to Syria and back

at Yarmouk, doing what we do best 😉
with Kaouthar Bachraoui and Maria Saadeh at the Dama Rose in Damascus
there's no shortage of pretty girls at Damascus University!
at the home of Ananias - Straight Street, Damascus
with Maria Saadeh at the Umayyad Mosque
at the ancient Christian villiage of Maaloula
with the Bishop of Saydnaya in Maaloula
honoring the martyrs of Maaloula
I was glad when they said to me let us go up to the House of the Lord (Psalm 122)
honoring the martyrs of Saydnaya
a performance by Saydnaya's Youth Fellowship
remembering the genocide of 1915 with the Armenian bishop
Armenian Christians fighting with the Syrian Arab Army
Dinner at the Mufti's place 🙂
interviewing the Grand Mufti of Syria
with the Mufti and friends 🙂

Hi Fighter,

I’ve been to Syria, I’ve come back, and at the moment I’m sick in bed. I guess I’ve been pushing myself a bit too hard, but I’m now on long-service leave and will hopefully get a bit of a break.

People have been asking me how I would sum up our Syria experience in a word, and the truth is that there is no one word that can do our time there justice.

What I must say is that my heart is still there, and that I felt awful leaving – as if I was walking out on a friend who might die at any moment!

When I returned to Australia everyone was stressing about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran – about whether they were about to be executed. I appreciate that it was a horrible situation. Even so, I was walking away from a whole country full of people who were living with the same stress – ‘Are we about to be executed, and if so, when?’

Syria is at a very volatile point and, I hate to say it, but I think the future of all those people is being decided upon now in negotiations between the US and Iran. In truth, Syria is only surviving because of support from Iran. If the USA though makes Syria a bargaining chip to be sacrificed in exchange for the lifting of sanctions then a great many of those good people may be dead by the time I return.

Having said that, the indications at the moment are that Iran is not going to give up on Syria, and neither are her other two allies – Russia and Hezbollah. Nonetheless, things are at boiling point right now, with ISIS embedded in Yarmouk in the south and Palmyra in the north! Anything could happen over the next few weeks and months.

In terms of our Fighting Fathers’ visit, I have written-up some of our experiences in detail on and

Specifically, I’d encourage you to look at the following three articles:

The title of this last article is a quote from my interview with the Grand Mufti of Syria – Dr Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun – which I’ve embedded below. Indeed, it was such a great privilege for me to get half an hour, one-on-one, with the great man!

I won’t say more about that experience here except that he said three words to me in English before we parted. He said “pray for me.”  I said, “I do every day”, and indeed I do, for I know the takfiri will have no mercy on him if they get hold of him.

Dr Hassoun considers himself the Mufti not only of the Sunni but of the Shia and the Christians too! That’s the sort of talk that enrages religious fundamentalists!

I am hoping to be back in Syria in the next couple of months – this time with a larger team of boxers.  I’m also working on lining up a title fight for myself against one of Syria’s great veteran boxers.  My goal is to hold the fight either on the outskirts of Yarmouk or at another key Syrian city – perhaps Palmyra – and use the fight to draw attention to what’s really going on there.  It’s an ambitious ploy and I’d appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime there are plenty of other things happening, and a few that I’m keen to pass on to you here:

  • In case you didn’t hear, the United Nations Human Rights Committee finally replied to our official complaint regarding the Australian government’s treatment of my dear friend Sheikh Mansour Leghaei. Indeed, they upheld our complaint and instructed the Australian government to re-examine his case and to compensate him for damages! If you don’t know the full story, it’s on
  • Another dear brother who has received even harsher treatment from his government – Mordechai Vanunu – just got married! The picture below was taken at the Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem! I look forward to meeting Morde’s Norwegian wife, Kristine, in person as soon as they are allowed to leave Israel and travel to Australia. I trust they’ll find Mansour here when they get here!
  • And some more good news concerning a very talented sister – Ruth McCall – who will be having her own musical works performed by ‘Echology’The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir! There’s a performances at our church, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, on Sunday May 31st.  Full details can be found on the poster here.
Morde & Kristine are married!

Morde & Kristine!

That’s enough from me, especially as I’m still coughing and spluttering.

