The Fight of my life

A night with the stars at Sydney's Syrian Film Festival
Another great Warrior's Weekend at Binacrombi
Cold Therapy in the Binacrombi billabong
Sparring in the Binacrombi ring
Building bridges with boxing gloves
in the Binacrombi chapel
a great finish to a great Warrior's Weekend
Congratulations Nooroa and Setailta
Al Quds Day outside Victoria State Library
Al Quds Day outside Victoria State Library
A new Islamic centre being built in Badgery's Creek
A new Islamic centre being built in Badgery's Creek

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Hi Fighter,

Once again it’s been far too long since we last communicated in this way, and indeed, I’ve taken five weeks of long-service leave since then.

My goals in taking that leave were three:

  1. To move things forward at Binacrombi bush camp.
  2. To finish the book I’ve been working on – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”
  3. To get myself fit and ready for the next fight.

I’m happy to report a degree of success on all fronts.

Certainly, Binacrombi has never been functioning so well. Indeed, the initial vision of Binacrombi as Australia’s leading adventure site for young people looks less and less like a dream and more like reality. Moreover, Bina continues to prove itself as a place of healing and renewal.

We held a fantastic Warriors Weekend up there last month (as evidenced in some of the pics above). The camp brought together some of our team from Dulwich Hill with members of the Muhammadi Welfare Association of Penrith – a wonderful group of Pakistani Muslim Australians.

The camp concluded with a traditional Pakistani BBQ, courtesy of our guests. We had one old Australian bushman with us who had never been near Pakistani food before in his life. “Best tucker I’ve ever tasted!”, I heard him say!

As regards the book, I have indeed finished a draft of the first part, and am really hoping to have it all published before the end of the year.

I still haven’t come up with a better title than “Christians and Muslims can be friends”, though I appreciate the alternative suggestions that have been offered, I figure that at least with the current title, it’s obvious what the book is about.

In terms of completing the book, I’d really appreciate help in two areas:

Firstly, I’m looking for people who will read and critique what I have written. I’m happy to share the existing seven chapters with anyone who is willing to read through them, check for typos, and tell me where I can make improvements. Just send me an email if you’re interested.

Secondly, my plan for the second half of the book is that it be a compilation of interviews with various Muslim religious and community leaders. I’ve already done a number of these interviews but I need a few more. If you have any suggestions (and, ideally, contact details) for appropriate persons I might interview, let me know.

Keep in mind that my primary target audience for the book is Christian people like myself. I’m therefore looking for persons that the average white, Australian Christian would recognise as authentic representatives of the Islamic community.

As to getting ready for a fight, things started going in reverse for me! Rather than getting fitter during my leave, I developed a rotator-cuff injury that just won’t go away, then I fell down a flight of stairs at Binacrombi and did myself some damage, and then I almost got wiped out by a truck while doing a late nigh run!  I think the Good Lord was trying to keep me humble.

Having said that, I am happy to report that the big fight has finally been confirmed. I’m scheduled to fight Dave Birchell at Husrtville Entertainment Centre on the evening of Friday, August 25th!

It will be the fight of my life – no doubt about it. Dave was a member of the Australian Olympic team, and has subsequently been undefeated as a professional. With me now at 55, he is also twelve years younger than me, so, on paper, I don’t have a hope! Even so, I’m counting on my good cardio-vascular fitness (which has never been better) and perhaps a bit of help from above. 😉

In truth, if this fight goes badly for me, it will probably be my last. If, on the other hand, I do well, I can see a clear path from Hurstville Entertainment Centre to The Citadel in Aleppo. I appreciate that the connection will not be obvious to many people, but in my mind that’s what the fight it really all about. I’m still hoping to be back in Syria before the end of the year, and I really believe that the best contribution I can make there will come through boxing.

If we can stage some high-profile boxing matches in Aleppo, we can get the eyes of the Western media on Syria, and if we can get the real Syria screened into the living-rooms of average Australians (and Americans and Europeans) then we can start to erode the myths that are fuelling the violence.

If you’re having trouble following my logic, I apologise. Hopefully all will become clear as the lies that make for war are systematically exposed by groups like WikiLeaks, and as the truth gradually emerges. Ether way, I believe Boxers for Peace has a role to play.

