A lot to share

with my darling daughters - Veronica and Imogen
with Billy Dibb at Binacrombi
Voice of Hussain says #Australia is hate free
Imogen's 19th birthday dinner!
with our friends from the Australian Federal Police!
Ange's birthday dinner
Veronica and Soren
Protesting Australia's military action in Syria
with comedian Rob Shehadie, supporting Palestine
with the girls from #Spread Hummus not Hate
with the girls from #Spread Hummus not hate
Imogen at #FightNights at Movie World

Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here with a very belated newsletter.

I do apologise for the long lapses in communication. There was a time when I managed to keep in touch with my friends and supporters almost every week.  Nowadays I struggle to find time each month, and probably wouldn’t manage it now, except that I’m in synod this week and find myself with time on my hands between sessions!

For those who don’t know what a synod is, it’s the Annual General Meeting of the church – not of our local church community in Dulwich Hill but of the whole Sydney Anglican Diocese, which includes us along with 382 other church communities!

I will say a little more about synod towards the end of this post but I have a lot of things I want to share today, and lots of events I want to invite you to, so I’ll list them all here first and you can choose where you want to go first:

  1. Pray for Syria
  2. Pray with me in Syria
  3. Do something simple for refugees and asylum-seekers
  4. Video break I 
  5. Invitation: Founding of the Australia-Indonesia Boxing Club
  6. Invitation: November and December Warrior Weekends
  7. Invitation: Join the Binacrombi management team
  8. Video break II (Sermon time)
  9. Synod

  1. Pray for Syria

Please redouble your prayers for Syria. The situation there is very volatile at present, and let me challenge you too to question everything you hear in the media.

Whatever else you’ve heard about Syria lately, you’ve almost certainly been told that:

  1. The Syrian government and the Russians are committing atrocities in Aleppo.
  2. The violence in Syria will never end unless there is a humanitarian intervention from the US and NATO.

I’d suggest to you that both of these seeming truisms are completely false.

The problem, as I see it, is that the Syrian Arab Army (and their Russian, Iranian and Lebanese comrades) are on the verge of winning the war against DAESH/ISIS, Al Nusra, etc. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the recent ceasefire (during which period the rebels in Aleppo re-armed) that battle might be over already, and once Aleppo is back in Syrian hands, the war is basically finished.

My reading of all the rhetoric coming in about the atrocities of the Syrian Army and the Russians is that it’s an attempt to slow things down, at least until Hillary Clinton takes the reins in the US, so that the violence might then be escalated.

I appreciate that this will sound outrageous to those who get all their news from ABC and CNN, but let me offer you two pieces of alternative media:

  1. This video of my friend, Vanessa Beeley, interviewed by the Ron Paul Institute
  2. This insightful article by Prof James Petras about media propaganda

And if you’d like to hear what I’ve personally been saying about Syria lately, there’s a video of a short speech that I gave at a recent ‘Hands Off Syria’ rally below.

  1. Praying with me in Syria

While I can’t divulge any details at this stage, I may have an opportunity in the near future to head back to Damascus to pray for peace with Syrian religious leaders. I’m looking for church leaders who will join me – the more high-profile the better.

My main aim, as always, is to allow the Syrians to tell their story. If we can put together a high-profile religious team, we’ll be able to take a strong media team with us, and if we have the media with us, we can open up the real Syria to the people back home.

If you’d like to join me, let me know. All my contact details are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version).

  1. Supporting Refugees and Asylum-seekers

I appreciate that not everybody is able to travel to Syria, and it may be that you can do far more for Syria and for Syrian refugees from where you are. One very simple thing you can do to highlight the plight faced by refugees and asylum-seekers in Australia is to help promote the Skye Boat Song by my friend, Ruth McCall!

Ruth is a musician, and she has gone to enormous trouble to put together this video/song as a protest against the treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres. Sydney musicians and choirs got together to say ‘no more’ to the cruelty off offshore detention and seek to promote an honourable response to the current worldwide refugee crisis. You can contact Ruth via her website: www.ruthmccall.com.

  1. Video Break 

Vanessa Beeley interviewed by the Ron Paul Institute
Skye Boat Song
Australia has Syrian blood on her hands!

  1. Australian-Indonesian Boxing Club

As a part of our greater effort to build bridges between people of different races and religions, I am proud to announce the foundation of the Australian-Indonesian Boxing Club!

We’ll be having an official launch ceremony for the club at Holy Trinity’s Australia-Indonesia Friendship Afternoon on October 23rd, and you are invited!

Download the flyer here, print it, copy it, share it around, pin it to the fridge, etc.

We expect to have the Indonesian Consular General with us for the occasion, along with a good assortment of community leaders. Most exciting of all, not only the Indonesian Consulate, but also Lina and her team from “Spread Hummus not Hate” will be providing us with a sumptuous afternoon tea to enjoy!

When: October 23rd, 2016, 2 pm
Where: Trinity’s Community Centre, 2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill

The Friendship Afternoon officially finishes at 4 pm and Fight Club starts at 4.30 so bring your gloves and complete the day’s celebrations with a few rounds in the ring!

  1. Warrior Weekends

Following the foundation of our new club, the obvious next step is to head to Binacrombi – our training camp in the middle of the Australian bush – for another Warrior Weekend, so we’ll be attempting to train like Trojans and pray like monks over the first weekends of both November and December.

These bush training-camps are guaranteed to build your physical and spiritual fitness. They will also hopefully give you a chance to make some of our new Indonesian friends!