As I say, I’m on long-service leave at the moment and will be for the next three weeks. I’ll be spending the weekends down at Binacrombi, developing our youth camping program. You’d be welcome to join me on any of these weekends, especially this weekend when I think I’ll need all the help I can get. 🙁

I’ll be in contact again soon. Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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


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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Getting ready for Syria

about 80 people joined us for our Syria fundraiser
the food was fantastic
Bianca and Jemma put on a great display
Danny refereed a few friendly rounds between me and Nader
Some of Australia's greatest boxing personalities were with us
keeping them under control was a problem 😉
Fran loses a baby tooth! 🙂
we shared our training weekend at Binacrombi with a band of hardened bikies (all under 10 years old)
I pushed the limits of my fitness
Mungo managed it all far more easily
I did some great rounds with Kaveh
Mungo put in some tough rounds with Mahmoud
I had a great team to work my corner on Saturday night
A TKO in the 1st minute of the 1st round
a big thanks to the team

Hi Fighter,

This is Father Dave with another far-too-infrequent update for you.

I’m afraid the last three weekends have been a roller-coaster ride for me and I am somewhat exhausted:

  • Week 1: we had our fundraiser dinner – raising more than $6,000 towards sending our boxing team to Syria.
  • Week 2: we took another dozen kids on a Warriors’ Weekend at Binacrombi Bush Camp, in the heart of the Australian bush
  • Week 3: I fought for the NSW super-middleweight title (old bastard’s division), winning by TKO in the first minute of the first round.

With regards to the fundraiser dinner, there are so many people I need to thank:

And thank you to all 80 people who showed up on the night – members of Holy Trinity Church, the Salvation Army Dulwich Hill corps, our Fight Club, and all you subscribers who made the effort to join us. It was a wonderful night, and thanks to you we almost have the funds we need to make the Boxers for Peace 2015 Mission to Syria a reality!

Sermon Time!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

If you had a solid Christian upbringing like I did, this verse is very familiar to you. I don’t think modern translations still use the word ‘whosoever’ but what I typed above is the translation that has been in my head since I was a child. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know these words. They were taught to me at an early age as a one-verse distillation of the Gospel message!

What has really struck me more recently is that this familiar verse is not at all familiar to many people I live and work with. Moreover, I’ve found that the concepts contained in this verse are rather difficult to explain to those who haven’t had a Christian upbringing. Indeed, I’ve realised on further reflection that the concepts contained in John 3:16 are not self-explanatory by any means but rather mysterious!

So I’m not sure if my goal in this sermon is to explain John 3:16 to the uninitiated or to confuse those who feel comfortably familiar with it. Hopefully there’s something in it for both groups.

As I said above, I’m a little exhausted by the antics of the last three weeks, and now we’re in the middle of Holy Week, shortly after which we are taking off for Syria, so there’s no time to rest, especially as we still need a bit more help before we can go.

We almost have all the funds we need for the Boxers for Peace mission. We need roughly another thousand to cover everything. It would be great if you could help me reach the goal and I’d like to offer you something of value in exchange for your support.

Tom Toby - auctioneer extraordinaire!

Tom Toby – auctioneer extraordinaire!

The picture above is of our good friend Tom Toby auctioning off a signed poster of the Boxers for Peace Syria 2015 team. It’s in A3 size and is signed by each of the team members. I have two more of these signed posters and am ready to pass them on in exchange for a decent contribution towards our peace mission.

If you haven’t seen the actual image, which was the work of master-photographer John Clutterbuck, you can see it here.

My thought is to simply ask for contributions via my buy me a drink page (click here). You’ll find that you can make donations of any amount there, with a suggested starting point of $5. Whoever makes the two largest contributions will get the posters.

So make sure you include your address with your donation. I’ll post to anywhere in the world. If you live locally and can pick your poster up I’ll frame it for you. Otherwise it will come rolled up in a water-resistant tube from the post office.

Join us this Easter!

And if you’re free to join us for worship this Easter, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill would love to have you. Services on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday are at our usual time of 9.15am. If you don’t know how to find us, there’s a map on the Holy Trinity website.

And if I don’t see you this weekend, do have a happy and holy Easter. 🙂

I’ll do my best to be in contact again before we depart on the big trip.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

I need your help

we begin our fundraising campaign for our new Youth and Community Centre
Fighting Father Danny maintains control in the ring!
Jessie and Aaron stoush it out in the Binacrombi ring
We dedicate the Binacrombi Chapel - Shiloh (a place of peace)
Our Abbot - Fighting Father Terry - delivers the inaugural Binacrombi chapel homily
Fighting Father Mungo keeps the troops entertained
The stumbling, bumbling monks of Binacrombi
Three Amigos
Fran and I visit the Sydney Tower
I love having daughters!
Don has his hands full (at the Australia Day celebrations)

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave. It’s been too long since I’ve communicated with you. 🙁

It’s not that I’ve been having a holiday (I wish). On the contrary, I’ve been struggling with a workload that threatens to overwhelm me at times, and I’ve got two major projects on the boil at the moment, and I’m looking for help with both of them.

