The light shines in the darkness

Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Celebrating Fran's 10th birthday
Our State MP, Jo Haylen, pays us a visit at Holy Trinity
State MP, Jo Haylen, meets our Sunnyfield Disability team
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi
Protesting the arrest of Julian Assange
Boxers for Peace preparer for our Syria 2019 mission trip


Hi Fighter,

Here we are, at the end of Holy week. As begin to write, it’s still Friday, and the images of our wonderful Good Friday service are still fresh in my mind. Even so, it’s been a busy and emotionally-draining week for me.

Years ago, what always exhausted me this time of year were the multiple home-communions I’d be doing amongst the elderly in our church. Unfortunately, those old friends have since moved on to a better place. Now the pressures come from multiple directions.

In truth, I’m still feeling weighed down by what happened with my fight two weeks back – cancelled at the last minute for reasons that have still not been explained. Not just me, but my supporters and my opponent were all left out-of-pocket, and I’m still wondering how I’m going to raise any more money through boxing, as no one is going to fork out $200+ per ticket to see me perform again if they know my fight can be pulled minutes before I’m due to go on!

I with our local State MP (Jo Haylen) about this, and she is sympathetic and supportive. She may be able to do something. I’m also exploring the legal route, and I’m planning on sharing my story via social media next week through a quirky video. In the meantime, any and all suggestions are welcome.

The other thing that has really shaken me this last week was the arrest of Julian Assange – a friend, and a man I view as a true brother in the Good Fight.

with Julian Assange 2014
better days – with Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy on Easter Day, 2014 (picture courtesy of Julian)

I know that whenever I mention Julian people tell me I’m defending a rapist. This just shows how successful the character-assassination campaign has been. The truth is:

  1. Assange was never charged with rape and was never wanted for trial.
  2. He has already been cleared, and the woman in the case says that the police made it all up in order to ’get him’ (see more here).

Also, keep in mind that the reason the United States wants to put Julian on trial has nothing to do with rape allegations, and neither does it have anything to do with alleged liaisons with Russia or Hillary Clinton’s emails or anything like that. The US wants to prosecute Julian over the “Collateral Murder” video that he published in 2007, exposing US war crimes in Iraq!

What kind of world do we live in where those who murder the innocent never get called to account but those who expose their crimes face imprisonment and torture?

I view Julian as a modern-day prophet, and before you tell me that he’s a bit too irreligious and eccentric to be a prophet, remember that’s exactly what they said about Jeremiah and John the Baptist. Julian, like the prophets of old, has shone a light of truth into the corridors of power, exposing corruption, and like the prophets of old, he is facing persecution (see Luke 11:48-50).

We held a small rally in support of Julian last Sunday outside the US Embassy in Sydney. At the same time, multiple other protests were being held outside US embassies around the world. You can see my three-minute speech below.

It wasn’t a big turn-out, but I’m not planning on letting it end here. Indeed, I’ve got an idea in my head that we need to start a group called something like “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange”. I think it’s time we tapped into the energy of ordinary people in churches and mosques across our country – people who still believe in a higher authority than our politicians and business leaders.

Julian’s persecution is something that should bring people of all faiths together, but I’ll be happy if I can get our Christian and Muslim communities pulling together on this one. Watch this space!

Sermon Time

I appreciate that we’re in Holy Week, but it’s a bit too early to proclaim the joy of the resurrection. Let me instead share with you the last sermon I gave, which focuses on the dysfunctional family-life of Jesus, and more specifically on Jesus’ relationship with Mary, who anoints Jesus’ feet with costly ointment and wipes them with her hair.

It’s an awkward and embarrassing scene in many ways, and yet the early church clearly considered this to be a very important event in the life of Jesus, as the story turns up in all four of the Gospel accounts! What makes this scene so central to the life of Jesus? Is Mary really a key figure in salvation history?

Some good news

Let me conclude today with two pieces of good news:

Firstly, I am thankful to God for the wonderful Warrior Weekend camp we held at Binacrombi last weekend. The numbers were relatively small but we more than made up for that in enthusiasm. We prayed, we boxed, we ran, we ate and we celebrated. If you weren’t able to make it to this one, we’re planning the Winter camp for early June.

The other piece of good news is that our Boxers for Peace team met for dinner this week and we’ve finally settled on dates for our next mission to Syria – namely, late June to early July. If you want to be a part of the action, let me know ASAP. Either way, please pray that we might make a real difference this time.