The flyer for this one is here. Download it, fill it out and give it back to me. And if you’re not clear as to exactly what you’re signing up for, watch the video.

  1. An invitation to join the Binacrombi management team

And while we’re on the subject of Binacrombi Bush Camp, here’s a question from left-field: would you like to be a part of the management team?

We’ve been developing Binacrombi for fourteen years now and we’re on track, I believe, to build our bush-camp into Australia’s greatest ever retreat-space for young people. We’re now at the stage where we need to upgrade our management team, and train up a new group of people to help manage the site on weekends. Are you interested?

Perhaps you’ve often thought of yourself as a bush-camp manager?

  • You love dirt-bike riding
  • You know how to operate generators and pumps
  • You can work with people

You may be just the person we’re looking for! Here’s the deal:

  1. We train you in how to run the Binacrombi site
  2. You let us know when you can help cover a weekend
  3. You get $300 for your efforts when your turn comes

It’s not a huge pay-out, but we’re not looking for people who are in it for the cash.
We are the Fighting Fathers. Our mission is to offer an alternative culture to our young people, based on values of courage, integrity, self-discipline and teamwork. We don’t run at a profit but we do need funds to keep our programs going and this is how we make it work.

Interested? Let me know. All my contact details, as mentioned already, are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version of the site). We’ll be training people between now and the end of the year.

  1. Video Break II (Sermon Time)

The lies and the violence of the great powers can be so overwhelming! That’s why we constantly need to be reminded of the love of God for all of His fragile and broken children. Few of Jesus’ teachings bring home that love more powerfully than his well-known parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)

And so Jesus told them a joke …


(and if this video isn’t displaying properly, you can view it here)

  1. Synod

Synod has been a tense time for me personally this year as one of the main subjects under discussion is the church’s stand on same-sex marriage.

I published an article supporting same-sex marriage some four years ago (see here) though I appreciated, even back then, that my views were not shared by many in my Diocese. This disappoints me, but of more immediate concern to me is the way this issue has affected my friend and colleague at Holy Trinity – the Rev Dr Keith Mascord.

Keith recently published his second book – Faith without Fear – in which he raises lots of questions about our traditional understanding of the faith, including issues of sexuality. Keith is also a supporter of same-sex marriage. In his case though, his views seem to have cost him his license to minister as a priest in the Diocese (which you can read more about here)! This has been a cause of great upset for both Keith personally and for our parish.

There was much said in synod about Keith and about same-sex marriage. I kept quiet for the most part but decided that something had to be said in opposition to a motion put forward that was designed to mobilise the church in opposition to same-sex marriage. I was the only person to speak against the motion. I forgot most of what I meant to say but an audio of that I did say is below.

The motion was passed, of course, despite my plea, though I did hear at least two or three other persons say ‘no’. I guess I expected that. What I didn’t expect, and what I personally found much harder to deal with, regarded a proposed amendment to the motion, put forward by my friend Rev. Michael Palmer.

Mike’s amendment, proposed after my brief speech, condemned the “vilification, bigotry or other expressions of hate or fear” directed towards “Christians holding or considering divergent views on same-sex relationships” (eg. me). This proposed amendment was defeated, meaning, one might think, that Anglican Christians in Sydney are at liberty to vilify me (and Keith and other dissenters) as much as they please! I’m sure that wasn’t the intention behind the rejection of the motion, but it did leave me feeling very alienated from the synod as a whole.

Please put in a prayer for Keith, for our Diocese, and for me, but most especially for the GLBTI+ community of Sydney who, I suspect, will interpret synod’s decisions as just another slap in the face from the church. These people have already been subject to a significant history of ecclesiastical abuse.

I do pray for the day when all forms of abuse and discrimination will end, and when the church everywhere will turn to their gay and lesbian sisters and brothers with love and respect, seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. I fear though that that day may yet be a long time coming.

That’s more than enough from me for today.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

A week in Iran

On the set of Hamghesse with Roohulla Rezvi
On the set of Hamghesse with Roohulla Rezvi
hanging with the studio audience after the show
hanging with the studio audience after the show
on Farda News with Sheikh Mohebbi
Half way up Mount Kolakchai with the lads
At the top of Mount Kolakchai!
with Sheikh Mansour at the top of Tehran Tower
catching up with an old friend - Sheikh Mohamad Reza Zaeri
lunching with the lads

Hi Fighter,

At time of writing, I’m on a plane home after a week in Tehran. With the miracle of in-flight Internet, I thought I’d share something of the experience with you while I can, as I fear I’ll be overwhelmed with work once I hit the ground!

I was flown to Iran primarily to appear in a TV show called ‘Hamghesse’ (which just means ‘stories‘). It’s a one-hour show, so I got to share quite a few stories, and most of the rest of my time was filled with interviews with different Iranian print and radio media.

I also got to catch up with some old friends – most importantly with my dear brother, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei! It was great to see him though, in truth, we didn’t end up having as much time together as we’d hoped. I seemed to have endless interviews and he struggled to free himself from the phone! Even so, it was good for my soul to see him

One question I was asked time and time again in the media interviews was ‘What’s it like for an Australian visiting Iran?’ The question reflected the fact that Iran doesn’t get many Aussie tourists, and I think the Iranians genuinely don’t understand why.

