Monday Missive – April 22nd, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I’m afraid this is going to be a single-issue missive. 

I had planned to tell you more about our trip to Syria next week and about plans for the next Boot Camp and a whole variety of other things, but I’m afraid everything was turned upside-down for us on Sunday morning when a fire gutted our gym and youth centre!

I’ll try to be brief in my description but I can tell you that it was quite a drama!

A Cat in the Yard?

I didn’t get to bed till after 3 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’d been attending a  “Hands Off Syria” function that evening and hadn’t returned till near midnight, and then had to work on my sermon for Sunday morning.

I’d been sitting in my study, which looks out across the road at our Youth Centre and gym. I turned off the light a little after 3 am as I was exhausted. On reflection, I wish I’d stayed up just a few minutes more!

It was 3.45 am when the dog started barking uncontrollably. I thought there must be a cat loose in the yard again. Suddenly there was a powerful flash of light across the bedroom! When I looked out my bedroom window, I was struck with an awesome sight!

Trinitys on fire! (click to enlarge)

Trinitys on fire! (click to enlarge)

I ran out on to the balcony and was hit by the wall of heat!

I’ve never been this close to a fire like this before. I always thought that if I saw a house on fire I’d run inside and check if anyone was there. I couldn’t have gone anywhere near that fire even if my children had been in there! The wall of heat was impenetrable, and I was on the other side of the street!

I went to call 000 (our emergency number) and had no sooner dialed than a police car screeched to a halt in front of our house. Evidently someone had already called, and thank God they had! The police were followed by the fire-brigade within about three minutes.

Fire-crews were mobilising within minutes! (click for full-size)

Fire-crews mobilised within minutes! (click for full-size)

The Miracle!

It took the fire-brigade two hours to put the fire out! It was a raging inferno! The miraculous thing – and I’m not using the word ‘miraculous’ metaphorically – is that no one was hurt!

On the right-hand side of our blazing Youth Centre is the house of a Vietnamese family. Six people had been asleep in that house. The heat was so intense that it melted both glass and metal, but not a single hair on any of their heads was burnt!

Look closely at the first picture above. Is that the hand of God I can see, holding back the flames from their house?

I spoke to the father of the family this afternoon. He said that he’d had a phone call from his mother-in-law in Vietnam the night before, telling them that she’d been down at the church praying, as she’d had a premonition that something bad was about to happen to them! Moreover, the father told me that he always sleeps soundly, but that night he was wide awake at 3.30 am and heard some noise coming from the Youth Centre. He got up to check out the noise and saw that some lads had broken in and were starting a fire. He called the police and mobilised his family!

It may be that this good man’s prompt action saved the lives of his family and neighbours! On the other side of the Centre are a series of mechanic’s workshops – each storing large quantities of highly-flammable fuels – while above those workshops numerous elderly people and families live in small flats.  I hate to think what might have happened if those fuel-tanks had caught on fire while all those people slept! Truly, It was a miracle!

Only the shell of the old building remains! (click for full size)

Only the shell of the old building stands (click for full size)

The End of an Era

And so the sober light of dawn revealed that the Youth Centre was completely gutted BUT not a single dwelling on either side, nor at the back, had been affected!

People have been asking me why I am so up-beat about what is obviously a tragedy, and I am concerned about the impact this is going to have on all the young people for whom the Youth Centre is a second home, and for the boxers from Father Dave’s Fight Club, and for the mums and kids in the playgroup, and for everybody else who’s been using the facility BUT, having experienced the intensity of that raging fire at 4 am on that Sunday morning, I just can’t believe that nobody was hurt! To God be the glory! Great things He hath done!

Trinitys church, hall and Youth Centre - 1886 to 2013 (click for full size)

Trinity’s Church hall, Gym and Youth Centre – 1886 to 2013 (click for full size)

Community Support

The other thing that has been extremely gratifying is the outpouring of warmth we have received from the community. It has been absolutely overwhelming!

I’m afraid I have not been able to keep up with the phone calls, emails, text messages, Skype calls, people coming to the door, etc. And it hasn’t just been warm words either, but casseroles and home-made biscuits and even a bottle of red! :-)

I think that some people have been a little confused, as they’ve been expecting to find me tearful, sitting on the ash-heap, scratching myself, but I know that we can rebuild, and that this time we’ll be able to involve the whole community in consulting with us on a facility that will be tailor-made to respond to needs across our area!

And of course we are not going to abandon our young people nor our fighters while we wait for the building to restart. We will find ways to keep the work going. Indeed, offers have already started to pour in from people who want to offer us support and space.

