Machine Gun Preacher (2011)




Director:     Marc Forster.

Starring:     Gerard Butler (Sam Childers), Michelle Monaghan (Lynn Childers), Kathy Baker (Daisy), Michael Shannon (Donnie), Ryann Campos (Paige #1), Madeline Carroll (Paige #2), Souleymane Sy Savane (Deng), Grant R. Krause (Billy / Contractor), Reavis Graham (Pastor Krause), Peter Carey (Bill Wallace), Barbara Coven (Shannon Wallace).

a biker bad boy gets religion and starts saving children in the very dangerous southern Sudan



Spoiler Warning:  curse word spelled out.

Southern Sudan, 2003.  At night the LRA terrorists attack a village.  They mow down unarmed men and women.  They light the village huts on fire.  They force a young boy to kill his mother or the "soldiers" will kill the boy and his brother.  He takes a club with a big head and brings it down on his mother's head. 

Pennsylvania, USA.  A few years earlier.  Sam Childers gets out of prison.  His wife Lynn waits outside the prison to pick him up.  When he leaves the prison he is dressed as the biker that he is.  He and Lynn have quickie sex in Lynn's car in a deserted area. 

Lynn lives in a trailer camp.  Sam's daughter Paige rushes out to greet her father.  Also there to greet Sam is grandmother. 

Sam expects Lynn will be going to her stripper job soon, but Lynn tells him that she no longer strips.  Sam is upset at this, because the stripper money sure helped the family.  Lynn says she got a job over at Freemont packing mushrooms.  Sam starts to become very angry and it looks like he may hit Lynn at any time now.  Lynn tells him:  "I ain't dancing no more because it ain't right in the eyes of God."   Sam mocks her:  "Oh, you've found God now?"  He adds:  "You're a fucking junkie stripper and you know it."  Sam goes out to his motorcycle and drives away.  He goes down to a biker bar. 

Sam greets his old biker buddies.  Then he sits at a table with his best friend Donnie.  Donnie is happy to see him.  Sam goes with a woman into the bathroom to be injected with some kind of illegal drug. 

In the morning, Sam awakens from his drunken stupor.  He throws up in the toilet.  Lynn and Paige go to church. 

Sam and Donnie rob a man of his drugs and his drug money.  Sam really acts as if he's going to shoot the man with the shotgun he has with him.  Instead, he knocks the man out.  Leaving the crime scene in Donnie's car, the two men shoot up with drugs.  They pick up a man who is hitchhiking.  The guy sticks  a knife up against Donnie's throat and tells him where to drive to.  This makes Sam mad and he jumps into the backseat with the guy and really pummels him.  Sam starts stabbing the man over and over again real fast like they do in prisons.  Donnie stops the car, and Sam throws the man and his backpack onto the side of  the road.. 

Sam goes to church with his family.  The reverend says he's going to baptize even the sinners and this will take away their sins.  Sam hesitates, but he does get up and goes to be baptized. 

The newly baptized Sam now starts working construction.  He sells his motorcycle. Sam goes to see Donnie and finds out from Donnie that their hitchhiker fellow didn't die. 

A tornado damages a lot of the trailers at the trailer camp.  Sam starts repairing the damages.  With so much tornado damage there's some 600 homes that need repairs.  Sam say he's going to start his own construction crew.  The new company is called Childers Roofing and Contracting. 

Sam gets enough money to buy a regular home.  One day at church, there's a special guest speaker:  Pastor Relling from the Kilangire Christian Mission in Uganda, Africa.  The pastor says that there are Christian families in Uganda who desperately need the congregation's help.  He stresses that every soul is deserving of their Christian charity. 

Sam rescues Donnie from a drug house.  It's tough on Donnie, but Sam gets him clean from the drugs. 

One day at dinner, Sam says he wants to help Pastor Relling in his mission work in Uganda.  He tells the family that he will only be gone for a few weeks. 

Northern Uganda.  Sam is busy constructing a building.  He asks two native soldiers with the Sudanese People's Liberation Army freedom fighters just sitting around if they could help him with the construction.  They say no, so Sam has to accept that.  But, at least, Sam knows two soldiers, Deng and Marco.  Sam gets to know Deng well and so one day he asks Deng to take him into southern Sudan.  The two fellows take a bus.  On the trip Deng says his parents were killed by the LRA.

Deng shows Sam the refugee camp. It's a huge camp.  He tells Sam:  "The Muslim north has been killing the Christians in the south for over 30 years.  Two million of my people lost their lives."  Cholera and malaria are everywhere in the camp.  A woman worker tells Sam, the man in the black shirt, to help her turn over a female patient.  The woman has been mutilated by cutting her facial lips on order of the LRA leader, Joseph Kony.  It's so shocking that Sam has to turn away from the woman.  The white woman worker says if Sam stays here, he's going to get killed. 