Warrior Weekends

The first is the Warrior Weekends bush camp project. We had a fantastic camp in January (as you can see by the pics displayed above) and I’m mad keen to run a few more of these weekends this side of winter.

In truth, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to hang on to our wonderful bush-property, but while we’ve got it I want to make the most of it, and I do believe that our distinctive format where we spend a day training like Trojans and praying like monks is a formula that invigorates body, mind and spirit in a way that is quite unique!

On our January weekend we had Muslims as well as Christians, young as well as the not-so-young, people of various backgrounds and ethnicities, and the intense training-praying format pulled us all together in a powerful way!

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran's shoes

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran’s shoes

We did four intense training sessions on the Saturday, framed by five prayer-sessions. Not everybody joined in the prayers, and not everybody joined in all the training sessions, but by the time we got to the end of the day I think we all had a tremendous sense that we had accomplished something significant together, and this led us into a wonderful evening of sharing and reflection, followed by a beautiful Sunday morning of prayer and relaxation where we dedicated our bush-chapel.

In short, I can’t wait to do it all again, and I can’t wait to see more lives changed and refreshed by the experience. I’m thinking that we hit it again on the weekend of March 21-22. Are you with me? 🙂

Peace Mission to Syria

The other major work that is consuming me right now is a planned Boxers for Peace mission to Syria that’s scheduled for this coming April.

As you know, I’ve been a part of two peace missions to Syria now (in 2013 and 2014) and on our last trip I took boxing champion, Solomon Egberime, with me to feel out the possibility of a ‘friendship games’ in boxing between Australia and Syria (see the video). This current mission is the outcome of the negotiations that began then.

Our Boxers for Peace project is a strictly religious and sporting mission. Our intention is to work closely with the religious leadership of Syria and with the Syrian Olympic Committee. The goal of this mission is threefold:

  1. To bring some joy to people who are struggling (especially young Syrian people) through sport.
  2. To build ongoing ties of friendship between our two countries through the medium of boxing.
  3. To help give the Australian public a broader appreciation of the real situation of the Syrian people.

This last goal will be accomplished through media coverage that we’ll receive. We hope to have at least one film crew with us and one documentary film-maker.

The biggest hurdle for the mission at the moment is that we’ll need to raise the funds to send the whole team to Syria. The costs will amount to around AUD $2,500 per player. I’m hoping to take a team of six.

The names of the players haven’t been made public yet, and neither have the exact dates or details of the trip. This is partly for security reasons and partly because we haven’t worked it all out yet! One thing I have worked out though is that I’m going to hold a fundraiser dinner in a few weeks’ time – on Sunday March 8. Can you make it?

Date: Sunday March 8th, 7pm start
Venue: Salvation Army Hall, Dulwich Street, Dulwich Hill
Tickets: $55/person

The evening will include:

  • Exhibition boxing bouts featuring members of the Australian team (and at least one very well-known boxing identity)
  • Some (brief) speeches from local religious leaders – Priests and Sheikhs (including myself)
  • Screening of some documentary video material that we’ve put together from our previous peace missions to Syria

That’s as much as I can give you right now but I would really appreciate your help in making this work. I’ll need:

  • People to help run the night (set-up, clean-up, wash-up, etc.)
  • People to donate items that can be auctioned off
  • People to buy tickets

If you want to order a ticket from me online you can Paypal me the $50 and I will mail the tickets to you.

I do believe that we can really make a difference with this Boxers for Peace Mission. I think of the role that boxing played in Apartheid South Africa in bringing together people of different colour, and I think of the role boxing played in Northern Ireland in helping quell the violence there. Perhaps we can help bring Syria to the point where the only fighting going on will be in a boxing ring? When that day comes: Mission Accomplished! (but we might have to put in quite a few rounds before we reach that stage)

boxing in the streets of Homs

boxing for peace in the streets of Homs (2014)

Sermon Time

I’ve got an unusually uncontroversial sermon for you today!

Rather than try to interpret global issues or give commentary on the latest terrorist attack, I’ve devoted all my preaching energy this week to untangling the first chapter of the Gospel According to St Mark and, more specifically, to unpacking the implications of a particular incident the highlights the power of the words of Jesus.

I think we often see the words and the works of Jesus as being very distinct. Jesus’ miracles can heal our bodies but His teachings are there only to improve our minds. The Gospel depiction of Jesus though is not so clear cut! The words of Jesus have healing as well as didactic power, while the miraculous actions of Jesus also have something to teach us!

