Kill + Heal

One man refused to carry a weapon, the other willingly embraced violence in order to protect the innocent – who can say who was right?

By Kent Kingston.


Meet Sam Childers. In many ways he’s about as different from Hacksaw Ridge’s Desmond Doss as you can imagine. In other ways, he’s remarkably the same.

Sam Childers is a patriotic American from the backwoods of Pennsylvania. After a misspent youth and young adulthood of drugs, violence and crime, he began to reform his lifestyle, worried that if he kept on with the way he was going, he’d soon be dead. Following his wife back to the Baptist faith of her childhood, Sam became a committed believer himself, even taking to the pulpit at times.

The story could’ve ended there, with Sam approaching old age gracefully as his construction business prospered, his porch rocking chair surrounded by adoring grandchildren. But a church mission trip to Sudan changed all that. Confronted by the violence and suffering he saw there and sensing clear direction from God, Sam sold his business and began a lifelong campaign to rescue the war-traumatised children of what is now South Sudan. Together with local and overseas supporters, Sam built an orphanage that has fed and housed more than 1000 children over the years. He also began to mount armed expeditions to rescue children kidnapped by Joseph Kony’s brutal terrorist group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Yes. Armed expeditions. That’s how Sam Childers differs from the thousands of other humanitarians who have devoted their lives to relieving poverty and suffering in developing countries. And in contrast with the political wariness of most foreign aid workers, Sam became quite friendly with a number of southern rebel militiamen, who accompanied him as he willingly shouldered an AK-47 on his rescue missions.

And so the legend of the Machine Gun Preacher was born — and the film. Like Desmond Doss, Sam’s story has been immortalised on the silver screen, with Gerard Butler (Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Phantom of the Opera, 300) in the lead role.

Two men. Both patriotic Americans. Both claiming the call of God prompted their lifesaving work in warzones. But while one man refused to carry a weapon, the other has willingly embraced violence in order to protect the innocent.

The contrast between these two brave men poses all kinds of questions. Which of them made the right choice in relation to violence? Did one or the other of them get their message from God garbled? Were their missions really a result of divine calling or just overactive imaginations? Can we realistically explain their consistently selfless actions without some kind of otherworldly guidance?

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven,” said Solomon, king of ancient Israel and reputedly the wisest man who ever lived. “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal…”

Sobering words, and not ones to be taken lightly, considering the violence that has been done, and is still being done, by those marching under the banner of religion or freedom or national pride. What’s your answer? Is there “a time to kill”?


5 thoughts on “Kill + Heal

  1. Yes there is a time to kill. There are plenty of examples in the bible. God commanded the death penalty for unrepentant sinners in the old testament. When a nations cup was full then God sent judgments. Jesus destroyed Sodom, Jericho, Egypts army for example.
    The prophet said, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” The Amalekites had been the first to make war upon Israel in the wilderness; and for this sin, together with their defiance of God and their debasing idolatry, the Lord, through Moses, had pronounced sentence upon them. By divine direction the history of their cruelty toward Israel had been recorded, with the command, “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” Deuteronomy 25:19. For four hundred years the execution of this sentence had been deferred; but the Amalekites had not turned from their sins. The Lord knew that this wicked people would, if it were possible, blot out His people and His worship from the earth. Now the time had come for the sentence, so long delayed, to be executed.
    The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked, emboldens men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain and terrible for being long delayed. {PP 627}

  2. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. Many thanks

  3. My Father was was Radio Operator on a Martin B26 Maurader Medium Bomber. In World War 2 dad was called upon to be a Waist gunner shooting down German Stuka Dive Bombers. My Father was an emotional wreck. He wept at the dinner table in front of us children. Today as a born again Christian I have wrestled with the Combat issue. I hate War. I hate ISIS. What Does Jesus want us to do?

  4. I believe there are times when it is necessary to take life in order to preserve others’.

    I present Moses and Joshua as examples, both of whom killed men (one in righteous anger, and the other in warfare) and both were still favored by God.

    As to our present day, the reason I was so compelled to watch the movie is because I want to fight ISIS.

    How many hundreds, THOUSANDS of young men from the USA and UK have gone to join that evil organization to participate in their terror and destruction?

    …And how few of good young men have gone to fight them?

    Another of Mel Gibson’s movie, The Patriot, said it best:
    “A shepherd must tend his flock. And at times, fight off the wolves.”


  5. Exercising the will of God is a powerful thing when we are actually following His will. But, and this is a big But, we often tend to take things into our own hands, making our own rules and do things on our own time schedule instead of waiting for God. There is a time for everything under the sun, as long as it all falls under the will of the One that made the sun, moon, stars and the sea and everything that is in it. He is our safety net, without Him we are not free but vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy. This is why God gave us a few guidelines to go by; 10 in fact, to keep us safe.
    Back to the old testament; Yes, there is a time to fight, when He says to fight. If you read the whole thing, you will see, He is the one that directed the armies. It always comes back to your relationship with Him. you cannot go wrong if you have a strong relationship with Him.

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