Christmas is almost upon us!

the Binacrombi 're-ignition' team. 🙂
Remembering the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Kindy's scariest Halloween girl!
celebrating Halloween with Imogen at Movie World
with Maher, the honorary Syrian Consular General
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
with Roy Jones Junior in Gosford
at St Francis College, Brisbane, with Ray Baraclough for the 'Friends of Sabeel, Australia' AGM
with Zain Sherrif in Penrith, battling protesters objecting to the development of an Islamic community centre.
a wise woman preparing for the Christmas pageant

Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here, and I’m starting this missive from sunny Binacrombi Bush Camp where we are about to ‘re-ignite’ things.

No, we’re not about to start a bush fire but we have been closed for the last few weeks while we’ve been upgrading the water system and the power system, repairing the tracks and repainting the cabins. All bodes well for our re-opening in time for the Christmas holidays!

And speaking of Christmas, we have plenty of other things happening over the coming weeks and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to participate in some (if not all) of them.

  • December 21st – the Jubilate Singers Christmas Concert @ Holy Trinity (7pm)
  • December 24th – Carols on our front lawn (7pm)
  • December 25thHoly Trinity’s Christmas Day Eucharist (9.15am)
  • Christmas Day Lunch at the rectory

I appreciate that it’s going to be a lot easier to be a part of these activities if you live in Sydney but even if you live in West Virginia I can assure you it will be worth the trip (and it’s a lot warmer here too)! 😉

The last of these events does require an RSVP as the number of people we can fit around the rectory table is limited. Having said that, we had an offer from some Muslim women this year to prepare the lunch for us on Christmas Day and that will certainly make things easier at our end! The women said that it wasn’t a busy time of year for them and they knew that it was for us so they figured they were well placed to pitch in! What a gracious thought!

So there may not be any wine or ham served at Christmas lunch this year but I’m expecting a wonderful fare nonetheless! Just let me know if you’re coming so that I can tell the ladies how many they need to prepare for.

Sermon Time

I appreciate that you’re probably in the mood for something with a Christmassy flavour this week but I’ve decided to give you my sermon on Paul’s Epistle to the church of Rome, chapter 6. I don’t often preach on Paul’s letters but I had been wanting to preach on this passage for a long time as I think it shows St Paul at his most radical – proclaiming an understanding of Jesus Christ and His work that makes the Christian message entirely distinctive in the world of religions!

As you no doubt know, I work very closely with other faith communities – the Muslim community in particular – and that leads a lot of people to assume that I see all religions as basically the same. I don’t. Indeed, while I don’t disrespect anybody for their religious beliefs, the understanding of God and of life that I glean from the New Testament is quite distinct from other religious traditions, and I think this excerpt from St Paul writings highlights those differences with precision!

You may disagree with me. That’s OK. You may disagree with St Paul too, and I’m sure he’d be OK with that. Even so, hear him out, for according to St Paul, religion is NOT fundamentally about living a good life or about believing the right things! Indeed, religion, in St Paul’s understanding, is not primarily about us at all!

I’ve given you a list of diary entries today and I appreciate that you’re probably not thinking much beyond Christmas at the moment but I want to give you one more set of dates to consider before I let you go – Friday, January 18 to Sunday January 21. I’m hoping to host a weekend away at Binacrombi over those days for all who can make it.

On that weekend I hope to:

  • Dedicate our new Binacrombi chapel
  • Consecrate the Fighting Fathers to their work
  • See the lives of everyone who participates enriched

My plan is to build the weekend around our rather unique combination of extreme sports and monastic silence – fluctuating between the two extremes, like running out of a sauna and diving into an icy stream and then back into the sauna!

I appreciate that this may be too extreme for some people and so a less intense alternative will be available. Even so, I am hoping that all who participate will find the weekend confronting and life-changing!

It won’t cost you a fortune. A donation of $100 to Fighting Fathers Ministries will cover your accommodation costs. We’ll bring our own food and pool our cars to keep transport costs to a minimum. Email me if you’d like to participate or leave your details on www.warriorweekends.com and I’ll get back to you.