To say this isn’t controversial isn’t to say that it isn’t important, for the relation between word and worktheory and praxis – is something that many of us struggle to get right. Some sections of the church are so focused on maintaining doctrinal purity that they seem to have no energy left to support the poor and needy, whereas others abandon the traditional teachings of the church in order to pursue social justice. I believe Jesus models another alternative!

Before leaving you today I must tell you that I did have a third major project that I had been working on until very recently, and that was the scheduled visit of my friend Rev. Stephen Sizer to Australia.

It was all supposed to take place next month but it all fell apart at the last minute when Stephen was targeted (entirely unfairly, in my view) for his work in advocating for Palestinian human-rights!

You can read all about it in the British tabloids. Stephen has been accused of everything from incompetence to anti-Semitism!

I know Stephen well enough to know that he hasn’t got an anti-Semitic bone in his body, and if you look at the details of the accusations levelled against him it is hard to believe that they could lead anybody to that sort of conclusion! Even so, he has now been formally silenced by his bishop and cannot speak or write about anything remotely political – not at home in London nor anywhere else in the world, including Australia!  (though how he intends to manage this while continuing to preach the Gospel remains to be seen).

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

I find it hard to understand how something like this can happen while world leaders in Paris are marching to defend the right to free speech! It seems that the level of freedom judged appropriate for speech depends entirely on who is being spoken about! Western politicians and Church leaders don’t seem to mind if you are mocking the prophet of Islam or caricaturing countries like Iran and Syria, but if you call into question the policies of the state of Israel you are on far more shaky ground!

Put in a prayer for Stephen please, and put in a prayer for me too as I don’t think this bodes well for any of us who speak our minds on issues of justice and peace!

And I can’t close off today without telling you that next Tuesday is my birthday. I turn 53! That sounds to me like an appropriate age to capture a world boxing title. Let’s see if I can’t do it before hitting 54. 🙂

Actually, that also suggests to me a fourth way you can contribute to our Syria mission. Buy me a drink for my birthday (click here)!

I will drink to your health if you do, but I’m sure you won’t mind if I toast you using my existing stock and put all donated drink-money into the Fighting Fathers kitty! 🙂

I’ll be in contact with you again very soon to give you further details of our fundraiser and of the next prospective Warriors’ Weekend.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Time to Go Bush!

my darling daughter Veronica turns 25
Holy Trinity's wonderful community Christmas Concert!
Our Sunday School Christmas pageant
Angels from the realms of glory!
another wonderful angel! 🙂
with my friend Jaime and his family, gathering Christmas gifts for distribution. 🙂
Doing the 'dad thing' on Christmas Day and erecting a swing for the kids with my mates Don and John
Breakfast with friends - Danny and Nader
New Years Eve - at the airport with Vivienne from Jews Against the Occupation, waiting for the arrival of the Palestinian soccer team
New Years Eve - at the airport, welcoming the Palestinian soccer team!
New Year's Day - Sol travels to the USA in search of a title shot!

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you. Christmas is past (exhausting yet wonderful as ever) and it’s time for us to go bush! 🙂

Our bush weekend away at Binacrombi  is just around the corner – January 16th to 18th – and you are invited!

It will be a physical and spiritual fitness weekend where you’ll be challenged to train like a Trojan and pray like a monk! Having said that, there will also be a low-impact alternative for those who can’t manage the intensity. The low-impact options include bush-walking, caving, and swimming in the Binacrombi billabong.

On the Sunday we will formally dedicate our new Binacrombi chapel as a place of prayer for all people. We will also be dedicating the twelve founding fathers or our Order of the Fighting Fathers to their ongoing work of ‘Fighting for things worth fighting for’.

I currently have about 20 adults and 10 kids confirmed for the weekend. I have cabin accommodation for double that number so there’s plenty of room for YOU if you’d like to join us.

The cost is just $100/person for the weekend with subsidies (of up to 100%) available for kids. The donation covers your accommodation and training. It’s BYO food and drink, but cooking facilities and fridges are provided. Let me know ASAP if you’d like to come and if you need extra motivation, take a look at one of last year’s camps on 🙂

Who’s Afraid of Islamic State?

That was the title of my sermon on December 21st. It might seem like a very odd topic for the Sunday before Christmas but it was the first Sunday after the so-called ‘Sydney Siege’, where a gunman took hostages in a coffee shop in the centre of Sydney and three people (two hostages and the gunman) were killed.

The impact of this event on Sydney-siders was extraordinary. Indeed, as tragic as the death of these poor persons was, the massive outpouring of grief and the intense response from all levels of government put it on the level of a national catastrophe! This event scratched the surface of the Sydney psyche and uncovered the deep level of fear that lies across our city!