To be frank, the most exciting proposal I’ve had thus far has been from the Imam Husain Islamic Centre, who are looking to see whether we might be able to use a part of their property for our gym! It might not be possible, but if it doesn’t work it won’t be for the lack of goodwill from these wonderful people! :-)

We’ve also had other offers from other churches and community groups, and it won’t be easy to keep both our Youth Drop-In program and our Fight Club going. Even so, the opportunities for working alongside other people of goodwill in our community are mind-blowing, and I’m excited by the possibilities! :-)

Media Coverage

I’m going to leave off here with a TV News report. We’ve had extraordinary media coverage thus far and, to tell you the truth, I haven’t even looked through it all yet. Even so, Denning tells me that the Channel Seven coverage was the best so I’m featuring that one.


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Lend a hand!

I should say something in closing for those who wish to get involved in helping us get back on our feet and keep going.

As I say, we are entirely committed to continuing to do what we do best. We will eventually rebuild and there may be numerous fundraisers to come, and we will no doubt be looking for trades-people who can contribute their skills to that process. Even so, in the meantime you can help in one of three ways:

  1. If you are a local and you have space and you’d like to see that space used for a gym or youth drop-in centre, come and see me or Pastor Caine!
  2. If you’d like to make a one off financial contribution to keep the youth drop-in going, there’s a donate button on the church website (follow the ‘News’ link).
  3. If you’d like to support the work of Fighting Fathers (who run the gym side of the work, the boot camps, and all the online stuff) please join our member site.
    It only costs $10 per month but it’s what keeps us going (click here).

I’ll try to touch base with you again next Monday before we head off to Syria.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 15th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

You’ll have to forgive me if today’s missive reads more like a campaign letter but I want to devote my energies today to a membership drive for the Wikileaks Party!

join the Wikileaks Party

Become a Foundation Member of the Wikileaks Party:-)

I assume that everyone knows who Julian Assange is and what Wikileaks is about.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news (or my missives) you might not know that Julian is running for a seat in the Australian Senate in the Federal election this October.

Further, it’s not just a solo campaign on Julian’s part. The Wikileaks Party intends have candidates running in a number of Australian electorates, and if you’ve been keeping up with my missives you know I’ve been meeting regularly with Julian’s dad in order to further the campaign in my own area.

You might be wondering why I am such a passionate supporter of Assange, especially when he is wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation.

In truth, I suspect that charges against him are concocted but, either way, it’s not the man I am inspired by so much as by what he (and the Wikileaks Party) stand for – the democratic requirement of truthfulness in government.

I read a striking quote recently:

“Why of course, the people don’t want war. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Who said it?

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring – Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man!

I wasn’t alive during World War II but I’ve lived long enough to see Göring’s methodology employed multiple times to start wars that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people!

I grew up fearing the Viet Cong and the ‘Red Terror’ of Communism. After the fall of Soviet Communism I watch my government manufacture a new enemy – the Muslim terrorist who had been plotting to murder my family and destroy my way of life for all of history though I had been blithely unaware of it! 

I watched my government lie about Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ so as  to wage war upon the people of Iraq, resulting in the deaths of more than a hundred thousand civilians! Now I am watching my government tell the same lies about the chemical weapons of Bashar Al-Assad in an attempt to escalate the death-toll there!

So far as I can see, Wikileaks has been one of the very few voices in this world that has been exposing these lies and shining the harsh light of truth on the murderous power-play of our democratically-elected leaders!

Bradley Manning’s revelations are a case in point. Manning now admits that he leaked internal army video of airstrikes in Baghdad in 2007, where civilians are clearly targeted and killed.  Wikileaks published the footage under the name Collateral Murder.

Manning was later arrested for leaking the video, has been in prison ever since, and is currently standing trial, facing a possible life-sentence. Assange, for his part, was called a “terrorist” by Newt Gingrich, while Sarah Palin suggested that he should be hunted down “with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders”.

The official rationale behind the rhetoric was that Manning and Assange were putting human lives at risk through releasing this sort of classified information. When you watch the Collateral Murder video though and read through the other leaked material, you realise that the only persons put at risk by Wikileaks’ revelations are the politicians who need to keep their official narrative in place in order to maintain their campaigns of global violence!

Enough said! If I haven’t convinced you by now to join the Wikileaks Party, I guess it ain’t gonna happen.

If you are interested in joining, let me encourage you to do it NOW, and I’ll give you a few good reasons why you should:

  • The Wikileaks Party has not yet registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
  • The AEC requires that the party has 500 financial members before it can register.
  • I’m told that more than 500 have applied but that a significant number of those memberships have been deemed invalid (due to typos in data entry, I believe).
  • We thus currently need another 72 persons to join before the party can officially register for inclusion in the next election!

So here’s your chance to become a foundation member of the the Wikileaks Party and to try to put the democratic requirement for truthfulness in government on the political agenda! Of course:

  1. You must be an Australian citizen and
  2. You must not be a member of any other Australian political party.

If that’s you though and you can afford the $20 membership fee, you can apply for membership online at the the Wikileaks Party website and there is now a provision to pay online via credit card. :-)

Please be careful though when filling out your application. Apparently your name and address etc. must appear exactly as it does on the AEC’s enrollment records. If you get it even slightly wrong, the AEC will apparently deem your membership invalid. 

