Monday Missive – July 30th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back from my Monday night run and keen to share my week with you.

I ran alone again, which was a shame as the Cook’s river looked beautiful tonight, if a little eerie. Everything was bathed in a cold winter moonlight, and I hardly saw another soul out there! It left me feeling very peaceful and thankful, and this despite the fact that it started raining when I was still about 5kms from home.

One of the reasons I enjoy my weekly half-marathon so much is because I listen to books on my MP3 player as I run. This week I heard two lectures by Richard Rohr on “Great Themes of St Paul” where Father Richard was focusing on one of St Paul’s great insights – that God doesn’t reward us with love and forgiveness once we’ve achieved a level of moral or religious perfection. Rather, God simply loves and forgives us, despite all our imperfections, and this is what empowers us to achieve whatever we are capable of achieving. Great stuff!

As I look back, my week has really been defined by three gatherings that each expressed unity with diversity.

Diverse Arts

The first was an all-day conference for Martial Arts instructors that I attended on Saturday. It was hosted by the Australian College of Sports Development and brought together martial arts instructors of all kinds from across Sydney and across the country, though I think that Mungo, Caine and I (the three Fighting Fathers) were the only boxing trainers.

The conference was well organised and well-presented, though I must confess that it left me feeling very thankful that I had ditched the ‘sensei’ persona years ago in favour of being a simple ‘trainer’.

The distinction is chalk and cheese! The ‘sensei’ figure stands up the front as the dispenser of all knowledge, while the students bow and scrape before him, ever respectful of sensei’s superior wisdom and power. Of course I’m not suggesting that anybody at the conference behaves that way, but the role is custom-made for people with ego problems. Mind you, there are plenty of clergy who run their churches that way too. Enough said!

Diverse Foods

The second event was a glorious ‘International Brunch’ we put on at church on Sunday, where everybody was encouraged to bring a dish from their own country of origin.  The diversity of the cuisine was wonderful, but even more so the diversity of the people who were there!

The immediate excuse for the party was the reunion of one of our Sierra Leonean families. Ramatu had been trying for years to bring her husband and two daughters out to Australia to join her, and now they are here!

Here’s a pic of me with Ramatu and Muhamed, whom you’ll noticed are dressed in dazzling African outfits! (click on the pic to see it full size)

Diverse Faiths

The third event was an Inter-faith dinner that I attended last night at the Nabi Akram Islamic Centre in Granville. It was a fantastic event that that brought together people from across the religious spectrum – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Indigenous religious leaders.

I was particularly impressed with Sheikh Zaid Alsalami, who organised the event, and with Rabbi Zalman Kastel, who represented a group called “Together for Humanity” (of which I believe he was the founder).

Here’s a snap-shot of the panel discussion that took place towards the end of the evening (click it to enlarge). I’m sitting between the Indigenous Australian representative on my left and a lovely young Sunni Muslim man from Liberia on my right.

I was deeply impressed by the respect that everybody there showed to each other, and by the articulate and well-reasoned nature of the speeches that were given. Indeed, the only statement I took real exception to on the night came from the other Christian representative!

I won’t mention his name, and I’m sure he’s a better Christian than me in almost every way, but when he was asked whether Christians believed that God will forgive us our sins even when these sins are committed AFTER we have turned to God, he replied “we can’t be sure but we can hope!

I thought he’d been given a golden opportunity to share the distinctively Christian proclamation of universal and everlasting forgiveness, and he blew it! I’ll think I’m going to have to send him those lectures by Richard Rohr!

Before I let you go tonight I must apologise if you’ve been having trouble with www.how2changetheworld.com. We seem to be under some sort of attack that is chewing up all the bandwidth and making it impossible to access the site. Hopefully we’ll have it fixed by later today.