At night, the parents of the bush send there children into the refugee camp.  Sam sees the girls and boys pouring into the camp.  He gets some of the children up and has them sleep in his room.  Sam sleeps on the floor.

In the early morning the children go back to the bush.  The LRA attacked a village last night and Deng takes Sam to see the damage and the dead bodies.  Sam sees the children sobbing over their parents' bodies.  A boy runs after his dog and steps on a land mind.  Sam rushes to the boy, but his legs have been blown off.  Sam cries over the dead boy. 

Sam comes home to his family.  At home is is restless over the terrible things he saw in Africa.  He stays up all night making plans for building a church in their town.  He has also made plans for an orphanage in southern Sudan. 

The church is taking shape and they have their first opening.  They have singers performing for the crowd.  Sam had a special speaker booked, but the speaker didn't show up.  So Sam has to speak to the congregation.  The name of the place is the Shekinah Fellowship Church.  He says he's not keen on talking in public, but he will say a few words.  He admits that he was a bad sinner, but God doesn't call on just the good.  He calls sometimes on the sinners to do some good. 

Sam is flying back to Africa.  Paige says he's going to miss her school play.  Sam says mother will videotape it for him.  He asks Donnie to watch out for his family when he's gone.  Donnie agrees to that.  When Sam returns to Sudan, he has new boots for the freedom fighters.

The freedom fighters take Sam with them. As they drive along through the high grass, Sam has them stop the pick-up truck.  He says he's going to build an orphanage right here.  Deng tells him it's not a good place.  The land dealer tells Sam that the place the white man wants to buy is far from everything, but that's what Sam wants.  The land agent adds that this land is a war zone.  The LRA will kill him.

Construction begins on the orphanage.  Some of the older children help with the construction.  Deng introduces Sam to a very competent black woman named Betty.  He says that she would make a good manager and would run the orphanage when Sam is back in Pennsylvania.  Sam hires her. 

Donnie tries to fill in for Sam on the home front, but he's not very good at it. 

At night the LRA sneak up on the building of the orphanage.  They open fire on the people, but this time the LRA has to fight the freedom fighters and they have automatic weapons too.  Sam rushes out to Deng and tells him to give him a gun.  Deng gets one for him.  Sam rushes over to where the children are.  He shouts to Betty to bring the children to the church.  One of the girls gets shot down by the LRA.  Sam shoots back at them.  The huts are burning brightly. 

The next morning Sam surveys the destruction caused by yesterday's attack.  He telephones Lynn and tells her that "it's" all gone.  They burned everything.  Sam says he's quitting, but Lynn definitely tells him not to give up.  The kids can't quit, so Sam should be able to stick it out and rebuild. 

Sam starts building anew, but this time he is putting in defensives designs.  He cuts the bushes and trees around the orphanage, so the LRA will have nothing to hide behind.  He also puts some wire fences up. 

Sam tries to teach the children how to play baseball, but when the boys get near the ball, they just use it as a soccer ball. 

Deng returns with wounded children from an attack outside Adjumani.  Sam tries to help one wounded girl, who knows that Sam is the "White Preacher".  The girl dies anyway.  This really makes Sam mad and he takes his men to go after the LRA.  Sam lays an ambush on the road and really hits the LRA hard.  The LRA boy soldiers are armed, but they just take cover behind one of the pick-up trucks.  The little boy who was forced to kill his mother, recognizes the white preacher.  He sees a LRA man about to launch an RPG at the men of the white preacher.  The young boy shoots the LRA fellow in the back and he goes down. 

The LRA are wiped out and now the boys give themselves up.  The boy who killed his mother pulls out a photo and asks if the men have seen his brother.  No, they have not.  At the orphanage, the boy asks the other orphans if they have seen his brother.

Sam says a couple of things to the boy who killed his mother, but the boy says nothing.  The boy does, however, keep following Sam.  Sam calls him Buddy. 

Sam is back home at his church.  He preaches some.  Sam goes to see if he can get some money from a rich businessman.  He wants $5,000 dollars from the fellow.  The man, Bill, resists and then says he will think about it.  Meanwhile, he invites Sam and his family over for a big party.  At the party, Bill gives Sam a check.  Sam opens the envelope in a semi-private place.  He gets so mad that he gets his family and they leave the party.  Sam is disgusted.  He tells Lynn that Bill has a house big enough to be the Taj Mahal, but gives him a check for $150 dollars. 

