Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Man's War by Sam Childers

Another Man's War

Another Man's War:
The True Story of One Man's Battle to Save Children in the Sudan
by Sam Childers

Hardback: 223 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Orphanage Website
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Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
The rise of Sam Childers from violent, drug-addicted biker to a man willing to risk everything to rescue the orphans and child soldiers of Sudan

"All my life, from birth, it's been a fight. And it always seemed to be another man's war. I always seemed to be fighting for someone else. But it always came back to me. The Word says we're born into sin, and sin always comes back to war." -Sam Childers

Sam Childers has always been a fighter. Born to a violent father and a mother of great faith, his life was a contradiction. With an affinity for drugs and women, the angry young man grew into a drug-dealing biker. But that was then. Nowadays Sam--along with the cadre of Sudanese soldiers he employs--spends his time in the most dangerous parts of Sudan and Uganda rescuing the youngest victims of war, orphans and child-soldiers. His mission is simple: save the children, no matter the cost.

This memoir tells the story of Sam Childers and of the children of southern Sudan and northern Uganda. About half of the book describes Sam Childers' youth, including his years as a drug-using and -selling biker and how he left that life to become a Christian preacher called by God to minister in Africa.

The rest of the book describes his ministry in Sudan and Uganda: first driving a mobile medical clinic to areas without access to medical services and now building and protecting a compound where children left orphans by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) can grow up in safty. He describes what life is like in the areas the LRA (a rebel group led by Joseph Kony) terrorizes villagers, why children are kidnapped by the LRA, what happens to them when they are, and how they get free.

He briefly describes the recent history of Sudan and Uganda. He also describes God's protection and provision of his work there. He describes rescues, going into danger areas, and the fighting. He describes in detail the Village/orphanage and what they provide for the children who live there.

The book is interesting, well-written, and fast-paced. I would have liked to know more about how they help the children recover from what they've seen and experienced, though. For those who don't like gore and suffering, this book has few gory details. Personal accounts of what the children and villages suffer at the hands of the LRA are given briefly and with few details.

Sam Childers is outspoken about his Christian faith in the book and gives credit for a number of miracles (mainly of protection and provision) to God, but he says that a lot of non-Christians are interested in and supportive of his work. So this book might be interesting to non-Christians despite the Christian content. If you're someone who believes there's never any justification for using violence, then I doubt you'll like this book.

I'd recommend this book, especially to those who like incredible-but-true missionary stories, to soldiers who are Christians, and to those interested in what's being done to help the children in southern Sudan and northern Uganda.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Death hides in the tall grass of Southern Sudan. What looks like empty landscape can explode in a heartbeat with rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army shooting, slashing, and burning their way through an unsuspecting village. Government officials and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations, like CARE, the United Nations, and the Red Cross) give these renegade soldiers a wide berth; they usually know where the trouble areas are and steer clear of them. Local residents, left to make it on their own, are constantly on edge, always afraid. There are no peaceful nights in the bush. None, that is, except in one place--a forty-acre island of safety and calm in the middle of a hellish, endless civil war. The Shekinah Fellowship Children's Village.

The struggle to keep it secure never stops.

Gunfire crackles here and there outside the perimeter fence day and night. Whenever I travel in the area, I expect to get ambushed. I've had my windshield and my side window shot out. I've had vehicles, including a food truck loaded with groceries for the orphanage, blown up by RPGs. The LRA will shoot at anything, but they're not used to anybody shooting back. They don't expect to be up against a truckload of soldiers with plenty of guns and ammo, which is what they get when they tangle with us on the road.

When I first started driving around in Southern Sudan, my soldiers and I got ambushed all the time. To any normal person that would be a bad thing, but I thought it was great.

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