I’ll be in contact again soon with my regular Christmas video-greeting.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – May 27th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

You’ll have to forgive me for the gap between missives.

The last one (May 13) was sent out while I was still in Iran, enjoying a short respite with my dear friend Sheikh Mansour Leghaei. It was a two-day stopover between Syria and Sydney. I wish it had been longer.

Since I got back in the country my feet have barely touched the ground! I’ve been preoccupied both with my Syrian experience and with issues associated with the burning down of our Church Hall/Youth Centre, which happened only a week before I left.

Receiving a gift from Dr Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria

I was overwhelmed to receive this gift from Dr Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria

Making Sense of Syria

The more I reflect on the so-called ‘civil war’ in Syria, the more I become convinced that we could be on the edge of World War III.

As I understand it, the goal of those who are fueling the violence is to isolate Iran by severely weakening its only allies in the region – Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Having seen first-hand the terrible overcrowding of refugee camps in Lebanon, I can appreciate that all it will take to completely destabilize that country is to push another million displaced Syrians over the border. There are already close to a million refugees (mainly Palestinian) in Lebanon – a country that is already overcrowded with its native population of 4.3 million. Another million people will certainly break the back of the country’s infrastructure, and that is exactly what is envisaged should the strife in Syria continue for much longer.

So the world’s power-brokers play their games (and I hear on the news tonight that both Britain and France are now champing at the bit to pour more ammunition into the fray) while the Syrian people pay the price with their blood. The big oil and arms manufacturers are (quite literally) making a killing in Syria. It is entirely demonic!

We don’t see this side of the story, of course. Indeed, we don’t see much of the story at all in this country. It seems that all ‘Western’ media have been extracted from Damascus (with the curious exception of CNN)! The major Australian media companies are refusing to even purchase stories and photos from independent journalists and photographers in  government-controlled areas on the pretext that it puts them in danger! We had an excellent journo and cameraman with us in Lebanon from Australian SBS television but he was pulled out and sent home before we crossed the Syrian border!

Whatever the reason behind the media blanket over Damascus, it means that most of us only see the conflict from the perspective of those embedded amidst the attacking rebel forces. This means that we only hear one side of the story. Moreover, it means that we only ever see Syria as a war-zone.

What I saw in Syria was not a war. I saw human beings trying to get on with their lives – lots of wonderful men and women with lovely families who were trying to make the best of their situation and who were committed to bringing about change in their country through dialogue rather than through violence!

God bless the people of Syria! God bless the many people working for peace, especially the religious leaders (both Christian and Islamic), the community leaders, and the young people! We saw so many beautiful young people in their teens and twenty’s who still believe in a bright future for their country and who were still willing to devote themselves to the work of peace. God bless them all!

Talking peace with the Bishops of Damascus

Talking peace with the Bishops of Damascus

Mother Agnes returns to Oz

I will stop eulogising over Syria in a moment, but I must mention two more things first:

Firstly, if you didn’t see the formal statements made by our Mussalaha Peace Delegation to Syria, I commend them to you:

  1. The Concluding Declaration of the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria
  2. The Declaration of the Mussalaha Delegation on the Refugee Situation in Lebanon

Secondly, in case you haven’t heard, know that dear Mother Agnes of Homs is going to be back in Australia in only three weeks time!

Mother Agnes is going to be raising both funds and awareness in this tour and there will be a $100/head fundraiser dinner on the evening of Friday, June 21st. I’ve already booked a table, so if you’d like to join me at my table I’d love your company. Just let me know.

If you can’t afford to join us at the dinner, I’m hoping to have Mother Agnes with us for church with us on the Sunday – June 23rd. That won’t cost you anything (and you even get a free cup of coffee afterwards)! 

with Mother Agnes at the Umayyad mosqe

with Mother Agnes and the team at the Umayyad mosque

Binacrombi Boot Camp II

The Fighting Fathers held another wonderful ‘Boot Camp’ while I was away.

