Monday Missive – August 27th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you and I’m feeling particularly buoyant tonight!

I did a good time in my Monday half-marathon earlier tonight (1:56:20) – pushed along by my boxing buddy, Sol Egberime – and that has no doubt contributed, but it’s not the key reason.

I’m feeling genuinely thankful to God this week for two reasons:

The first is for the response I received to what I shared in last week’s Monday Missive about my Al Quds Day dilemma.

Thank you for your emails!

You may remember that I decided NOT to participate in the Al Quds Day protest two weeks ago, even though I was scheduled to speak, and I had been feeling very torn up about it all, and was feeling that I had not only let down the organisers but the long-suffering Palestinian people themselves!

I was both surprised and touched by the size of the response that my sharing generated, and the prayers and support I received from many of my Islamic friends was particularly meaningful to me.

Of course not everybody agreed with my decision, but each of you who wrote assured me of your on-going friendship and respect, and recognised that my non-participation in Al Quds Day did not indicate any lessening of my commitment to the cause of justice and peace in Israel/Palestine.

My own perspective now, a week further down the track, is that it doesn’t really matter much whether I made the right decision or the wrong one, for God has a way of seeing to it that ‘all things work together for good’ anyway (Romans 8:28), and my petty decisions don’t make a great deal of difference in the end! Ultimately, justice will come!

My second reason for feeling cheerful tonight is even more surprising than the first!

I had a Good Day in Court!

I won’t mention the name of the young man whom I accompanied to court last Friday, but I will say that he is someone we have been working with for a number of years and that the charges he was facing were serious and could have resulted in a prison sentence of some years.

Of course this was by no means the first time I had been a part of a courtroom procedure like this and I must confess that over time I have grown to despise the whole process:

  • the esoteric language and strange procedures that seem to be designed to confuse and intimidate the uneducated.
  • the cold and clinical way in which people’s lives are analysed and dissected and held up to public view

and worst of all …

  • the often jovial interplay between the legal professionals, upon whose whims the fate of so many people depends!

And don’t assume that I’m always the bleeding-heart advocate of the accused. I’ve seen as many notorious criminals slip through legal loopholes and walk away laughing as I have seen decent people locked away by a system that treats crimes against property far more seriously than it does crimes against persons!

Anyway …

My experience last Friday was one that left me gob-smacked, and what really impressed me was not just the verdict (which was a suspended sentence) but the summation of the judge, which must have lasted for a full 20 minutes!

This judge really seemed to understand what it was like for people struggling with mental illness, just as he seemed to grasp the effects that repeated childhood abuse can have on a young man.

Indeed, at one point the judge actually scolded the prosecuting attorney who had suggested that the accused’s history of childhood abuse was not relevant to the case. The judge said, “When the accused is an abuser, you prosecutors are always telling me how many lives this person must have damaged and destroyed, but when the accused is someone who has been abused you tell me that their history is not relevant!”

Good call, judge, and good verdict!

As the Judge left the court our lad called out, “Thanks Judge. I won’t let you down!” which was as touching as it was inappropriate in the context (though the boy swears that he saw the judge smile).

The experience was not enough to restore my faith in the system as a whole, but it did remind me that it is possible for the system to work effectively and achieve the purpose for which it was designed.

In point of fact there were a number of systems in operation that day.

  • There was the government-funded legal welfare team who had been working with the young guy even longer than we had.
  • There was the courtroom system that offered him another chance at life.
  • And now he moves into our system (of sorts) whereby we give him some time out at our campsite, while working with Probation and Parole, etc.

Enough said …

Of course I don’t have any pics to share with you of our day in court, but I do have a few others from the last week:

Veronica at Sydney Airport

That’s my beautiful eldest daughter, Veronica, about to head off to the USA for a couple of weeks of well-earned holiday.

Master Chef Po

That’s a personality that I wouldn’t expect anybody outside Australia to recognise. It’s the runner up in the Australian reality-TV show ‘MasterChef’: Poh Ling Yeow.

Poh was one of the main guests on this week’s Can of Wormsshow, in which I also made a brief appearance as an authority on youth violence! I’d suggest that you watch it except that it already went to air earlier tonight.

