Monday Missive – March18th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I hope you’re having a good week. This last week for me has been one of great highs and lows (and not much in between).

One of the highs was tonight! Ange and I had the opportunity to go and hear an address from Ed Bearss – one of the world’s greatest historians on the American Civil War. He is a living legend in his field and turns 90 this year!

Those who remember Ken Burns’ documentary series on the US Civil War will remember Ed. Those who have taken one of Ed’s battlefield tours will never forget him!  :-)

My whole family had the privilege of doing a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield with Ed back in 2001. Unfortunately, while we were re-tracing the progress of a battle through some thick grass, my eldest daughter, Veronica (who was only 11 at the time), walked on to a hornet’s nest!

The result was very painful for her and for me as well as I ran to her and picked her up and then just stood there, getting stung myself, as I  couldn’t think what else to do until Ange yelled at me “get off the hornets’ nest!”  

I got some time with Ed after his talk tonight and asked him, “do you remember a young girl who you gave a ‘Courage Under Fire’ award to for her bravery when attacked by hornets back in 2001?”  His response was “Like it was yesterday!”

The Legendary Ed Bearss

The Legendary Ed Bearss (click to see the pic at full-size)

Fight Night Wrap-up

Our fight night last Friday was an event of both highs and lows.

The lows started the day before when Reza’s opponent pulled out! Then we arrived at the venue and found that Kath’s opponent had weighed in too light and her fight couldn’t go ahead either! That left only Ash and Caine.

Ash put in a great performance. He’s only 17 and it was his first stoush! Caine, on the other hand, didn’t do as well as we’d hoped!

Caine’s opponent was an old student of mine. He is the only student I’ve ever had to ask to leave the club! It was many years ago, and suffice it to say that he’s not known for his self-control. Nothing had changed. There were lots of shots to the kidneys and the back of the head. At one point Caine was wrestled to the ground and at another he was almost pushed through the ropes and out of the ring!

The experience broke Caine’s concentration and he lost his will to fight. He stayed in there like a good soldier and saw the fight to its conclusion, but it left a bad taste in our mouths.

As St Paul says, “We get knocked down but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9), and I’m trusting that this will ultimately be a growth experience for our brother. Even so, I’d sooner that none of us had to venture into the darker side of boxing.

Trinity Gym Fight Team of March 14

Left to Right: Reza, Kath, Mungo, Caine (in front), Sol, Eric, me & Ash

Partying with Jesus

My sermon this week focuses on the scandalous party-behavior of Jesus, and I hope I communicate the controversial nature of Jesus’ actions clearly enough!

The passage is John 12:1-11, where we read of a young woman who throws herself all over Jesus – perfuming his feet and wiping his feet with her hair!

The fact that Jesus lets this sort of thing go on in public should offend most conservative Christians. It certainly offended the religious leaders of His day, as did Jesus’ drinking and the general company he kept!

I hope I do the passage justice. You’ll find the written version here if you prefer to read it.

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

Farewell to an old friend

The most painful low for me this week has been the death of a dear old friend – Grace Reppion.

Grace was a mother to many in our parish family. She was a saintly woman with a great sense of humor. Each year at around this time she would tell me that she’d decided to give up sex for Lent as a part of her spiritual discipline! 

I found this lovely pic of Grace with dear Father Elias, taken back in 2009. Her funeral will be held at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill on Wednesday week (March 27) at 10 am.

Grace Reppion with Father Elias in 2009

Grace Reppion with Father Elias in 2009

OK, I’d better get to bed! It’s gone 4am and there’s much to do tomorrow/today.

I’m busy preparing the final details for the Boot Camp this coming weekend. I should have lots of pics for you next week of us training and swimming and riding go-carts etc. There are still a few spots left if you’re keen to join us but please let me know right away.

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

P.S. I should mention too that Denning and I have decided NOT to go to Syria next month.  We are no less committed to the people of Syria or to the work of peacemaking, but the original program we were hoping to be a part of is not taking place now. Hopefully we’ll get our chance later in the year. Thank you very much for your prayers and advice.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – November 5th, 2012

Hi Fighter!

