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‘Machine Gun Preacher’ Sam Childers visits Tucson church

PHOENIX — The man who inspired the 2011 action film “Machine Gun Preacher” is visiting Tucson, Ariz., this weekend to talk about his humanitarian work in Africa.

Tucson station KOLD-TV says Sam Childers ministered at the downtown Covenant Generations Church on Saturday night, and he was slated to speak at two more services on Sunday.

Childers has been helping enslaved children in South Sudan for the past 13 years through his Angels of East Africa organization. He said he operates one of the largest orphanages in the region, and he has led several armed missions to rescue children from rebel militia in Uganda, earning him the “Machine Gun Preacher” nickname.

At least 63,000 refugees worldwide have come to Arizona under the Refugee Resettlement Program since 1985, according to records posted by the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

The data shows 338 refugees from Somalia arrived in Arizona in 2014, with 56 coming from Sudan so far this year. The largest number to arrive in Arizona in 2014 are the 653 refugees that came from Iraq.

In Tucson, Childers addressed the scores unaccompanied migrant children that are coming from Central America and being placed in facilities in Texas and Arizona. He said the focus should be on why they left their home countries — and not the logistics of them staying in the U.S.

“Maybe what we should be concerned with, these children that’s coming in from all these countries, let’s try to make their country a better place to live,” Childers told KOLD.

Childers was depicted by actor Gerard Butler in the 2011 film bearing his nickname.