Don’t worry. I didn’t see it either. And nobody rang up either to tell me how I came across, which is probably indicative of the show’s ratings. If you’re really keen though, you’ll eventually be able to watch the episode online here.

One more pic …

Peter and Pip Hinman

That’s Peter and Pip Hinman. Pip is a candidate at our forthcoming Council elections with the Socialist Alliance. Pip asked me to speak at a party gathering last Saturday. I’m not a member of the Socialist Alliance but I love Pip and Peter so I said ‘yes’. I still can’t work out though why they put me on straight after two comedy acts!

Tickets for Lovemore’s next fight!

Before I let you go let me tell you that I have multiple tickets available to Lovemore’s next fight.

Lovemore will be fighting Rivan Cessaire, and I’ve already purchased 20 tickets for friends and supporters.

When: Friday, September 7th
Where: The Melbourne Pavilion, Flemington, Victoria (Australia)

The bottom line is that if I can’t sell all these tickets I’ll give the remainder away. Just let me know if you’re interested in coming. Financial members of www.fighting-fathers.com will of course get preference with the free tickets.

OK. That’s enough from me today.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – August 20th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

I hope your week has started well. I must confess that I’m in recovery mode at the moment, having dealt with a lot of stress over the last seven days.

I won’t try to burden you with all my woes, but I will share one of my struggles with you, and I’m open to your feedback as to whether I handled it properly.


Al Quds Day

Last Friday was Al Quds Day– a day commemorated each year, mainly by Muslim people, to remember oppressed around the world, and particularly the oppressed people of Palestine.

That was my understanding of Al Quds up to last Thursday, at any rate, when my perceptions were strenuously challenged.

Some months ago I was invited to attend the Al Quds rally in Sydney and to say a few words in support of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. I readily accepted the offer as I feel that there is no group of people in the world today who have suffered so brutally as have the Palestinians people in this generation. Indeed, I take every opportunity I can to express my concern for their suffering and my prayers for an end to the 45-year-long Occupation of their land.

Then last Thursday, the day before the scheduled rally, I found myself being bombarded on Twitter with regards to an article that had been published in The Australian that day – an article that labelled Al Quds a hate day, and mentioned me by name as one of the ‘extremists’ who would be echoing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei’s call for the destruction of the State of Israel!

Needless to say, I contacted the organisers and started doing more research into the purpose of the rally and the meaning of Al Quds.

The guy who had recruited me for the rally directed me to the Al-Quds website. Unfortunately it turned out to be entirely in Arabic – a language in which I am completely illiterate. I did though find some English information about Al Quds and I did indeed confirm that it was started by Ayatollah Khomenei back in 1979. I also read the Ayatollah’s Al Quds speech, and it was indeed an angry response to the crimes of violence that he saw Israel perpetrating at the time.

Of course Khomenei’s speech needed to be taken in the context of 1979, and I knew the organisers of this rally well enough to know that they are not anti-Semitic people by any stretch of the imagination, and were solely concerned to see justice done for Palestine. Even so, it still wasn’t clear to me whether or not Al Quds day was itself essentially anti-Israel, and I knew that I couldn’t speak of my concern for the suffering of my Palestinian sisters and brothers if that compromised my love for my Jewish sisters and brothers.

My Archdeacon told me not to participate (as one would expect a good Archdeacon to do). Even so, I didn’t want to withdraw my support, and I was convinced that The Australian article was a piece of spin designed to intimidate people like myself and prevent us from participating.

I felt I needed more time to work things through, yet I didn’t have any more time, so I chose not to participate, as I just had too many questions. Even so, I felt sick in my stomach.

I remembered the words of Jesus:

I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, … I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’(Matthew 25:35-36)

Jesus comes to us all the time in the guise of our suffering brothers and sisters. Was I turning my back on the oppressed people of Palestine, and so closing the door in Jesus’ face?!


Reasons to be Cheerful

That’s enough on that subject.

