God’s work.

  17. Erin says:

    To quote my pastor “Be Radical, because normal isn’t working”. This is what Sam Childers is doing. He is helping children in a war torn country much the same as a father would protect his own blood children. Tell me Aaron and Bryan, how exactly would you resolve a situation where someone puts a gun to your child’s head? Would you “talk them down” or do something “rational”????? Would you redirect the focus of a home invasion to the lovely roses in your backyard that were left unharmed or give the hard facts that an enemy broke down your door and threatened the lives of those you love? Perhaps YOU should come clean. Give credit where credit is due. Sam risks his own life each time he ventures into the areas you say he should not exemplify. It is selfless and loving, as Christ asks us to be. If beauracy and political appointment would stop the bullets and machetes of the forces that would seek to stop Sam’s good work, he would not need to be so extreme. As we have seen, rebel forces will not lay down their swords. Sam has the courage to ignore the high & mighty who would judge him and “take arms against a sea of troubles”, literally. God Bless you Sam. I have wanted to help as a missionary since I was 8 years old. I remember sitting on the stairs of my parent’s home hysterically crying after I had seen a news report about famine in Ethiopia (mind you it was the 1980′s). My mother couldn’t understand how a child of eight could comprehend something like that. I will never forget that day. Nor will I ever stand down about my beliefs. Freedom of speech is all well and good, but for those of you who would look to criticize Sam and his efforts, please remember God gave you lips for a reason. To shut them & keep your tongue from wagging faithless nonsense. Many of you think because we are Christians that we are unintelligent/ignorant and lack judegment. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is our dedication to God’s way and NOT man’s that gives us the strength to do something RADICAL!!!

  18. Catherine says:

    May God Bless you Sam all the days of your life and then some and keep you safe..My name is Catherine.I live in Las Vegas right now..and like your wife was a dancer..and also I worked with Playboy
    as one of their magazine models and that is how I went on tour and made my money as a Playboy Feature Dancer..some people do not know what a feature dancer is but it is sort of like being the movie star in the dancer business..equipped with limos waiting and adoring fans..anyways it all started meaning nothing to me as I was always very into God and Jesus..and when questioned on this I always answeared you are not what you do always. I had interest in being a priest but as a Catholic woman would never get in I decided to also go and frequent other Christian Churches..went to Israel and walked in the footsteps of Jesus..and also Egypt..I wanted to start Volunteering overseas to really make a difference and was stunned when the Peace Corps said 90 percent of the people had to have a 4 year degree BA and I thought that was not Kennedys dream let alone dare the Peace Corps put you thru a one year application and you have to have a 4 year degree to stay 27 months when people that want to volunteer the only req. should be that they are kind caring loving people who want to make a difference..not a damn 4 year degree..I have volunteered at any local tthing or place going on all thru my dancing and wanted to make a huge difference and decided to become an ordained minister and get my priestly papers so I could also spread the word of God! Well I will not let a piece of paper BA who many of those people are doing it to get the undergrad also I dod not want to give them just 27 months but I would have goven them 27 they right back to me and say no I really should fill out the app and try ..with less then a 10 percent chance right! I heard your movie was playing here it was only at one theatre and the stupid article had given it only 1 star I drove over an hour each way get to that theatre as I knew if my hunch was right this would be great..and your movie MGP WAS 5 STAR!! I loved it..and it only made my long standing resolve to make a difference 10 times stronger! You Sam C are a hero!!!Catherine

  19. Phillip De Beer says:

    After seeing the film portraying your life story I was deeply touched at your struggle to give these kids a better life. I pray that your story reaches millions and hope that they will become believers in the good work that you are achieving day to day like I have. I will be a regular donater to your cause. God bless you Sam. Phil from South Africa.

  20. Angeline Rose says:


    1) First – Sam and his “freedom team” have NO bloody choice but to shoot down (even kill) the LRA bastards who get in their way of saving innocent lives. READ. IINOCENT LIVES. If Sam didn’t carry a gun, he would have been long dead along with every single life that he has saved today.

    2) Second – We are certain that Sam is very well aware of his part in killing the LRAs. And we do not agree that he kills. If you have even ONE good, splendid, million-dollar idea on how he and his freedom team can escape the way they do (all the time), with lives saved, without using weaponry – I’ll worship you.

    3) Third – What are YOU doing to save the world or these people (apart from wasting precious time that equates to hundreds of children being abducted, raped and trained for sexual pleasures and as killing machines?). Sam and his freedom team are doing something. And you people can only judge so poorly and waste your saliva on this??! DISGUSTING.

    Leave the man. If you can be of any help instead of blabbing nonsense, then do something and stop being rubbish people. That’s not what Africa needs right now.

  21. richard says:

    Hi my names richard and I am from the uk I bought the mgp movie which really moved me , and so decided to check out the website for info , its amazing the work that is being done for these children in this day and age the bad things that’s happend to them shouldn’t be happening I would love to go out and help somehowy, how would I go about this.I don’t think people realize how lucky they are in places such as the uk and us how they take things for granted. I’m also an ex addict like mgp clean for 10 years. The work that is being done for these children is the most mmoving brave kindest thing I have ever seen such brilliant work that is being done would like to know how to get sorry about the punctuation.

  22. paulo rodrigues says:

    Before the movie, I have not known of such organisation nor the extent…
    I applaud your work and devotion.
    Where in the hell is the UN !?!

  23. Deveney says:

    Nehemiah built the walls with bricks in one hand and sword (machine gun?) in the other. The priests bore arms. Why can’t we build and protect with a gun in our hands??? It is the timid Christians who have caused more death and destruction in the world because they are only willing to throw money and sympathy at problems. REAL followers of Jesus are willing to DIE for another in order to protect innocent people. So many in the church have listened to lies for so long they believe they are in the Bible, but pacivity is NOT in the scriptures, ANYWHERE. Most “boots on the ground” carry guns with their Bibles.
    God bless you and protect you and your family, Sam.

  24. eileen says:

    What greater love is this that one man lay down his life for another! Main stream Christians may find the methods unconventional. I believe that God called Sam because the extreme conditions called for unconventional means to save these children. God never ceases to amaze me how he chooses the right man for the job. If someone threatened my children I would have no problem yielding a machine gun to protect them. Evil takes over when good men do nothing. As we saw with Hitler, I thank my Dad for his time in WWII, for his time on Normandy Beach, for stepping up against evil.
    Thank you Sam and all those that help for stepping up.
    May God protect you all and I will continue to pray for the children and your ministry. I promise to help whenever I can.

  25. Just finished watching your film. It kicked my butt..and really made think about “how blessed we are”…and that sometimes we are so ungrateful to God.

    It takes a man to do what you are doing. I am not too much into guns…but if that is it takes to do the job done, protecting those kids…so Sam you need a mini gun, a 1911 45 and just for long range a 50 cal. sniper rifle. I do know about guns..a little.

    Let the Lord be with you.


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