Father Dave’s Preach and Punch Fest

Hi Fighter,

It’s midnight on a Saturday night as I start this missive. I’m in the middle of the Australian bush. It is cold and damp. If you did an inventory of lifeforms within a 50km radius, you’d find a thousand kangaroos and wombats for every human being. My friend, Mike, has just arrived after a long and difficult drive. True to the tradition of the monasteries of old, we’ve provided him with some hearty food (in the form of leftover snags from tonight’s barbie).

For me it’s been a weekend of broken expectations. We were fully booked a few days ago, which would have been a nice financial windfall for Binacrombi. Unfortunately, all but two groups pulled out at the last minute due to dire predictions of rain and snow and flood (none of which came to pass).

We had a visit from the bishop of Canberra scheduled for today too, but he had to cancel as well. I’d also anticipated having a strong team of boxers here with me this weekend, and indeed they were here in force when I arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, Nathan, their leader, had to suddenly return home, and most of the team left with him.

My immediate response to all this was to feel deflated – why do things like this always happen to me? Of course, these are each only minor setbacks really, and, more importantly, I know they help me develop my capacity for stupidity and stubbornness.

Stupidity and stubbornness – they are our greatest assets in life. Being willing to try things that our peers think are stupid, and then sticking with them long after everybody else thinks we should have given up – these are the essential qualities we need if we are going to make a difference.

We may be tempted to give noble descriptions to these qualities – courage, initiative, perseverance, etc. Forget all that. Let’s just call them what they are – stupidity and stubbornness. Thanks be to God, I’ve always shown a strong capacity for both, and weekends like this help me to become even stubborner and more stupid. Yes – even though the formula failed this week, just as it did last week, I’ll get up and try exactly the same thing next week, anticipating a better result.

To be honest, things worked out great last week, even though almost all bookings were cancelled and my boxing team didn’t come through. I ended up sparring with some of the guests – a group of young Lebanese men who were enjoying a boys weekend in our dormitory.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I had promised to put on a good boxing show for them, and when I apologised and told them that no one had shown up to box me, I was impressed to see how many of them volunteered to put on the gloves and make sure the show went ahead. I found out later that one of the boys was a former Golden Gloves champion.  That night turned out to be quite an intense experience, and one I won’t soon forget. Even so, we are all the best of mates now – a band of brothers.

It always works like this – week after week.  It’s part of the magic of boxing. You go to war on each other, and afterwards there’s a bond between you that is as hard to break as it is to describe. I believe we’re touching something deep in the collective male subconscious. Whatever it is, it’s helping me build up Binacrombi as a community, one bloody nose at a time.

I’ll include the video of this weekend’s ‘punch and pray’ sessions below. I find we’re currently getting around 60 people joining us for the livestream each week for each event – the boxing on Saturday night and the Eucharist on Sunday morning. There’s not a lot of overlap though.  Most of the boxing fans don’t join me for prayers in the morning, and vica versa. I’m hoping though that gradually the two groups will become one, and if that doesn’t happen right away, I’m stubborn enough to keep trying until it does, or at least until I’m too old or too punch-drunk to keep them both happening.


If you want to tune into the Binacrombi Bush Bash, it’s on every Saturday that I can find an opponent – streaming live from the Binacrombi Facebook page from about 6 pm. If you want to join me for Sunday’s Bush Eucharist, it streams from the Father Dave Facebook page at noon the following day. If you’re there for both, I’ll be impressed. If you can go one step further and make an offertory by way of a paid subscription to www.fighting-fathers.com I’ll be grateful for that as well.

Not much more to add this week. I’m hoping to confirm a date for the launch of my new book – Christians and Muslims can be friends – in the next few days. I’ve been busy preparing for the launch and am really hoping that we’ll change the planet through this book (at least a little bit).

Of course, it’s hard to do much to change the world when we’re living with recurring lockdowns and can be arrested for protesting. I heard of another two friends lost to suicide this week, as the Director of the US Centre for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, admitted publicly that the lockdowns are currently killing twice as many people as the virus.

When will this lockdown madness end? My friends tell me that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m too stupid to accept that, and if I can come up with a good resistance strategy, I’ll stick at it with all the stubbornness I can muster until I’m either locked up or something gives.

Sorry. I didn’t want to end on a negative note. If you want to be part of the resistance and help me scheme, join me at Binacrombi one weekend soon. The virus hasn’t worked out how to find us there yet, and neither have the lockdown merchants or the thought-police. There we can pray, fight, talk, and speak our truths to each other without fear of censor. Apart from trusted friends, it’s only roos and wombats who can hear you, and none of them would dare turn us in to the authorities!

I’ll hope to see you soon.

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Controlled by Fear?

Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
My battle with the Combat Sports Authority continues
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria

.
Hi Fighter,

I begin today’s newsletter from beautiful Lord Howe Island, somewhere off the east coast of Australia (though I have no idea exactly where). This is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but about 18 months ago I agreed to do a wedding here for a young Swedish boxer named Ola (who also happens to be an Anglican priest) and his Australian partner, Jesse, and … here we are. Two days in paradise!

Back on the mainland things look far less idyllic. Indeed, we seem to be quickly degenerating into a society ruled by fear – fear of infection from this latest virus. People are fighting to empty the supermarkets shelves, preparing for a lock-down. Tempers are short and anxiety levels are high.

I guess we used up our resilience. Will-power is like any other muscle. You can only exercise it so much before it wears out, which is why advertisers always try to hit us repeatedly with their ads in order to wear us down. In this case, we survived the drought, the fires and the floods. We just didn’t have any will-power left over to resist the next crisis. It wouldn’t have mattered what it was.

Personally, I have no intention of being ruled by fear and I don’t think the church should give in to fear either. “Perfect love casts out all fear”, the Apostle John says (1 John 4:18). In Jesus’ case that meant Him touching all sorts of people who others considered unclean (lepers, people with different illnesses, etc). Likewise, in today’s environment, I can’t see Jesus refusing a handshake or a hug to anyone, I won’t either.

Mind you, I’m battling my own fears at the moment – fears about my own future, as my life’s vocation as parish priest of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill draws to a close. Everyone has been asking me what I plan to do next – none more so than my youngest daughter who gets worried about where we will live. I thought I’d take the opportunity in this newsletter to share some of my hopes for the future.

I’m not envisaging any further opportunities to work with a church, and, at 58 years of age, I think I’ve left my run a bit late to retrain as a neurosurgeon (as attractive as that option might seem). My hope is that I’ll be able to keep going with my work with the young people through the boxing club, and hopefully continue too with my social justice work – campaigning for peace, for freedom of speech, for a fair go for asylum-seekers, etc. The trick will be finding a way to stay financial while I do what I feel called to do. I’ve got a few ideas:

Firstly, I may be able to develop our campsite ministry – Binacrombi – into something that generates an income. After almost 20 years of operation, it’s yet to turn a profit. Even so, we’ve seen lots of wonderful things take place there, and it may be that if we can increase the number of wonderful things taking place, it may also generate enough to support Fran and myself.

I’ve been talking lately with some Indigenous leaders about running camps for Indigenous young people at our site. That would be brilliant. I’ve also been separately talking to an old boxing champion who now works with vulnerable men, and to a church leader who works with at-risk women. They are both really keen to try bush retreats as a path to healing for the people they work with. Who knows where this might take us? 🙂

Independent of this, I’m about to publish my second book – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”. As I said to my young daughter, all we need to do is sell a million copies at a profit of $1 per book and we’ll have enough to buy a house! That’s easier said than done, of course, and the aim of the book is not to make money. Even so, God works in mysterious ways. We’ll see where this takes us.

In truth, I am very excited about the book. I’ve been waiting for many months for the foreword to be completed by His Grace, the Grand Mufti of Syria. I received that forward in Arabic a few weeks ago and I’ve subsequently had four translators working on it to give me the best possible English translation. I’m so proud of this forward that I can’t resist sharing a part of it with you today. I’ve published an excerpt here. My sincere and deep thanks to my esteemed brother, Dr Hassoun, the Mufti – a man I deeply admire and pray for every day. May God’s peace rest upon him and strengthen him as he shoulders the task of rebuilding his country.

In terms of my hopes for staying financial, my primary hope is actually that I will land a big fight in the near future. I appreciate that 58 is not normally considered the ideal age for a professional boxer. Even so, I figure that being ancient also makes me a novelty, and the truth is that I have never been fitter, stronger or faster. I’m not sure how to explain that except that I believe it is God’s way of telling me to keep on punching.

Of course, the first step to getting a big fight is getting a fight, and the Combat Sports Authority (CSA) has made that very difficult for me. I took the CSA to the Administrative Tribunal (thGloves of God bannede poor man’s version of court) after they prohibited my last fight in my hometown – stopping me an hour before I was due to go on. Unfortunately, the case was ultimately dismissed on a technicality. The Daily Telegraph published an article about that last weekend (click the pic for a more readable version)

My plan was to fight in Port Moresby again next month, which was part of an attempt to draw attention again to the plight of asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea, this time with the backing of Amnesty International. Even so, travel restrictions currently being implemented by the government will mean that I have to abandon that plan for the moment.

Even so, I’ve also got ‘Wild Bill’ Kimbacher wanting to rematch me in northern Queensland where the NSW-based CSA can’t reach me. Bill has even put together a video challenge (which you can see here). That will be a tough fight. I trust that these virus fears won’t stop the bout happening.

From there … Syria again perhaps (when travel restrictions lighten up) or perhaps they’ll let me fight in Sydney again by then? Time will tell. Pray for me though please – pray that the Lord will open the doors I need opened and that I get my shot at a brighter future.