Sam sells his firearms to get money.  He then sells Lynn's car. 

Sam gets enough money to set up a really nice play-ground for the orphans in the Sudan.  He has the kids cover their eyes until they get close.  Then he tells the boys and girls to look. They are super excited and they all run to get on the different play ground equipment.  Deng says it feels good to see the kids laugh.  Sam replies:  "Amen to that."  He also tells Sam that Kony is offering money for the white preacher's head.

Sam goes over to sit by the lonely Buddy.  He talks with him but Buddy stays closed-mouthed.

John Garang and his soldiers arrive at the orphanage.  Deng tells Sam that Garang is their leader.  Garang says he wanted to come see the famous white preacher.  He admires what Sam has done for the orphans.  He tells Sam that there are peace talks scheduled for the end of August in Naivasha.

Sam and Deng with some soldiers go out looking for some abandoned children. They stop the pick-up truck and see two boys nearby.  Sam and Deng motion to the boys to come to them, but the boys don't move.  Two freedom fighters now proceed over to the two boys.  One of the men is shot down.  The other man hits the ground.  He notices that the children have shackles on them.  That's the reason the boys didn't move. 

Deng says the sniper is on the ridge, within the rocks.  Sam gets the Mauser rifle out, gets a better position and shoots the sniper.  They go up and look at the rocks.  The sniper turns out to be a boy. 

Donnie telephones Sam to tell him that his family is doing fine. 

Sam is loading up his pick-up truck with supplies.  The white woman hospital worker comes over to Sam and tells him the children speak of a white preacher who hunts the LRA.  She tells Sam that Sudan doesn't need more guns.  She calls him a mercenary, and not a humanitarian.  Then she suggests that Sam might come to be just another Kony.  

Driving back to the orphanage, Sam comes under automatic weapons' fire. Sam and his men get out of the truck and fire back at the LRA. A little later Sam calls for his men to hold their fire.  They go to investigate and find a great number of children abandoned in a ditch. Sam takes 25 of the smaller children in his truck.  He tells the other children that they will come back for them.  The older children start screaming in panic that Sam might not come back or that the LRA will return and kill them.  Sam and Deng have to leave 15 or more children behind.

Sam comes back to the orphanage and then goes back to get the other children.  He doesn't see the other children.  He looks around and sees through the smoke of a burning pick-up truck a mound behind the pick-up truck. As he moves closer to the mound, he discovers that the mound is composed of the burned older children left behind.  Sam is shocked. 

Sam goes back home to Pennsylvania.  Donnie picks him up at airport. 

Preaching to the congregation, Sam is very hard on the attendees, calling them sheep instead of men and women. He says God wants wolves to fight His fight! 

Sam tries to raise more money, this time via the local bank.  Sam is way too intense and demanding about getting enough money to buy another pick-up truck to haul the abandoned children.  He really gives the loan officer a hard time as he insists on them giving him a loan.  The poor fellow tells Sam that they just can't give him any more money.  They already put a second mortgage out on his house. 

Sam is back home.  He listens to the news about Sudan.  The reporter says that the Sudanese opposition leader John Garang has been killed in a helicopter crash.  He is totally fixated on the television.  Paige asks him if she can have some money to help her friends get a limousine to go to the high school prom.  Sam gets mad at his daughter because he thinks she's being selfish because none of the children he is trying to save in Africa could ever afford to rent a limousine.  Paige tells her father that he loves those black children more than he loves her.  She is obviously upset with her dad and thinks that he is being totally unfair to her.  Donnie tries to calm Sam down and Sam turns on Donnie.  He throws him out of his house. 

A redneck biker picks the wrong time to harass Sam Childers at the bar.  He asks Sam if he's still helping those niggers over there?  Sam knocks the man down.  The man's buddies grab Sam. 

Sam is released from the Johnstown Police Station.  Lynn picks him up.  She tells him this time he's just going to sit there, while she talks.  She says she's not just going to sit back and do nothing, while she watches her husband get swallowed up by all the problems in Africa.  Lynn says Sam is all the orphans in Sudan have, by he's also all she and their daughter have.  Paige needs her father and his wife needs her husband. 

Donnie tries to get in touch with Sam, but Sam doesn't pick up the phone.  Donnie winds up dead from an overdose of drugs.  And now Sam is mad not at himself for ignoring Donnie, but mad at God, as if He ignored both Donnie and Sam. 

Sam sells his roofing and contracting business without consulting with Lynn.  He's going to use the money to buy a new pick-up truck in Africa.  Lynn is furious with him.  She says:  "That was our future, Paige's future, Sam.  Everything that we have has gone to those children. . . .  You fight for everyone but us." 