OK. That’s plenty from me tonight.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – July 23rd, 2012

Hi Fighter,It’s Dave back with you again, and I’m feeling very tired tonight, so I’ll keep it brief.I can’t blame my tiredness on my ‘Monday Night Run’ though tonight as it didn’t happen.That was partly because I was speaking at a Rotary Dinner tonight and accepting a $2,000 donation to our Youth Centre (thank you, Marrickville Rotary). Morever though, the weather is cold and wet and miserable, and I’m just not up to it. 🙁

Most likely I’m still weary from a busy weekend that began with a rather surprising fight!

 

A Learning Experience!

I mentioned last week that I was anticipating a fight last Friday night. Indeed, I was only officially asked to fight last Monday, but it was a charity event, and I was told that my opponent was a couple of years older than me and had ZERO fight experience!

I wasn’t sure what to think about that! Did some guy with no fight experience really want to take me on, or was I being set up? Boxing promoters are not known for being the most honest people, and I’ve been set up before, so I accepted the bout with very mixed feelings.

My mind was put at rest though when I unexpectedly received an email from my opponent two days before the bout! He told me that his name was Rod and that he was a Christian man who had been quite nervous about the fight himself until he discovered that he was competing against a fellow believer. He asked me though to “go easy” on him though, as he was only a beginner.

I wrote back, saying that I was very glad that he had contacted me and that I would indeed take it easy on him. I said I did not want to embarrass him and would happily stick to ‘sparring level’. I then got on with my week and didn’t give the fight any further serious consideration until the evening of the event. On reflection, that was a big mistake!

It’s really quite curious how pig-headed I was. The team was telling me off over lunch on Friday – “You shouldn’t be drinking a glass of red with your lunch when you’re fighting tonight”, “You shouldn’t be eating fatty chips”, etc. I simply didn’t take them seriously, as I was no longer taking the fight seriously.

To cut to the chase, when the opening bell rang this guy exploded at me, and his punches were hard and straight! I lost the first round, and was lucky to claw my way back for a points win. It was a learning experience!

Here’s a pic of Rod and me after the fight. He told me he’d been training for this fight for three years. In truth, he’s a superb athlete, and I’ve told him that he’s certainly earned a rematch with me if he wants one.

 

A Sermon Illustration?

I’m sure there’s a good sermon illustration somewhere in that expereince – something about the importance of preparing yourself properly for the Good Fight.

Fighting Father Mungo, who fought on the same card, did a far better job of preparing himself, both mentally and physically, and won his bout with ease. Congratulations, bro!

Mind you, when it comes to fight preparation, the man to watch is Fighting Father Lovemore N’dou. He is an inspiration!

I’ve had the privilege of watching Lovemore and Sol Egberime go hammer-and-tongs at eachother over the last couple of months, as Lovemore helped Sol prepare for his fight two weeks back (which he won easily). Now Lovemore will be fighting in three Friday’s time, and along with Sol and the the rest of the team, I’m doing all I can to help him prepare.

In truth though, we don’t have to do much. The man is entirely self-motivated! Indeed, I have never seen anybody train so tirelessly or push themselves so mercilessly as does Lovemore. If I had ever wondered what it took to be a World Champion, now I know! His sparring sessions, which can last for hours, look just like the real thing, with perhaps a little less blood.

Watching these professional fighters in training reminds me of Josephus’ reflections on the Roman Army (you might not see the connection immediately, but bear with me).

The ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, recognised that it wasn’t just good luck that allowed Rome to conquer the world. It was because of the way her armies trained.

Anyone who will take a look at the organization of their army in general will recognize that they hold their wide-flung empire as the prize of valour, not the gift of fortune. They do not wait for war to begin before handling their arms, nor do they sit idle in peacetime and take action only when the emergency comes – but as if born ready armed they never have a truce from training or wait for war to be declared. Their battle-drills are no different from the real thing; every man works as hard at his daily training as if he was on active service. That is why they stand up so easily to the strain of battle: no indiscipline dislodges them from their regular formation, no panic incapacitates them, no toil wears them out; so victory over men not so trained follows as a matter of course. It would not be far from the truth to call their drills bloodless battles, their battles bloody drillls (Josephus’ Jewish Wars III, 60)

It’s worth recognising that when St Paul urged the early Christians to take their stand as soldiers of Christ (eg. Ephesians 6), it was these very Roman legionaries that he was pointing to as examples! Boxing champions like Lovemore and Solomon E are modern-day counterparts to these ancient warriors. They remind us that the battle is tough and that proper preparation is everything!