Sermon Time

I’m including today my sermon on Jesus’ encounter with an unnamed woman that He met at a well in Samaria, as narrated to us in the Gospel of John, chapter four. It’s a story that I found myself identifying with in many ways, and I did share a lot that is personal in this sermon.

Henri Nouwen pointed out that it was only when Jesus shared his wounds with His disciples that healing began. Nouwen saw this as the model for the priest/preacher. I had hoped that this sermon might lead to healing too. Time will tell. Click below, or get the written version here.

In terms of what’s on, everything is in turmoil due to new regulations coming down in response to the virus. April 19 is still the key day for me – the day when I hand over leadership of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill to Father Hugh Isaacs. Whether I’ll be able or organise anything special for that day, or whether we’ll even be meeting is now uncertain. I’ll keep you up-to-date, but if we can do something, we will do something, and we do do something, you are invited. 🙂

I’ll finish off today by adding a few extra videos below:

  1. Wild Bill’s Kimbacher’s fight challenge (4 minutes)
  2. My speech at a recent rally for Julian Assange (4 minutes)
  3. Episode four of Revved UP! (45 minutes)!





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

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

One more round

The 2-minute ice-water challenge
The 2-minute ice-water challenge
a happy Father's Day gathering 🙂
a happy Father's Day gathering 🙂
bunny
Imogen's wonderful gift
Imogen's entry in the art competition
Our Boxers for Peace Syria 2019 team reunion dinner


“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Hi Fighter,

I remember as a young Christian – still a teenager – hearing a woman preach on these words of St Paul (reprinted above) to the church in Corinth. I remember her colloquialising Paul’s language using boxing terminology – “we are on the ropes but not on the canvas. We are down but not out!”

I don’t think the preacher knew any more about boxing than I did at the time, but I have indeed lived that experience since (both and out of the ring). What struck me as these words came to me again this week though was that the Paul used the word ‘we’ and not just ‘I’ when he spoke of his struggles. The experience of hardship and persecution is never something we go through alone. It just seems that way.

A number of us had our physical limits tested last weekend courtesy of the bush camp at Binacrombi. As ever, the Saturday involved lots of running and punching – all of which was exhausting – but all of which paled in comparison to the greater challenge of the Winter camp – the two-minute dip in the billabong.

In summer, a swim in the billabong is a great way to cool off after a hot day. In winter though it gets very cold, and two minutes submerged in its icy-cold waters can seem like an eternity. Bob (our beloved caretaker and amateur meteorologist) reported that the temperature had fallen to 15 degrees below zero overnight and that it had still been below freezing in the morning. The sun had subsequently made a timid appearance but could have made no more than a cosmetic difference.

I spent a lot of mental energy during my morning run trying to think up a worthwhile excuse as to why I couldn’t attempt the billabong challenge this time. I had a cough, after all, and didn’t want to make it worse. Besides that, I was exhausted, and thought it foolish to push my body further when I might already be at breaking-point. I imagined what my friends would say  and they were of one voice – “Don’t do it! You have nothing to prove. Set an example of common sense!”

And then some other words came into my head. I wish I could pretend that they were the words of Jesus. No, I recalled something I heard Kostya Tszyu say when he was explaining why he lost his fight against Ricky Hatton in London in 2005. Kostya said that the reason he lost that fight was because that night he hadn’t been prepared to die in the ring.

That made a lot of sense to me when I first heard it. It still does. Indeed, Kostya articulated what, for me, ring-fighting is all about. It’s a parable for all of life where you commit yourself completely – body and soul – to task at hand, whatever the cost. You can’t go in half-hearted.

I remember well the one fight I had where my heart wasn’t in it. It was my fourth fight – a kickboxing bout – against a guy named Toby. With the first kick of the fight he cracked the patella in my knee. I remember the pain shooting up my leg and my heart sinking. I just wanted to go home. Yes, I fought on for three rounds and lost on a split decision but, in truth, I lost that fight in those opening seconds.

Anyway … recalling Kostya’s words reminded me of who I am. I asked myself out loud, “are you the ‘Fighting Father’ or the ‘Frightened Father’?” Within half an hour I was charging into the freezing waters of the billabong, accompanied by the only other two warriors there who were willing to join me.

Big Max showed a lot of guts to follow me into that water and submerge himself. He only lasted about ten seconds though before charging back out. Henri stayed in with me for the full two minutes – God bless him! He was in pain, and kept cursing me for smiling at him the whole time, but he endured!

I smiled my way through it. Once I got my breathing under control, I found the experience surprisingly easy. Isn’t this always our the way? Our opponents are ferocious demigods in our imaginations. Then we absorb their punches. We survive!

All this was going through my head as I floated in the billabong on Saturday, and it emboldened me for the greater fight. For me, that greater fight is the battle for the soul of our church community.

