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

You’re invited

Warriors' Weekend at Binacrombi
Warriors' Weekend at Binacrombi
Warriors' Weekend at Binacrombi
Warriors' Weekend at Binacrombi
Two very tough-looking Fighting Fathers!
Fight Night at Movie World (our annual dad and daughter adventure)
Fight Night at Movie World (our annual dad and daughter adventure)
Dale looks like a future champion
With Tony O'Loughlin (L) and Trevor King at the annual Veteran Boxers Association luncheon
Super-preacher Natlie Finstad
Protesting outside the Turkish Embassy
Protesting outside the Turkish Embassy

Hi Fighter,

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow – Sunday December 6th – is a the big day for us at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill:

  • it’s the 100-year anniversary of our church building
  • It’s my 25th anniversary as priest of the parish
  • it’s the opening of our new Youth and Community Centre

If you’re in the Dulwich Hill area I’m hoping you’ll join us from 9.15am onwards.

We’ll have plenty of interesting personalities joining us tomorrow, including our own Archbishop, Glen Davies, our former Archbishop, Harry Goodhew, and a host of other dignitaries, politicians and community leaders. We’ll also have with us representatives of many of the groups we’ve worked closely with over the years who will be carrying appropriate banners in the church procession:

I’m also expecting quite a number from the local Muslim community to join us. Indeed, our friends from the Imam Husain Islamic Centre are organising the BBQ luncheon for us that follows and are paying for all the sausages.

So if you’re in the area, you are invited. And if you’re not in the area, you’re still invited (but not expected). Either way, we kick off with church at 9.15am and should be finished by around 2pm (after which you can stick around for Fight Club if you’re really keen)!

Fight Cancelled

As you may know, there had been a four-round professional boxing match planned for tomorrow too between myself and Aswin Cabuy (pictured below). Unfortunately that fight is not now going ahead, much to my disappointment.

Even so, I thought I’d give you a fight rather than a sermon.today It’s my fight from early October against Tommy West. It was my last fight as an amatuer as I’ve subsequently been granted a professional license again and there’s no going back this time!

I was disappointed not to get the decision in this fight. Not only the crowd but even my opponent thought I won this one! I won’t say more but leave it to you to judge.

I’ll try to be in contact again before Christmas.

working the corner for Aswin Cabuy

working the corner for Aswin Cabuy

I will mention one thing to you now though before I let you go – namely, that I’ve finally upgraded two of my main websites!

I’d appreciate your feedback on both sites. Be aware though that the hyped-up version of www.fatherdave.org won’t display on a mobile. I set it up to redirect to my blog on mobile devices.

That’s all for now. I hope to see you tomorrow.

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

Still Fighting!

Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Soren pitches into the work at Binacrombi with his chainsaw
Bob and John launch their book on Holy Trinity - "A Church for our Times"
'Hands Off Syria' rally - Sydney Town Hall
Imogen finishes school
Imogen finishes school
Imogen does an amazing birthday sketch for Ange
showing off my Father's Day hat

Hi Fighter,

It’s been a month since we last communicated and the world seems to have been turned upside-down since then!

When I last wrote there were still fears that Russia was going to sell out Syria for the sake of gaining time before the inevitable showdown with NATO over the Ukraine. Instead Russia went on the offensive – launching a blistering attack against jihadists in Syria! As a result, as I wrote in my Syria blog, Syria has won the war (almost)!

Putin’s bold move took the US and her allies (including Australia) by complete surprise and created a diplomatic scramble with everyone desperately trying to come up with a rationale as to why Russia shouldn’t be allowed to help the West achieve their stated objectives! While the great powers mumble and fumble Syrians around the world rejoice!

Meanwhile in Israel/Palestine things go from bad to worse! The violence is sickening. The one-sided coverage by Australian media is also sickening. I won’t say more here but point you instead to an article I published on my Israel/Palestine blog, entitled “Palestinians Die. Who cares?” Be warned that it includes a gut-wrenching video of a young girl being killed in cold blood.

For me personally the world has also been turning rather rapidly of late. Two Sundays ago I fought for another Australian boxing title (old bastards division, of course). I lost on a controversial split decision. This was disappointing as I was hoping to use this title as leverage to relaunch myself as a professional. Now I’m assessing my options.

It’s not that I feel I have anything left to prove in the sporting field. It’s a simple issue of money. I’ve found that there’s only so much I can raise through grant applications and online appeals and it never seems to be quite enough to keep our work going.

Put in a prayer for me please. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I’m sure I still have a few fights left in me. If I could get one or two high-profile fights I could put our work on a more solid financial footing.  I’m continuing to train hard and will take whatever opportunities open up to me. The rest is in God’s hands.

The Gospel according to Adolf Hitler

“You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43)

I’ve got a different sort of sermon for you this week. Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark chapter 10 focused once again on the issue of power. This was such a common point of contention between Jesus and His disciples that I covered the issue in detail in a sermon on Mark 9 only a few weeks ago. So I thought I’d take a different tack this time – comparing the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Adolf Hitler as spelt out in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.

I’m not suggesting that you read Mein Kampf (though you may be interested to hear my summary). I do recommend to you the teachings of Jesus on issues of power. Hopefully by giving you my take on both you’ll be less likely to confuse the two!


(for the written version of this sermon, click here, and for the audio-only, here)

The world continues to turn and my timetable for the coming months is looking increasingly dense. Hopefully some good will come of it.

Next weekend (October 23-25) is our Warriors’ Weekend two days of intense fitness training and prayer at Australia’s most beautiful bush camp, Binacrombi.

If you haven’t signed up to come there is still time (providing that you’re reading this before October 23rd). Just let me know ASAP. If you have no idea as to what it’s about, you can check out the Warrior Weekends website or download the flyer here.

Once this weekend is over things will really start to hot up for me. Highlights include:

  • Friends of Sabeel, Australia (Palestinian Liberation Theology) AGM on October 29
  • The completion of our new Youth and Community Centre in mid-November
  • Our community choir’s Bach and Vivaldi concert on November 22nd
  • A dinner to mark my 25th anniversary as Parish Priest on December 5th
  • Holy Trinity’s 100-year Centenary celebration on December 6th
  • The official opening of our new Centre by the Archbishop on the same day

In addition to all this I’m still hoping to slot that professional fight in there somewhere – perhaps on the same day as the official opening while I’ve got the Archbishop there to help work my corner.

If you’re a Christian who is committed to justice for the Palestinian people and you can make it to our Friends of Sabeel AGM that would be great! We start at 7pm and are meeting at the church building in Dulwich Hill.

If you’d like to come to my 25-year anniversary dinner, please get in touch with the church office.

If you’d like to join us for the Centenary celebrations and the hall opening, just show up (though if you warn me that you’re coming I’ll have a better idea of numbers for the BBQ luncheon).

And I’m still looking for more help. Applications for the new Youth Worker position have now closed but I’m still hoping I can find people to help me with a variety of tasks, and if I can secure that fight I might even be able to pay people something for their efforts. :)

Keep your hands up, fighter. We’ll talk again 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.boxersforpeace.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community atwww.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