The link between this tragic event and the angel’s announcement to the virgin Mary that she’s about to fall pregnant might not be immediately obvious. To my reckoning though the two events are deeply linked by two F-words. See if you can guess what those words are and then click the play button to see if you’re right. 😉

New Year’s Resolutions

This time of year always gives us a unique chance to reflect on the year that’s been and to set goals for the year ahead. I’ve got in the habit of being very public about my yearly goals as I find it motivates me to achieve them.

You may remember that this time last year I set five goals for the year:

  1. Found a monastic Order
  2. Win a world boxing title
  3. Help end the war in Syria
  4. Help establish a state of Palestine
  5. Help each of my kids get through their years at school.

I think I did an OK job with the most important of those goals – ie. the last one – but I’ll need to rededicate myself to that this year

As to the first, well … no, we haven’t actually set up a monastery yet but we are dedicating our Binacrombi chapel next week and we’ll have 12 characters dressed in monastic smocks there at the ceremony. We also have an excellent senior Abbot (Fighting Father Terry) who has been saturating the Binacrombi hills with prayer over the last 12 months, so I think we have come a long way towards fulfilling that goal. :

As to the boxing title, well … I didn’t win a world title but I did pick up another Australian one, knocking down Barry Hancock in Adelaide last October – a man with more than 70 amateur and pro fights to his name – and that has left me with a lot of confidence. Moreover, Hancock was 10 years my junior. My problem at the moment is that I can’t find anyone my own age who will take me on

As to Palestine, I poured myself into that work as prayerfully and as passionately as possible. Even so, things continue to degenerate. Perhaps, by the Grace of God, 2015 will be the year of breakthrough.

As to Syria, I was part of a very successful peace mission in April 2014, and I used that time to check out whether my idea of taking a boxing team to Damascus would be plausible and useful (see It seems it is both, and so we’re gearing up for a bigger and better ‘Boxers for Peace’ mission this year!

And so I give thanks to God for what I was able to do in the year that has past and I’m ready to set some new goals for 2015, though this year my goals will invariably be shaped by some big things that are happening in the parish:

  1. Our new Youth and Community Centre should be completed this year
  2. This year marks the 100th anniversary since the foundation of our church building
  3. This year also marks 25 years since I arrived at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill!

And so I find myself with a longer list of goals for 2015:

  1. Re-ignite our youth and community work as we launch our new facility!
  2. Grow and develop the church community to meet the new challenges
  3. Stage the first ‘Australia v Syria Friendship Olympics’ in Damascus
  4. Do what I can to bring freedom to the people of Palestine.
  5. Continue to pursue that world boxing title.
  6. Help my kids get through their years at school (which will be a tough one for Imogen especially this year as she’s in her final year of high school)

Am I over-reaching myself? Most likely, especially as it seems I will have less assistance this year than in years previous and finances are looking very tight. Even so, last year’s goals were a crazy leap of faith but I’m not dissatisfied with what we accomplished in 2014. May God give me grace and strength for the year ahead!

Would you like to share your goals/resolutions for 2015? I’d love to hear them. Jot them down in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

I’ll hope to see you at our bush weekend. Just call Marco on the Binacrombi bookings number (1800 620 706) to let us know you’re coming.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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


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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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 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,


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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

An appeal from Father Dave

Hi Fighter,

I’m actually going to make two appeals to you today.

The first is a simple one: please watch this Sunday night’s edition of “Compass” on ABC TV (Australia).

Mind you, I have not been given any special preview beyond this 30-second snippet so it is possible that this screening will cost me my job and any number of friends.

If you know how these things work, they film about 100 hours of footage and then choose less than 1% of it for the show, which means they can pretty much portray you as they like! Even so, I have a great deal of faith in my mate Olivia (the main artistic mind behind this production) and am hoping that this screening will portray us well and will create new opportunities for us in our work. 🙂

The Second Appeal

The second appeal is for … well … financial support for my online work. 🙁

I’m told that I always do a terrible job of asking for money, and that’s probably true, and that’s probably because I don’t like the stuff (necessary as it is), and I certainly don’t want to place further financial burdens on those who are already struggling.

Having said that, let me give you a blunt outline of how my online ministry functions:

Outgoings are always around $1,500/month.

About half of these costs are my hosting fees. I know that there are cheaper web hosting packages around and that local Australian servers are always more expensive. Even so, there are legal issues and security issues associated with storing other people’s data (such as email addresses) and my sites tend to get hacked rather a lot, so I need hosting that is local and secure and I’m convinced that I’m doing it about as cheaply as I can.

Most of my remaining monthly fees go to my support team in India who handle most of my trouble-shooting, site promotion, article submission, video distribution, etc.