It’s been hard to go on pastoring the church without my partner. What has made it harder still has dealing with the rumours that have been spread about me. I won’t repeat them again here. Suffice it to say that I thought people knew me better.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you” (Luke 6:22). It is the words of Jesus that come to mind this time, and perhaps I should feel blessed by all this attention? I don’t. I feel like I’m struggling to stay upright – on the ropes but not on the canvas, down but not out!

So … what to do? The better angels of my nature speak with one voice – ‘Fight!’ Fight to preserve your community. Fight to maintain Holy Trinity as a place where God is truly worshipped and where all people are truly welcome.

In truth, I have always been driven by a vision of who we might become as a church. It’s a vision of a large church community made up of people from every nation, wealthy people and homeless people, people of various educational levels and differing sexual identities. All are welcome, and all are one in worship.

That vision has been driving me for the last thirty years. I’m accepting now that I won’t be around to see that vision reach its full fruition. That doesn’t matter. We are building for the future, and if we commit ourselves to the greater work, by God’s grace we will build something that will outlast us all.

I think this is something worth fighting for. How exactly we conduct the fight is not entirely clear to me yet but two things are clear. Firstly, we need to stand together if we are going to be successful. Secondly, we go one round at a time. Again, words of wisdom come to mind, this time from one of the fathers of modern boxing, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett. …

“Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the centre of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round – remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”

(you can download a poster I created that displays these words here)

Sermon Time

You probably feel that I’ve been doing enough sermonising in this post already, but let me my thoughts on one of Jesus’ healing miracles that we read about in the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 13. It really struck me when I read this how Jesus’ opponents were never thieves or addicts but always upright religious people. How is it that religion so easily goes bad – a question as relevant for today as it ever was.

Click below for the video or access the written version of my sermon here.

I won’t take up more of your time today, fighter, except to ask you to continue to pray for me as I do for you.

I won’t take up more of your time today, fighter, except to mention that I’ve been invited to give a TEXx talk in Sydney this Friday evening. If you’d like to be a part of the audience, hit me back and I’ll let you know the details.

Please continue to pray for me as I do for 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

Feeling Weary

proudly wearing the colours of the Syrian Arab Army
taking the girls on a one-night holiday to the Blue Mountains
taking the girls on a one-night holiday to the Blue Mountains
taking the girls on a one-night holiday to the Blue Mountains
taking the girls on a one-night holiday to the Blue Mountains
taking the girls on a one-night holiday to the Blue Mountains
Imogen takes her shot at the Miss World title
Imogen enters an art competition
with my darling girls 🙂
Introducing Fran to Luna Park's Wildmouse


Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I am feeling weary as I pen this week’s update. Energy levels ebb and flow for all of us – I know. I’m at a low energy point today.

Coming to terms with the fact that this may be my last year in parish ministry is something I’m struggling with today. It tends to be par for the course when clergy lose their family that they lose their job and home as well.  That might sound rough, but this is my second time round. I’m just thankful that I had a stay of execution after my first marriage broke down in 1991.

I’d been at Dulwich Hill for less than six months when that happened. I remember praying fervently back then that I might be given just a bit more time in the parish. I’d spent the previous ten years preparing for the opportunity and my heart’s desire was just to pour myself into the work. Well … that was almost 30 years ago, and it’s been an amazing ride. I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.

Where to from here? I am trusting that the Lord God has something planned for me – something that will allow me to contribute my remaining energies where they can do the most good and where I can generate enough income to support myself and my dear little one.

Of course, it’s only right that us preachers should be put to the test. We are always telling others to ‘have faith’ and ‘God will provide’. It’s one thing to say that very eloquently from the pulpit though and another thing to step forward in faith yourself. Having said that, I’ve never hesitated to step forward when it’s only my own life that’s at risk. I’ve put my body on the line plenty of times in Syria, Manus Island, in the backstreets of Sydney and in the boxing ring. Risking me is not an issue. It’s when I’m pulling others that I love along with me that it gets scary.

So, pray for me and Fran please. Pray for Ange and Soren too, and pray for our adult children – Imogen and Veronica. We need your prayer. We probably don’t need your good advice, and we definitely don’t need your judgement, but we do need your prayer. If you’re up to giving us the one without the others, thank you. And if you didn’t see last week’s letter to the parish and you’d like to see it, it’s here.

Sermon time

I preached last Sunday on the letter to the Hebrews, chapter eleven. Hebrews is not one of the church’s most loved letters and I don’t deal with it often. Even so, the great list of the heroes of the faith that the author gives us there caught my imagination, though perhaps not in the way you might have expected. Listen below or click here if you’d prefer my thoughts in writing.

Back to the bush

The timing may not be ideal but I’ve committed myself to running another ‘Warrior Weekend’ before the end of winter. That means we’re looking at August 30th to September 1st.

Are you ready to gird up your loins and head with me into the middle of nowhere for a weekend of running, fighting, immersion in icy-cold water and prayer? Who wouldn’t jump at such an opportunity?

