John Hanlon

“The last thing Christ wants is our heart…what God wants from us is our feet, our legs, our hands, our arms. He wants our entire body,” Sam Childers recently stated during a roundtable interview for his new film, “Machine Gun Preacher.” The film chronicles the story of how Childers went from selling drugs in Pennsylvania to building an orphanage in the Sudan. Both Childers and Jason Keller, who wrote the film’s screenplay, sat down with and several other media outlets to talk about the film.

The film shows Childers only a few decades ago as a drug dealer who spent much of his time abusing drugs and alcohol. He begins to turn his life around after one awful night leaves him panicked and frightened of what his life has become. He becomes a Christian preacher and eventually visits the Sudan, where he founds an orphanage and becomes a passionate advocate for the children of that war-torn country.

Although he fights for the children of the Sudan against the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA), a group that brutalizes innocent people and recruits children into war, some of Childers’ real-life tactics are extremely controversial. The preacher is well-known for using violence to fight against the LRA. The film shows him attacking and killing several members of the LRA without hesitation.

When pressed on violence and its relationship to his role as a preacher, Childers stated that he believes that “the God that we serve does not condone violence” and added that “I don’t ever try to claim that what I do is right.” However, he also said that he will defend himself by noting that the children whose lives he saves from possible mutilation or death believe that what he does is right.

Keller, who wrote the screenplay for “Machine Gun Preacher” and said that he is against violence himself, noted that the current situation in the Sudan doesn’t lend itself to easy answers on the question of whether violence is sometimes needed in order to save lives. “When I traveled to Sudan,” Keller said, “and I met those kids and I saw the scars of war literally on their faces and I saw a land decimated by twenty-plus years of civil war, the answer to that question becomes really complex.”

John Hanlon

John Hanlon writes movie reviews and about pop culture for our site. He can be found on Twitter @johnhanlon.