Peace in Palmyra


Hi Fighter,

We are back from Syria.

We’ve been back for a a couple of weeks now, in fact, and I apologise for not publishing much about our journey until now. In truth, I’m still trying to process it all.

It was a magnificent trip. We saw some amazing things and met many amazing people. As has always been my experience in Syria, we were greatly blessed by the generosity and grace of the Syrian people. They took us into their hearts and homes, showing us great love and hospitality.

  • We trained with the Syrian Olympic boxing team in Damascus
  • We celebrated the liberation of Palmyra by boxing in its ancient amphitheatre
  • We taught our sport to hundreds of young orphans in Homs
  • We travelled into remote villages in Latakia to touch gloves with the locals.

That is a very superficial summary, of course, but I’m going to resist the temptation to say too much more about our experiences here as I want to focus on inviting you to the exhibition that we have organised.

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition opens this coming Sunday – June 19th – at 3pm, and will run for the entirety of Refugee Week (June 19 to 25). It will be held in our church’s new Community Centre in Dulwich Hill (2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill).

The exhibition will include photographs, video and live art (ie. boxing) that chronicle our 2016 Boxers for Peace mission to Syria, with a special focus on our time in Palmyra – the site of so many famous ancient ruins – overtaken by DAESH (ISIS) in 2015 but retaken by the Syrian Arab Army on Easter Sunday (March 27) 2016.

PALMYRA AS A SIGN OF HOPE IN REFUGEE WEEK

If we really want to solve the global refugee crisis, we have to tackle the problem at its source. We need to create conditions on the ground where people no longer have to flee from war and famine but can live in safety, and those who had been forced to leave can return to their homes.

In Syria, more than half of the country’s population has been displaced since the outbreak of violence five years ago. Millions have fled overseas, but millions more have fled into other parts of Syria. This exodus of Syrians from their homes had seemed irreversible, and yet in recent months, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been able to return home as their cities have been liberated!

The retaking of Palmyra was especially significant in this regard, not because of the magnitude of the refugee exodus from the city but on account of the place Palmyra holds in the hearts of all Syrians. As one Syrian army officer said “when my son died defending Homs, I didn’t cry. When my men were beheaded by DAESH, I didn’t cry, but when they took Palmyra, I cried.”

Palmyra, with its rich history and spiritual beauty, is the beating heart of Syria. The liberation of Palmyra was not only a major defeat for DAESH (their first major defeat since their inception) but a victory for all Syrian people, and for all of humanity! Homelessness and destitution do not have to be the final word! Liberation happens! Refugees can return home!

  • You can download a poster with the details of the exhibition here.
  • If you’re coming, please register on the exhibition’s Facebook event page.

Video time

We took a lot of video footage during this last trip to Syria and you can see all the stuff we’ve published so far on www.father-dave.org/syria

What I’ve published below is a wonderful short compilation put together by boxer, artist, and much-loved team-member, Luke Cornish (ELK). It speaks for itself.

Let me close by thanking once again everybody who supported us on this mission trip. Quite literally, we could not have done it without you. It is only  because of your generosity and support that we are able to make any of these initiatives work.

Mind you, I know that a number of you guys tried to send us a donation through Paypal and most of those contributions were rejected! Unfortunately, Paypal has automatic filters that are tripped when anyone mentions the word Syria.

This is understandable. What is less understandable is why it took them more than a month to work out that we are not supporting terrorism but are Boxers for Peace (and this despite my repeated calls and emails), and why they cancelled donations rather than put them on hold until they worked us out!

If you did get your donation rejected or if you’d still like to support the work, let me encourage you either to:

  1. Take out a $10/month subscription to Fighting Fathers Ministries through our member site (fighting-fathers.com)
  2. Buy an item from the Fighting Fathers’ online shop (fightshop.biz).

With regards to the shop, I’m pleased to announce that there is a whole new batch of Fighting Fathers monastic smocks have recently been delivered. They are a unique style – modelled on traditional Benedictine design but short enough to allow full leg movement, allowing the wearer to both run and train as well as pray!

The Fighting Fathers' Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

The Fighting Fathers’ Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

I hope you can make it to the exhibition, fighter, where I’ll be very happy to talk your ear off about the Syria trip. For those who can’t make it, I’ll be publishing more photos and videos and stories to www.prayersforsyria.com.

That’s enough for today. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – November 12th, 2012

Hi Fighter!

You’ll have to forgive me if it’s a rather bare-knuckle missive this week – no pics, no videos, nothing fancy. I’m afraid it’s been that sort of week for me – a bare-knuckle bash!.

There hasn’t been any literal violence. It’s been more of a spiritual stoush.

Mind you, I did fear that some real blows were going to be thrown a few days back when Judas (whom I mentioned last week) showed up again at our Youth Centre.

I must tell you about it as it ended up being almost humorous (in a tragic kind of way).

Racism in the Youth Centre?

Our boy is now wanted by the police for a number of incidents (and suspected of a number more) and I have banned him from the premises of our Youth Centre for the most obvious of reasons. He compromises the safety of the other children!

I confronted him as soon as I saw him enter the premises and asked him to leave. He wanted to argue his case with me, claiming:

  1. That he had smoothed over all issues with the police and that they were now not charging him with anything (which I knew was garbage).

  2. That since he hadn’t actually assaulted anybody on our premises (yet), none of his acts of violence and intimidation should affect his standing with the Youth Centre.

  3. That I had no right to ban him from our premises because the Youth Centre belonged to the church as a whole and that therefore only the congregation as a whole could ban him!

