SAN JOSE -- A man known as the "Machine Gun Preacher" is bringing his message to the Bay Area this weekend in an effort to help the homeless and others in need.
Sam Childers, a former drug addict whose story about building orphanages in Africa was the basis for a 2011 movie called "Machine Gun Preacher," starring Gerard Butler, will be speaking at Mt. Pleasant High School on Friday and Saturday nights. The event, called "Firing Away in the Bay," is an effort by San Jose pastor Sonny Lara and his wife, Linda, pastors with the Star of David Ministries.
"It's evangelism to the streets," said Sonny Lara, who is also a longtime gang intervention and prevention expert. "It couldn't be a better time to bring this guy in. The community is crying for change."
Proceeds from the appearances will benefit Childers' charitable foundation. Lara says his church is expecting thousands to attend the family-oriented event and will have community resources on hand, including the Salvation Army and Bill Wilson Center.
"There's going to be resources ... ready to take guys off the streets that day," Lara said.
Childers' story is of a former outlaw biker and drug addict turned preacher who answers a calling to travel to South Sudan and build an orphanage for children in South Sudan. The movie depicts Childers' efforts to help children whose parents have been killed by the Lord's Resistance Army, a militia group accused of a long list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder and forcing children to become soldiers.
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department offered $5 million for information leading to the "arrest, transfer or conviction" of LRA leader Joseph Kony. In the state department release, Kony is accused of being the leader of a group "which has committed numerous atrocities against civilians" in Africa.
Lara and his wife, Linda, met Childers during a visit to New York and began working to bring him to the Bay Area.
"His heart burns with passion to go rescue those kids," Lara said. "It's an amazing story. You can be a man on the streets who has nowhere to go."
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him on Twitter.com/markmgomez.
Childers will be speaking at the Mt. Pleasant High School football field on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $8 for ages 13 and up and $5 for ages 3 to 12.