Dave v Dave (Dave Birchell vs Father Dave)

Anyway, I’ll be back to you soon with ticketing details for the big event, and will appreciate any and all support. Hopefully we’ll raise plenty of funds on the night too that can be forwarded to places in Syria where they’re needed the most. Whatever the outcome, I’ve never had a better reason to get beaten up. 😉

Sermon Time

In keeping with the ‘Christians and Muslims can be friends’ theme, I thought that today I’d include my recent sermon on the doctrine of the Trinity.

That might seem like odd logic since, at a dogmatic level, the doctrine of the Trinity is the most obvious point of division between Christians and Muslims (as it is between Christians and Mormons, Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others).

I’ve found though that one of the difficulties my Muslim friends have with Christian doctrine is that they simply can’t make sense of the Trinity. In truth, I’m not sure how many Christians understand what it’s about either. At any rate, I wrote a letter to my friend, Sheikh Mansour, trying to explain to hm why Christians believe in the Trinity, and this sermon is basically a recitation of that letter.

I trust Mansour won’t mind. I’m planning on including it as an appendix to the book too. Let me know if you find it helpful. If you’d prefer the written version, you can find it here.

Before signing off today, I want to raise one other issue that is very important to me.

Over the years, a small band of faithful supporters have helped keep the online work of Fighting Fathers Ministries going through their financial support. Those persons are the subscribers to the Fighting Fathers Member site.

Some of you have been subscribing at a rate of $10/month for many years now. Some contribute more. A number have dropped off, but some of you have been with me from the beginning! I know who you are and I pray for each of you by name regularly. Financially speaking, this work could not have survived without you, and at a personal level, your willingness to stand with me in this fight has been a source of constant encouragement.

Having said that, I am conscious that membership of the Fighting Fathers Member site is no longer offering value for money, and I don’t feel good about this. The site is badly out of date and has technical problems that cannot be easily solved, so I am looking at re-thinking the whole member-site concept. The question is ‘what form should a new member site take?’

I am going to contact each of my current subscribers personally to ask this same question, but I want to raise it here openly first – both to current financial subscribers and to all supporters of Fighting Fathers Ministries. What sort of subscription-based online site would be useful to you in your work and ministry?

I am limited, of course, in what I can offer, but I do want to offer something substantive to subscribers:

  • a regular online video-chat?
  • access to special online content (books, sermons, etc.)
  • individually designed physical and spiritual fitness programs?

These are a few ideas that spring to mind, but I really want to hear from you. How can I best support you as you serve God and people in need? Send me an email. Let me know your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

A Time to Fight!

I return to professional boxing on February 19!
Fran at Luna Park!
Imogen at Luna Park
Fran in the mouse-wheel
Grieving the death of Sheikh Nimr at Bankstown Mosque
Protesting the execution of Sheikh Nimr at Martin Place
with Syrian Girl in Martin Place
Hanging out with Nader
with Junior Talipeau
Hanging out with Sheikh Mohamad Jawad

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back with you and ready to punch-on for another year! 🙂

The holidays are far behind us now and Christmas is but a fading memory. What I hope is fresher in your mind is the list of goals you’ve set for 2016.

As you probably know, I am a great goal-setter! I almost never reach the goals I set (at least not in the precise form that I set them) but more often than not I find we get half-way to achieving something that seemed completely impossible when I first dreamed of it, and often the final result is better than what I’d originally imagined anyway!

For the last two years I’ve recorded my goals quick explicitly in this blog. They include:

  1. Founding monastery at our bush retreat (Binacrombi)
  2. Winning a world boxing title
  3. Staging an Australia v Syria boxing tournament in Damascus
  4. Supporting my children through school

The thought of developing our bush camp as a place of prayer seemed like a crazy dream a few years ago. Last year though we did indeed Christen the new chapel at Binacrombi, and we now have fourteen Fighting Fathers who have taken their vows as members of the Order. We aren’t a functioning monastic order yet by any stretch of the imagination but we have seen Binacrombi evolve into a real place of spiritual solace!

As to my World Boxing Title, I think that one’s going to elude me. Even so, I did manage a state title last April and fought for the Australian title in October!