That’s all for now. Have a blessed and glorious Easter. May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which  you have been called.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Back into the Ring

Father Dave vs Jayson Mac Gura (March 22nd @ Club Punchbowl)

Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave, checking in from Binacrombi. I’m down here just for the one night, touching base with the team here and making a new friend. I’ve included a pic of my new best mate below. If you haven’t made it to Binacrombi yet, this guy is another good reason to come. He seems to be establishing himself as part of the community here.

Jack - Binacrombi's resident wombat

It’s curious. My vision for Binacrombi is to eventually establish a prayerful community here, so I’ve been waiting for the Lord to send me some wanna-be monks. Is God trying to tell me something by sending a wombat? (click the pic if you want to take a better look at him).

Anyway … the other exciting news is that I have another boxing match lined up for March 22nd – only three Fridays away. I’m fighting a guy named Jayson Mac Gura. He’s had 26 professional fights and is young enough to be my son. Even so, I’m reasonably confident of pulling off another win. It’s at Club Punchbowl, and should be a great night!

The idea with the fight is to fund a trip to Syria between Easter and Ramadan (April 21 and May 5, respectively). Neither the exact dates nor the team are confirmed at this stage, so if you’d like to join me, now is the time to let me know. It will be another Boxers for Peace mission, with the primary goal being to broadcast the voices of ordinary Syrian people around the world. I’ll also be hoping to establish a sister-church relationship between our parish and the Melkite community in Maaloula.

If you can’t join me on the ground in Syria, I hope you’ll support us in prayer and help me with the financing of the mission. If you’re subscribing to the Fighting Father’s member site, you’re already financially supporting this work. If you want to go one step further, just buy a ticket for the fight as I get a commission on the tickets. You can order tickets right here!

Ticket type

Sermon Time

“But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:27)

I appreciate that exhortations to ‘turn the other cheek’ seem rather out f place when I’m also asking you to support me in a boxing match! Even so, boxers are not the only people that have trouble coming to terms with these words from Jesus. If you missed hearing me struggling with this text last Sunday, you can click the link below.

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

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

The calm before the storm

Sheikh Noor visits us at Holy Trinity
Our wonderful bush-dance fundraiser for the 'House of Welcome'
Discovering some unusual wildlife at Binacrombi
#BringthemHere
Alex scores another big win 🙂
dinner after the G20 inter-faith seminar in Canberra
Father's Day dinner at Circular Quay
My darling adult girls - Imogen and Veronica - at Imo's 21st
Imogen and Rami at Imo's 21st
Ange turns 47

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you after another prolonged period of silence. I haven’t been hibernating through the winter (as attractive a proposition as that would have been). I’ve been doing the usual – preaching, praying, training, fighting and celebrating – and I’ve been preparing for a series of big events. It’s time to share some of those with you and invite you to get involved.

Four things are looming large on my horizon at the moment, and I need your prayers and support in all of them.

  1. Warrior Weekend – October 5 to 7

Firstly, we’ve got another Warrior Weekend coming up on October 5 to 7. As ever, we combine intense physical training with sessions of monastic prayer and meditation every three hours. The three-hour pattern goes back to St Benedict (of the Benedictine Rule) who believed that you could only go for three hours without getting yourself into trouble. That’s particularly true when you’re racing around the bush, running, boxing, and plunging into icy-cold water.

If that description doesn’t entice you, click here to watch the 1.5 min documentary video that was made of our last camp, and then download the application form here, print it, sign it, scan it, and send it back.

  1. Boxers for Peace return to Syria

Our sisters and brothers in Syria need all the prayer and support they can get at the moment. They could probably also benefit from having a good boxing promotion staged in the capital! Let’s see if we can’t give them all three!

The plan is to put on a boxing show in Damascus in late November or early December. I already have a local opponent lined up and I’ll fill you in on the details when it’s all confirmed. I need at least four other fighters to come with me. Are you in?

If you can box and if you want to make a difference, let me know ASAP. We’ll put on a great show, and we’ll distribute funds and medicines wherever we go.