Ange tells me that the program ran exceptionally well. Apparently we not only had Christian and Muslim boys join us this time but a Jewish boy as well. Everybody demonstrated a wonderful camaraderie and commitment to the program, which was both challenging and invigorating!

Congratulations go to Fighting Fathers Mungo McCall, Caine Pennell, Danny Sarkis and Sol Egberime for making the weekend work so well! :-)

Our next Boot Camp is scheduled for the last weekend in July. Given the icy-cold temperatures at Binacrombi at that time of the year, this one will be tailored towards the truly battle-hardened. Book now! 

Binacrombi Boot Camp II

Veterans of the Binacrombi Boot Camp II

Mairead Maguire

As I said before I left for Syria, one of the things I was most looking forward to on the trip was the opportunity to meet one of my great heroes – Maired Maguire.

I know that often when you meet someone whom you’ve admired from afar for many years they turn out to be a bit of a disappointment in person. Not so in this case! Mairead is as inspiring when you get to know her as she is at a distance! More-so in fact! :-)

If you don’t know Mairead’s story and the role she played in the peace process in Northern Ireland (which won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976) you can read about her in Wikipedia or in a thousand other places on the web. For the moment, I’ll let my interview with her speak for itself.

[imaioVideo v=1]

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

Before I go today I need your help with something:

I’m setting up a website on Syria – a site where I can post articles and videos that will keep us all up-to-date with the news on Syria that you won’t see on TV. I’ve purchased three domain names but I’m not sure which on to use?

  • syria.net.co
  • newsinsyria.com
  • syriaupdate.com

Which one do you think works best? Please email me your thoughts or post them at the end of the blog in the comments section.

OK.

In closing, allow me to share with you some of pics I took in Iran with my friend, Sheikh Mansour.

If you don’t know the history between Mansour and me, and how I fought tooth and nail to prevent his ‘deportation without trial’ a few years ago, it’s all on savethesheikh.com.

Mansour is now back in Esfahan while his sons remain in Australia. His case is still before the United Nations Human Rights Committee for consideration. One day we hope to see him back in Sydney.

In the meantime, Mansour and I are hoping to develop some sort of online inter-faith radio show together. We’ve been planning it for years in fact. If all goes well we might be able to start something even next month! In the meantime, here’s a few photos of me and Mansour in Tehran, Qom and Esfahan (click to enlarge).

A sight for sore eyes – meeting Mansour at the airport

A sight for sore eyes – meeting Mansour at the airport

at the Jamkaran Mosque in Qom with Mansour

at the Jamkaran Mosque in Qom with Mansour

with Mansour in Esfahan

with Mansour in Esfahan

That’s it for today, fighter. I hope to be back with you this time next week.

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

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 – March 25th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you – a little worn and weary after our explosive Boot Camp weekend at Binacrombi – but feeling very much alive! :-)

It was a magnificent experience!

I don’t want to get too carried away but I could eulogize on the joys of the weekend for a few missives if I allowed myself:

  • the workouts
  • the relationships
  • the wonderful catering
  • the beauty of the environment

All added up to a weekend that everybody who participated deeply appreciated.

And it wasn’t just us hardened pugs who benefited. We had about a dozen children, including a number of pre-schoolers.  Indeed, I was planning on sharing one of my favourite snaps from the weekend which pictured three of our young girls proudly showing off the ‘fairy castle’ that they’d constructed for their dolls out of stones on the property!:-)

Unfortunately that pic is on Ange’s phone which she seems to have misplaced, so you’ll have to wait until she recovers her phone before you can see that exciting image.

In the meantime, here are some other excellent shots:

Below is our Boot Camp leader, Mick Richards (right) with Fighting Father Mungo. Mick is one of the most professional trainers I’ve ever met and is certainly the least pretentious!

Mungo (left) with Mick Richards

click to see the full-size image

We didn’t see a lot of Mick strolling about and looking relaxed like that. He was normally standing over us with a stop-watch or throwing a medicine ball at us!