As is always the case, things are never so bleak such that we can’t find things to celebrate, and I’ve also had plenty to celebrate over the last week too (nb. click the pics to go full size):

Put on the Armour of God
  • We had a wonderful baptism on Sunday morning – welcoming two new young soldiers to the cause of Christ. Join me with your prayers for young Rhiannon and Alexandra. 
  • I got to preach on one of my favourite passages – Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 6 to ‘Put on the Armour of God’ (which you can hear here or read here). As you can see from the pic, I like to wear my ‘armour’when I preach on this passage. 
  • We have some fantastic new fighters developing through our Fight Club. The mother and daughter combination pictured above are two particularly promising prospects!


An Invitation

And speaking of great fighters, it seems that Lovemore is going to be fighting again very soon – Friday, September 7th, in fact! This fight will be in Melbourne.

We’ll be booking another two tables at this bout for supporters, and we would love it if you could join us, ^fname^.

If you can make it to Melbourne to join us, hit me back. You can have the ticket at cost price. I’ll give you all the details you need when I hear from you.

OK. That’s enough from me for today. I’ll look forward to catching you next week if not before.

In the meantime, remember that if you want to support our work, just join us at the Fighting Fathers’ Member site. Your $10/month subscription keeps us online.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – August 13, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back from my Monday night run and watching a replay of the Olympic Games closing ceremony as I pen my Monday Missive to you.

I must say that it is wonderful to see the way in which playing games together can help break down racial and cultural barriers. Winning medals can also be a source of hope and pride to countries who have not had much to celebrate of late.

Mind you, I find the Australia obsession with winning gold simply distasteful, and I recognise too that major sporting events like these can easily be used by politicians as weapons of mass distraction – diverting our attention away from real evils that these same countries are committing.

One only has to think of the way Hitler used the Berlin Olympics of 1936 to help legitimate his sinister rule to be reminded that the Olympics are by no means immune from this sort of manipulation. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve seen of these Olympics and I do believe that sport can play a very positive role in promoting justice and peace and enriching human life.

Our recent world title bout with our beloved parishioner, Lovemore N’dou, is a case in point of course, and I know you’ll be interested to hear the inside story.

August 10th, 2012: N’dou vs. St Clair

The result was never in doubt so far as we were concerned, but I can appreciate that Gary St Clair and his team didn’t share our perspective. Indeed, the newspaper report that day suggested that his group had placed a large wager on a St Clair win!

We only found out after the fight that, while both Lovemore and Gairy St were technically retired, St Clair had apparently been in training to fight someone else when the opportunity to fight Lovemore presented itself. He was therefore in top condition!

There was evidently something very personal at stake for St Clair in this fight. I don’t know the man well enough to hazard a guess as to what, but I certainly noticed that he seemed agitated at the weigh-in, not seeming to want to make eye-contact with Lovemore.

Lovemore and Gairy St Clair at the weigh-in

I could appreciate that St Clair might be feeling nervous as he is a naturally smaller man than N’dou. He won his world title at Junior Lightweight, whereas Lovemore won his world title as a Light Welterweight!

They were fighting at Welterweight, which means that they could weigh a maximum of 67kg, but St Clair had insisted that they meet at an agreed-upon weight of 64.5kg maximum. The surprise at the weigh-in was that Lovemore weighed in at 63.7kg and St Clair at 64.7kg!

This meant that Lovemore was entitled to ask his opponent to don the plastic bag and do a few laps around the block to lose that extra 200 grams, but he was relaxed about it. St Claire’s agitation though was evident, and had only increased by the time the fighters reached centre-ring. He didn’t seem to want to touch gloves before the fight, and when the decision went against him at the end, he stormed off!

And yet the verdict was never in doubt. Lovemore looked stronger from the opening bell, and while St Clair was brilliantly elusive throughout the fight, he never looked capable of hurting the black panther.

I won’t say any more about the bout itself as you can watch it on the member site here. What I will say here is that this fight was more than just another boxing match. Indeed, it was the launch of a project that could affect the lives of a great many people.

Lovemore’s plan is to use this attempt at a third world title to raise funds to support at-risk young people. Our Youth Centre has certainly been targeted as a key beneficiary though I know that Lovemore still has a heart for his homeland – South Africa – and is very keen to raise funds for young people who have been orphaned through the AIDS epidemic.