As to incomings, I receive roughly $500/month from our loyal Fighting Fathers member base. There are around 30 people who contribute $10/month through and two people who contribute $100/month.

Advertising and product sales bring in a few hundred dollars per month more. The remainder (around $600/month) is paid for from Fighting Fathers reserves, which are dwindling.

The online work has not always run at a loss like this. In times past I used to put a lot more time into building advertising sites and doing online sales. A few years ago though I decided I needed to devote almost all my time online to writing and publishing articles and videos. I still think this is the best use of my time, and my preference would be to solve the financial shortfall by finding another 60 people who will chip in $10/month as members of – a membership that, I believe, offers membership benefits that outweigh the cost of the subscription.

OK. I’ve said what needed to be said. Your suggestions are all welcome, and whether or not you sign up to I still hope you watch Compass on Sunday night (ABC TV @ 6.30pm).

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. For those who can’t get access to ABC TV this Sunday night, I’ll try to get it uploaded to YouTube ASAP.

P.P.S. Please keep promoting my STOP THE WAR video appeal on

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Greetings from New Zealand!

Imogen and Soren on the Wild Mouse at Luna Park
Imogen and I enjoy lunch at Dirty Harrys Bar in Movie World
The three brothers celebrate as Rob turns 50
my friend Filippa Butitta paints my portrait
My portrait is submitted for the Archibald Prize!
Ange and Fran at SkyCity in Auckland
Fran introduces penguin to some larger relatives at Auckland Aquarium
Soren comes 3rd in the Oceanic Yugioh Championship in Auckland
You come across some extraordinary places in New Zealand!
In Rotorua

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave and I’m writing to you from sunny New Zealand! You wouldn’t think it would be sunny here this time of year as we’re in the middle of winter but we’ve been enjoying some beautiful weather! 🙂

My primary reason for being here was because Soren (my son) was competing in the 2014 Oceanic Yu-gi-oh Championships, held in Auckland! If you don’t know how to play Yu-gi-oh you’ll have to Google it as it would take quite a few missives to explain it. Soren and I started playing together about five years ago and I can rarely beat him now.

At any rate, Soren came 3rd in the Auckland championships. We won’t be getting the free tickets to the world championships in Rome later this year but Soren did get a lovely crystal trophy. I’m happy to say that he seems more than satisfied with that. 🙂

Anyway, we’ve turned Soren’s competition into a family holiday and now we’re two hours south of Auckland, enjoying the geysers and boiling mud-pools of Rotorua!

Trying to Relax

It’s good for me to be away. I know I need to take a break but, in truth, I find that I can never fully relax nowadays.

As my body starts to slow down I find that the emotions of so many recent events start to bubble to the surface of my consciousness. I deal with them the only way I know how – I write about them. I’ve been writing rather a lot lately, most especially about the terrible things currently going on in Israel/Palestine and in Syria/Iraq.

Barack Obama’s recent plea to the US Congress for 500 million dollars to arm ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels has been giving me nightmares!

In the recent Syrian elections Bashar Al-Assad received 88% of the vote. Whether we like him or not, it is undeniable now that Assad is the democratically elected leader of the country, and yet Mr Obama is spending millions and millions of dollars trying to topple him in the name of ‘democracy’. How do we make sense of that? And couldn’t the US President have found a better use for all that money back home?!

I did write an article about this entitled “Why it’s OK to arm ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels” (which you’ll find here). The other story that keeps plaguing me at the moment is one much closer to home, and I’m going to debrief that one with you now.

Death in Dulwich Hill

There was a little girl living in a youth refuge near our church. She was 12 years old when I first came into contact with her.

A youth-worker friend rang me late one night and told me that this girl had told to her that she was being sexually abused in the refuge she was staying in – abused by one of her carers!

My friend wasn’t sure what to do because the girl had only confessed to her on the condition that she kept her confidence. I told my friend that she had to report the case immediately and that if she didn’t I would. As I pointed out, such cases are never isolated. If a young girl is being abused by a staff-member we can be almost certain that this ‘carer’ is abusing others as well and will go on abusing children until he is stopped! You cannot maintain confidentiality in cases like this!

I hate to say it, but I have been exposed to all this too many times!  In my years of working with young people I have been involved in multiple cases of child sexual abuse and they were all terrible! This girl’s case though is the worst I have ever dealt with.

It turned out that this poor little girl was being abused not by one of her ‘carers’ but by two of them – one who worked the day shift and one who worked the night shift! Apparently the girl was being raped by one man during the day and at night the other man would clock in and it would happen again

Even now I find it hard to write these words without the tears welling up in my eyes. In all my years of working with young people – so many of them in dark and desperate situations – I have never come across such a terrible case of human neglect as this one, and it was happening in what was supposed to be a ‘refuge’!