I had to say that for the average Australian, Iran is very confronting. Most people from our culture find the enforced dress-code, where women must wear a scarf to cover their heads whenever in public, very off-putting. The no-alcohol rule likewise seems unreasonable to a lot of us. Indeed, I suspect that for most of us, Iran is not one of countries we’d most like to visit, so let me offer you a few reasons why you should go:

  • Iranians are amongst the most gracious and gentle people I’ve met
  • The hospitality shown to foreigners is extraordinary
  • Taking a drive in a taxi in Tehran is an experience everybody should have at least once in their lives (and probably best only once)
  • You get a lot of bang for your buck!

With regards to this last point, I spent most of my week with zero Iranian money in my pocket (as my hosts insisted on paying for everything). Even so, I managed to get my hands on the equivalent of $5 USD at one point and with it I bought:

  1. A bowl of blackberries!
  2. A ticket across town on the subway
  3. Two pairs of socks (from the subway sock-salesman)
  4. An ice-cream and a drink for my friend Ali, on arrival at our destination!

And the word on the street in Tehran is that compulsory veiling may soon be a thing of the past. Indeed, There’s a #MeninHijab social media campaign going on at the moment where Iranian men are putting on hijabs in support of their female partners, protesting the compulsory veiling laws! (see some great #MeninHijab images here).

Peace in Palmyra – Virtual Tour!


You will remember (I hope) the ‘Peace in Palmyra’ exhibition that we held in our church’s Community Centre a little over a month ago, celebrating the Boxers for Peace visit to Syria a month earlier, and our time in liberated Palmyra more specifically.

The exhibition was a great success, with hundreds of visitors enjoying Tom Toby’s amazing images of life and hope in Syria. The only problem was that most of our supporters couldn’t make it to Dulwich Hill, so I put together a virtual tour of the exhibition before I took everything down. Enjoy! :)


I still have about half of these wonderful pictures stored in my dining room at the moment and I’m keen to sell them to anyone who is interested, both to cover the cost of the exhibition and to help fund our further work. If you’d like to have one of these amazing artworks hanging in your living-room, the costs are as follows:

  • 12 by 8 inch (30 cm x 20 cm) $150 AUD
  • 30 by 20 inch (76 cm x 51 cm) $400 AUD

Call me or email me if you’re interested and we can work out how to get the artworks to you. All my contact details are here.

IMG_3102_small

I’ll close with this image of myself and Sheikh Mansour at the base of the Tehran Tower, and with a piece of trivia about the Tehran subway system that I bet you didn’t know!

The first two and last two carriages on every train are designated ‘women only’. Even so, the carriages in between are NOT men-only. In other words, women can choose to travel with the men if they wish but they also have the option of girls-only carriages (and it seemed that most choose to take that option)!

I’ll be in contact again soon. Pray for me, that I don’t get too overwhelmed as I get back into the thick of things this week. As I mentioned last time, we do need more help here, and if you’re feeling called to join the team, I’m keen to hear from you!

May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

The Mural


Hi Fighter,

You’ll have to forgive me for devoting a blog post to the larger-than-life Father Dave portrait that’s been splashed across a wall in the centre of the Sydney CBD. Even so, it’s not everyday that this sort of thing happens and I thought it deserved some sort of explanation, along with a word of thanks to those to whom it is due.

The man who made this happen is the artist – my friend, Luke Cornish. He not only single-handedly created the artwork but was the one who proposed having me as his subject in the first place!

In all honesty, I didn’t ever expect it to happen. I signed papers years ago giving permission for the artwork but the project was then delayed multiple times. If you remember the smaller (life-sized) images of me that popped up in various places around the country earlier this year (with me holding up placards saying things like “Let them Stay” and “Hands Off Syria”) they emerged out of the frustration with the delays and signified our acceptance of the fact that the originally-envisaged artwork was never going to happen, and yet … here it is!

Thank you, Luke, for your persistence. What a privilege it is to have been painted by the same man who in Syria, only two months ago, painted a tribute to the martyred Khaled Al-Assad in the ruins of Palmyra! This is a man whose vision and passion for justice is as great as his talent as an artist (and that’s really saying something)!

some of Luke's earlier work

Luke's earlier portrait

Luke in Palmyra

Luke in Palmyra

Tom Toby's original photo

Tom Toby's original photo

Some credit must also go to Tom Toby of Wildfire Images – the man who took the photo that Luke’s artwork was based on. Tom was also with us in Syria this year. His photos continue to be a source of inspiration for all of us, and it was his work that featured in our Peace for Palmyra exhibition of last month! That particular photo was taken when we were training with the Syrian Olympic team in Damascus.

A project like this has to have funds behind it of course. In this case the funds were provided by the ANZ bank. I appreciate that the big banks don’t have a great reputation in our community. Even so, I trust that this signifies a serious attempt on the part of ANZ to support community initiatives. Indeed I am hopeful that this will lead to some tangible support from the bank for our work. I’ll let you know.

You can get a fuller picture of what the ANZ Inspiring Locals project here and through the videos that they’ve put together to document the production of these artworks. Just click on any of the icons below to watch these short promo videos.

ANZ inspiring locals project
ANZ Inspiring locals - Luke Cornish & Father Dave
ANZ Inspiring Locals - Luke Cornish at work on Father Dave

If you haven’t seen the artwork yourself yet, it’s not hard to find. It’s right at the centre of the Sydney CBD in Martin Place. Eerily, this means that it’s only a short distance from the site of the terrible Sydney Siege that took place in December 2014, where two souls were lost to a crazed gunman. I can only hope that the image of me, taken in Damascus with my fists held high, might symbolise the stand we take together against all forms of terrorism and injustice.