  1. I’m returning to the ring

I’m planning to have another fight in mid-November. This one will be in Sydney, and I already have an opponent lined up. Other details are being finalised now. As soon as everything is confirmed, I’ll let you know. I’m hoping to get maximum support for this one as everything we raise will be helping Boxers for Peace get to Syria. Whatever we have left over, we’ll take with us and distribute in Syria.

Sermon Time – sex and the Bible

I’ve come under a lot of criticism in recent years for not echoing the traditional teachings of the church when it comes to human sexuality. It’s the Protestant in me, always wanting to ground my values in the Scriptures rather than in church tradition, and the truth is that the Scriptures themselves are very ambiguous about sex. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Song of Songs.

OK, Fighter. I mentioned up the top that there have been four things I’ve been preoccupied with of late. The fourth is the relaunching of www.fighting-fathers.com!

A few of us have been chipping away at this for some months now and we’re almost ready for a formal launch. Fighting-Fathers.com has had a face-life. In fact, it has evolved as a whole new platform and we have it in BETA testing mode at the moment.

You may have noticed that the big social media sites (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) have been deleting millions of accounts lately that they have earmarked as ‘fake news’. A number of my friends have lost their personal accounts.

It would appear that if you’re offering perspectives that could be considered pro-Russian or pro-Iranian, there’s a good chance you’re going to have your account deleted. In other words, the days of free speech on the Internet are coming to an end.

One of the few things we can do about this is to set up independent social networks where people can still express dissident opinions without risk of censure. I’m keen to establish www.fighting-fathers.com as one such network. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of the BETA testing group and I’ll get you the details.

That’s all for now, fighter. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

 

 

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Time to retreat!

Baptisms on Easter Day! 🙂
With Fran at the Easter Show
with my beloved Veronica 🙂
Soren turns 15
Celebrating my birthday with my brothers 🙂
Get well, Danny!
showing off our church to Syed Shoaib Naqvi
with Luke Cornish at his 'Road to Damascus' exhibition
Hands Off Syria!
Pick on someone your own size! 😉
The match that has got to happen!
Cooling off in an ice-bath at the Wim Hof seminar in Melbourne
with the amazing Wim Hof!

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, writing to you from the middle of the Australian bush! No, I’m not retreating from the Good Fight but I am retreating from the Big Smoke for a while.

I am on long-service leave, and will be spending most of my weekends up to the end of May at Binacrombi – our remote prayer-space, dirt-bike farm and boxing-training facility.

I’m hoping that these five weeks will be a rejuvenating time, though they are not a holiday. I’ve got three goals I want to achieve over my time away from the parish:

  1. Get Binacrombi functioning on a renewed basis
  2. Finish the book I’m working on – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”
  3. Get fully fit for my next fight.

As for the fight, I don’t have a date fixed yet, but I’ll be letting you know as soon as something is confirmed.

As for the book, I won’t say more about that here either, except that I’ll be looking for your help to spread it around once I get it published. In the meantime, you might like to help me come up with a better title.

As for Binacrombi, do you have a weekend spare before the end of May when you can come and join me?

I’m planning another Warrior Weekend for May 19 to 21 (and I’ll say more on that below) but I’d be happy to see you on any of the other weekends too. If I’m left here by myself, with only the kangaroos to keep me company, I may get a bit jumpy! 😉

OK … It’s not really the lack of company that I’m concerned about, but I am looking for good people who will help run weekends out here. Binacrombi has developed enormously over the last few years under the tireless and dedicated management of Fighting Father Tez. Even so, Tez is not as young as he used to be, and it’s time for a few more of us to step up and give him a hand.

Perhaps you’ve always seen yourself as a farm-manager or as a fighting monk, or perhaps you’d just like to help develop the ministry of the Fighting Fathers? Here is your opportunity! Join me down here at some point in the next month and we’ll train you in the ways of Binacrombi. You might then consider coming back once every couple of months, to be an ongoing part of the team.

In truth, even if you only want to come and help me pray for Syria in the chapel here, I’d be very glad to see you. Call me or email me and let me know when you’d like to come. All my details are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version). Mind you, the obvious weekend to join us is May 19 to 21 – the date of our next …

Warrior Weekend

Yes, it’s happening again. From Friday evening (May 19) to Sunday afternoon (May 21) we will be giving you another opportunity to Train like a Trojan and Pray like a Monk at our remote bush training facility, Binacrombi.

