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'Machine Gun Preacher' receives international award
by Justin Platek
Sam Childers tells it like it is.
He's not shy about his past as a member of The Outlaw Motorcycle Club.
He'll admit that he was involved in drugs, slept with married women and lived a life of crime.
He'll even tell you, in his early years, he was a messed up guy.
These days, Childers is a preacher in Somerset County, but he spends much of his time doing charity work, mostly in developing nations. His organization, Angels of East Africa, has helped thousands of children in places like Uganda and Sudan, where many lack resources to help themselves.
Now, Childers, who's perhaps more widely known as the Machine Gun Preacher, is being honored with the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice.
"It shocked me," Childers said by phone from Uganda Tuesday afternoon. "What really excited me is I was the first American to receive the award."
One famous past honoree is the Dalai Lama.
Childers and Angels of East Africa were featured in a 2011 movie, and since then, he said, he's become known internationally.
"I got talked about and all kinds of stories that you could ever imagine came out," he said.
While there's little doubt this award is a big deal, Joel Smith, who works with Childers at his Somerset County storefront, said it comes second to the impacts he's having in children's lives.
"He's definitely more worried about the kids. Those kids are his kids," Smith said.
"It just goes to show you, a man with a messed up background, a man with no educationyou can do something in life," Childers said.
He receives the award Sunday in Mumbai, India.
While he said he doesn't know what he's going to say during his speech, he hopes his work will be remembered long after people forget his name.
"I hope they'll take a little bit of what I've done and say, Hey, I'm gonna do the same thing.'"