Sermon Time

This month’s sermon centres on a joke Jesus told to a crowd of religious people. It starts off sounding like a rather politically incorrect joke, making fun of a racial minority, but when we reach the punchline we find that the joke is on the audience! Can you guess which of Jesus’ parables I’m referring to? If not, you’ll have to click the box below to watch the sermon (or you can read the written version here).


OK Fighter, I know you’ve heard plenty from me today but there’s two more things I need to share with you before I let you go.

Firstly, most of those amazing photographs used in the Peace in Palmyra exhibition are now for sale. I wish I could hang them all around my house but there isn’t the space and (in truth) I need to sell most of them to cover the costs of the exhibition.

You can see all twelve of those amazing images featured at the top of the Peace in Palmyra blog post. If you’d like to own one of these and have it hanging on the wall of your home or gym, just let me know. The costs are as follows:

  • 12 by 8 inch (30 cm x 20 cm) $150 AUD
  • 30 by 20 inch (76 cm x 51 cm) $400 AUD

You’ll need to call me or email me if you’re interested and we can work out how to get the artworks to you. If you live locally that won’t be too hard but if you live in Saskatchewan we’ll have to work out a safe and cost-effective form of transportation.  All my contact details are here.

Finally, I wanted to share with you that I’ll be in Iran for the first week of August. I’ve been invited there to participate in a documentary being made on international human-rights work. I know the film-makers and they are good people. I’m keen to help them in the project, and they have offered to cover the costs of my flights and accommodation.

While in Iran I plan to catch up with my dear friend, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei. I also hope to interview some prominent Islamic clergy as a part of the new book I’m working on. The book will probably be entitled simply “Christians and Muslims can be friends” unless I can come up with something more exotic.

Please say a prayer for me, most especially with regards to this book. Given the anti-Islam climate in Australia at the moment (and in so many Western countries) my book could be quite timely. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to work on it at all for months, but I hope to put some focused time into it over the next few weeks.

In truth, my lack of progress on the book is symptomatic of the fact that I am just too stretched at the moment. The bottom line is that I need more help here. As mentioned, I hope to get more funding soon and will use this to grow the Fighting Fathers staff team again if possible. Pray please that our loving Heavenly Father sends someone to me soon, or perhaps ask the Lord whether it’s time for you to join our team. We sorely need another good man or woman here. Let me know if you’re feeling the call!

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

 

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace in Palmyra


Hi Fighter,

We are back from Syria.

We’ve been back for a a couple of weeks now, in fact, and I apologise for not publishing much about our journey until now. In truth, I’m still trying to process it all.

It was a magnificent trip. We saw some amazing things and met many amazing people. As has always been my experience in Syria, we were greatly blessed by the generosity and grace of the Syrian people. They took us into their hearts and homes, showing us great love and hospitality.

  • We trained with the Syrian Olympic boxing team in Damascus
  • We celebrated the liberation of Palmyra by boxing in its ancient amphitheatre
  • We taught our sport to hundreds of young orphans in Homs
  • We travelled into remote villages in Latakia to touch gloves with the locals.

That is a very superficial summary, of course, but I’m going to resist the temptation to say too much more about our experiences here as I want to focus on inviting you to the exhibition that we have organised.

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition opens this coming Sunday – June 19th – at 3pm, and will run for the entirety of Refugee Week (June 19 to 25). It will be held in our church’s new Community Centre in Dulwich Hill (2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill).

The exhibition will include photographs, video and live art (ie. boxing) that chronicle our 2016 Boxers for Peace mission to Syria, with a special focus on our time in Palmyra – the site of so many famous ancient ruins – overtaken by DAESH (ISIS) in 2015 but retaken by the Syrian Arab Army on Easter Sunday (March 27) 2016.

PALMYRA AS A SIGN OF HOPE IN REFUGEE WEEK

If we really want to solve the global refugee crisis, we have to tackle the problem at its source. We need to create conditions on the ground where people no longer have to flee from war and famine but can live in safety, and those who had been forced to leave can return to their homes.

In Syria, more than half of the country’s population has been displaced since the outbreak of violence five years ago. Millions have fled overseas, but millions more have fled into other parts of Syria. This exodus of Syrians from their homes had seemed irreversible, and yet in recent months, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been able to return home as their cities have been liberated!

The retaking of Palmyra was especially significant in this regard, not because of the magnitude of the refugee exodus from the city but on account of the place Palmyra holds in the hearts of all Syrians. As one Syrian army officer said “when my son died defending Homs, I didn’t cry. When my men were beheaded by DAESH, I didn’t cry, but when they took Palmyra, I cried.”

Palmyra, with its rich history and spiritual beauty, is the beating heart of Syria. The liberation of Palmyra was not only a major defeat for DAESH (their first major defeat since their inception) but a victory for all Syrian people, and for all of humanity! Homelessness and destitution do not have to be the final word! Liberation happens! Refugees can return home!

  • You can download a poster with the details of the exhibition here.
  • If you’re coming, please register on the exhibition’s Facebook event page.

Video time

We took a lot of video footage during this last trip to Syria and you can see all the stuff we’ve published so far on www.father-dave.org/syria

What I’ve published below is a wonderful short compilation put together by boxer, artist, and much-loved team-member, Luke Cornish (ELK). It speaks for itself.

Let me close by thanking once again everybody who supported us on this mission trip. Quite literally, we could not have done it without you. It is only  because of your generosity and support that we are able to make any of these initiatives work.

