Ready for an Easter Miracle?

Building a spiritual community at Binacrombi
my darling girl turns eleven!
my darling girl turns eleven!
Our dear brother, 'Binacrombi' Bob, turns 60!

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Hi Fighter,

It’s Easter week, but it hardly feels like a time to celebrate. Yes, the great feast day of the Christian year is almost upon us – the day of new life and triumph and chocolate eggs – but there will be no dancing in the streets this year and no Easter-egg hunts in the church. We will all be shut in our homes, hiding from the virus!

We live in apocalyptic times – so it seems – and if it’s getting to you, be assured that it’s getting to me too. Moreover, I know there are a lot of people in far more precarious situations than me at the moment – people who have lost their jobs, may be losing their homes, and mentally fragile people who feel they are losing their minds.

My fear is that these lockdown measures – designed to save the lives of thousands – may end up destroying the lives of millions. I hope I’m wrong. Either way, I’ll shut my mouth for now as I’ve already been censored by my bishop for speaking my mind on this subject and I don’t want to attract further trouble. Be assured though that if you are suffering at the moment through this lockdown, I am with you, and it’s just possible that I may be able to help.

As Providence would have it, the timing of this lockdown has coincided exactly with the latest initiative being undertaken by our Order of the Fighting Fathers. We are forming a spiritual community in the bush.

When I drove away from Binacrombi last weekend, I left another two ‘fighting monks’ lodged in the Cloister. Another two have applied to join us. We have an initiation period, of course, involving two weeks of isolation in one of the more distant cabins. By the end of that period though it should be clear whether initiates are physically and spiritually suitable for our community, and there are plenty of beds available in the cloister.

We have even developed a draft Rule for the community. Every day our monks must devote at least one hour to prayer, one hour to fight training, and one hour to giving something back to Binacrombi. I appreciate that we’ll need to work on this a bit if we’re going to get it up to the standard of the Benedictine Rule but it’s a great start. 🙂

Would you like to join us? I can’t guarantee you a place in the community, and I can’t even guarantee that we’ll be able to take you for the two weeks’ initiation period if government rules change and make that impossible. I can guarantee though that I’ll talk it through with you if you contact me. See my promo video below if you need further convincing.

I don’t have a regular ‘sermon time’ sermon for you this week as we haven’t been having regular church services lately! I’ve streamed a couple of Eucharists from Binacrombi (which you can see here), and I’ll be streaming services from the Holy Trinity church building in Dulwich Hill for Easter morning and for the following Sunday.

Both services will be streamed from the Holy Trinity Facebook page. We’ll start each Sunday at around 9.15 am, and you don’t need a Facebook account to access these live events. Please join me if you can. These may be the last services I hold in our church building, though nothing has been finalised as yet.

It’s a difficult time for all of us at the moment. I know that. It’s a difficult time for our economy and for our planet, and it’s especially difficult for those who are on the underside of the system – the poor and marginalised, prisoners, the mentally and physically disabled.

Pray with me. Pray for our planet and for its people. So many of the issues needing our attention are getting scant consideration at the moment. How many know, for instance, that the extradition trial for Julian Assange is being pushed ahead with relentlessly in London. Sadly, there is only one item in the news at the moment.

That all makes sense, of course. When you have a toothache, you can really only think about two things – your pain and a dentist – and when we’re locked down in fear of the virus, it’s really hard to expect anyone to think of anything else, which is why this is the perfect time for corrupt corporations and governments to be about the devil’s work.

And so we must pray. We also need to mobilise, but it’s hard to mobilise if you’re not allowed to meet. We must therefore pray that God will show us how to do the impossible, which brings us back to Easter, of course, where we celebrate that the impossible indeed happens! Perhaps it will turn out to be a great Easter after all?

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.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Controlled by Fear?

Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
My battle with the Combat Sports Authority continues
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria

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Hi Fighter,

I begin today’s newsletter from beautiful Lord Howe Island, somewhere off the east coast of Australia (though I have no idea exactly where). This is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but about 18 months ago I agreed to do a wedding here for a young Swedish boxer named Ola (who also happens to be an Anglican priest) and his Australian partner, Jesse, and … here we are. Two days in paradise!

Back on the mainland things look far less idyllic. Indeed, we seem to be quickly degenerating into a society ruled by fear – fear of infection from this latest virus. People are fighting to empty the supermarkets shelves, preparing for a lock-down. Tempers are short and anxiety levels are high.

I guess we used up our resilience. Will-power is like any other muscle. You can only exercise it so much before it wears out, which is why advertisers always try to hit us repeatedly with their ads in order to wear us down. In this case, we survived the drought, the fires and the floods. We just didn’t have any will-power left over to resist the next crisis. It wouldn’t have mattered what it was.