The workouts will be fitness-focused and won’t be restricted to boxing training. Even so, you’ll get plenty of chances to show your prowess in the ring if you so desire, so bring your gloves and your mouthguard.

The prayer sessions are not compulsory, of course (and neither are the workouts), but those who are willing will meet for prayer and meditation according to the traditional Benedictine schedule – at 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. There will be separate prayer spaces allocated for Christian and for Muslim prayers.

We already have some young people from the Muhammadi Welfare Association joining us for the camp, and I’m hoping that our friends from Fighting for Autism will  join us too. These camps not only offer participants great personal benefits in terms of physical and spiritual fitness but are also wonderful opportunities for social integration. 🙂

The prices for the weekend have not changed:

  • $200 for the rich
  • $100 for the poor
  • Free for the destitute

These fees cover accommodation, training, and all meals (excluding the BYO Saturday night BBQ). If you feel you fit into the ‘destitute’ category, let me know and we will organise sponsorship for you.

The flyer for this camp is here. Right-click and choose ‘save target as’ to download it.  The flyer includes a form that you can sign and forward to me.

Sermon of the month

Easter is the time of year when Christians remember how God confronts evil in our world. It was therefore an extraordinary time for Donald Trump to drop the ‘Mother of all Bombs’ on Afghanistan, and yet that happened on Good Friday (Australian time)!

This seems to be the only way the powerful in our world know how to deal with evil. They drops bombs on it and hope it will go away. In this case, the Mother of all Bombs was dropped on (what is perceived to be) the Mother of all Evils (Al Qaeda). The result was that 36 people died, which was apparently considered a success.

It is the unambiguous teaching of the New Testament that evil cannot ultimately be stopped by other forms of evil. The Easter story tells us about a God who confronts evil in a different way altogether – through suffering and death and resurrection!


(forgive me for the poor quality of this video. The written version of this sermon is here)

Becoming the Ice-Man

Before I let you go today, I want to explain the picture that appears at the top – the one of me and a group of men in an ice-bath!

Yes, it was ice! Perhaps you didn’t look too closely at the pic and thought I was enjoying a relaxing session in the pool with my mates. Take a closer look and you’ll see that the water was thick with ice-cubes. It wasn’t relaxing! 🙁

The reason for this bizarre behaviour is that I’m doing a ten-week course put together by a bizarre man, Wim Hof, otherwise known as the Ice Man! There’s a picture of me and Wim up the top too. 🙂

The ice-man has been able to perform some amazing physical feats, considered impossible before Wim did them. He climbed Mount Everest in his swimsuit and  broke the world record for swimming under the ice. He then ran a marathon through the Sahara Desert without taking any water! And he’s a couple of years older then me!

Wim’s training method combines breathing techniques with stretching and ‘cold therapy’, which means cold showers and ice-baths, and by the time I make my next blog post, I should have reached the end of his 10-week course. I want to share my progress with you.

I’m hoping that Wim’s techniques will give me an edge in the boxing ring, and at my age I need every edge I can get. And if you do decide to join me on the camp, be aware that I’ll be integrating some cold therapy into our training routine (though, of course, it is not compulsory for anybody except me).

That’s plenty for today. I’ll hope to see you at the camp. 🙂

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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com

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 www.fighting-fathers.com 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  www.fighting-fathers.com – 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 www.fighting-fathers.com I still hope you watch Compass on Sunday night (ABC TV @ 6.30pm).

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.net
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.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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 www.fatherdave.net

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Merry Christmas

A simple message from my family to yours :-)

[imaioVideo v=1]

(if you can’t view the video, click here)

Make sure you wait until the video has finished as it should then re-direct you to my Christmas tree where you can collect your present. 
(and if you’re not redirected, click here).

I’ll catch you again on very soon.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s missive – November 21st, 2013

G’day Fighter,

What a magnificent time we had last Thursday night at Fight Club!

If you missed my invitation, we had six members of the Palestinian Olympic team join us.

Not all of the team were boxers but all of them were great ambassadors for their country and a number of them joined in the training even though it was their first time in the ring!

I had particularly memorable bouts with Ahmed, their swimming champ who did his best to put me on the canvas, and with Aseel – a lovely girl about the same age as my eldest daughter and a long-distance runner.

I also did a round with their former heavyweight champ, Nader Jayousi, who is now their boxing coach. He was gracious enough not to put me on the canvas.