Mind you, I know that a number of you guys tried to send us a donation through Paypal and most of those contributions were rejected! Unfortunately, Paypal has automatic filters that are tripped when anyone mentions the word Syria.

This is understandable. What is less understandable is why it took them more than a month to work out that we are not supporting terrorism but are Boxers for Peace (and this despite my repeated calls and emails), and why they cancelled donations rather than put them on hold until they worked us out!

If you did get your donation rejected or if you’d still like to support the work, let me encourage you either to:

  1. Take out a $10/month subscription to Fighting Fathers Ministries through our member site (fighting-fathers.com)
  2. Buy an item from the Fighting Fathers’ online shop (fightshop.biz).

With regards to the shop, I’m pleased to announce that there is a whole new batch of Fighting Fathers monastic smocks have recently been delivered. They are a unique style – modelled on traditional Benedictine design but short enough to allow full leg movement, allowing the wearer to both run and train as well as pray!

The Fighting Fathers' Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

The Fighting Fathers’ Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

I hope you can make it to the exhibition, fighter, where I’ll be very happy to talk your ear off about the Syria trip. For those who can’t make it, I’ll be publishing more photos and videos and stories to www.prayersforsyria.com.

That’s enough for today. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Boxers for Peace head back to Syria


photos by John Clutterbuck

Hi Fighter,

Yes, we’re heading back to Syria, and we’ve got a kick-butt crew, ready to touch gloves with the Syrian Olympic boxing team.

More important than any competition though, we are ready to bring some joy to Syrian kids, and hopefully leave them with some extra cash and sports equipment.

The exact goal of this trip, like all Boxers for Peace missions, is three-fold:

  1. To bring joy to Syrian children
  2. To build friendships between Syrian and Australian people at a grass-roots level.
  3. To give the folks back home a glimpse of the real Syria.

To accomplish this last goal, we are taking a media team with us who will hopefully broadcast our activities across TV and newspapers.  If all else fails, you’ll see my daily updates on Facebook and Twitter, and less regular updates on my blog.

As ever, the exact details of our departure date and itinerary can’t be made clear until we are underway. At this point I’ll say only that within the next few weeks I hope to send you images of us teaching boxing to kids in shelters outside Yarmouk and perhaps even in front of the Great Colonnade in Palmyra!

Once again we are going to need your help to get there. It’s going to cost around $1,500 AUD to get each player to Syria. Some of the team can pay their own way. Others (including me) can’t afford to do so. So I’m aiming to raise between $5,000 and $10,000 AUD within the next two weeks, and whatever we have left-over once we’ve covered our basic costs will be distribute to needy families and organisations where we visit (and these are not difficult to find).

I’ve come up with multiple different ways for you to show your support:

  1. Come along to our Fundraiser Dinner next Saturday ($25)
  2. Buy a $10 AUD postcard (A6 size)
  3. Buy a $20 AUD postcard (A5 size)
  4. Buy a $100 AUD poster (A2 size)
  5. Buy a $200 AUD poster (A1 size)
  6. Buy a $25 USD T-shirt
  7. Decide on your own donation

Details of the fundraiser dinner are on its Facebook Event Page or you can download the poster here. You can pay for a ticket and/or postcards and pictures here:

STOP PRESS

I have had to remove the Paypal payment button from here as Paypal has put my account on review and donations are not getting through!

Apparently the very mention of the world ‘Syria’ generates a shut-down response from Paypal, and despite a series of phone calls and letters over the last two weeks, they have thus far refused to discuss the issue with me.

Hopefully this matter can be resoled. In the meantime, if you’d like to support the cause, you can always make a deposit into the Fighting Fathers Ministries bank account:

Bank account name: Fighting Fathers Ministries

BSB 032-067

A/C 226190

The small postcard uses the group photo that appears at the top (slide no.1). The larger postcard uses the image below. Posters come in both designs, so tell me which you’d prefer. Also tell me if you want me or others to sign the poster and I’ll do my best.

postcard-A5-web

T-Shirts are designed and manufactured by T-Spring (click here). The T-shirt promotion only lasts till Thursday, May 5th, and will not be repeated so please grab your T-shirt ASAP if you’d like one.

T-shirt

click for full-size image

Decide on your own donation via our Buy me a drink page (though note that all donations here are in US dollars).

Sermon Time … (not this time!)

Rather than pound the pulpit this time, I thought I’d share some pounding of a different sort. This is the video of my last fight – now finally available. Enjoy! :)

Before closing today, I need to announce the winner of the Father Dave Selfie competition.

IMG_2166

It was a last-minute entry, but the image of Nader (Lionheart) Hamdan putting me in a headlock and punching me in the face seemed to capture everybody’s imagination. With 3 Twitter likes, 89 Facebook likes, and two shares, Nader is a clear winner. Runners up were Fighting Father Tim, Jeannie Kim and Joe Barnes (in that order).

We’re now going to have to work out the prizes, of which there are four:

  1. A year’s training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy
  2. A weekend or mid-week stay at Binacrombi
  3. Lunch on a Sunday arvo
  4. A front-row pew at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill for life

I’ll be interested to see who takes up option 4.! :)

OK Fighter! I probably won’t be posting again until after I’ve reached Syria. Please keep our team in your prayers and please pray for the success of this mission. God knows that the good people of Syria have suffered enough. I pray that we’ll be privileged to contribute something tangible in the work of peace.

May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Adventure Time!

Fighting Father Tim
Graham
Johann
Sheikh Tahwidi

Hi Fighter,

I have had an adventurous time since last we communicated.