 The Road to Damascus!

As you may remember, Denning and I will be heading off to Syria in the next few weeks, and I can’t pretend that this didn’t influence my choice of text for last Sunday’s sermon.

While I normally preach on the Gospel reading, the first reading scheduled for last Sunday was the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus – the man we know as the Apostle Paul! It took place in Syria – on the road to Damascus.

It’s an amazing story of one of history’s most amazing men, and I couldn’t resist preaching on it. I’ll tell you bluntly that I was very pleased with this sermon. I felt I really did communicate something of the character and eccentricities of St Paul.

I appreciate that my depiction of the early Saul as a religious fundamentalist and terrorist is not a common one, yet I believe it is accurate! Click below if you’re ready to hear my take on St Paul and please leave your comments (positive and negative) in the comments section at the end of this post.

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  • If you can’t see this video, click here.
  • If you’d rather read the written version, click here.
  • If you’d prefer to hear the audio version, click here.

Reasons to be Cheerful

It’s another reason for me to be cheerful, at any rate – the eleventh birthday of my dear son, Soren Lee Mordechai Smith.

Soren Lee turns 11!

Soren Lee turns 11!

In case you didn’t know, Soren was named after my three great heroes:

  • Soren Kierkegaard (the father of existentialism)
  • Robert E. Lee (the great Confederate General)
  • Mordechai Vanunu (who told the world about Israel’s hidden nuclear arsenal)

On reflection, perhaps I should have also included the other man I most admired – my father, Bruce – but at the time three middle-names seemed like more than enough.

Anyway, Soren Lee is now eleven and he’s showing himself to be a talented boxer as well as a kick-butt Yu-gi-oh player!

That’s enough from me today, fighter.

Until next week I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 8th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you and I must tell you that I’ve had a very full and exciting week,  climaxing in the fourth birthday of my youngest daughter, Francesca, last Saturday! :-)

Francesca with Imogen on her 4th birthday! (click for full size)

Francesca turns four! (click for full-size)

Having been blessed with four children, I’ve been through the whole turning 4 experience a few times now, and yet the wondrous joy of it all still confronts me afresh.

I remember when Veronica was that age and how she told me one night that she thought she’d grown up enough and was quite happy to stop where she was. I thought it was a great idea too at the time.

For better for for worse though it never works like that. Time like an ever-rolling stream presses forward and there’s no going back. Even so, every time a new child joins us we get the opportunity to relive the wonders of childhood all over again through them! :-)

Zerocostwebsite.net

It’s not nearly as exciting, but we did give birth to a new website this week too!

Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback and suggestions regarding the homepage video for the site. In accordance with your advice, we’re sticking with the smaller video option. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about , just visit the site: www.zerocostwebsite.net.

The idea behind the site (in case you can’t guess) is that we build a website for you at zero cost. Naturally you have to pay for a domain name and for a hosting package, but the nuts and bolts construction of the site will be done by us at no charge.

My vision is that this process will eventually result in a lot more people joining our online community at www.fighting-fathers.com. That’s the hope.  Even so, you are welcome to take up the offer whether you intend to join our online community or not. Take note though that this offer is for personal sites only and naturally we will not build hate sites, porn sites, etc. Got it? Great! Go and claim your free site!

We do also have a system in place for building business sites with no up-front cost but you’ll need to contact me directly if you want to find out more about that.

Heading to Syria!

The other big news for me is that the Syria trip is back on!

I can’t share the exact dates or details at this stage but I will say that it’s all scheduled to take place within the next month!

The proposed program involves spending time with the ‘Mussalaha’ (‘reconciliation’) teams on the ground in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria. We’ll also be visiting Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps and meeting with church and community leaders both in Damascus and in Beirut.

Fighting Father Denning is planning on coming with me and will document the visit on video.  We’ll be keeping you up to date through this missive and other email contact as we go (depending on Internet access of course).

I’m delighted to add that the visiting delegation is going to be led by Maread Maguire (who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her reconciliation work in Northern Ireland). She’s a personal hero of mine and a woman I have always wanted to meet. :-)

I give thanks to God that we’ve been invited to be a part of this exciting mission and I ask you to support us with your prayers – both for our safety and that we might make a meaningful contribution to the cause of peace for the suffering people of Syria.

The Amazing Boot Camp Video!

There’s no sermon video for you this week (as I didn’t preach last Sunday) but I’ve got something far more exciting for you – Denning’s 3-minute documentary video of our first ‘Fighting Fathers’ Warrior Weekend’.

