Monday Missive – December 3rd, 2012

Hi Fighter!

You’ll have to forgive me for sending out my ‘Monday Missive’ a little late this week!

I’m afraid I’m on the wrong side of the world, in a different time zone, and I’m currently encloistered in a monastery where hi-speed Internet access is not the priority for residents.

Actually, I’m not sure if ‘encloistered’ is a proper, word but if it’s not, it should be!

Either way, I am very glad to be here and have been made to feel very welcome by the brothers, and this despite the fact that they are all currently maintaining a day of silence!

In truth, the contrast between the environment here and that of the casino that I emerged from after the fight could not be greater, but I can elaborate on that later. First things first: let me tell you about the fight!

Egberime v Spadafora

This was Sol’s big chance to prove himself on the world stage. Spadafora had a record of 46 wins, 1 draw and no losses! He is a former world champion, and his team’s plan was simply to use Sol as a stepping-stone to another world title shot. We knew though that they had underestimated Sol.

Sol v Spadafora - weigh-in
click the pic to see full-size

In truth, there is a lot more to the Spadafora story. Like so many boxers, his life has been filled with turmoil and tragedy. He has a history of addiction problems and has spent a lot of time in jail. More recently though he has given his life to Christ and is trying to make a fresh start.

I met with the Team-Spadafora attorney, Joe, before the fight. He is a great guy who has played a key role in the fighter’s recovery. I told him that I was keen to meet Paul Spadafora after the fight. He told me that unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen because it was his young son’s birthday, and Joe was taking Spadafora straight from the fight to go see his son. I couldn’t argue with that!

Sol Egberime - ready for the big fight!
click the pic to see full-size

Sol had trained for this bout like his life depended on it. He had spent a month in Las Vegas with Luis Tapia (pictured above) who really impresses me as a manager and as a trainer.

As we did the final preparations in the changing-room, there was a real sense that nothing had been left out. Sol had done the hard work in the gym. He was fit and he was ready. This was going to be his night!

Unfortunately it was not to be. Sol fought well, and he did his best to stick to the plan – moving forward on the lanky south-paw and trying to stifle his movement. He was certainly the more aggressive of the two fighters and he really started to take control in the final rounds. I believe if he’d had another round or two he might have put Spadafora on the canvas.

The fight went the distance, and I truly thought that Sol should have been slightly ahead on points. But it’s impossible to win a points decision against a former world champion in his home town.

One of the judges scored the fight 100 to 90 against Sol! For those who don’t know how boxing scoring works, that’s ten rounds to zero! That was just a slap in the face. The other judges scored the fight more evenly, but no one gave it to Sol. I think if the fight had taken place anywhere else in the world we would have at least scored a draw.

Sol loses to Spadafora on points after ten rounds
click the pic to see full-size

In truth, Sol put in a great performance and I hope that this might have been enough to open some more doors for him in the US fight scene. Time will tell. For the moment though he will return home unscratched, knowing that he did himself and his family and his country proud.

Traveling Across the USA

I had hoped that these 10 days in the US would be relaxing for me. In truth, they have been full-on! At the same time, they have been terrific!

Fighting Father Ricardo
click the pic to see full-size

I met up with Fighting Father Ricardo in Los Angeles – a young man who is studying at University and is determined to become both a medical doctor and a Catholic priest and a Muay Thai champ! Ricardo is my sorta guy!

Gettysburg
click the pic to see full-size

From there I headed to the East Coast and drove to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the great battle took place in 1863. The pic above is of me standing on top of the lookout on Culp’s Hill, where much of the fighting took place on the second day of battle. That’s the town of Gettysburg in the background.

The high-water mark of the Confederacy
click the pic to see full-size

While on the battlefield, I made sure to pay my respects at the Armistead marker – the monument that marks the spot where General Lewis Armistead fell on July 3rd, 1863, while leading his troops across the stone wall that was held by the Union troops. This point is considered the ‘high water-mark’ of the Confederacy. It was as close as they came to winning the war.

Rob Burgess
click the pic to see full-size

From Gettysburg I drove four hours to the fight venue in Chester, West Virginia (the story of which has already been told) and from there I drove six hours north-west to St Joseph in Michigan, where I met up with Fighting Father Rob Burgess – a great guy and a full-time custodial grandparent to his lovely grandson, Colin (who was unfortunately asleep at the time we took the photo).

Father Iovane
click the pic to see full-size

From there I drove another four hours south-west to arrive at the monastery on the Community of St John in Princeville, Illinois, where I am now. The invitation to be here came from my old friend, Father Iovane, who I met through Father Elias some years ago. He is a beautiful man and this is a beautiful place. I only wish I had more time to spend here.

Iovane and I have been chewing the fat about the three years of ministry that he’s just completed in Addis Ababa, and about his visions for ministering to young people where he is now. Who knows but there might yet be a significant work for the Fighting Fathers to do here too.

From here I head off early tomorrow morning to drive to the airport in Chicago, where I hope to meet up with some more friends before spending the requisite 16 hours in the air that it will take me to get back home.

God willing, I’ll be writing to you from there again as usual next week. Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

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