  • Our fight club has moved into its new gym, located in our new church hall
  • We’ve restarted our Youth Drop-In program in the same hall.

And some even bigger adventures lie just around the corner!

In a moment I’ll do my best to convince you to join us either in the bush or in Syria
(or both), but first let me say a word about the Father Dave Selfie Competition.

You can see some entries above. I’m hoping for more. It seems that a lot of you guys had trouble finding the array of images that had been posted across walls in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. I know that some of them were removed by overly-diligent Councils with no appreciation of art. Even so, if you can find a pic, there’s still time to enter. and the prizes haven’t changed:

  1. A year’s training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy (value $1,500)
  2. A weekend or mid-week stay at Binacrombi (value $300)
  3. Lunch on a Sunday arvo (value $20 as I’m into cheap eats)
  4. A front-row pew at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill for life (value: priceless)

The winner will be judged by the number of likes each image gets on Twitter and/or Facebook. At the moment, the leaders are:

  1. Fighting Father Tim, with a Twitter response of 11 likes and 6 retweets, along with 14 Facebook likes (31 points)
  2. Joe Barnes with a straight 24 Facebook likes (24 points)
  3. Sheikh Tawhidi, with Twitter response of 9 likes and 5 retweets, along with 7 Facebook likes (21 points)

I think I’m going to have to give some thought as to how I distribute the prizes.

Easter Sermon Time

It’s Easter time, so no prizes for guessing the topic of today’s sermon. Even so, just because you’ve heard the story before, doesn’t mean there isn’t something new to glean from it. Besides that, we get the same advertising slogans shoved down our throats 24/7. It surely can’t hurt to balance all the mind-numbing commercialism with a message of resurrection and hope at least once per year!

Back to the Bush!

Yes, it’s time for another Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi. You are invited to join us – Training like a Trojan and Praying like a Monk.

The aim of these weekends is three-fold:

  1. Build your fitness
  2. Grow spiritually
  3. Make new friends

Of course the three work seamlessly together, and that’s why these weekends are at the heart of our Boxing for LIfe social integration strategy – bringing people together from different cultural and religious backgrounds, and transforming us into one team!

Yes, these weekends are about more than fitness. Even so, you don’t need to be a kid at-risk or someone called to work with kids at-risk in order to join us. You just need to be willing to commit your body to a weekend of hard training and high rewards!

The cost, as usual,depends on your circumstances. It’s $200 for the rich, $100 for the poor and free for the destitute. In other words, including GST, it is:

  • $220 for workers
  • $110 for students and unemployed
  • Whatever you can afford to those who can’t afford the regular rates.

Be assured that nobody profits from these weekends. All the trainers donate their time. We just need to cover our costs, and if you can’t contribute financially you will be expected to contribute in other ways, such as through helping prepare meals and/or taking on extra clean-up duties over the weekend.

If you’re ready to book, push the button below to make a payment. If you have questions, email me. and if you’d like to download the excellent flyer, promoting the camp, click here.


Worker/student



The time has come for Syria

Back with the kids of Yarmouk

with the kids of Yarmouk – July 2015

Those who have been following recent events in Syria will have celebrated with me the recent liberation of Palmyra from DAESH insurgents. This victory is the clearest demonstration to date of the resilience of the Syrian people who have withstood terrorist attacks coming from every corner of the globe. The Syrian people are winning this war and it’s time we pitched in and helped them to rebuild.

I can’t give exact details, but Boxers for Peace should be back in Syria by the end of next month, and we hope to be boxing with:

  • the Syrian Olympic team in Damascus
  • Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk
  • the kids of Palmyra

Yes, Palmyra is on our to-visit list this time and I am full of hope that we’ll be able to compete with athletes there and broadcast a message of hope to the whole world – that new life and joy can be found amidst the ruins in Syria!

At this stage we have six boxers – a mixture of amateurs and professionals – ready to go. If you’d like to join us, now is the time to let me know. Pray about it, and then email me or call me. All my contact details are on www.fatherdave.org (non-mobile version).

That’s plenty for one newsletter!

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

 

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Still on my feet!

Nader warms me up
Tony leads us in prayer
acknowledging our supporters
the stare-out
parrying the jab
left rip to the body
keeping him in the corner
some wisdom from Danny
looks like I'm in trouble!
looks like he's in trouble!
Thanks to my team, thanks to my opponent, thank you God, and thank you Tom Toby for these wonderful pics 🙂

Hi Fighter,

It’s been an intense time for me of late. I turned 54 a week ago. Two days later I made my return to professional boxing, scoring a TKO over Glen Aristides in the 3rd round.

The timing of this was significant in a number of ways. For one thing, it meant that I became the oldest Australian ever to box professionally, beating the record set by Dexter ‘Dingo’ Dunworth, who boxed until he was 53. Secondly, it meant that there was no cake and feasting on my birthday, but I made up for that tonight with a lovely dinner out with the family. :)

As for the fight, it was a really positive experience for me. My opponent was an absolute gentleman, and despite his lack of experience, he was no push-over! Indeed, he showed greater balance and finesse than I had anticipated. I was counting though on his lack of match-fitness being his Achilles heel, and so I stayed on him tenaciously from the opening bell. By the end of the third round I had indeed worn him out and the referee stopped the contest.

As I say, it was a really positive experience for me. It was an honest and gutsy contest, and we raised some good money that will go a long way towards getting our Boxers for Peace team to Syria a little later this year. I am deeply grateful to my team, to my opponent, and to God. I am also grateful to all you guys who supported this mad venture with your finances and your prayers.