OK, enough sermonising!

 

In Conclusion …

I said that I was going to be brief today but (as usual) I got carried away …

Three more things I must pass on very quickly before I go:

  1. I mentioned last week that we had a few $220 seats left at our supporters’ tables for Lovemore’s fight on August 10th. I believe that all spots have now been taken, but if you’d like to put your name on the waiting list, please let me know ASAP
    .
  2. I was interviewed last week by Ray Wheatley, the editor of “World of Boxing” magazine. He talked to me about the church, our work with young people and (of course) about boxing. Ray has YouTubed the interview here if you’d like to see it.
  3. I am going to make ONE FINAL PLEA to join THE CONTEST!

Fighting Father Jim and I have added a video to the contest sign-up page and a few other bells and whistles, so please do at least give the page a visit. Here’s the link again.

That’s enough for this week.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Monday Missive – July 16th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave again.

I’m just back from my Monday-night run and thought it was time to pen you a quick missive.

I ran by myself again this week, which was a bit lonely, but I appreciate that it’s miserable running weather in Sydney this time of year, especially if you’re struggling with a cough or cold.

Besides that, I had to run between 10pm and midnight this week, when most sensible people are going to bed!

Having said that, I’ve never understood why most boxers like to run in the early morning when they fight at night! I would have thought that the ideal would be to run at the same time of day that you compete, and I may in fact be fighting this Friday – at night!

I’ll tell you more about that before I close, I promise, but first …

 

Pain and Passion

I’ve had an extraordinary week of pain and passion.

The pain has come from losing two beloved friends this week past.

The first was Col Harding – a man I’d known for many years as one of Sydney’s finest wrestling coaches. We buried Col on Thursday.

You are not likely to have heard of Col before. He was never famous. He didn’t seek glory for himself at all but simply committed himself to working with any young person who was willing to ‘have a go’.

It was great to hear someone stand up at his funeral and talk about how Col had been saved from a life in prison. God knows how many young men (now adults) owe their lives to his silent but persevering work.

The other death was of my dear friend Morna.

I want to thank everybody who has been writing to me and assuring me of their prayers for Morna. It has been gut-wrenching to see the life dragged out of her over the last couple of weeks, an inch at a time. Even so, she held on long enough to see all her family, and last Wednesday night we prayed some final prayers together, I signed the sign of the cross on her forehead, kissed her and told her that it was time to let go and she slipped away about an hour later.

Here’s a picture of me and Morna in happier days – two years ago at her eightieth birthday.

As I said at her funeral, she was the toughest woman I’ve ever known. She drove trucks for a living, sometimes with her babies lying on the floor of the truck as she drove, and she did so at a time when a woman’s place was certainly NOT in a truck!

She had a hard life and dealt with a lot of hard people. She lived through violence and imprisonment. Even so, her later years were marked by her re-discovery of the grace of God, and by gentleness and compassion.

We buried dear Morna on Saturday.

The other event of great Passion that I experienced last week took place between the two funerals. Last Friday I flew to Melbourne to work the corner for my dear brother Solomon Egberime as he fought for another Australian Junior-Welterweight boxing title.

I could eulogise about Sol’s performance at length, but let it suffice to say that I’ve never been so proud of him! He excelled himself in every way – not only in his sporting prowess but in the grace and good-nature he displayed throughout the event. It goes without saying that he won, and did so with style!

Here’s a pic I took of Sol after the fight, with his son Niko on his shoulders.