All the details are on this flyer. Just print it off, fill it out and get it back to me. That can be as simple as taking a photo with your phone and texting it to me, and the cost for the weekend is negotiable, according to your means. Getting there is the easy part. Getting through the experience is the challenge, perhaps especially for me at the moment. Even so, I have two weeks to prepare for this mentally and physically and, in truth, I’d really enjoy your company if you can make it.

I’ll leave it there for today. May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

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

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

Fight me!

Soren turns 17
My amazing daughter, Imogen, and her wonderful art
My amazing daughter, Imogen, and her wonderful art
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Fran and I take a trip to Queensland
Protesting the arrest of Julian Assange


Hi Fighter. I hope you’re having a great Easter,

I know Easter Day was weeks ago but in our church calendar we are still in Easter season. It can’t hurt to keep the celebration of life and hope going a bit longer.

For me this Easter has been one of great highs and great lows – of exhilaration and exhaustion. I did get three days away with my darling Fran last week, and that was lovely (see pics below). Since then though the pace has been exhausting, and I’m reaching out for help. Indeed, I have three favours to ask today, the first of which has to do with my ongoing battle with the Combat Sports Authority (CSA).

Get me another fight!

In case you missed the story, the brief version is that the CSA prohibited my last boxing match from going ahead. They communicated this to the promoter via email, without stating any reason for the prohibition, an hour before I was due to go on!

I subsequently wrote to the CSA, politely asking them for $20,000 in compensation that could be shared between me and to my opponent and all my friends who paid $200+ per ticket to see me fight. At time of writing, they haven’t replied.

My share of the funds was going to go towards out next Boxers for Peace mission in Syria. Now I not only don’t have the funds I was hoping for. I have no way of raising further funds. Nobody is going to want to pay big money now to see me fight when they can’t be sure I’m going to perform on the night.

Since my friendly letter hasn’t achieved anything, I’m trying some other strategies:

  1. I spoke to my local State MP, Jo Haylen, who very helpfully wrote to the Minister for Sport, looking for answers.
  2. I’m putting together a claim to our state Civil and Administrative Affairs Tribunal that the CSA can’t ignore.
  3. I’ve put together a press release that I’m sharing with my media contacts.
  4. I’ve created a ‘get me a fight’ video appeal that I hope will go viral on social media. This is where I need your help

The video is below. Let me know what you think of it and, if you’re willing to support the cause, share it. You can embed it on your blog page, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or just email the link (https://youtu.be/PFrA7W5Lv0g) to a friend.

I’m hoping that if enough people share this video, it will eventually reach someone, somewhere in the world, who can organise a fight for me – the fight that will help me raise the funds we need. So please … watch, enjoy, and share.

Christians and Muslims can be friends

My second request concerns my about-to-be-published book – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what the book is about. It’s all in the title. Given what’s happening in the world at the moment, I am anxious to get this book published and see it do some good. I made the first payment to the publisher today and I hope to be distributing physical copies within a few months. What I need though first is a few more people to review the book for me.

I’m looking particularly for a Muslim scholar to give me some feedback on what I’ve written about Islam. As you’d expect, most of my theological analysis is of Christian theology, and given that half of the book is made up of interviews with my Muslim friends, I figured I could leave the presentation of Islam to them.

Having said that, I do have one chapter where I focus on key theological differences between Christianity and Islam as I understand them, and I’d really like some focused feedback on this from an appropriately credentialed Muslim scholar. I’ve been having real trouble finding the right person to help me with this.

If you’re a Muslim friend with a solid understanding of Islamic theology (or you know someone who is) please help me. I really don’t want to have this book come out and find that I’ve accidentally offended the entire Muslim community because I carelessly used the wrong word or made some silly mistake. I want this book to do some good.

Sermon Time

Last Sunday we found ourselves in the last chapter of the John, and the whole chapter comes across as something like an encore. The Gospel ends in the previous chapter but then, for some reason, the author felt he needed to add just one more story. What was so important about this story that John’s history of the life and ministry of Jesus could not be completed without it?

You’ll get my thoughts via the second video below, or you can read it here.

Final request

I said that I had three requests. The final one is the least spectacular of the three –
I need advice on getting a new car.

Unfortunately, my lovely 4WD that has ferried me and hundreds of others to and from Binacrombi bush camp over the last nine years is dead. The engine melted! How this happened, I’m not entirely clear as I wasn’t driving the car at the time. All I can say is that thankfully nobody was hurt. The vehicle though is beyond recovery.

Are any of you guys trying to get rid of a 2nd-hand 4WD? Getting a new one isn’t an option for me at this stage, but I’m keen to hear of any decent 2nd-hand ones going. Or perhaps there are other ways of addressing this issue – renting, leasing, sharing … I’m open to all suggestions.