Expect a few more fights from me over the coming months. A number of offers have already come in but, quite honestly, I’m only now looking for fights that will deliver decent pay-packets. I know that sounds horribly materialistic but I believe in the work we are doing, and I believe that broad numbers of people are ultimately going to benefit from this work.

Sermon Time

We are in Lent – that 40-day period in the church year which is set aside for sombre reflection and personal spiritual reformation. It’s a 40-day experience that draws its inspiration from Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, as outlined in the Gospel according to St Luke, chapter 4.

The thing that really struck me this year as I read though the story again is that Jesus never suggests explicitly that we should all follow Him into the wilderness. Indeed, it’s not obvious that there is anything in Jesus’ temptation experience that we can model ourselves on. When was the last time I was tempted to turn stones into bread?

But if the temptations story is not given to us as a model for discipleship, what’s the point of Lent and, more importantly, what were the Gospel writers trying to teach us through this narrative?

Father Dave’s selfie competition

OK fighter, I’ve finally got a competition going for you, and it’s one where you can accomplish some good simply by entering!

Over the last few days graffiti images of me have been turning up in various spots around Sydney. I think there are around 20 so far! They each carry a message. You can see examples of them below.


In truth, I’m not sure about the location of many of these. There’s one on the side of our church building, and one of the ‘Hands Off Syria’ versions is on the wall of the Prime Minister’s electoral office (included above). This could get me into trouble!

In truth, I haven’t posted any of these though I certainly am keen to get the message out, so here’s my plan: a competition!

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Get a selfie of yourself alongside on of my graffiti images. You can adopt whatever pose you like but just don’t obscure the message.
  2. Share the image through your social media network (eg. Twitter)
  3. Send a copy of the pic (or a link to the pic) to me.

If you want to get really creative you could hold up your own billboard, either echoing my message or broadcasting a similar one (but not a contrary one please). Hopefully this will help spread the message! :)

Prizes! I’ve come up with four:

  1. A year’s training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy (value $1,500)
  2. A weekend or mid-week stay at Binacrombi (value $300)
  3. Lunch on a Sunday arvo (value $20 as I’m into cheap eats)
  4. A front-row pew at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill for life (value: priceless)

Depending on the number of entries, these prizes may go to multiple people or they may go to just one person! This competition is obviously limited to people living or staying in Sydney, and most of my readership is NOT in Sydney. This means that if you’re  local you’ve got an excellent chance of winning, so get out there and take your selfie and spread the word!

I hope to hear from you soon. :)

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. My friend Keith Mascord is launching his new book “Faith without Fear” on Friday, March 4th, and you’re invited to the launch. Here’s a link to the Facebook Event page.

P.P.S. If you missed the fight, you might enjoy seeing this post-fight Today Show interview or this video of our time in the training room, preparing for the battle.

P.P.P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

P.P.P.P.S. And if nothing else, you can always buy me a belated birthday drink here.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

A Time to Fight!

I return to professional boxing on February 19!
Fran at Luna Park!
Imogen at Luna Park
Fran in the mouse-wheel
Grieving the death of Sheikh Nimr at Bankstown Mosque
Protesting the execution of Sheikh Nimr at Martin Place
with Syrian Girl in Martin Place
Hanging out with Nader
with Junior Talipeau
Hanging out with Sheikh Mohamad Jawad

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back with you and ready to punch-on for another year! :)

The holidays are far behind us now and Christmas is but a fading memory. What I hope is fresher in your mind is the list of goals you’ve set for 2016.

As you probably know, I am a great goal-setter! I almost never reach the goals I set (at least not in the precise form that I set them) but more often than not I find we get half-way to achieving something that seemed completely impossible when I first dreamed of it, and often the final result is better than what I’d originally imagined anyway!

For the last two years I’ve recorded my goals quick explicitly in this blog. They include:

  1. Founding monastery at our bush retreat (Binacrombi)
  2. Winning a world boxing title
  3. Staging an Australia v Syria boxing tournament in Damascus
  4. Supporting my children through school

The thought of developing our bush camp as a place of prayer seemed like a crazy dream a few years ago. Last year though we did indeed Christen the new chapel at Binacrombi, and we now have fourteen Fighting Fathers who have taken their vows as members of the Order. We aren’t a functioning monastic order yet by any stretch of the imagination but we have seen Binacrombi evolve into a real place of spiritual solace!

As to my World Boxing Title, I think that one’s going to elude me. Even so, I did manage a state title last April and fought for the Australian title in October!

As to Syria, I ended up in Damascus twice last year and had the most amazing times of my life! I believe that the foundations are now all in place to see that particular dream come to fruition this year, and probably in a way that will be bigger and better than anything I had originally hoped for!

As for my kids, I am very thankful for how each of them is going. Veronica successfully completed her first year of University, Imogen managed to get a high enough score in her HSC to get into University, Soren is doing well at Tempe High, and Fran is the most beautiful and delightful 2nd-grader anyone could ask for!

So I’ve set some new goals for 2016 and they are as follows:

  1. To help rebuild Syria through a ‘Boxers for Peace’ tournament in Damascus!
  2. To initiate a ‘Boxing for Life’ program that will help integrate Christian and Muslim youth within the Australian community.
  3. To restart our Youth Drop-in Centre in Dulwich Hill.
  4. To publish at least one (and possibly two) books
  5. To raise $30,000 through boxing to support all these initiatives
  6. To continue to find enough time for my family

I’ll be expanding on these goals as they develop over the course of the coming months. The only one that might require some explanation now is the ‘Boxing for Life’ program which we are developing as a CVE initiative (Countering Violent Extremism).

