On the road to Damascus

with Fran @ Vivid, Darling Harbour
with Fran and the Manus movie team - Olivia (video) and Angus (director)
with Fran @ Vivid, Luna Park
with Fran @ Vivid, Taronga Park Zoo
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Boxers for Peace - Syria 2019 team
On the road to Damascus 🙂


Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here, and I’m on the road to Damascus (more or less).

To be exact, I’m starting this quick update on board a flight from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, at which point we’ll hopefully find a bus waiting for us that will put us directly on the road to Damascus.

It’s been a long time coming – this trip to Syria – and I’m full of hope that we will accomplish some very worthwhile things over these next twelve days. There are many faces I am looking forward to seeing again, and hopefully we’ll see plenty of new ones too.

Thanks to the support from you good people back home, we have a goodly amount of money to distribute while we are here. We also have bags of clothes, medicines, and other gifts.  

Our exact itinerary is still unknown at this stage, but I’ll be updating you daily via the usual mechanisms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and you’ll get a full debrief from me on the return journey.

So, the two weeks are full of promise and, frankly, the last few weeks are filled with some wonderful memories too.

As you may remember, we’ve had three major events recently:

  1. The first meeting of ‘Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange’
  2. The screening of the documentary film, ‘Manus’ on June 8th.
  3. The fundraiser stoush on the day before we left (June 22nd)

As to the event in support of Julian, it was well attended, especially by our friends from the Muslim community. I’m thinking now that I should rebrand the group as “The Christian/Muslim Justice League”. That way, after we’ve helped successfully bring Julian home, we can redirect our energies to supporting Yemen and/or Gaza and/or other areas of great human need that require our joint energies. I like the ‘Justice League’ concept too as it makes us sound like super-heroes – ordinary church and mosque-goers by day who get their super-powers from working together. 🙂

As to the Manus movie event, it was great to meet with director, Angus McDonald, and to hear how well this short documentary-movie is being received. It’s very gratifying to me personally too to see those voices were heard on Manus Island finally being broadcast to a worldwide audience.

It was an extreme experience for me – flying to PNG in November 2017 and making the boat trip in the middle of the night to the detention centre. What we saw and heard there was unforgettable, and then we flew home, and the men of Manus continued on in their struggle, and still they continue on in their struggle. Things still need to change, radically. Perhaps this film will help make it happen.

As to our not-boxing, unofficial, unsanctioned ring event last Sunday, it was great! Thank you to everyone who came and supported me and the Boxers for Peace team. Thank you to my opponent, Jason, to all the guys and girls from our boxing club and church who helped organise it, and thanks to those who poured in from the local community, many of whom stayed on afterwards for the fundraiser event.

We raised almost ten thousand dollars at the fundraiser! That makes it one of the most successful fundraisers I’ve ever been involved in. I have most of that money in a pouch around my neck at the moment, and I expect to leave all of it in Syria. As you would realise, sanctions make it impossible to send money to anybody in Syria though bank transfers or Paypal or any of the usual means. Walking the cash in is how you do it, and I’m deeply thankful that we are now able to do that.

Sermon Time

For a complete change of pace, let me include below my recent Trinity Sunday sermon on the doctrine of the same name.

If it seems really odd here to include discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity alongside travel adventures across the Middle East, keep in mind that it is the Trinity that is the chief point of contention between Christianity and Islam at a dogmatic level. One of my dear Muslim friends believes that if only we Christians could let go of this doctrine, it would remove the barriers between us!

Why has the Doctrine of the Trinity always been so dear to Christians if indeed we have so much to gain by abandoning it? Why especially, when it’s a doctrine that we all recognise to be ultimately incomprehensible?! Listen in if you want to hear my reasons for sticking with it (or read the printed version here).

By the time I post this report, I expect we’ll be in our hotel in Damascus.

Stay tuned over the next 12 days. I’ll be broadcasting everything I can via the Father Dave Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram .

Keep us in your prayers please – myself, Imogen, Henri, Mike and Dr Lou. Pray that we will remain safe, and pray most of all that we will be able to make a difference for the people of Syria and for the Kingdom of God.

I’ll be in touch again soon.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Needing Prayer

my darling Veronica graduates with first class honours 🙂
my darling Veronica graduates with first class honours 🙂
Iftar dinner with the Mufti
Iftar dinner with the Mufti
Al Quds Day Iftar
Al Quds Day Iftar
Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange
Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange
night with dad (and Honey the bunny)
night with dad (and Honey the bunny)


Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I’d appreciate your prayers.

For any who don’t know, my family is having a rough time at the moment. Ange and I are not currently living together. Two weeks ago, Ange and my son, Soren, moved to an adjoining suburb. My youngest daughter, Fran, stayed with me. It’s been a tough time for all of us.