I have to tell you that the pic of my stare-out with Nader is one I will always treasure. It was taken just before we did our round together and has Michael Dahdal (of Palestine MMA) keeping us apart. It’s the complimentary tatts that I love. I have my small white-boy logo of the Fighting Fathers on my shoulder. He has an enormous tattoo of Yasser Arafat on his!

(hint: hover your cursor over the pic to pause the slide-show)

Palestinian Olympians visit Father Dave's Fight Club
I teach Ahmed and Aseel their boxing basics
Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi, hits the bags
Sizing up against Palestinian Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi
This pic gives the illusion that I was in control! 🙂
Friends for life! 🙂
A great night! 🙂


Thank you to John Clutterbuck for providing us with these wonderful photos.

It was an inspiring night and one that has left me with a powerful sense of the way boxing could be used to help fight prejudice against Palestinians and build bridges between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

I’m not exactly sure at this stage how this will all play out but Michael and I were talking about sponsoring a Palestinian boxing team to come to Australia. In my mind I’d like to take it one step further and see a combined team of Australians and Palestinians of all faiths touring this country and then moving through Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, teaching boxing to children in the camps and preaching a message of reconciliation and hope.

Does that sound overly idealistic? Watch this space … :-)

Sermon Time!

“Blessed are you poor!”

That’s the title of today’s sermon, and it’s a direct quote from Jesus! (Luke 6:20)

It’s NOT a typo. It’s “Blessed are you poor” and not “blessed are the poor in spirit!”, which is the better-known variation of the saying and turns up in a totally different part of the New Testament (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” sounds sort of poetic, but “blessed are you poor” sounds  like a crazy thing to say. Surely if you’re poor it means you missed out on being blessed!

Of course it’s easy to romanticize poverty when you’re young but once you’ve visited a refugee camp or have seen families lose everything through war, fire or flood you realise that there is nothing blessed about the state of poverty, or is there?

Perhaps Jesus sees something we don’t see?

Or perhaps He meant something else?

Or perhaps He was just plain wrong?

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Warriors’ Weekend

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that our Warrior Weekends now have their own website: http://warriorweekends.com.

You’ll also, no doubt, be glad to know that you still have time to to book your place on our last Warrior Weekend for 2013, running from December 6th to 8th.

You can expect the usual combination of intense training and good, clean fun:

  • Develop your boxing skill
  • Build your fitness
  • Meet some great people
  • Enjoy the Aussie bush!

$110 per person covers accommodation, training and food for the weekend, and subsidies are available for those without a regular income.

We’ll also help organise transport if you can’t get to Binacrombi under your own steam. You can’t ask for much more than that! :-)

Call Fighting Father Marco on 1800 620 706 to book your place.

Solomon with his two boys

Solomon with his two boys

And before I let you go, please join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to our brother in the Good Fight, Sol Egberime – friend, fellow-parishioner at Holy Trinity, and senior boxing trainer for our Warrior Weekend.

I won’t tell you how old he’s just turned but I will say that he’s still young enough to take his shot at the World Junior-Welterweight title next yet. I’m hoping that 2014 will be a big year for him. Indeed, I’m hoping that it will be a big year for all of us!

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And 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

Weekly Missive – August 28th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

Love Syria

It’s Father Dave, and I confess that as I write to you today I’m feeling sick in my stomach.

It’s not something that I ate or drank (though I have had a second glass of red tonight to steel my nerves). It’s Syria, and it’s what I’m seeing on the news!

I’ve been watching and listening to European leaders and US and Israeli officials all talking about how urgent it is that we start bombing Bashar Al-Assad into submission, and all this before the UN inspectors have produced a single finding!

I remember having the same sick and sinking feeling on the eve of the Iraq invasion. I remember thinking then, “No. Surely they won’t do it. They’re not that stupid. They know there are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It’s all just saber rattling!” And now … 1,000,000 dead Iraqi’s later … history seems to be repeating itself!