Personally, I have no intention of being ruled by fear and I don’t think the church should give in to fear either. “Perfect love casts out all fear”, the Apostle John says (1 John 4:18). In Jesus’ case that meant Him touching all sorts of people who others considered unclean (lepers, people with different illnesses, etc). Likewise, in today’s environment, I can’t see Jesus refusing a handshake or a hug to anyone, I won’t either.

Mind you, I’m battling my own fears at the moment – fears about my own future, as my life’s vocation as parish priest of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill draws to a close. Everyone has been asking me what I plan to do next – none more so than my youngest daughter who gets worried about where we will live. I thought I’d take the opportunity in this newsletter to share some of my hopes for the future.

I’m not envisaging any further opportunities to work with a church, and, at 58 years of age, I think I’ve left my run a bit late to retrain as a neurosurgeon (as attractive as that option might seem). My hope is that I’ll be able to keep going with my work with the young people through the boxing club, and hopefully continue too with my social justice work – campaigning for peace, for freedom of speech, for a fair go for asylum-seekers, etc. The trick will be finding a way to stay financial while I do what I feel called to do. I’ve got a few ideas:

Firstly, I may be able to develop our campsite ministry – Binacrombi – into something that generates an income. After almost 20 years of operation, it’s yet to turn a profit. Even so, we’ve seen lots of wonderful things take place there, and it may be that if we can increase the number of wonderful things taking place, it may also generate enough to support Fran and myself.

I’ve been talking lately with some Indigenous leaders about running camps for Indigenous young people at our site. That would be brilliant. I’ve also been separately talking to an old boxing champion who now works with vulnerable men, and to a church leader who works with at-risk women. They are both really keen to try bush retreats as a path to healing for the people they work with. Who knows where this might take us? 🙂

Independent of this, I’m about to publish my second book – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”. As I said to my young daughter, all we need to do is sell a million copies at a profit of $1 per book and we’ll have enough to buy a house! That’s easier said than done, of course, and the aim of the book is not to make money. Even so, God works in mysterious ways. We’ll see where this takes us.

In truth, I am very excited about the book. I’ve been waiting for many months for the foreword to be completed by His Grace, the Grand Mufti of Syria. I received that forward in Arabic a few weeks ago and I’ve subsequently had four translators working on it to give me the best possible English translation. I’m so proud of this forward that I can’t resist sharing a part of it with you today. I’ve published an excerpt here. My sincere and deep thanks to my esteemed brother, Dr Hassoun, the Mufti – a man I deeply admire and pray for every day. May God’s peace rest upon him and strengthen him as he shoulders the task of rebuilding his country.

In terms of my hopes for staying financial, my primary hope is actually that I will land a big fight in the near future. I appreciate that 58 is not normally considered the ideal age for a professional boxer. Even so, I figure that being ancient also makes me a novelty, and the truth is that I have never been fitter, stronger or faster. I’m not sure how to explain that except that I believe it is God’s way of telling me to keep on punching.

Of course, the first step to getting a big fight is getting a fight, and the Combat Sports Authority (CSA) has made that very difficult for me. I took the CSA to the Administrative Tribunal (thGloves of God bannede poor man’s version of court) after they prohibited my last fight in my hometown – stopping me an hour before I was due to go on. Unfortunately, the case was ultimately dismissed on a technicality. The Daily Telegraph published an article about that last weekend (click the pic for a more readable version)

My plan was to fight in Port Moresby again next month, which was part of an attempt to draw attention again to the plight of asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea, this time with the backing of Amnesty International. Even so, travel restrictions currently being implemented by the government will mean that I have to abandon that plan for the moment.

Even so, I’ve also got ‘Wild Bill’ Kimbacher wanting to rematch me in northern Queensland where the NSW-based CSA can’t reach me. Bill has even put together a video challenge (which you can see here). That will be a tough fight. I trust that these virus fears won’t stop the bout happening.

From there … Syria again perhaps (when travel restrictions lighten up) or perhaps they’ll let me fight in Sydney again by then? Time will tell. Pray for me though please – pray that the Lord will open the doors I need opened and that I get my shot at a brighter future.

Sermon Time

I’m including today my sermon on Jesus’ encounter with an unnamed woman that He met at a well in Samaria, as narrated to us in the Gospel of John, chapter four. It’s a story that I found myself identifying with in many ways, and I did share a lot that is personal in this sermon.

Henri Nouwen pointed out that it was only when Jesus shared his wounds with His disciples that healing began. Nouwen saw this as the model for the priest/preacher. I had hoped that this sermon might lead to healing too. Time will tell. Click below, or get the written version here.

