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Feature Video: ROB WALKER’s For Freedom, in support of The Machine Gun Preacher Charity

| 14 April 2015 | Reply

Feature Video: ROB WALKER’s For Freedom, in support of The Machine Gun Preacher Charity

 

 

Sam Childers has a credo… ‘One man can make a difference’.

Rob Walker accepts the challenge adding, ‘if one man can make a difference, imagine what many men, women and children can do.’

In mid 2012, on a weekly visit to the local video store, Rob picked up a copy of the ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ movie (based on the life of Sam Childers, starring Gerard Butler). As the plot unfolded, Rob found himself drawn, not only to the character and his fire, but also the mission work Sam established in troubled East Africa.

Rob Walker - For Freedom

Fast forward a year and the Machine Gun Preacher himself is on tour in Perth, speaking about this mission work and raising funds for the orphaned children of war torn Southern Sudan. At the end of the talk, Rob purchased the first book Sam wrote, ‘Another Man’s War’, approached him, shook his hand and thanked him for sharing his story. Who would have thought that brief handshake between two perfect strangers, would lead to the events about to unfold?

Rob quickly devoured the book, particularly moved by a graphic account of the horrible ordeal of a little boy. “I was sitting in a university hallway waiting for my partner to finish a photo shoot. The last chapter told the story of a young boy Sam had saved, who had been forced by soldiers to kill his own mother or be killed himself. As I read this through tearing eyes and struggled to digest it, I could hear laughter coming from the room next to me. There were two young guys playing a virtual war game. They were shooting each other, laughing at how real the blood looked. It was in that moment I could clearly see the imbalance in our world. Here I am reading about a boy killing his mother, while these two men use virtual killing as a pastime. In that moment, I made a decision. I felt it was right to join Sam in his fight.” –RW. With the two extremes dancing around in his mind, Rob understood that with knowledge came responsibility and this opportunity had not crossed upon his path by chance. “Nothing means, nothing.”- RW.

Rob made contact with the MGP team to find out how he could help and devised an outlandish public relations stunt in an effort to raise money and awareness for the children in the care of Machine Gun Preacher. He donated his beloved American made Telecaster Guitar, (signed by Sam), for auction and recruited many friends with businesses, to generously donate their respective products as prizes for a raffle.

This aforementioned stunt involved Rob consuming only water and 2 cups of rice per day, for a month. “As the saying goes, ‘out of mind out of sight’ and the plight of the children in Africa is out of people’s sight, so it’s not on their minds,” Rob explains. “I figured if I starved myself in front of people’s eyes, it would shock them into action and donating.” Coincidentally, it just so happened to be the busiest month of gigs of his entire musical career. Twelve kilos later, exhausted, dizzy, weak and at times flirting with delirium, Rob completed the task. Surprisingly, he did so with an energy and clarity that seemed infused with some kind of supernatural assistance. “It was both the best and worst experience of my life.” -RW

This effort raised awareness and over $10,000 for the children.

What MGP created in South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, (with expansions in progress), is a productive, self-sustaining future for the children. After being rescued from horrendous circumstances, Sam and his team provide the orphans with food, clean water, shelter, medical aide, protection, education, recreation and much needed nurturing and love.

Most charity and aid organisations stop providing assistance when the children reach their mid teen years and they are asked to leave and fend for themselves. This often forces boys into finding role models amongst rebel soldiers and girls to enter the world of prostitution. What Sam does, is create projects and businesses that provide the children on the cusp of adulthood, with training or further education to break the cycle of misery. Sam has a modest life in the US with a small business to fund his commitment to Africa and is fully transparent about his personal finances and those of his projects. During his talks, he often encourages the audience to question where exactly their donated money goes.

Sam appreciates every donation, big or small, but the commitment and effort by Rob and the generousity of his network, moved Sam to make a personal thank you video. In his second book, ‘Living on the edge’, he confesses, that many promise much, but deliver nothing. This was the opposite with Rob Walker. “When I started helping, I never did it to have the Machine Gun Preacher know my name, if I had wanted him to know my name, I would of introduced myself properly the first time we shook hands, but the video message was very touching and came as a nice surprise””. -RW

You can donate to the cause HERE
In 2014 the MGP toured again, this time Rob jumped at the opportunity to help. He organised interviews and venues for Sam to speak at, used his radio and newspaper connections to bring attention to the mission, he performed free gigs, tirelessly promoted the events, brought hordes of friends and supporters to the talks and accompanied Sam on the entire West Australian leg of the tour.

Rob and Sam formed a firm friendship having shared and overcome a similar past of drug and alcohol abuse, law breaking, womanising, violence and anger issues. They also share deep passion for justice, an unmoving faith and a united vision of the future. On this tour, Rob once again raised money by reaching into his own pocket and relentlessly calling out to his network, resulting in an additional $5000 for the cause.

During the tour Sam asked Rob to write him a song, not once but repeatedly. He said, “GET me a song that I can make famous, so I can feed the kids and widows ”. Rob was reluctant, knowing full well how people jump on the coat tails of celebrities and not wanting to appear to be one of those. His objective was always to make it about the MGP and the children and never about himself or his music career. After much persistence and a personal invitation to Africa, Rob put his pride aside and started writing ‘ For Freedom’.

Rob’s intention for the song was to condense the MGP movie into a commercial rock track with a clear message. Having next to no funds for the recording outlay and not one to ask for handouts, Rob played extra gigs, sold some of his music gear and began selling prints of his photographic work, in order to pay this massive project. “I’m against crowd funding. You shouldn’t expect me to put petrol in your car to get to you to work, just like I shouldn’t expect you to pay for my dream. It’s my dream and dreams can come true via hard work, not handouts. I’ll accept all the money in the world for the kids, but when it comes to my outlay, I find my own way”. -RW

Rob did not want to give Sam a mediocre song, nor one that would just get the job done; he wanted to create the best work of his life. So with himself on vocals and guitar and the collaboration of fellow musicians, Chris Webber (drums), Joe Southwell (bass) and Guenevere Measham (cello), the sonic puzzle pieces came together. Adding to this talented mix, producer Kenny Watt and with mastering by world-renowned and Aria award winning, Don Bartley, Rob spent endless hours at Electric City studio not only creating a song, but an anthem. A powerful, in-your-face track, that moves everyone to accountability with confronting lyrics like, “how can you read the truth in the paper, turn a blind eye or get to it later?”

Rob did make that trip to Africa and at the time of writing in February 2015, the total is at around $13K. The single has just been released to rave reviews and is beginning its journey on radio, both nationally and internationally. It is a remarkable start, especially considering Rob has not even began his next publicity stunt involving hiking the entire length of the Bibbulmum track, a trek of a thousand kilometres spanning from Kalamunda to Albany in West Australia’s south west.

The time in Uganda saw Rob shucking corn, digging earth, playing gigs, bonding with the children and Sam’s staff. Poignantly, Rob personally heard the account from the same little boy who was forced to kill his mother, the very story that first moved him to action. This boy is now a content, balanced and productive young man, working on the farm side by side with the man who rescued him. The lessons learnt there are still in progress as Rob comes to terms with the enormity of what he witnessed on the red earth of mother Africa. The pull to return is strong.

The aim of this song is to reach as many people as possible and move them to download and purchase it, with all the proceeds going to the various projects Sam has developed. The aim is to raise enough money so that Sam no longer has to tell children waiting in his food line, that he has no more to give them and look in their eyes as they walk away hungry. The aim is that the very people who inspired this track, will be the only ones benefiting from it. Will you stand up and fight ‘For Freedom’?

 

Shane

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