Sam tells his wife that he is done with the Lord for He turned His back on Sam.  Sam heads out for the Sudan again.  And in Africa Sam is still dealing with feelings of being abandoned by God.  His friend, the little boy he calls Buddy, spills some drink on Sam's arm and Sam, like a madman, pushes the boy into the people behind him.  Sam gets up and leaves. 

The white worker who said that Sam might become another Kony is being driven across a bridge.  The LRA come along the road toward the bridge.  Both trucks stop on the bridge.  The white woman's driver says that the LRA are going to kill them.  The red head says no, they won't.  She says she's going to go talk to them.   The woman tells the LRA soldier that it's okay because they are a relief convoy.  The soldiers uses the butt of his gun to smash the red head's face and she goes down knocked out cold.  At this time, Sam and his men kill the soldier on the bridge and then kill the three other LRA rebels in the jeep.  The man on the bridge is still alive, so Sam shoots him in the head. The red head is alive, but she has lost a lot of blood

Deng tells Sam that the freedom fighters no longer trust Sam to lead them into battle.  They say Sam has a death wish.  Sam responds:  "I don't need your help."

Sam holds a pistol in his hand.  Is he contemplating suicide?  The little boy Buddy comes into Sam's room and sits beside him on the bed.  He starts talking this time.  He says he was forced by the LRA to kill his mother and the LRA shot his father.  He tells Sam:  "If we allow ourselves to be full of hate, then they've won.  We must not let them take our hearts."  Sam and Buddy hug each other. 

The talk with Buddy helped Sam.  He now comes out and starts playing with the kids again.  He kicks the soccer ball around the open area.  Soon the kids join in the fun with Sam. 

Sam calls home and speaks to Paige.  He says he loves Paige.  She starts crying. 

Another LRA unit has been spotted.  They are moving north across the border. The gang go after the LRA convoy traveling south outside of Gowai.  Sam and his men kill all the LRA men on the convoy.  When they look in the LRA truck, they find abducted children there.  They take the children out of the truck, and they put them in the only operating pick-up truck of their fleet of two pick-up trucks.  This leaves a group of children behind, but this time Sam and Deng and a couple of other freedom fighters stay with the left-behind children.  Sam is not going to see the left-behind children killed by the LRA.

"Joseph Kony and his LRA continue their reign of terror in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.  Amnesty International estimates that Kony and the LRA are responsible for over 400,000 murders and 40, 000 child abductions.  These children are tortured, raped, sold into sex slavery and forced to take part in ritualized killing by LRA commanders. To this day, Sam Childers fights for the children of southern Sudan and northern Uganda.  Sam and Lynn are still together.  Lynn runs the Shekinah Fellowship Church in Central City, Pennsylvania."

And poor daughter Paige dies of a drug overdose. 



Good movie.  We learn about the situation in southern Sudan, while watching the life of a good man from the United States, trying to save as many children as possible.  Sam was a good man who found religion and became determined to do something good for once in his bad boy biker life.  And he did do something important.  He saved the lives of many children in southern Sudan.  The down-side is that he was often away from his family and they suffered.  His daughter died of a drug overdose.  You can't be in two places at the same time.  Gerard Butler (as Sam Childers) was just great. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

Early 1980's  --  the LRA (the Lord's Resistance Movement), a murderous rebel group, started as the Holy Spirit Movement, created by Alice Lakwena, who said the Holy Spirit told her to overthrow the Ugandan government, accused of brutalizing the Acholi people in the north.  After the government won a battle against the group, Alice Lakwena was exiled. 

1986  --  Joseph Kony, claiming to be a cousin of Alice Lakwena, took over the movement. He renamed the movement the LRA.  Losing support over time, he started abducting children and turning them into soldiers.  Kony would unleash his army onto villages.  The "soldiers" would kill the weak and the old with machetes.  They would mutilate others to be living warnings of the viciousness of Kony.  Kony also engaged in human slavery.

The Ugandan army forced some LRA’s rebels out of Uganda and the rebels are now scattered across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and southern Sudan.

1992  --  bad boy biker Sam Childers (born 1963)  from Minnesota converts to Christianity.

1998  --  Sam makes his first trip to Sudan.  He was shocked at the LRA's crimes against humanity in southern Sudan.  He and his wife Lynn founded the Angels of East Africa, the Children's Village in southern Sudan.

2007  --  Kony has his deputy Vincent Otti executed for his role in the peace talks.

2013  --  the Obama administration offers a reward of up to $5 million for the capture of Kony. 



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