I hope you’ve had a good week.

Mine has been a roller-coaster, and the ride hasn’t stopped yet!

I could do with your prayers this week – especially for our Youth Centre.

Postition Vacant!

We had some violence issues over the last week, and the unfortunate result was that one of our Youth Workers threw in the towel. He resigned on the spot. He’d had enough!

I won’t mention the name of our beloved brother who quit and I won’t mention the name of the boy who has been causing all the trouble, but I will say that our brother was no novice. He’s been a part of our staff for three years now and has had a wonderful record of service to our young people.

The situation deserves careful analysis, and I’ll share some of the facts with you here so that you can pass on any wisdom you might have. I’ll refer to the trouble-maker as ‘Judas’.

  • Judas and his brothers have been a part of our Youth Centre for many years
  • Judas is only 17 but he’s of immense stature. He’s over 6 foot and at least 100kg.
  • He’s never been difficult but lately he’s been increasingly loud and aggressive.
  • He’s been driving various cars around and seems to have money (but no job)!
  • Apparently his mother has left his father and that he has moved out of the house.
  • He’s living on the streets and spending time with some very shady characters.

This gives you the background to a series of incidents, the latest of which saw Judas thump another local boy, claiming that the boy owed him money! It was done in public. Everybody witnessed it. Our Youth Worker took the victim down to the police station so that he could make a statement. The result was that Judas targeted the Youth Worker and blamed him for ‘snitching‘!

That’s it in brief. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks yourself. I confronted the boy when I found him and gave him a stern, fatherly talking-to. I also promised to support him if he went to the police himself and took some initiative in resolving his issues. My fatherly wisdom accomplished absolutely nothing! He was back the next day shouting, threatening, and carrying on, and when the police arrived he jumped the fence and took off!

The most disappointing aspect of the whole saga has been how the majority of our Youth Centre kids sided with Judas against our worker. That would make me want to throw in the towell too!

I asked our brother why he thought this boy was so popular. He said it’s probably because he’s big! I guess that makes sense. The Bible says that Saul was chosen as king of Israel because he stood a head taller than everybody else (1 Samuel 9:2). It’s all very primitive of course and, as King Saul’s record demonstrated, physical size is rarely a good indicator of leadership ability.

Anyway, that’s been one of the biggest downward dips in my roller-coaster ride this last week though of course there were some positives that came out of it. It gave Fighting Fathers Jim and Denning a chance to show their metal once again, for instance. They filled the breach and did a great job of maintaining equilibrium when things were chaotic.

Of course the ride hasn’t stopped yet. I’ll be putting in the hours at the Youth Centre myself for the next few weeks, alongside Fighting Father Caine, and we’ll be working closely with the police to try to resolve these issues and ensure that our Youth Centre remains a safe place for all local kids.

This also means that we’re looking for a new Youth Worker!

I’m guessing that few who read this will suddenly feel a need to send in their resumes. Even so, I’m sure that the Lord will stir up someone and send them to us. Could that someone be you?

A great time at the Imam Husain Centre!

I had a wonderful time at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre yesterday! All the members of our church community were invited to an open day there yesterday, with a free BBQ, jumping-castle for the kids, etc. I enjoyed some wonderful food and caught up with many good friends!

Open Day at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre

The girl on my left (your right) is Sister Feruzan. She has been de-facto Sheikh down there since dear Sheikh Mansour was taken from us two year ago. The guy on my right (your left) is Brother Muzaffar – the Syrian brother who first made me aware of what was really going on in Homs! Click the pic to go full-size.

Now, I know that every time I talk about my Islamic friends I get a plethora of emails telling me what Muslims are really like and why they can’t be trusted. While I appreciate the genuine concern behind such emails I do find that all those who warn me about the evils of Islam generally have one thing in common – none of them have ever sat down and shared a meal with a Muslim person!

This for me is the key! Sit down and break bread with your Muslim sisters and brothers. You’ll be amazed at how radically this can change your perceptions!