The only thing that concerns me with this video is that Denning has used a musical backing track that we don’t have copyright to. If anyone knows how we can pay someone the appropriate copyright fee (if we need to) I’d be grateful for the advice. Either way, enjoy the video and I hope it inspires you to join us for the next camp!

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If you can’t view this video, click here.

I will NOT fight for Queen and Country

In conclusion today, let me point you to another inspiring video – this one of a short speech given to the ‘Oxford Union’ by Ben Griffin – a former SAS soldier and now a spokesman for ‘Veterans for Peace’. His topic is I will not fight for Queen and Country!

The video is on the Fighting Fathers’ Member Site but you don’t need to be a member to access this one. Even so, while you’re there, why not sign up and keep the work of the Fighting Fathers going. It’s only $10/month.

I’ll see you next week.

Until then, I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 1st, 2013

HI Fighter,

Father Dave here and again I’m a day late with my Monday Missive, but this week it’s deliberate!

I figured that it would be a bit silly to broadcast my Easter sermon two weeks after Easter, and I didn’t think it right to urge Denning to work on the video on a public holiday so … the holiday is over, the video is up and the missive is posted! :-)

Thinking about Syria

It appears that our trip to Syria is back on the agenda! Indeed, it may take place May!

The whole process of postponement and rescheduling has been very educative and has been helpful for me personally in terms of helping me clarify what I see as my own role in the campaign for peace.

Without wanting to divulge information that should remain private, I can tell you that when the initial March visit was suddenly cancelled the day before we were scheduled to leave, a handful of the original delegates did travel to Syria regardless. These persons (who were from India) made it to Damascus, met with Mother Agnes, and returned home safely. From there they organised a follow-up peace conference in Damascus to which Denning and I were invited.

We decided not to attend the conference,  not because we disagreed with the aims of the organisers and not because we’d become any less concerned about Syria, but because the conference seemed to have quite a specific political agenda and I felt that if I had a contribution to make it was more in supporting grass-roots humanitarian work than broad political change.  Again, this wasn’t because I consider the work of political change unimportant – far from it – but because I don’t think it’s my area of expertise and I simply don’t feel it’s my calling to be involved at that level (at least for the moment).

Anyway, it appears now that Mother Agnes is re-initiating the tour of the grass-roots initiatives being undertaken by her Mussalaha (‘reconciliation’) group and I am keen to do whatever I can to support her wonderful work. Of course nothing is confirmed as yet but I would appreciate your prayers and ongoing advice. :-)

Thinking MORE about Syria

While I don’t see myself as being an agent for political change, I am doing my best to understand what is really going on in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, and I normally add two articles each day to my blog on Middle Eastern events – www.israelandpalestine.org – .as well as pieces I publish on our member site.

I’d like to draw your attention to two resources that I’ve found particularly helpful in the last week and that I hope you’ll find enlightening too. Both of them appear on our member site.

The first is a video posted by Fighting Father Ali Baghdadi, entitled “WWIII is Coming Soon and Here’s Why”. It covers the relationship between gold, the US dollar and the trading of petroleum, and how this all relates to the wars in the Middle East that we are familiar with.

The second is an audio of a one-hour radio show that includes a 20-minute interview with Deepa Kumar – Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University in the USA – on the topic of Syria’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Kumar draws attention to the similarities between the current talk of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Syria and the almost identical accusations leveled against Saddam Hussein ten years ago. Once again it appears that the US is about to unleash massive violence against an already beleaguered nation on the basis of accusations that are at best speculative.

Moreover, as Kumar points out, the assumption behind the US President’s latest ultimatum to the Syrian government is that the USA has the right to intervene militarily wherever it deems it necessary to change the course of world affairs, like a father stepping in to pacify his quarreling children.

It is taken for granted, of course, that this paternal act will lead to the betterment of all the warring peoples involved, and yet even a cursory glance at the recent history of US intervention shows the opposite to be the case! Indeed, the only real beneficiaries of the US interventions in. Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan seem to be US and multinational business interests!

The interview with Kumar is in the first half of this audio broadcast. Even so, I kept the entire broadcast intact as the second half also includes a powerful interview. It’s with Fred Branfman who, in the late 1960’s, was the first person to report to the world the US secret bombing campaign of Laos.

Christ is Risen

Let me balance out these painful reflections with the wonderful proclamation of Easter!

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed! :-)

The resurrection of Jesus is a great beacon of hope for our sick and suffering world. It’s the ultimate reminder that death and destruction are never the end of the story! :-)

That’s not exactly the theme of my Easter sermon but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

[imaioVideo v=1]

  • If you can’t view this video, click here.
  • If you’d prefer the audio recording (with much better audio quality) click here.
  • If you’d prefer to read the written version, click here.

That’s enough from me for today.

Apologies if this Easter missive was a bit ‘heavy’ but I’m sure you’ve had your fill of chocolate and fluffy bunnies over the last few days. :-)

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.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four