To cut a long story short, the case was reported, all the staff at the youth refuge were sacked (bar one), and charges were laid by the police. Unbelievably though the abused girl was kept in the same refuge!

The girl’s response was to try to escape the refuge. She did this regularly and ran off to join her brothers (who were staying in another refuge on the other side of Sydney). Each time she did this the staff would find her and return her.

Meanwhile my youth-worker friend tried to organise to have the girl fostered out to a loving family. She had the family organised and ready to go but the whole process was held up by seemingly-endless red-tap. Unfortunately, before the fostering process could be finalised, the little girl took her own life.

This in itself was unbelievably tragic, but in some ways the heaviest blow was still to come.

The court case against the girl’s abusers was due to start the week after her death but when my youth-worker friend turned up to court to testify she found that the case had been dismissed.  The chief witness for the prosecution was dead and so the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) had dropped the case!

What to do?

My youth-worker friend and I refuse to let go of this!

I’ve had zero response from the police who were involved. The woman in charge of the case told me that it was a police matter and that I should leave it with her. I told her that this is much more than just a police matter!

Some of my peers have assured me “Oh, don’t worry. Even if these paedophiles aren’t caught this time, they’ll slip up sooner or later and they’ll be brought to justice eventually”. But this just leaves me cold! How many more young lives are going to have to be destroyed before this happens?!

As we all know, cases like this have repercussions that do damage across generations. Abused children (if they survive to adulthood) often grow up to become abusers themselves, and so the cycle of degradation and suffering continues!

I’m guessing that if these two child-rapists are on the loose for another 5 years each, they could abuse hundreds of children between them, with unthinkable damage being passed on to generations to come!

The good news we received in only the last few days is that we may be able to get this case to the attention of our current ‘Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse’. If we could get a hearing there we might see some results.

At the very least we need some kind of provision in the law that ensures that persons who have been charged with child-related offences like this – even if they have not been found guilty – can be barred from future work with young people!

I appreciate, of course, that everyone has the right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Even so, in cases like this we need to balance that right against the horrendous price paid by vulnerable children when people like this can’t be brought to justice!

I’m hopeful that we can bring this to the attention of the Royal Commission. Will you pray with me for that please?

If that doesn’t work we’ll try to get the story before the media and see if we can get some community traction for change! If you have any other ideas, please do pass them on. Whatever happens, we are not going to let go of this so long as the lives of so many children are at stake.

Sermon Time

How trite it seems to now move on to my sermon, especially when it’s a sermon on the Doctrine of the Trinity! And yet, if it’s not relevant to talk about the nature of God under circumstances such as this then when is it relevant?

I appreciate that many people see doctrine in general, and the Doctrine of the Trinity in particular, as being academic and esoteric vestiges of a bygone era. I disagree.

For me the Doctrine of the Trinity is a uniquely Christian insight into the humanity of God! It is the bold claim that God is not locked away in His Heaven, happily removed from the sufferings of this world. Rather God is one who suffers and dies in this world, and so shares fully in the human experience of physical and psychological abuse!

Let me end today’s missive with a brief tribute to a friend and colleague who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly only a couple of weeks ago – John McIntyre, the Bishop of Gippsland.

Bishop John McIntyre

Bishop John McIntyre

John was a prophet, a reformer, a friend and a mentor. He was rector of Redfern (another tough inner-city parish) for most of the time I’ve been at Dulwich Hill. His work with the local Indigenous people of that region was legendary!

My enduring memory of John was when I was leaving the office of the state government Minister for Health, where I’d been arguing a case for reforming laws regarding juvenile drug-use. As I left the office I found John in the waiting room, accompanied by two Aboriginal elders. We shook hands and smiled as we passed.

That summed up our relationship for me. We rarely worked together but we were always working side by side. He was an inspiration and a friend and will be sorely missed by so many of us!

That’s enough for now. We will speak again soon.

Until then I remain …

Yours in the Good Fight,


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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Boxing in the streets of Syria

OK Fighter,

It’s been a long time in production but here it is – the video that I’ve been yearning to share with you since returning from our peace mission, entitled “Boxing in the Streets of Syria”

Syria deserves peace
boxing in the streets of Homs
boxing in the streets of Latakia
Boxing with refugees from Yarmouk
Boxing with refugees from Yarmouk

As you can see from above, Fighting Father Denning also took some wonderful still shots of the action but it’s his video I’m most keen to see circulated.