Here’s how the scenario plays out in my mind:

  1. The US and NATO attack Syrian government forces on the pretext of the chemical weapon attacks.
  2. The government falls and the country crumbles into uncontrollable sectarian violence with jihadists gaining control of major areas (as in Iraq)
  3. Lebanon’s infrastructure cannot withstand the further influx of refugees (already almost 50% of the size of its citizenry) and so it falls into anarchy as well
  4. Iran is now left without allies (which I believe is one of the main aims of the game) and so Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, confident that Iran will not retaliate.
  5. Iran declares war on Israel and the regional war against the Shi’a goes into overdrive.
  6. Shi’a majorities in Bahrain and Iraq and elsewhere rise up and turn the entire Middle East into a cauldron of bloody violence.
  7. Israel eventually becomes the focus of the wrath of all its neighbours.
  8. The reverberations are felt throughout the world. Terrorist acts take place in every major city. There is widespread religious and ethnic violence, reprisals, etc.
  9. It all climaxes with some massive nuclear detonations.
  10. Everyone looks back and realises that there never were any chemical weapons attacks carried out by the Syrian government.

You might think this is all very fanciful, but I have military friends in the US that were put on ‘Class 1 Alert’ on the weekend, indicating possible immediate deployment to Syria! Meanwhile, my sources in Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Tuesday!

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

with Mairead Maguire - my hero!

with Mairead Maguire – my hero!

Amidst all the beating of war-drums, I was greatly encouraged to hear the lone voice of my friend (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mairead Maguire, calling upon her Foreign Minister to stop agitating for war! Says Mairead:

“Arming rebels and authorizing military action by USA/NATO forces will not solve the problem facing Syria, but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians, the breaking-up of Syria, and it falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves  become destabilised. The entire Middle East will become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.”

You can read Mairead’s complete press release here.

And while Mairead Fights the Good Fight in Britain, my dear friend Ghinwa (who you met last week) is just fighting to stay alive in Damascus!

Ghinwa visting the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus

Ghinwa visiting the Ummayyad Mosque (Damascus)

Ghinwa and her family are on the move, looking for somewhere safe to shelter. They have lost many friends and family members. As an Alawite, Ghinwa knows she is a target to Jabhat Al-Nusra and the armies of foreign mercenaries that besiege her city.

We haven’t been able to secure a time yet when Ghinwa can join us for a conference call and it will have to wait until she finds somewhere safe to stay. In the meantime, let me share with you our latest text exchanges:

 Ghinwa: I was supposed to contact with you on Sunday but I was caught in Damascus because of clashes on the way back home. I was lucky on Monday to avoid mortar shells. Anyhow, we are all OK. Trying to find a safe place to move on to in Damascus …

Dave: You are in my constant prayers, my friend – you and your dear sister. I hope we can speak again soon. … Just let me know if you want to do that phone conference.

Ghinwa: I wanted to do that but every day something new happens. I was unable to leave home in the past two days, and until now … there are clashes in the area around the place I live in. There are military operations now around Damascus, heavy clashes around us, I have information that there are around 4,000 Al-Nusra fighters in Muadamia. This morning those fighters used chemical weapons against the Syrian Army…

After the massacres against Alawites that killed some 350-400 people (we have the names of 256 persons of them) two massacres took place – one against Christians in Wadi-Alnasara area. 20 Christian people were killed there in what Islamist fighters called the Islamist battle to control Wadi Al-Nasara, meaning “Christans’ Vallley”, and a massacre against Kurds that killed more than 200 Kurds.

… I don’t know what to say!

Dave: God bless you, my sister. It tears at my heart to hear these things. Out here we are being told of various accusations against the government for the use of chemical weapons. I have no idea whether there is any truth to these but certainly things are terrible.

Ghinwa: Yes, I know these stories, but I know the accusations to the government are not true. When I checked videos on the Internet, telling the story that the government used chemicals against people in Ghota, I noticed those videos were uploaded to YouTube before the time the alleged massacre took place…

We see the same people in three different videos. Each video claims that those were killed in a different place. The only difference is that they changed the places of the bodies and arranged the scene in a different way. They put once that those people were killed in Kafr – batna, and the other video tells those where killed in Irbeen area.

I’ll check the videos and send them by email if you wish, Father.

Dave: I will publish what you send me, sister, and try to get the word out. My only concern is whether it’s putting you at any greater risk by having your name and face associated with this information.

Ghinwa: I am already on their death lists. Belonging to Alawites is a justification to kill me. It is something I was born with, not something I chose. So no problems of putting my name and pictures there.

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

In case you think Ghinwa’s claims about the videos are outrageous, I note that Veterans News Now are reporting that Al Jazeera and Reuters published news of the latest Syrian massacre one day before it happened (see here)!