As to Syria, I ended up in Damascus twice last year and had the most amazing times of my life! I believe that the foundations are now all in place to see that particular dream come to fruition this year, and probably in a way that will be bigger and better than anything I had originally hoped for!

As for my kids, I am very thankful for how each of them is going. Veronica successfully completed her first year of University, Imogen managed to get a high enough score in her HSC to get into University, Soren is doing well at Tempe High, and Fran is the most beautiful and delightful 2nd-grader anyone could ask for!

So I’ve set some new goals for 2016 and they are as follows:

  1. To help rebuild Syria through a ‘Boxers for Peace’ tournament in Damascus!
  2. To initiate a ‘Boxing for Life’ program that will help integrate Christian and Muslim youth within the Australian community.
  3. To restart our Youth Drop-in Centre in Dulwich Hill.
  4. To publish at least one (and possibly two) books
  5. To raise $30,000 through boxing to support all these initiatives
  6. To continue to find enough time for my family

I’ll be expanding on these goals as they develop over the course of the coming months. The only one that might require some explanation now is the ‘Boxing for Life’ program which we are developing as a CVE initiative (Countering Violent Extremism).

Not many people would think of Sydney as the Jihad capital of the world! Even so, per head of population, Australia has contributed more fighters to DAESH in Syria than just about any other country in the world! We have between 100 and 150 young men fighting over there at the moment. This seems small when compared to around 500 from Indonesia, but Indonesia has a pool of around 220 million Muslim people to appeal to. In Australia that pool is less than half a million!

I’ve offered my own analysis of this crisis in my ‘Stop the War video’ and elsewhere. Suffice it to say here that this is a broad social problem where we really need to deal with the underlying sense of alienation affecting young Muslim men rather than simply counter violence with violence. Our Fighting Fathers’ strategy is to build social integration between young Australians of all faiths and cultural backgrounds, and to use boxing as the means to achieving it! Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Sermon time – I love to have a beer with Jesus!

One story about Jesus that stands out like a sore thumb in the Gospels is the account of how He apparently turned some large jars of water into copious amounts of wine (John 2:1-11)! It stands out because we generally think of miracles as acts that heal or feed or help people in some obvious way. Who was being helped by this miracle? Given the enormous amount of alcohol involved, we might wonder whether Jesus was creating a problem rather than solving one!

Moreover, the Gospel writer John says that this was Jesus’ first miracle. It was, in other words, Jesus’ way of introducing Himself to the world! If this was how Jesus introduced Himself to us, what does that say about Jesus, and what does it say about us? Are we who follow Jesus all supposed to be big drinkers? This has hardly been the way the church has understood itself in history, but if that’s not the point what is the point?


Join me ringside!

fight-poster-2

click me for full-size

I mentioned above that one of my goals for the year is to raise $30,000 through boxing. That might seem a little ambitious but I’m hoping to do even better than that and it all begins for me on February 19th at Hurstville Entertainment Centre!

Due to changes in Australian law governing boxing, I’ve managed to get re-licensed as a professional boxer. I suspect I”m now the oldest professional fighter in the country! Either way, I’m scheduled to fight Glen Aristedes on February 19th and I’d be very grateful if you would come and support me.

My potential to raise money through this event is going to be determined by how many tickets I can sell so you’ll be doing me a favour if you get your tickets directly through me. There are two kinds of tickets available:

  • $80 – regular ticket
  • $250 – ringside table that includes food and drink

I’ve got two tables set aside with ten seats on each. If you’d like to join my family and key supporters at one of those tables, please let me know. If you’d like a regular $80 ticket, I can get that sent to you too. Either way, email me.

My opponent for this event is 10 years my junior and I’m expecting him to come in slightly heavier. Even so, I’m training very hard and am anticipating a win. If I fail miserably, this may well be my last fight. Either way, your support would be greatly appreciated. All funds raised will go to support ‘Boxing for Life’, Boxers for Peace, and other Fighting Fathers initiatives.

That’s enough for now as I’ve gotta get back to training. Here’s one more request though – when you email me about the tickets, let me know what your goals are for 2016, or leave them as comments on this blog page. Share the inspiration! 🙂

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four