My plan is to use this video as the basis of our recruitment drive to see if we can capture the imagination of some high-profile boxers from Australia and from around the world – capture their imagination to the extent that they will be drawn to join us in running boxing-training camps for the young people of Syria! 🙂

As you’ll see from the video, we were very well received by the Syrian people, and the children of Syria were enthusiastic beyond words! Sol Egberime – Australia’s greatest Junior Welterweight fighter – was an absolute natural with these young people. At one point, as we finished a session with a group of boys in Latakia and got back into our bus, the entire troop of kids followed the bus chanting “Solomon, Solomon …”, which brought our young champion to tears!

Will you do me a favour please and share this video with everybody you know? The persons we are most hoping to reach are high-profile boxers, but even if you don’t know any fighters at all, it may be that some of those you send it to will know some boxers and will pass it on.

Boxing in the Streets of Syria

My hope and prayer is that this video will generate sufficient interest such that we can head back to Syria during their school holidays and spread some more happiness and hope amongst these young people who have seen so little joy in recent years.

So please share the video. I’ll be developing a dedicated site for it very soon to make this easier. In the meantime simply direct people to this blog post, and please add a prayer that people will be moved to join us in doing something for the young people of Syria.

Yours in the Good Fight,


P.S. And if you’re moved to join us on our next mission to Syria yourself, just let me know. 🙂

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


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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria – peace work in Iran

Hi Fighter,

Once again it’s been too long since I’ve posted. 🙁

I’m back in Oz now, well ensconced with my family. Even so, a large part of my heart remains in Syria. So many memories and images continue to turn over in my mind.
Not all of them are good but all are full of life and colour.

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted all the pics and videos from our pilgrimage up here yet. That’s partly because I’ve been under the gun since I got back. It’s also because we’ve been waiting to see whether any TV stations are going to screen our footage. Things are still unclear but we know that they won’t screen our material if we’ve already publicly released it. My plan is to share the images of Sol and me boxing with kids in the streets of Syria next week if we haven’t heard from them.

In the meantime I thought I’d publish a series of images and videos that won’t be of interest to the networks as they concern our week in Iran during which we made our preparations. We secured the medicines and toys we were taking with us and we met with some wonderful Iranian peace activists, many of whom went on to join us in Syria..

Meet the team - Sam and Ulrike
Meet the team - Mairead, Ulrike and Carmel
Meet the team - Denning
Meet the team - Dave and Mohamed Reva
Meet the team - Roohulla
Meet the team - John
Meet the team - Mairead and Solomon
Meet the team - Dave & Ali
Meet the team
Meet the team

Four videos are thumbnailed below. Just click one to watch it.

  1. The first video is a three-minute offering from our man, Denning. It’s an overview of the week that is as brief as it is artistic. 🙂
  2. The second is a Press TV report on the delegation. We actually received a lot of media attention. Unfortunately it was all from Iranian or Syrian media.
  3. The third is a talk I gave on “the role of religions in bringing peace” in Qom. Denning has edited it down to 3 minutes which is about as long as I had to prepare it!
  4. The fourth is a wonderful 10-minute compilation of our time in Iran, put together by a wonderful young Iranian film-maker, Mehdi Khoshnejad.

The last of these videos is actually longer than the other three put together. Even so, it is worth watching. It features our time touring one of the ancient mosques in Esfahan wherein there is a special spot marked on the floor from which you can sing and somehow join in the chorus of your own echo!

Denning's Tehran video
Press TV report
Talk at the Armenian Church in Qom
Mehdi Khoshnejad's video

Let me end today by sharing with you the wonderful way in which I met my friend Mohamed Reva (featured in one of the pics up the top).

We were in Tehran, gathered together for a delegates meeting in the lobby of our hotel. I hadn’t met Sheikh Mohamed Reva at that point but he was a part of the gathering.

After the meeting he came across the room and grabbed my hand enthusiastically. “My name is Mohamed Reva”, he said. “I knew you were a special person the first moment I saw you. I am very keen to meet you.”

“Brother”, I said, “I am not special. It is simply the Spirit of God in you recognising the Spirit of God in me. We were connected in this way long before we met.” Mohamed smiled and nodded.

In some ways that experience summed up my pilgrimage to Iran and Syria this time. We generally think of a pilgrimage as a journey that leads to a destination of great spiritual significance. My experience was that wherever I went I found the Spirit of God already there to welcome me! What a wonderful privilege! 🙂

I’ll be back with you again next week.

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. If you’d like to see what I’m writing, I’ve just published a new article on entitled, Why the Syrian rebellion may soon collapse like a house of cards!” I know that most commentators are convinced that the warring in Syria will go on and on with no near end in sight. I am far more optimistic. 🙂

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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four