Egberime vs. Spodafora

Let me share another one of my recent high-points with you. It has to do with our dear brother Solomon Egberime, who flies off to Las Vegas tomorrow to prepare for his fight against Paul Spodafora on December 1. The pic was taken during our service yesterday, shortly after we’d said some prayers for Sol.

Sol Egberime heads to the USA

The story I wanted to share regards an email I received from Paul Spodafora’s attorney!

Now … if you know me well at all you know that I don’t generally react well when I receive a letter from a lawyer or a legal firm, most especially when the letter begins by drawing attention to things I’ve been saying on my websites!

In this case though the letter was entirely positive! Spodafora’s attorney was encouraged by what I’d written and wanted to extend his hand in friendship! He also offered to assist in helping me get to the US for the fight! In short, I’m mightily impressed with Team Spodafora, and the quality of the team generally reflects the quality of the main man, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting him too!

Mind you, our friendships will most likely be developed over drinks that take place on the other side of the big fight. Right now our focus is on the stoush, and Team Egberime is going to the US in order to win!

Sol and I went on a final half-marathon run together today. I confess that I failed to make the distance this week and had to walk the last 3 kilometers. Even so, as Sol and I walked and talked it was clear to me that he is mentally ready for this event, and with a few weeks of training in Vegas he should be physically ready too.

Make no mistake – Sol will fight like his life depends on it! He will give this fight his all. We know that he is fighting a worthy and capable opponent with forty-six wins and zero losses, but we are confident!

Travelling to the USA

I haven’t finalised any travel arrangements to the US yet myself, but I have received some lovely invitations already from friends and subscribers in the US. One that came in today was from my dear friend Father Iovane from the Community of St John. The Community of St John is the Catholic Order to which Father Elias belongs.

If you don’t know who Elias or Iovane or the Community of St John are you’re probably getting a bit confused by now, so let me explain:

Elias joined us here at Holy Trinity in 2007 and stayed with us for 18 months. The Community of St John sent him over here so that he could work on his boxing! If that all sounds a bit crazy, you can read one of the stories that was written about the two of us and appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (just click the pic to go full-size).

Sparring Padres

I met Iovane through Elias, and last thing I heard he was running a mission in Addis Ababa (in Ethiopia). He’s now apparently in Chicago, and no doubt doing some cutting-edge work with young people there! He wants me to come and see their work first-hand, and I’m very keen to do so!

Anyway, I’ll be finalising my own travel plans over the next few weeks so please, if you’d like to touch base with me while I’m in the US later this month and early December, let me know now!

Join us for Worship this Sunday!

Let me conclude this week’s missive with an invitation to join us next Sunday morning for worship!

If you’re not in the Dulwich Hill area it matters little. The bulk of the service will be videocast live from 9.15am, Sydney time, on church.tv as we’ve been doing successfully for quite a few weeks now.

Indeed, I believe the quality of our broadcasts is getting better and better. We finally had the sound working properly yesterday, which meant that my controversial sermon on the Book of Ruth would have been easy to hear even if it wasn’t easy to take!

Anyway … the reason I’m suggesting that you make a special effort to join us this week is because we have a guest preacher joining us – Father Elias!

Father Elias will be joining us directly from Utrecht in the Netherlands via the miracle of Skype! How we’re going to get the Skype broadcast fed directly to the church.tv feed I’m not sure at this stage, but Fighting Father Jim is working on it!

Father Elias was arguably the greatest preacher we’ve ever had in our church, so I trust we’ll be able to work out the technology side so that everyone can benefit from his wisdom. Just sign up for a free account at church.tv and visit timeanddate.com if you’re not sure how 9.15am Sydney time translates in your part of the world.

As to yesterday’s offering on Ruth, I wasn’t sure whether to entitle my sermon:

  • “Ruth – a Prostitute for God?” or
  • “Ruth – the Hot and the Holy!”

Either way, you can hear the podcast here or read the written version here if you’re interested.

That’s plenty for this week!

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org

www.fatherdave.org

www.fighting-fathers.com

www.how2changetheworld.com

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four