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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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,
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.
Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four