Sol stayed on in Melbourne for a couple of days after the fight, but sent a lovely text message to us on Sunday morning that I read out in church, giving thanks to God and to the community for all the support he received.

Well done, brother!

 

One BIG Fight still to come

After two big fights in the last two weeks, you might think we’d take a break here for a while, but in fact the biggest fight yet may still be ahead of us.

On August 10th, our Parish’s most accomplished pugilist – Lovemore N’dou – will make his return to the ring!

Lovemore is a two-time world champion and is known as ‘The Black Panther’. Even so, he is 40 years old now, and some would say he is crazy to get back in the ring!

Lovemore claims that he was inspired by my efforts at our recent 120-round box-a-thon, and figures that it’s time he made a greater contribution!

Lovemore is looking to distribute his winnings between our work and other charitable works here and back in his homeland of South Africa. I can only say that it is a privilege and a pleasure to work with the man – a great athlete and a great human being.

Here’s a pic of Lovemore with me and one of our other pugilist parishioners, Mario Karacsony.

Now … the exciting news is that you can join us ringside for Lovemore’s come-back fight against Gairy St Clair if you’re quick!

We’ve booked two tables for 20 people at the event, which is to be held in Southport, Queensland. I know that’s a long way to go for most of us, but it looks as if at least 12 of those 20 spots have already been taken!

The seats cost $220 each and we’ll be trying to get a good deal on flights and accommodation as well. If you’re one of our Queenslander Fighting Fathers, the experience will be relatively cheap and easy. If you decide to come from Europe or the USA, I’ll pay for your seat!

Either way, if you’re interested in joining us, please contact me ASAP. Once we’ve filled up the 20 spots, they’re all gone!

 

One Last Thing …

I feel a bit embarrassed, looking back at what I’ve just written!

I figure a letter from your Parish Priest should be drawing out points from last Sunday’s sermon, whereas all I’ve done is talk about death and fighting!

Oh well, perhaps next week …

There is one last thing I must mention again though: THE CONTEST!

I’m sorry to say that the response to the contest has been dismal thus far.

I’m not sure why? I thought everybody loved a contest?

Is it because:

  1. You don’t like what the contest is promoting – ie. my eCourse?
  2. You don’t like the prize – ie. the super-duper arcade game, starring you?
  3. You don’t like contests?

Perhaps there are other explanations? I’m not sure, but I’d appreciate your advice.

The bottom line: I’m really keen to see lots of people take my eCourse, and so I’d really love to see you join in the contest. Instructions are on the contest page or in the eZine.

That’s enough for this week.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org

P.S. Oh! I almost forgot! I promised to tell you about my own fight this week!

It looks as if both myself and Fighting Father Mungo will be fighting at a charity-fundraiser event this Friday night at North Sydney Leagues Club (12 Abbott st, Cammeray).

Fights are scheduled to start at 7.30pm. If you’re in the area, we’d love to have your support.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Monday Missive – July 9th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave again, back with another ‘Monday Missive’.

Actually … my clock says it’s one minute past midnight as I start this, so it’s not really Monday any more, but it is in lots of places in the world, so …

I’m actually still in hospital as I write – still at the bedside of our old friend, Morna. She continues to cling to life, so we who love her continue to keep vigil as best we can.

She is asleep at the moment, and it seems like a good time to write.

Incidentally, before you start thinking I’m some great saint, let me assure you that I haven’t been here all day. Indeed, I ran my regular Monday Half-Marathon earlier tonight.

Sadly, I ran alone tonight. Normally there’s at least one or two others who join me, but everyone seems to be down with the flu this week! Sydney winters can be miserably cold!

Boxing, Boxing, Boxing!

One man who has both joined me and literally run rings around me over the last few weeks is Australian and Oriental Junior-Welterweight boxing champion, Solomon Egberime.

Sol is fighting to defend his Australian title on Friday night, so he’s toned down his training this week. Last week he ran most of the last ten kilometers backwards so that I could keep up with him!