Faith without Love = Fundamentalism

As we all know, the looming war on Syria is not just a political issue. It’s also a faith issue.

In the New Testament “Letter to the Hebrews” (chapter 11) the author eulogises over all the wonderful things that people have accomplished throughout history through their faith. When I read this though the first thing that occurred to me was that Al Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra also claim to be ‘faith organisations’ , though it seems to be a very different sort of faith to anything I’m familiar with.

How do we distinguish between good faith and bad faith? As a child I once believed that anybody who espoused the Christian faith must be a person of good faith whereas all members of other faiths are the bad guys. Then I studied the history of the church and realised (to use Desmond Tutu’s phrase) that “God is not a Christian”.

I believe the New Testament itself gives us a straightforward way of distinguishing between the faith that kills and the faith that gives life, and I it’s something that I think all Christian people need to take to heart.

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If you can’t view this video, click here

Vote Wikileaks!

Let me conclude this week’s missive with a shameless plug to all my fellow Australians: vote Wikileaks at the coming elections!

As George Galloway said when he was with us, if Australia votes in Julian Assange as a Senator we’ll be sending a message around the globe saying that Australia does not accept the ways that governments lie to their people and engage in murderous wars without the consent of the voting public!

And while the Wikileaks Party may not be the most polished and professional outfit in comparison to the more established party machines, one great thing Wikileaks does have is a solid policy on Syria (click here)!

with John Shipton (Julian Assange's dad) after church

with John Shipton (Julian Assange’s dad) after church (click to enlarge)

Let me conclude this missive with the same question with which I started:

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

I think we could be. In my mathematical reckoning FSA+USA=WWIII

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear what some of the leaders of the churches in Syria and around the world believe:

“if there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war” 
Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, President of Caritas Syria

The West thinks that with the Sunnis in government democracy will replace the dictatorship, but this is a great illusion: regime change by force, without giving security to the secular parties of inspiration, will trigger a conflict worse than in Iraq.”
Syriac Catholic Patriarch, Youssef III Younan

“the situation in the Middle East is becoming more and more critical as each day passes… there is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests.”
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Rai

Once again, as was the case in Iraq, the United States is acting as an international executioner … Once again thousands of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy; among them there are, first of all, Christians, about whose fate no one cares.”
Metropolitan Hilarion, Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate.

Will you pray with me, fighter, as I pray with so many sisters and brothers across the world that this threat to unleash all hell on the people of Syria will come to nothing?

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And 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 – 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

Peace Mission to Syria postponed! :-(

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support for our Peace Mission to Syria BUT we received word this morning that the mission has been postponed!

Denning and I were scheduled to leave tomorrow afternoon. This is a real shock!

The email sent to me and the other 15 delegates this morning reads:

For multiple reasons including the evolving security situation on the ground in Syria which has rendered accessibility to areas of Homs, Aleppo and even some areas in Damascus difficult, and given the importance of the peace mission to witness the work of Mussalaha in the major areas of conflict and for the peace mission to have an impact where it is most needed in those areas, it was decided to postpone the visit to a later date when movement will be less restricted.

I’ve been told off the record that you can’t even reach Damascus from Beirut at the moment. The fighting is just too intense.

This is a real body blow. We only received our itineraries yesterday and the schedule looked amazing – moving in and out of both government and rebel-controlled areas and meeting with representatives from both sides of the conflict, all of whom share a common commitment to peaceful reconciliation.

I confess that the assurance we received from our host, that they have “experience and credibility in negotiating the liberation of abducted people” was a little intimidating. Even so, the opportunity to join hands in this work with some of my heroes like Mairead Maguire and Patriarch Gregory III Laham overshadowed all such concerns.

The plan is to postpone the mission to later this month. Even so, this will only happen if the situation on the ground improves to the point where the organisers can have some confidence in the safety of the delegates.

In the meantime we’ll just do the best we can for the people of Syria from where we are. Denning and I have now been invited to be part of a big fundraiser for Syria on Sunday. I guess that will be a start.

Again, thank you for your prayers and support. Continue to pray for the people of Syria. From everything I hear the situation is degenerating to the point where the most inhuman acts of violence are being inflicted on men, women and children across the country, and those of us in ‘the West’ must share some of the responsibility for this horror. May God have mercy on us all.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four