That’s it for today. May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

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

The light shines in the darkness

Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Our State MP, Jo Haylen, pays us a visit at Holy Trinity
State MP, Jo Haylen, meets our Sunnyfield Disability team
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Protesting the arrest of Julian Assange
Boxers for Peace preparer for our Syria 2019 mission trip


Hi Fighter,

Here we are, at the end of Holy week. As begin to write, it’s still Friday, and the images of our wonderful Good Friday service are still fresh in my mind. Even so, it’s been a busy and emotionally-draining week for me.

Years ago, what always exhausted me this time of year were the multiple home-communions I’d be doing amongst the elderly in our church. Unfortunately, those old friends have since moved on to a better place. Now the pressures come from multiple directions.

In truth, I’m still feeling weighed down by what happened with my fight two weeks back – cancelled at the last minute for reasons that have still not been explained. Not just me, but my supporters and my opponent were all left out-of-pocket, and I’m still wondering how I’m going to raise any more money through boxing, as no one is going to fork out $200+ per ticket to see me perform again if they know my fight can be pulled minutes before I’m due to go on!

I with our local State MP (Jo Haylen) about this, and she is sympathetic and supportive. She may be able to do something. I’m also exploring the legal route, and I’m planning on sharing my story via social media next week through a quirky video. In the meantime, any and all suggestions are welcome.

The other thing that has really shaken me this last week was the arrest of Julian Assange – a friend, and a man I view as a true brother in the Good Fight.

with Julian Assange 2014
better days – with Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy on Easter Day, 2014 (picture courtesy of Julian)

I know that whenever I mention Julian people tell me I’m defending a rapist. This just shows how successful the character-assassination campaign has been. The truth is:

  1. Assange was never charged with rape and was never wanted for trial.
  2. He has already been cleared, and the woman in the case says that the police made it all up in order to ’get him’ (see more here).

Also, keep in mind that the reason the United States wants to put Julian on trial has nothing to do with rape allegations, and neither does it have anything to do with alleged liaisons with Russia or Hillary Clinton’s emails or anything like that. The US wants to prosecute Julian over the “Collateral Murder” video that he published in 2007, exposing US war crimes in Iraq!

What kind of world do we live in where those who murder the innocent never get called to account but those who expose their crimes face imprisonment and torture?

I view Julian as a modern-day prophet, and before you tell me that he’s a bit too irreligious and eccentric to be a prophet, remember that’s exactly what they said about Jeremiah and John the Baptist. Julian, like the prophets of old, has shone a light of truth into the corridors of power, exposing corruption, and like the prophets of old, he is facing persecution (see Luke 11:48-50).

We held a small rally in support of Julian last Sunday outside the US Embassy in Sydney. At the same time, multiple other protests were being held outside US embassies around the world. You can see my three-minute speech below.

It wasn’t a big turn-out, but I’m not planning on letting it end here. Indeed, I’ve got an idea in my head that we need to start a group called something like “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange”. I think it’s time we tapped into the energy of ordinary people in churches and mosques across our country – people who still believe in a higher authority than our politicians and business leaders.

Julian’s persecution is something that should bring people of all faiths together, but I’ll be happy if I can get our Christian and Muslim communities pulling together on this one. Watch this space!

Sermon Time

I appreciate that we’re in Holy Week, but it’s a bit too early to proclaim the joy of the resurrection. Let me instead share with you the last sermon I gave, which focuses on the dysfunctional family-life of Jesus, and more specifically on Jesus’ relationship with Mary, who anoints Jesus’ feet with costly ointment and wipes them with her hair.

It’s an awkward and embarrassing scene in many ways, and yet the early church clearly considered this to be a very important event in the life of Jesus, as the story turns up in all four of the Gospel accounts! What makes this scene so central to the life of Jesus? Is Mary really a key figure in salvation history?

Some good news

Let me conclude today with two pieces of good news:

Firstly, I am thankful to God for the wonderful Warrior Weekend camp we held at Binacrombi last weekend. The numbers were relatively small but we more than made up for that in enthusiasm. We prayed, we boxed, we ran, we ate and we celebrated. If you weren’t able to make it to this one, we’re planning the Winter camp for early June.

The other piece of good news is that our Boxers for Peace team met for dinner this week and we’ve finally settled on dates for our next mission to Syria – namely, late June to early July. If you want to be a part of the action, let me know ASAP. Either way, please pray that we might make a real difference this time.

That’s all for now. Have a blessed and glorious Easter. May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which  you have been called.

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

Not Happy

Making weight for the fight that never happened
Making weight for the fight that never happened
Making weight for the fight that never happened
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
the boys in black are back!


Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave, touching base again, and this week I’m not happy.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I know I have a lot to be thankful for – a healthy family, supportive friends, and a wonderful church community. Even so, when my fight was cancelled last Friday night just before I was due to go on, I felt deeply dejected.