These are early days, but my hope and prayer is that last Friday’s fight will lead to a series of colourful encounters that will allow Lovemore to fulfil his dream and make a real impact on the world – fighting poverty and disease and giving inspiration and hope to young people everywhere. I certainly intend to continue to work closely with Lovemore until that dream is fulfilled.

Lovemore wins the WBF world title and IBF pan-pacific title

(nb. click any of these pics if you want to see them full-size)

August 12th, 2012: The Visit of the Israeli Human-Rights Activists

You will remember that the other big event we had planned last week was the visit of the two young Israeli human-rights activists – Sahar Vardi and Micha Kurz – to Holy Trinity.

It was indeed a great privilege to be able to welcome these two lovely young people to our community. As expected, they were passionate and committed, and had each spent time in prison for the cause of justice and peace.

Sahar Vardi and Micha Kurz come to Holy Trinity

Thankfully, the two were more than happy for me to record their addresses, and we’ve now uploaded each to the member site.

You can hear Sahar’s address here. She spoke about growing up in Israel, about becoming aware of the injustices experienced by Palestinians, and about the price she is paying for taking a stand.

You can hear Micha’s address here. He focused on his work with ‘Grassroots Jerusalem‘ – an organization that monitors and helps coordinate the activities of grassroots Palestinian groups in and around Jerusalem

And of course one of the wonderful bonus for us in having such wonderful guests is that the occasion brought together Christians, Muslims and Jews from across our region – united in a common concern for the welfare of our Palestinian sisters and brothers.

christians, muslims and jews come together and holy trinity

OK Fighter, it’s nearing the magic hour of 3am and it’s time I wound this missive up!

Let me say in closing that I am hoping this week coming to finally launch our live video-cast of the Sunday sermon here at Holy Trinity. I’ll confirm that though with you if it’s going ahead.

In the meantime, remember that if you want to support our work, please consider joining us at the Fighting Fathers Member site. Your $10/month subscription keeps us online.

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
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – August 6th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave here with you again, and I do hope that your week is unfolding well.I seem to have an enormous week ahead of me, with three significant events looming – each of which makes me feel a little nervous, and some of which I’m hoping you might get involved in. More on all that in a moment …

Firstly though I must say that my feelings of nervousness about the week ahead have taken a back seat for most of today, with feelings of pain and dismay and even disgust taking over as I’ve been updating myself with the latest news about Syria and Iran!

Mind you, it’s not what the Syrians and the Iranians are doing so much that so bothers me. It’s what we westerners are doing!

I read an article today about the planned U.S. attack on Iran and found it absolutely chilling! You can read it here. According to the author, various details about the planned attack have been leaked, and they involve bombarding Iran’s defenses with Tomahawk missiles for a few days, afer which an ultimatum will be put to the Iranian government, demanding that they discontinue all further nuclear research or face escalated violence!

The authors of the plan evidently believe that the Iranian government will roll over at this point and give in to whatever demands the U.S. places upon them. What planet are these people from?

Would we really expect it to work the other way around? If the Iranians (or anybody else for that matter) bombarded America with missiles and then told the U.S. government to dismantle their nuclear program, would anyone take them seriously?

I think at the heart of so much of this political strategising and power-play is simple racism!

I remember the great Jewish peace activist, Uri Avnery, saying of his country’s political leadership that their greatest mistake is that they don’t consider the Palestinian people to be their equals. They figure that if the Palestinians are kicked around for long enough that they’ll eventually just crawl away subserviently like a dog with its tail between his legs. Of course this doesn’t happen because the Palestinians, like all peoples, are a proud and noble race, and so as the oppression increases so does their resistance!

I think an identical miscalculation is at the heart of much of this western war-mongering against Iran. Would we really expect the proud Persian race to cow-tow to the west because we fire a few Tomahawk missiles at their defenses? Would a few million missiles elicit servile obedience? Not a chance! For God’s sake, show these people some respect!

I believe racism is one of the most significant (and most sinister) forces at work in our world today – destroying communities, fueling wars, and shaping foreign policies. Not surprisingly, racism is also one of the key themes in the New Testament too. The issue of racism has been central to most of my sermons lately – inevitably so, as we’ve been working our way through St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I don’t think you can understand St Paul at all until you realise that his liberation from his own sense of racial superiority was at the heart of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus.