Below is a pic of Mick with big Trent in the Binacrombi Wrestling Cage, doing an intensive punching and fitness workout!

Mick Richards takes Trent on a pads workout

click the pic to see the image full-size

I’ll tell you how Mick structured out Saturday so that you have an idea of how the Boot Camp training works:

  • Session 1 was a 45-minute intensive workout on the punching bags and weights equipment.
  • Session 2 was a one-hour run across Binacrombi’s hills and valleys in the heat of the day.

We then broke for lunch (exhausted).

  • Session three was 45 minutes of hill running, where we had to do our best to sprint 250 meters up a steep hill, jog back down, and then do some intensive upper-body exercises before shooting straight up the hill again. I don’t remember 45 minutes every lasting so long! 
  • The last session involved one-on-one work with Mick in the wrestling cage, alternating with sparring in the boxing ring. This lasted until everybody collapsed in a screaming heap and then gradually crawled back to the dining room for some sustenance. 

My account probably isn’t enthusing anybody to join us for the next camp but, in truth, everybody who came enjoyed it so much that they determined to bring friends next time! :-)

Mick said at the beginning that his job was to help us each ‘find our engines’ and, in truth, we all found them!

One of the personal highlights for me was having Dimitri Patsouris as my guest on the camp. I made my professional boxing debut with Dimitri (then ‘Jimmy Pat‘) back in 1996!

What is so special about this is that Dimitri didn’t have a lot of love for me at the time of our fight in ’96. Indeed, he didn’t want to shake my hand after the fight!  But since that time Dimitri has become a man of faith and has developed into an enormously big-hearted human being! :-)

The weekend climaxed for me with doing three rounds with Dimitri, who hasn’t lost any of his skills. The disheartening factor for me was that he’s now more than 30 kilograms heavier than me, and packs one helluva right hand! 

Dimitri Patsouris lines me up for a big right!

click the pic to see it full-size

I wish I’d taken some group shots of all of us together. Unfortunately I was in the middle of it all the whole time, so didn’t really get a chance! Fighting Father Denning though had an injured foot and spent a lot of time videoing the weekend. He should have a watchable version for us real soon!

In the meantime, here’s a pic of our boy, Sol Egberime, sparring with one of the hardest workers on the weekend – Nadine, whom I believe was German women’s welterweight champion.

Sol Egberime and Nadine

click the pic to see it full-size

Our next Boot Camp is scheduled for May 10th to 12th. Let me know ASAP if you’d like to join us! I can pretty much guarantee that we can help you find your engine! :-)

ZeroCostWebsite.net

There’s no sermon video this week as I wasn’t preaching.

We did have a wonderful time of prayer and worship at the Boot Camp, with Fighting Fathers Caine and Geoff doing the leading and preaching, respectively, and me presiding at the Eucharist. Even so, there’s no video.

What I do have for you this week is a new website that Fighting Father Jim and I have been working on for a while.

It’s not fully completed yet but it’s in the BETA testing phase. In other words, it’s good enough for me to show to my mates – that is, YOU:-)

The purpose of the site is pretty straightforward. We’re trying to build zero-cost websites for good people like yourself and we’re hoping that it’s going to be productive and viable.  We need your feedback though before we go any further.

Could you do me a favour please and check out zerocostwebsite.net?

The offer of the free site on there is genuine and if you’d like to sign up for one you can. Either way, could you please also check out my alternative homepage for the site which you’ll find here.

When you compare the two pages you’ll see that one uses full-screen video and one uses a normal framed video.

I personally like the full-screen version as I feel it helps me to relate to the viewer better. Jim finds the full-screen version intimidating and thinks it will turn people away.  What do you think?  Both Jim and I would sincerely value your opinion.

OK, it’s time for me to get some sleep, fighter. I’ll see you next week!

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. Last week I mentioned the death of my dear friend, Grace Reppion. If you’d like to join us for the funeral, we’ll begin at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill this Wednesday morning at 10am.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four