You have to give this guy points for ingenuity!

Of course my response was that his issues with the police were not resolved, that I didn’t care where his crimes had been committed, and that as far as he was concerned I was the church.

At this point Judas dug down deep and came out with what he considered to be the verbal equivalent of a knock-out punch. You’re being RACIST!” he cried.

I have seen this trump card played so many times now and yet it never ceases to amaze me that these kids seem to expect me to take them seriously when they play it!

I still remember one of the girls we banned, walking out of the Youth Centre with one fist held defiantly in the air, crying STAY BLACK!”

The girl in question had been involved in numerous thefts and assaults and had just stolen a brand new motor-bike from one of our Youth Centre staff ! I’m still scratching my head trying to work out how she construed that our taking exception to her actions had anything to do with the colour of her skin!

In the case of young Judas, I think his parents are Egyptian. The kids he’s been beating up on are Islander kids, and (for what it’s worth) they are certainly ‘blacker’ than he is. Playing the race card just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me in this context!

Anyway, in terms of my bare-knuckle week, this was more like the comedy relief than a stoush. The real battle-front was at Binacrombi.

For your Prayers

I don’t know if this is your experience, but I find that whenever I attempt something creative that could really make a difference, everything always starts going wrong!

I know that some people will think me superstitious but I believe there’s a spiritual dimension to this sort of thing. If you make a direct assault on an enemy stronghold, you get resistance!

The ‘assault’ was in terms of a decision we made last week to launch a series of youth camps down at Binacrombi in 2013. The ‘Fighting Fathers Warrior Weekends’ will combine fitness workouts, boxing training and spiritual reflection. We’ll be calling on some of Australia’s greatest boxers to help us lead the camps – men who will not only be able to impart their pugilistic expertise to their young charges but who will also function as mentors and role-models. We’ll draw our clients from boxing clubs, youth centres, refuges and anywhere else we can find young people who need inspiration and direction.

The vision has been taking form for a while. Last week I spent a night at Binacrombi talking it through with Fighting Father Geoff (our onsite manager). We committed ourselves to the project and to a timeline. Within days we’d taken so many hits that we were tempted to throw in the towel!

I won’t go into all the details, but the culminating blow was when Geoff and Laura had a vehicle accident that could have been very serious!

Oil slicks on dirt roads are tricky at the best of times. When you hit one just after a rain-storm has started there is little you can do to maintain control of the vehicle. Thanks be to God that Geoff and Laura avoided going off the side of the ravine where they were.

The vehicle isn’t in great condition. Geoff and Laura were shaken but not disheartened!
As we say in the game, they were down but not out!

I would appreciate your prayers for both Geoff and Laura and for the Warrior Weekend program of 2013. The time has come for us to offer Australian youth a real alternative to the culture of reality TV and virtual violence! Let’s get our young people back to basics, back to nature, and back to building real relationships with real men and women!

OK … I’ll get down from my pulpit. You get the idea. The bottom line is that we are not going to step back from this one. We’ve got a great team and a great venue and it’s time to do something great together – something that we can all be proud of!

Prayers for Peace

Of course ours battles at Binacrombi are only small skirmishes in a much larger theatre of hostilities. I’m conscious of the fact that the US elections have been the focus of attention for most of the world in this last week.

I confess that I am glad to see Mr Obama back for another term. That’s not because I think he’s the Messiah. Indeed, for all I know my Republican friends may be right and he may be the man to bankrupt the US economy. Even so, I believe that he’s also less likely to lead us into World War III. Indeed, I think Uri Avnery is entirely correct when he says that Obama’s re-election means that any plans for an Israeli attack on Iran are off the table, and this is something to be thankful for!

I appreciate that we don’t all see eye-to-eye on these matters of course, and I’ve been encouraged to see some healthy debate on the forum of late. Please keep the discussion going!

Pray for me!

And put in a prayer for me as I take on the formidable Fighting Father Rod Walker at the Randwick Labor Club this Friday night. I’m not asking that you pray for me to win but just that we both perform to the best of our ability and that we don’t do too much damage to each other!

It’s a rematch! If you missed the original stoush you can see it here.

Rod is a great man and a great man of faith and, in truth, I’d sooner lose a bout to Rod than to anybody else I can think of. Even so, I’m planning on coming home with another win, but I know it won’t come easily.

If you’d like to join us, the show starts at 7pm, and Fighting Fathers Caine and Mungo and Kath will be performing as well as myself and Rod. The address is 135 Alison Road, Randwick. Tickets are $40, with all proceeds go to support the Urban Compassion project of Hope Street Baptist Church.

Heading to America

My plans for a trip to the USA to support our friend and parishioner, Sol Egberime, in his fight against Paul Spodafora are slowly coming together.

At present I’m thinking to arrive in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 27th November and leaving (probably from Chicago) on Wednesday December 5th.

These plans are tentative and open to change. I’m hoping to touch base with as many friends and subscribers as possible in my brief sojourn this time, while hopefully indulging myself with a few visits to US Civil War battlefields (a passion of mine that not everybody may be familiar with).

Anyway, hit me back if you think I’ll be coming through your area, and be assured that I don’t mind taking a hefty detour for a good home-cooked meal!

OK. That’s enough bare-knuckle brutality for one 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!

P.P.S. A big apology to everybody who tried to join us for our worship service last Sunday on church.tv. Apparently the church.tv servers in the US went down just at the time we began. We’ll be back on the air next Sunday at 9.15am (Sydney time). Take out a free membership at church.tv if you want to join in.

 

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four