My fitness is good but his is phenomenal. I’m confident that he’ll put in a strong display against Joel Dela Cruz at the Melbourne Pavilion on Friday. It will be my privilege to once again be in his corner.

Speaking of corner-work, you may remember that when I wrote last week I was preparing to fly to Auckland to support our other Solomon – Sol Haumono – in his fight against the big New Zealand Super-Heavyweight, Joey Wilson.

Big Sol ended up with a draw, even though he knocked his opponent down (and almost out) in the second round. All credit to Wilson for surviving Sol’s punching power and coming back. Hopefully the result will motivate Sol to work on his fitness and not to rely on his knockout right-hand next time.

You’ll have to forgive me if you’re not a boxing fan. I appreciate that this is not of interest to everyone, but these bouts have been a major focus for me over the last few weeks.

Both Solomon’s are a part of our church and Fight Club, and I know that a priest’s pastoral responsibilities don’t normally extend as far as the corner of the ring, but Holy Trinity is not a normalparish!

And before I let go of the subject of boxing, I must also mention that we actually have three highly-credentialed boxers in our parish, and the third member of that trinity (so to speak) is Lovemore Ndou, who now also has a fight coming up!

Those of you who are boxing fans will know the name of Lovemore Ndou. – two-times World Champion and all-round champion human being!

Lovemore will be fighting another former world champion – Gairy St Clair – at the Southport RSL Club in Queensland on August 10, and he’s forwarding any proceeds from the event to our Youth Centre in Dulwich Hill. That tells you plenty about the man!

Of course, all three of our boxing champions share a common commitment to helping young people, and all three are involved in the work of our Youth Centre. All three are also deeply spiritual men, and it is indeed my privilege to be their pastor.

The Competition

I must get off the topic of boxing and talk about ‘The Competition, which is not really off topic, as the winner of the competition gets a personalized Boxing Game!

Let me put this as bluntly as possible: I’d really appreciate it if you’d join the competition!

The competition promotes the eCourse, and the eCourse has the potential to equip a lot more of you guys to go out and become virtual spiritual warriors in cyberspace!

I really believe that my eCourse can make a difference, and so I am asking you to help me promote it by sharing it with your friends, and win a prize for doing so!

This is how the competition works.

  1. You download your special links to the eCourse here
  2. You start sharing those links on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  3. The person who has shared the most links by the end of the month wins the prize!

The reason you need to get special links is so that we can track those links as you spread them around. Be assured that we will be able to track your links every time they get Tweeted or Retweeted or put on somebody’s Wall, etc.!

You can sign up for the competition at http://how2changetheworld.com/contest/

The Ezine

Of course all the info about the contest is in the eZine, bundled in with all sorts of other goodies – videos and sermon podcasts, etc.

You should have received an email from me over the weekend about the eZine already. Even so, if you haven’t had a chance yet to look at it yet: http://www.fatherdave.org/news

I won’t keep you any longer today.

I had wanted to share with you the latest I’ve been hearing about Syria and the ongoing disinformation campaign, but that will have to wait. It’s getting close to 2am here and Morna isn’t going to wake again tonight. I’ll need to head home before I get too tired to drive.

Please put in a prayer for Morna. She is a dear soul, and I believe she is aware of all the prayers of her many friends from around the globe.

And please do join in The Competition! I’ll see you on the leaderboard!

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

Dave

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Monday Missive – July 2nd, 2012

Hi guys,

I get the feeling that punctuality is never going to be one of my assets.

I’m always scrambling to make appointments on time.
Church always starts 10 minutes late.
And I never seem to be able to publish my ezines on time.

And I know I wrote to you last week, telling you about the competition, which was about to be launched in the ezine.

And I know I said that I’d have it all completed by the end of the week and … now it’s Monday.

 

So …

 

I’ve decided that rather than try to do the impossible and get everything running to schedule,

I’ll start sending our regular ‘Monday Missives’ and just keep you in the loop on what and where we’re up to here.


