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