In terms of what’s on, everything is in turmoil due to new regulations coming down in response to the virus. April 19 is still the key day for me – the day when I hand over leadership of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill to Father Hugh Isaacs. Whether I’ll be able or organise anything special for that day, or whether we’ll even be meeting is now uncertain. I’ll keep you up-to-date, but if we can do something, we will do something, and we do do something, you are invited. 🙂

I’ll finish off today by adding a few extra videos below:

  1. Wild Bill’s Kimbacher’s fight challenge (4 minutes)
  2. My speech at a recent rally for Julian Assange (4 minutes)
  3. Episode four of Revved UP! (45 minutes)!





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

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.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – February 11th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Yes, it’s Father Dave, and I’m still here!

I’m still here in Sydney that is!

I was supposed to be in Damascus today and I had anticipated filling today’s missive with pics of Damascus and Beirut. It was not to be!

In case you missed my announcement on Friday, our Peace Mission to Syria was suddenly postponed that morning. We were due to fly out on Saturday!

Our Mission to Syria Postponed

This was an enormous disappointment for me and the other 15 delegates from around the world. Even so, I appreciate very much that the organisers were giving priority to our safety. Apparently you can’t even reach Damascus from Beirut at the moment. The fighting is just too intense!

Dear Mother Agnes wrote to us: “You cannot imagine how difficult it was to make that decision!  It was your security and it alone that motivated us to postpone your visit to Syria – a visit which took weeks of painstaking preparation.  As you all have said – it is just a postponement.”

So I am hopeful that the trip will still happen – perhaps in the next few weeks or perhaps later this year? As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the importance of Mother Agnes’ ‘Mussalaha‘ (‘reconciliation‘) Mission becomes increasingly obvious. Even so, we internationals will not be serving the interests of Mussalaha or the people of Syria if we get ourselves killed or (more likely) abducted.

One of the other delegates really brought this home to me. I won’t mention the delegate’s name but will say that English is not their first language: “We could damage Mussalaha, if anything happens to us….Personally I was as a peace activist in many war areas BUT in this case we would not risk personally, Mussalaha (idea and people) would risk and that, we cannot accept.”

While I can’t mention the names of the other enlisted delegates at this stage, I must say that the dialogue that has circulated between us since last Friday’s announcement has left me deeply impressed with the calibre of the other team members! They are seasoned peace workers and human-rights activists from around the world. What a privilege it will be to meet them in person (if indeed the Mission goes ahead).

Anyway, I don’t have any pics of Beirut or Damascus for you. The best I can offer you is this pic of me and two Syrian ‘Abounas‘ (Arabic for ‘Fathers‘).  As I was still in Sydney, I accepted an invitation to a fundraiser for Syria, hosted by the ‘Australian Syrian Christian Association’. I met these two magnificent men at the function and many other wonderful people too.

me with Syrian Fathers Farid and Michael

Three Abounas – me with Syrian Fathers Farid and Michael

It was a wonderful afternoon of music, dancing and fundraising. Even so, the thing that stuck with me the most from the discussions I had with the other participants was the extent to which they all shared the same perspective regarding the plight of their home country – a perspective that runs completely contrary to what we are being fed by the mainline media.

These Christian Syrian people testified, one after another, that there had been no tensions between Christians and Muslims in Syria prior to these recent hostilities and that Bashar Al-Assad had been a very popular President. The agitation, they all believed, had come from outside their borders. It was their neighbours who wanted to destroy them, with the backing of ‘the West‘.

I won’t rehash the political complexities as I understand them, except to say that almost everyone there agreed that the real target in all this violence, so far as Syria’s Middle-Eastern neighbours and the rest of the world is concerned, is Iran.  Syria’s enemies want to see regime change in Iran, and the suffering of the people of Syria is just an unfortunate by-product of their greater and more sinister project.

How tragic! How demonic! Let us pray!

Jesus turned the Water into Beer!

You’ll forgive me for moving so rapidly from the deadly serious to the seemingly ridiculous, but so much of life is like that I find!

I know Jesus didn’t really change water into beer, but if He’d been in Australia I’m sure that’s exactly what would have happened!

Either way, I’ve got a wonderful sermon for you today, delivered by Holy Trinity’s most eloquent preacher – my friend, Dave Baldwin!

Dave (believe it or not) is not a professional preacher. He is, by trade, an actor! Even so, I don’t think I have ever heard anybody preach with such insight and clarity on the miracle of Jesus at Cana in Galilee – the turning of water into wine – as Dave did a few Sundays back.

We are privileged to have Dave Baldwin as a part of our Holy Trinity community, and I am privileged to be able to give you this video recording of the sermon. 🙂
[imaioVideo v=1]
(and if you can’t view the sermon, click here)

And that will complete today’s missive, my friend!

I’ll be heading off on my Monday half-marathon soon so need to go and get changed.

Hopefully I’ll have some better news about Syria when we speak again next Monday.

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 – August 13, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back from my Monday night run and watching a replay of the Olympic Games closing ceremony as I pen my Monday Missive to you.