Situations like this are always difficult, and there are special difficulties involved when you’re pastoring a church. Suffice it to say that the future for me is uncertain. Even so, I am currently getting some wonderful support from the church, from my boxing club, our Binacrombi team, and especially from my children. Indeed, last week Imogen decided to move back in with me and Fran, and last night Veronica organised for all of the kids to join me for dinner. It was lovely.

I won’t say any more on this subject for now, and we’d appreciate not being bombarded with questions. Your prayers are what we need, and plenty of divine grace.

I know that people in these situations are often counselled to take immediate leave, rather than deal with the stress of work on top of personal struggles. My advice to others in these situations has generally been the opposite – to maintain your routine as far as possible.

I think of how the captains of the old sailing ships would respond when they were hit by a devastating storm. They would lash their arms to the wheel so that they could maintain a straight course through the storm. That’s the approach I’m trying to take myself at the moment. Accordingly, I’ve been continuing to plan ministry and mission activities a plenty.

Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange

We had our first meeting of “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange” on Saturday. It was an Iftar dinner held in our church hall with about 35 people in attendance. I am hoping that it will prove to be the start of something big.

I believe that all attempts at social activism face an almost insurmountable problem. It’s basically impossible to achieve anything on your own, but once you form a coalition of people, powerful enough to make a difference, that group becomes subject to the same forces of corruption that affect all large groups.

The only solution, I believe, is to have our activism rooted in faith communities such as churches and mosques. These groups are not necessarily immune from corruption (particularly at the higher levels) but faith communities by definition maintain a doctrine and an idealism that binds people together and empowers their activism – especially at the grass-roots level. This is what gave birth to my vision for a Christian and Muslim coalition for justice and peace.

The imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange is an obvious point of common concern for both Christians and Muslims. The rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press are important to all of us, and the revelations that the US wants to indict Julian on are specifically related to the war on Iraq – a particularly sensitive issue in the Muslim community. I believe this is an area where we may be able to achieve something significant if we can pool our energies and work together.

If you’d like to join “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange” let me know. Once we’ve helped to bring Julian back home to Oz we will redeploy as “Christians and Muslims supporting Gaza” or “Christians and Muslims against domestic violence”. Maybe we’ll even expand to become “Christians, Muslims and Jews for peace”. We are a work in progress. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of it and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Manus – the movie

Julian was the focus of last Saturday’s meeting. This Saturday we’ll be focusing on Manus Island again with a screening of Angus McDonald’s 15-minute documentary, ‘Manus’.

Manus is made up almost entirely of footage from our trip to Manus Island in November, 2017 – the final days before the detainees were forcibly removed from their decommissioned detention centre. There were three of us on that trip – Jarrod McKenna (of “Love Makes a Way”), Olivia Rousset (our videographer) and me. Livy and I, along with Angus, the director, will be present for Saturday nights’ screening and will field questions afterwards.

Saturday, June 8th, from 7.30 pm
Trinity’s Community Centre
(2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill)

And if you’d like to join Angus and Livy and me (and Fran) for dinner beforehand, just let me know.

Father Dave’s Last Stand

Having still received no response from the Combat Sports Authority after having my March 23rd fight cancelled at the last minute, I’m taking matters into my own hands and having a stoush with the same opponent in my own boxing ring.

This will not be an official boxing match. It’s unofficial and unregistered. It won’t even technically be boxing. It will just be two blokes jumping into the ring and doing what they do best. I’m told that under these circumstances the Combat Sports Authority (CSA) don’t have any jurisdiction over us.

There will be ZERO cover charge – that’s requisite to not having the CSA involved. We won’t even take up a collection. However, following the event in the ring there will be a sausage-sizzle fundraiser for Boxers for Peace in the adjacent church hall. Everyone is welcome to join us for that too, but there is no obligation or expectation.

The ring-events will simply showcase the talents of the ‘Boxers for Peace’ team. We leave for Syria the following day. Meet the team and hear about our work.

Saturday, June 22nd.
Doors open at 6 pm with main event on at 7 pm.
Trinity’s Community Centre
(2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill)

Sermon Time

I don’t think this was the best sermon I’ve ever given but it was one of the toughest. It was delivered on the same morning Ange and I announced our new living situation.

The Gospel text for that week was John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Preaching the Gospel is always a challenge, but sometimes especially so.

A final favour

Before letting you go today, I have one final request. I need help with web design.

I need to upgrade two of my sites – www.binacrombi.com.au (our bush retreat site) and www.christiansandmuslims.com, which will soon become the launch site for my new book, “Christians and Muslims can be friends”.

I’m quite happy to pay someone to help me upgrade these sites but I can’t afford the prices I see some people charging. If you think you can help me yourself, or if you know someone who you think is capable and decently priced, please let me know.

That’s all for now. Keep us in your prayers, please, as I do you.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four