For those who don’t know the story, my fight against Jason Mac Gura had been scheduled for about a month. All the paperwork had been completed, medicals done, blood tests, etc. All the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed.

On Thursday, March 21st, I made weight, coming in at 75.7 kilos, meaning that I’d successfully lost four kilos in the six weeks of training leading up to the fight. I was in great shape! I turned up to the venue on the Friday night feeling confident and ready. Then the promoter told me that he’d just received an email from the Combat Sports Authority (CSA), saying that my fight had been prohibited from going ahead!

I saw the email myself. No explanation was given. The officials at the venue guessed that the prohibition might have been due to the age-gap between myself and my opponent, or it might have had something to do with the head injury I sustained a year ago (from which I was subsequently completely cleared). Either way, the on-site officials were guessing. It wasn’t their call. They and the promoter were apologetic. The responsibility lay solely with the board of the CSA, none of whom were at the event.

Around fifty people had turned up to support me on the night. Many of them had paid more than $200 per ticket. Most were not boxing fans but believed in me and in our work. Understandably, some wanted their money back. I didn’t have the money to refund them with. When you don’t’ fight, you don’t’ get paid. I’d been hoping to raise funds through the fight to fund our next mission to Syria. In the case of my opponent, the fight’s cancellation meant he couldn’t pay his rent!

What were they thinking – the bureaucrats who blocked my fight at the last minute? My guess is that it had something to do with the recent death of an Australian boxer. They were probably worried about the legal ramifications if I got hurt.

In truth, these people had far more reason to be worried about my opponent than about me, and they had medical professionals at the event anyway – there to deal with any problems that might arise. To cancel the event via email, after everybody had paid their money and taken their seats, seems like an act of irresponsible cowardice to me, and I’m not going to simply take this one on the chin (so to speak).

I wrote to the CSA, asking them politely for $20,000 compensation so that I could refund my friends the cost of their tickets, pay my opponent, and put something towards the next Boxers for Peace mission to Syria. They haven’t replied. My guess is that they won’t reply. The next step is to proceed against them legally and/or to get the media involved. I’m open to your advice and support in both of these areas. If you’re a legal person and you’re willing to help, or if you’d like to help me promote this issue in the media, let me know.

In truth, this is not just about me, and I am by no means the only person who has been disenfranchised by the CSA in recent times. Indeed, friends in the industry have been asking me for some time to get involved in order to save our sport.

The problem, as I see it, is that the persons now governing boxing are not boxing experts or necessarily even boxing fans! They are government officials who find themselves on the board of the Combat Sports Authority en route to bigger and better portfolios. I see little to suggest that these people care much about the sport or the people involved.

Perhaps I am being overly harsh? In truth, it’s hard to know what is really going on behind the closed doors of the CSA when they won’t talk to me. My only way forward is to keep agitating until I get some sort of response.

OK … I had been hoping to share a video with you today of my fight with Mac Gura. Obviously, I can’t do that now. Instead, you’ll find below a video of my last fight in Sydney – ‘Fighting’ Father Dave vs. ‘Wild’ Bill Kinbacher on November 17, 2018.

The video was recorded from the hat-cam of my cornerman (the mighty George Plellis) and has only just been made public. The hat-cam perspective means that you see exactly what George was looking at, and it brings you right up-close to the action.

Sermon Time

If you’re hoping for a bit of light relief at this point, I apologise. It’s Lent, and the theme of our Gospel reading last Sunday was ‘Repent or Die’! Proceed if you dare. The sermon video can be found below the fight video.


Time for another Warriors’ Weekend

If you’re feeling as worked up as I am, you may be glad to know that we have another Warriors’ Weekend scheduled for only a couple of weeks’ time. It’s another bush adventure from April 12 to 14 where we train like Trojans and pray like monks.

If you haven’t seen what we get up to, check out the one-minute video documentary that was done on our Warrior Weekend last year.  We run, box, immerse ourselves in freezing water, and have an all-round good time.

The cost for the weekend is $200 for the rich, $100 for the poor and free for the destitute. If you’re interested, let me know via a comment on this page and I’ll get all the details to you.  If you can afford the full cost, all the better. Funds from the fight might have helped subsidise the camp but … (let’s not go back there …)

Either way, no one has ever been turned away from one of our camps because they couldn’t afford it. If you’d like to come, just let me know. We’d love to have you join us.

That’s all for now. Keep me in your prayers 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

Christians and Muslims can be friends


Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends
Christians and Muslims can be friends

Hi Fighter,

These are dark days. We’ve seen the most horrible face of bigotry on display, and so close to our own shores. I’m referring, of course, to the terrible massacre of our sisters and brothers at prayer in the Christchurch Mosque. Yes, the crime was committed in Christchurch, New Zealand, and that’s not exactly next door if you live in Sydney. Even so, the massacre was apparently carried out by an Australian, and the location seems to have been chosen both to maximise casualties and to let all of us in this part of the world know that it could have happened in our own backyards.

