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Ever heard of the "Machine Gun Pastor" Sam Childers? He is most known for using AK-47's to defend and rescue children in Southern Sudan from kidnapping, enslavement, rape, mutilation, burning, and forced military enrollment. 

 

Read an article about him here, or go to his web site here

 

 

 

This poses interesting questions as Christians. Just a few may be:

 

1) Is it ok as Christians to use lethal force to protect yourself or your children?

2) Is it ok as Christians to use lethal force to protect others from murder and violent enslavemtn? 

3) Should a church fund or operate such a ministry? 

4) Should firearms be a part of any ministry's budget?

5) {Your question here} ?

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Tags: christian, ethics, guns, protection, warfare

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Char, I really like your point about vocation.  But is it not possible for a pastor to have dual vocations - say as a volunteer deputy or volunteer fireman?  If this guy really does have material and military support from the government, it isn't like he's pretending to be some masked superhero serving up vigilante justice.  I guess, to me, it isn't just vocation but context.  I've been to church-based organizations like orphanages that had to be fenced and had to have guards to keep out the bad guys.  I can fully see some guy being armed to protect the children.  But that is defensive and a far different thing from leading armed raids into enemy territory.  If he wants to consider that community service as in the context of being part of a government condoned militia, that is one thing.  But that thing isn't "church".

The second law of love, the command to love your neighbor as yourself, sometimes compels us to use force to protect our neighbors. Love protects, with lethal force if necessary. Such protection even extends to the community financing those who would protect us.

In a  so-called normal society, we can leave this up to the civil authorities who would send in the police to protect us. It is the civil authorities that God has authorized for this purpose. In extreme situations where lawlessness or complete tyranny prevails, however; it often falls to whosoever will. In Sudan, the government will not protect the innocent from rape, torture, and murder. For many the only protection is for people like "The Machine Gun Pastor" to rise up to their defense. Many of those he has rescued would otherwise have been murdered.

What you all are not apparently aware of (this is me giving you the benefit of the doubt) is that the army is run by a white dude who calls himself a pastor and the ACTUAL army is made up of CHILD SOLDIERS that this dude "saved".  So, ya know, they could go on killing some more. 

 

Far too much intellectualism here and not enough reality.  Children trained to kill = broken, dead inside, blackness.  So he saved them from death so that they could continue on in death?  These aren't 18 yr olds from Iowa who were the star football quarterbacks.  This is an extreme emptiness that can only be healed by our Savior.  Not by continuing to murder for the other team. 

 

Now if you grown up men want to go and fight for the children against other grown up men, that's something altogether different.  But children should not bear arms against other children. period.

I wonder what you all would say when a memoir is written about a dude who runs around killing abortion docs and rounds the survivors to be in his gang so that they can go and kill some more.   Come on babies, killing is bad and so let's go kill!

4) Should firearms be a part of any ministry's budget?

I know of Christian camps and retreat centers that maintain firing ranges and have firearms available for use.  I see nothing wrong with that.

Raquel,

 

That is not what Sam Childer's is portraying in the interviews he is giving, mostly with local news stations etc. In some of those interviews, I watched over a half dozen, It shows the orphanage camp and Childer's specifically says that he is trying to give these kids a normal childhood (cut to scene of the boys playing soccer) He also claims that he wants to enlarge their vocational school to begin to equip them for the real world. I'm thinking their real world may also include carrying a weapon.In one clip he was near to tears because he said that on any given night there are screams from these kids because they are scarred from their memories of seeing things no child should see (paraphrasing) ??? I'm not saying he's not fudging things because he is out to raise money and that can make people jump through hoops. Yesterday was the first I have heard of this guy so I'm not done looking at it.

I've read with great interest the many replies on this. 

Even given the various links etc offered, what can we really know about the actuality, the motives, the grace or the demons that might be at work in all of this?  As Kim points out, the website, interviews, news stories etc can all be slanted, spun or otherwise be presenting the bias' of those reporting.....We just can't know for sure.

 

The one thing that concerns me - in a general sense and as it relates to the questions in the OP - is how slippery is the slope and how dangerous it is for a minister to take up arms. 

I have long held the belief that you cannot defeat evil by using the tools of evil.  At best all you can do is keep evil at bay. At worst you become infected by the very evil you seek to fight. 

We cannot know but that this man - presented with the great misery and horror of the time and place - saw arms and force as the only viable alternative.  We can only pray that he remian pure and not become infected with the evils that he seeks to protect his children from.

 

Peace

James

To Char's point about vocation... I don't believe Childer ever was functioning in the role of a pastor in the Sudan, I know his website said that he left his construction business to go to Sudan and in another interview he said that the title "Machine Gun Preacher" was given him by others due to the fact that his sleeping mat had a Bible at one end and a machine gun at the other. I think his vocation is that of soldier. From the information I am gleaning, and as JRKH says it may not be the total picture, but from what I know so far. I can't object to what he is doing.

Here is another link to a diffent website ..  angelsofeastafrica.org

<p><a href="http://vimeo.com/10621294">Machine Gun Preacher documentary trailer</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3164034">Sebastian Roche</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Ok.  I should’ve read more.  Didn’t realize the dude was government supported. I was assuming he and his posse were vigilantes (which may still be ok, but doubtful).  I believe Rom 13:1-4 fully supports what he, as a government agent, is doing then.  That’s all I can say.  This is a great question.  I just don’t know the answer, though.


Crazy (JB) said:


Tim said:

3) Should a church fund or operate such a ministry? An iffy no. Jesus nor the apostles seemed to have gone anywhere close to this inspite of the fact that many injustices were prevelent in their society in others, both then and throughout all of history.  Again, this is not to say that non-lethal force can not be taken, but it depends again on the circumstances.



I don't know how much weight can be put on that argument. Christ did use (non-lethal) force in driving out the temple merchants. But in the case of Christ, people were looking for a physical savior, a mighty king of war. Perhaps Christ stayed away from such actions for the sake of His ministry and to avoid (more) misunderstanding. I also think that this is an entirely different idea all together. Read some testimonials on his web site. One young girl was gang-raped in front of her siblings and then set on fire with gasoline (once they were finished, of course) because she tried to resist. This kind of thing happens every day, all the time. It raises the ethical question, is it right for a Christian to stand by and watch this from across the street, if they have the ability to stop it, just because Christ never told people to use weapons.

Tim said:

 

5) If questions 3 and/or 4 are answered in the affirmative, can I, therefore, kill U.S. politicians, voters and anyone else who would seek to promote such things as obortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide in an effort to protect the weak and innocent from death?


No. That would be murder under US law. If the law in the US stated that a fetus was a human and doctors had no rights to kill them, and that you had full permission to "prevent (using lethal force if necessary) the murder of children if you see it happening" that would change the game. Don't you think?
In the case of Sam Childers, the government supports him with guns and troops because he helps them "keep the peace" and protect the citizens from outlaws.
Kim, thanks for the link.  Man, I love this guy.  No pretense, just real. 
The story on film, coming soon. I really like this guy.

I think one of the most misunderstood things about what he is doing is that the kids he saves are never asked to fight. The book does talk about a "child army" but those are the bad-guys who are kidnapping these little guys and forcing them to torture their own brothers and sisters to prove their "allegiance" to the Rebel army. If these kids don't do what they are told - by the bad guys - they will be killed. The child army is on the other side. One of his missions is to rescue kids from being forced into this "army" of rebels, and another is to rescue them out of it before they are too far brainwashed as cruel, torturing murderers like their captors.


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