The Competition

Fighting Father Jim tells me that the competition is ready to go!

The only problem is that I have no idea how it works yet.

I do know the competition page: http://how2changetheworld.com/contest/

And I do know the prize – your own personalised version of our spectacular arcade game –http://www.father-dave.org  – where it will be you with the gloves on, you doing the punching, you making the smart remarks, etc.

The purpose of the competition will be to promote my ‘How 2 Change the World’ eCourse (http://www.how2changetheworld.com and I think the way it works is that every time you ‘tweet’about the course or ‘like’ it on Facebook, or tell the world about it in some other way, you get points, and the person with the most points after one month wins!

Anyway, I’ll confirm all this with you ASAP and let you know any other rules that you need to know, but you may well be able to work it out for yourself from the competition page and get a head start!


The Member site (www.fighting-fathers.com)

I must be frank and tell you that while the eCourse is a lot more than a sales package, I do refer to the member site regularly in the course and I don’t hold back in extolling its virtues.

Indeed, I am hoping that more people taking the eCourse will result in more members forwww.fighting-fathers.com

This is in fact my long-term survival strategy.

Members pay $10/month to be a part of www.fighting-fathers.com.

My estimate is that by the time we get 200 paying members we’ll be able to cover our monthly online costs.

At the moment we continue to run at a significant loss and can only keep going because we’ve had some generous sponsorship.

I mention this here because a lot of people have asked how best to support our work.  The answer is very simple: sign up as a paying member to www.fighting-fathers.com.

And be assured that if we do end up ever making a profit from our online activities, none of it will go into my pocket.  On the contrary, it will be funnelled into our offline work – the Fight Club, the Bush Camp, the Youth Centre, etc.


Fighting!

This is taking up a lot of my energy at the moment, which might seem odd for a Parish Priest, but we have four professional boxers in our church, and all of them seem to have fights coming up!

Big Solomon Haumono (who is on the staff of our Youth Centre) fights in Auckland, New Zealand, this Thursday. I fly to Auckland on Wednesday.

Solomon Egberime (known affectionately around here as ‘little Solomon’ [for obvious reasons if you know both men]) fights the following week – Friday July 13th – in Melbourne.

He’ll be defending his Australian Junior-Welterweight title, and it will be my privilege to be in his corner too.

The dark horse in the bunch is Lovemore Ndou – another beautiful Christian man who has won two world titles already but would like to make a comeback and be the first 40-year-old lawyer to win a world title!

I don’t have any confirmed details regarding Lovemore’s pugilistic activities at this stage but … ‘watch this space’! 😉

I should mention too that I’m hoping to have some more fights myself soon. Indeed, I may get an opportunity in the next few weeks.

And I only just found out about some world boxing championship for us over-50’s-fighters that’s apparently being held in Kansas City, Missouri in the first week of August.

It’s probably implausible for me to try to get there at this stage, but you never know! 😉
Syria

The other thing that continues to weigh on me, of course, is the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East – Libya, Israel/Palestine, and of course, Syria.

The ongoing disinformation campaign regarding Syria depresses me.

The rebels continue to target Christians and expel them en masses from their homes and villages, yet the Western media continues to depict them as Robin Hood and his Merry Men, trying to bring down the wicked prince!

I won’t go into further details here but if you want to hear some perspectives that you won’t get through the mainline media, look at some of the articles and videos I’m recommending through my Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/fatherdave).

The Video

And I mustn’t close without giving credit to Fighting Father Denning,

who did a magnificent job putting together a video compilation of all the action from our 120-round Box-a-thon.

I’m still waiting to get official confirmation from the Guiness people that I’ve set a new world record, but at least now I’ve got a world-class video record of the event!

It’s on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocgD6GF1g5c

Please share it with your friends.

OK. That was a loooooong Monday missive! :-0

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

Dave

dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four