I must say that it is wonderful to see the way in which playing games together can help break down racial and cultural barriers. Winning medals can also be a source of hope and pride to countries who have not had much to celebrate of late.

Mind you, I find the Australia obsession with winning gold simply distasteful, and I recognise too that major sporting events like these can easily be used by politicians as weapons of mass distraction – diverting our attention away from real evils that these same countries are committing.

One only has to think of the way Hitler used the Berlin Olympics of 1936 to help legitimate his sinister rule to be reminded that the Olympics are by no means immune from this sort of manipulation. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve seen of these Olympics and I do believe that sport can play a very positive role in promoting justice and peace and enriching human life.

Our recent world title bout with our beloved parishioner, Lovemore N’dou, is a case in point of course, and I know you’ll be interested to hear the inside story.

August 10th, 2012: N’dou vs. St Clair

The result was never in doubt so far as we were concerned, but I can appreciate that Gary St Clair and his team didn’t share our perspective. Indeed, the newspaper report that day suggested that his group had placed a large wager on a St Clair win!

We only found out after the fight that, while both Lovemore and Gairy St were technically retired, St Clair had apparently been in training to fight someone else when the opportunity to fight Lovemore presented itself. He was therefore in top condition!

There was evidently something very personal at stake for St Clair in this fight. I don’t know the man well enough to hazard a guess as to what, but I certainly noticed that he seemed agitated at the weigh-in, not seeming to want to make eye-contact with Lovemore.

Lovemore and Gairy St Clair at the weigh-in

I could appreciate that St Clair might be feeling nervous as he is a naturally smaller man than N’dou. He won his world title at Junior Lightweight, whereas Lovemore won his world title as a Light Welterweight!

They were fighting at Welterweight, which means that they could weigh a maximum of 67kg, but St Clair had insisted that they meet at an agreed-upon weight of 64.5kg maximum. The surprise at the weigh-in was that Lovemore weighed in at 63.7kg and St Clair at 64.7kg!

This meant that Lovemore was entitled to ask his opponent to don the plastic bag and do a few laps around the block to lose that extra 200 grams, but he was relaxed about it. St Claire’s agitation though was evident, and had only increased by the time the fighters reached centre-ring. He didn’t seem to want to touch gloves before the fight, and when the decision went against him at the end, he stormed off!

And yet the verdict was never in doubt. Lovemore looked stronger from the opening bell, and while St Clair was brilliantly elusive throughout the fight, he never looked capable of hurting the black panther.

I won’t say any more about the bout itself as you can watch it on the member site here. What I will say here is that this fight was more than just another boxing match. Indeed, it was the launch of a project that could affect the lives of a great many people.

Lovemore’s plan is to use this attempt at a third world title to raise funds to support at-risk young people. Our Youth Centre has certainly been targeted as a key beneficiary though I know that Lovemore still has a heart for his homeland – South Africa – and is very keen to raise funds for young people who have been orphaned through the AIDS epidemic.

These are early days, but my hope and prayer is that last Friday’s fight will lead to a series of colourful encounters that will allow Lovemore to fulfil his dream and make a real impact on the world – fighting poverty and disease and giving inspiration and hope to young people everywhere. I certainly intend to continue to work closely with Lovemore until that dream is fulfilled.

Lovemore wins the WBF world title and IBF pan-pacific title

(nb. click any of these pics if you want to see them full-size)

August 12th, 2012: The Visit of the Israeli Human-Rights Activists

You will remember that the other big event we had planned last week was the visit of the two young Israeli human-rights activists – Sahar Vardi and Micha Kurz – to Holy Trinity.

It was indeed a great privilege to be able to welcome these two lovely young people to our community. As expected, they were passionate and committed, and had each spent time in prison for the cause of justice and peace.

Sahar Vardi and Micha Kurz come to Holy Trinity

Thankfully, the two were more than happy for me to record their addresses, and we’ve now uploaded each to the member site.

You can hear Sahar’s address here. She spoke about growing up in Israel, about becoming aware of the injustices experienced by Palestinians, and about the price she is paying for taking a stand.

You can hear Micha’s address here. He focused on his work with ‘Grassroots Jerusalem‘ – an organization that monitors and helps coordinate the activities of grassroots Palestinian groups in and around Jerusalem

And of course one of the wonderful bonus for us in having such wonderful guests is that the occasion brought together Christians, Muslims and Jews from across our region – united in a common concern for the welfare of our Palestinian sisters and brothers.

christians, muslims and jews come together and holy trinity

OK Fighter, it’s nearing the magic hour of 3am and it’s time I wound this missive up!

Let me say in closing that I am hoping this week coming to finally launch our live video-cast of the Sunday sermon here at Holy Trinity. I’ll confirm that though with you if it’s going ahead.

In the meantime, remember that if you want to support our work, please consider joining us at the Fighting Fathers Member site. Your $10/month subscription keeps us online.

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four