Not many people would think of Sydney as the Jihad capital of the world! Even so, per head of population, Australia has contributed more fighters to DAESH in Syria than just about any other country in the world! We have between 100 and 150 young men fighting over there at the moment. This seems small when compared to around 500 from Indonesia, but Indonesia has a pool of around 220 million Muslim people to appeal to. In Australia that pool is less than half a million!

I’ve offered my own analysis of this crisis in my ‘Stop the War video’ and elsewhere. Suffice it to say here that this is a broad social problem where we really need to deal with the underlying sense of alienation affecting young Muslim men rather than simply counter violence with violence. Our Fighting Fathers’ strategy is to build social integration between young Australians of all faiths and cultural backgrounds, and to use boxing as the means to achieving it! Stay tuned for updates. :)

Sermon time – I love to have a beer with Jesus!

One story about Jesus that stands out like a sore thumb in the Gospels is the account of how He apparently turned some large jars of water into copious amounts of wine (John 2:1-11)! It stands out because we generally think of miracles as acts that heal or feed or help people in some obvious way. Who was being helped by this miracle? Given the enormous amount of alcohol involved, we might wonder whether Jesus was creating a problem rather than solving one!

Moreover, the Gospel writer John says that this was Jesus’ first miracle. It was, in other words, Jesus’ way of introducing Himself to the world! If this was how Jesus introduced Himself to us, what does that say about Jesus, and what does it say about us? Are we who follow Jesus all supposed to be big drinkers? This has hardly been the way the church has understood itself in history, but if that’s not the point what is the point?


Join me ringside!

fight-poster-2

click me for full-size

I mentioned above that one of my goals for the year is to raise $30,000 through boxing. That might seem a little ambitious but I’m hoping to do even better than that and it all begins for me on February 19th at Hurstville Entertainment Centre!

Due to changes in Australian law governing boxing, I’ve managed to get re-licensed as a professional boxer. I suspect I”m now the oldest professional fighter in the country! Either way, I’m scheduled to fight Glen Aristedes on February 19th and I’d be very grateful if you would come and support me.

My potential to raise money through this event is going to be determined by how many tickets I can sell so you’ll be doing me a favour if you get your tickets directly through me. There are two kinds of tickets available:

  • $80 – regular ticket
  • $250 – ringside table that includes food and drink

I’ve got two tables set aside with ten seats on each. If you’d like to join my family and key supporters at one of those tables, please let me know. If you’d like a regular $80 ticket, I can get that sent to you too. Either way, email me.

My opponent for this event is 10 years my junior and I’m expecting him to come in slightly heavier. Even so, I’m training very hard and am anticipating a win. If I fail miserably, this may well be my last fight. Either way, your support would be greatly appreciated. All funds raised will go to support ‘Boxing for Life’, Boxers for Peace, and other Fighting Fathers initiatives.

That’s enough for now as I’ve gotta get back to training. Here’s one more request though – when you email me about the tickets, let me know what your goals are for 2016, or leave them as comments on this blog page. Share the inspiration! :)

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Join us this Christmas!

A place of prayer for all people!
there's nothing like a bit of pageantry in church!
the Fighting Fathers were represented!
I gave my greeting in Hebrew, Latin and Arabic as well as English 🙂
even politicians are welcome! 😉
the honorary Syrian Consular General was with us
Jo Brooke led the choir beautifully
the children were as wonderful as ever!
this is one of my favourites
the only pic like this I'm ever likely to have!
our church building turns 100!

.
Hi Fighter,

I want to extend a quick invitation to you to join us in celebrating Christmas this year, but first I must thank everyone who so graciously helped us celebrate on December 6th.

You will remember that December 6th was the date of three celebrations for us here:

  • our church building turned 100
  • i completed my 25th year in Dulwich Hill as parish priest
  • we officially opened our new Community Centre

Our big day went very well and there are too many people to thank here. The pics above are of the anniversary service, courtesy of photographer John Cluttberbuck.

25 years in Dulwich Hill!

Rather than give you the sermon from the service (which you can find here if you’re keen) I’m going to invite you on a sentimental journey with me, back over my 25 years in Dulwich Hill, thanks to my friend Denning who put together this video retrospective!

And yes, there are a few things I want to invite you to:

  • Christmas Carols are held on our front lawn at 11 Herbert Street, Dulwich HIll on Christmas Eve (Thursday) Candles and sparklers a supplied. We begin at 7pm
  • Our Christmas Day Eucharist at Holy Trinity is at the usual time of 9.15am.
  • We have a special Christmas Luncheon after the service on Christmas Day.
    Anyone who has nowhere else to be is welcome to join our family.

We would love to have you join us for any or all of the above, but can I make a special plea for the Carols on the Lawn. We are short of musicians this year! If you can come, bring your flute or guitar with you. Hey, you can even bring your harp or lagerphone – anything that makes a joyful noise! :)

IMG_2561

OK, that’s it for today. I’ll be back in a couple of days’ time with our official Christmas greeting and maybe even a present under the virtual tree!

And if you still haven’t worked out what to get me (a man who has everything) the answer, of course, is nothing! Having said that, if you’d like to buy me a drink I’ll be happy to accept it with thanks, as all drink money goes directly to support the work of Fighting Fathers Ministries.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four