I dropped in on our friends at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood shortly after the terrible shooting. It’s the first time I can remember where the front door was locked and I that needed to be identified via the video-intercom before being invited in. Those I spoke to were understandably shaken. Who knows what the ramifications of this terrible crime will be?

We need to pray for those who are grieving and for those now struggling with fear. For me personally, this also motivates me to get my “Christians and Muslims can be friends” book published. The pictures you see above are some of those featured in the book. The book is currently in the review stage. I’m listening to the comments of proof-readers and making final updates. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of that review team.

The only positive I can see in this tragedy is that it does present all of us who are long-term residents of my country with an opportunity to get alongside our friends in the Islamic community and various immigrant communities, as this violence seems to have been targeted against all non-white immigrants, and not only against Muslims in particular. Let’s at least take this opportunity to show our sisters and brothers of all races and creeds that maniacs like this shooter do not represent the rest of us – indeed, that we are better than this.

Pray with me that somehow our God will work through this terrible tragedy to build a more compassionate community with greater openness, understanding and unity.

Sermon Time

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Lent – traditionally, a day of somber reflection, and one that always features the Gospel story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, as recorded this year in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4.

We tend to see this narrative as Jesus modelling for us how we should deal with temptation. This is almost certainly NOT what the Gospel writer is offering us here. The temptations Jesus deals with are very specific to Jesus and His mission, though that is not to say that they are not relevant to us. Indeed, that may make them more relevant!

<a name="sermon"></a>
Father Dave vs Jason Mac Gura

The other big thing for me at the moment is my fight next Friday. Things like this shooting put my little projects in perspective. Even so, this is a big event for me.

My opponent is much younger and much more experienced. If you can join me at Club Punchbowl for the fight, I could do with your support. In truth, I do need to sell a few more tickets. The only funds I get from the fight are the commissions I get on the tickets I sell, and I need to sell thirty tickets just to cover my opponent’s purse. If I can’t sell that many tickets, I’ll be paying for the privilege of fighting. Not good.

Having said that, I’m confident that I will sell enough tickets, and I’m confident that I’ll not only cover my opponent’s purse but will raise some decent funds that I can put towards our next Boxers for Peace mission to Syria.  If you’d like to be a part of the show, regular tickets are $60 and ringside table seats (with food and alcoholic drinks provided) are $220 each. If you can’t give me the cash in person, you can order your tickets here I will mail them to you.

Ticket type

Forgive me for concluding today on a commercial note. Profiting from my fight is certainly not my life’s priority. Indeed, surviving the fight is a far greater priority. Even so, for me all these things are connected – the battle in the ring and the battle for a more open and human community. We each need to fight the good fight as best we are able, and there’s a lot more than money at stake.

If you can’t make it to Club Punchbowl next Friday, keep me in your prayers 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

Back into the Ring

Father Dave vs Jayson Mac Gura (March 22nd @ Club Punchbowl)

Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave, checking in from Binacrombi. I’m down here just for the one night, touching base with the team here and making a new friend. I’ve included a pic of my new best mate below. If you haven’t made it to Binacrombi yet, this guy is another good reason to come. He seems to be establishing himself as part of the community here.

Jack - Binacrombi's resident wombat

It’s curious. My vision for Binacrombi is to eventually establish a prayerful community here, so I’ve been waiting for the Lord to send me some wanna-be monks. Is God trying to tell me something by sending a wombat? (click the pic if you want to take a better look at him).

Anyway … the other exciting news is that I have another boxing match lined up for March 22nd – only three Fridays away. I’m fighting a guy named Jayson Mac Gura. He’s had 26 professional fights and is young enough to be my son. Even so, I’m reasonably confident of pulling off another win. It’s at Club Punchbowl, and should be a great night!

The idea with the fight is to fund a trip to Syria between Easter and Ramadan (April 21 and May 5, respectively). Neither the exact dates nor the team are confirmed at this stage, so if you’d like to join me, now is the time to let me know. It will be another Boxers for Peace mission, with the primary goal being to broadcast the voices of ordinary Syrian people around the world. I’ll also be hoping to establish a sister-church relationship between our parish and the Melkite community in Maaloula.

If you can’t join me on the ground in Syria, I hope you’ll support us in prayer and help me with the financing of the mission. If you’re subscribing to the Fighting Father’s member site, you’re already financially supporting this work. If you want to go one step further, just buy a ticket for the fight as I get a commission on the tickets. You can order tickets right here!

Ticket type

Sermon Time

“But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:27)

I appreciate that exhortations to ‘turn the other cheek’ seem rather out f place when I’m also asking you to support me in a boxing match! Even so, boxers are not the only people that have trouble coming to terms with these words from Jesus. If you missed hearing me struggling with this text last Sunday, you can click the link below.

That’s it from me for today. Keep me in your prayers 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