And speaking of the road to Damascus …

I will restrain myself from saying too much about poor Syria today, though my heart bleeds for the Syrian people. Let it suffice for me to point you to a few of the best articles I’ve read of late:

    • I highly recommend this article by Steve Lendman. His opening paragraph reads “Syria’s conflict isn’t an uprising, revolution or civil war. It’s lawless Western aggression.” I think Lendman is entirely correct.
    • Then there’s this excellent article by Michael Collins, which is a succinct expose of the lies we are being fed about Syria by the western media.
    • And finally this one from the great Robert Fisk speaks for itself. It’s entitled
      “The Syrian War of Lies and Hypocrisy”

….. (five hours later) …

It’s probably just as well that my passionate rave was interrupted by domestic duties and by my weekly run. I’m feeling much more settled.

I’m also feeling somewhat chuffed that I set a new best time for my half-Marathon run tonight – 1 hour, 53 minutes, 35 seconds. I’m sure someone will reply and let me know that the Olympiads are doing the full Marathon in less time. I’m not concerned. I’m only competing against myself, and I’m winning!

Now … let me tell you about my three big events and let’s see if we can get you involved!


1. Lovemore N’dou vs. Gairy St Clair

It’s all happening this Friday night in Southport in Queensland. Lovemore N’dou – champion boxer and parishioner at Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, is on a quest for a third world title. First he needs to get past Gairy St Clair, who is also a former world champion!

The great thing about this fight is that it’s about a lot more than boxing! Lovemore is a Fighting Father, and his plan for this and all his subsequent bouts is to keep none of the proceeds for himself, but to spread the money around between different youth organisations, both here in Australia and in his home country of South Africa.

If Lovemore can achieve a third world title, a lot of young people around the world will benefit. I’m excited to be involved in the campaign, and it will be a great privilege for me to be in the corner for Lovemore on Friday night.

I don’t know if the fight is being broadcast on any of the TV networks, but be assured that I’ll be giving you a blow by blow description next week if you’re not able to catch the event live.

2. Holy Trinity Videocast

I appreciate that this might not be a huge event to anybody else, but it is to me!

We’ve been trying for some time to refurbish the church with new audio and video equipment so that we can offer a solid video-cast to our friends who would like to join us from around the world, and I think we are finally ready!

If you pick up the hesitation in my voice it’s because we still need to run some tests on the new hardware, but I’m trusting that this will all be completed before Sunday. One thing I can confirm is that we’ll be using the services of church.tv to do the video streaming.

I’m personally very impressed with church.tv. They’re a faith-based organisation with a real vision for bringing the world together in worship, and I’d encourage you to take out a free membership there now in anticipation of our videocasts. I’ll confirm with you by the end of the week whether we’re on this Sunday.

3. Visit of the Peace Activists

The third very exciting event this week is the visit of the two young Jewish peace activists who will be joining us this Sunday afternoon in our church building.

Sahar Vardi is a ‘refusenik’. She refused to do her required military service in the Israeili army if that meant enforcing the Palestinian Occupation. She has served a number of prison sentences as a result. She said “I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for the wretched policy of the oppressor towards civilians (and yet) I am unable to relieve that soldier of responsibility for his conduct”

Micha Kurz co-founded ‘Breaking the Silence’, an organization that collects stories from members of the Israeli Defense Forces who served in the occupied territories. Kurz served in the IDF during the second intifada, and his experiences led him to work against the occupation and treatment of Palestinians.

The event is jointly presented by Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill and by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. It starts at 2.30pm and should prove to be a great coming together of Chirstians, Muslims and Jews within our area.

Denning has set up a Facebook page with details of the event here.

 

OK. That’s plenty from me this week.

I’ll hope to see you at one of the great events this Friday or Sunday, or have you join us for the video-cast if we can get it all up and running.

In closing though, let me ask you for your help in something close to my heart.

I’m still really keen to promote my How 2 Change the World eCourse. I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever put together and I want to share it with the world. Any ideas on how best to promote it?

We tried running a contest but that didn’t achieve much. Perhaps you’ve got some better ideas? If so, please hit me back with your wisdom.

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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four