On the road to Damascus

with Fran @ Vivid, Darling Harbour
with Fran and the Manus movie team - Olivia (video) and Angus (director)
with Fran @ Vivid, Luna Park
with Fran @ Vivid, Taronga Park Zoo
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Father Dave's Last Stand (photo - Tim Bellamy)
Boxers for Peace - Syria 2019 team
On the road to Damascus 🙂


Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here, and I’m on the road to Damascus (more or less).

To be exact, I’m starting this quick update on board a flight from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, at which point we’ll hopefully find a bus waiting for us that will put us directly on the road to Damascus.

It’s been a long time coming – this trip to Syria – and I’m full of hope that we will accomplish some very worthwhile things over these next twelve days. There are many faces I am looking forward to seeing again, and hopefully we’ll see plenty of new ones too.

Thanks to the support from you good people back home, we have a goodly amount of money to distribute while we are here. We also have bags of clothes, medicines, and other gifts.  

Our exact itinerary is still unknown at this stage, but I’ll be updating you daily via the usual mechanisms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and you’ll get a full debrief from me on the return journey.

So, the two weeks are full of promise and, frankly, the last few weeks are filled with some wonderful memories too.

As you may remember, we’ve had three major events recently:

  1. The first meeting of ‘Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange’
  2. The screening of the documentary film, ‘Manus’ on June 8th.
  3. The fundraiser stoush on the day before we left (June 22nd)

As to the event in support of Julian, it was well attended, especially by our friends from the Muslim community. I’m thinking now that I should rebrand the group as “The Christian/Muslim Justice League”. That way, after we’ve helped successfully bring Julian home, we can redirect our energies to supporting Yemen and/or Gaza and/or other areas of great human need that require our joint energies. I like the ‘Justice League’ concept too as it makes us sound like super-heroes – ordinary church and mosque-goers by day who get their super-powers from working together. 🙂

As to the Manus movie event, it was great to meet with director, Angus McDonald, and to hear how well this short documentary-movie is being received. It’s very gratifying to me personally too to see those voices were heard on Manus Island finally being broadcast to a worldwide audience.

It was an extreme experience for me – flying to PNG in November 2017 and making the boat trip in the middle of the night to the detention centre. What we saw and heard there was unforgettable, and then we flew home, and the men of Manus continued on in their struggle, and still they continue on in their struggle. Things still need to change, radically. Perhaps this film will help make it happen.

As to our not-boxing, unofficial, unsanctioned ring event last Sunday, it was great! Thank you to everyone who came and supported me and the Boxers for Peace team. Thank you to my opponent, Jason, to all the guys and girls from our boxing club and church who helped organise it, and thanks to those who poured in from the local community, many of whom stayed on afterwards for the fundraiser event.

We raised almost ten thousand dollars at the fundraiser! That makes it one of the most successful fundraisers I’ve ever been involved in. I have most of that money in a pouch around my neck at the moment, and I expect to leave all of it in Syria. As you would realise, sanctions make it impossible to send money to anybody in Syria though bank transfers or Paypal or any of the usual means. Walking the cash in is how you do it, and I’m deeply thankful that we are now able to do that.

Sermon Time

For a complete change of pace, let me include below my recent Trinity Sunday sermon on the doctrine of the same name.

If it seems really odd here to include discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity alongside travel adventures across the Middle East, keep in mind that it is the Trinity that is the chief point of contention between Christianity and Islam at a dogmatic level. One of my dear Muslim friends believes that if only we Christians could let go of this doctrine, it would remove the barriers between us!

Why has the Doctrine of the Trinity always been so dear to Christians if indeed we have so much to gain by abandoning it? Why especially, when it’s a doctrine that we all recognise to be ultimately incomprehensible?! Listen in if you want to hear my reasons for sticking with it (or read the printed version here).

By the time I post this report, I expect we’ll be in our hotel in Damascus.

Stay tuned over the next 12 days. I’ll be broadcasting everything I can via the Father Dave Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram .

Keep us in your prayers please – myself, Imogen, Henri, Mike and Dr Lou. Pray that we will remain safe, and pray most of all that we will be able to make a difference for the people of Syria and for the Kingdom of God.

I’ll be in touch again soon.

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

Ready to Rumble (again)

My darling Veronica turns 29
My darling Veronica turns 29
Fran is going strong
Another 'Fight Nights' experience with Imogen
a great choir performance in the church
a great choir performance in the church
The Fight with 'Wild' Bill Kinbacher
The Fight with 'Wild' Bill Kinbacher
The Fight with 'Wild' Bill Kinbacher
The Fight with 'Wild' Bill Kinbacher
catching up with Father Bob


Hi Fighter,

For any of you who didn’t hear, my fight with Billy Kinbacher was a great success. Indeed, it was exhilarating to be back in the ring, and I was lucky enough to emerge in one piece and with a win. My opponent was an absolute gentleman and it was a privilege to fight him.

As you know, fighting for me is never just about fighting, and many good things have already emerged from this bout. One of them was a message of congratulations I received immediately after the fight from a fellow professional boxer, Ezatullah Kakar,  who contacted me from Papau New Guinea where he has been a guest of the Australian government for some years.

Ezatullah is an asylum-seeker from Pakistan who had made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that Australia might be a sanctuary for him. Our government’s response is to keep people like Ezatullah in indefinite detention – using their suffering as a deterrent to others who make the mistake of taking our national anthem seriously.

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share

It would be far more honest if our government would delete those lines from our national anthem, or perhaps replace “boundless plains” with “endless pain” or something more appropriate. As you will remember, I travelled to Manus Island last year. I met with many of the men in detention there and I promised them that I would continue to work for their freedom. That message from Ezatullah has given me another opportunity to do just that.

Ezatullah is fighting for the Oceanic Light-Middleweight Title in Port Moresby next week against the local champion, John Korake. He asked me to support him, so I asked him to get me a spot on the undercard so that I could fight alongside him. The result is that I am now scheduled to fight Luke Baro – a local pug who is 16 years my junior, a kilo or two heavier, and has 72 fights behind him. I know what you’re thinking – “take it easy on him, Dave!” Don’t worry. I promise I’ll be nice. 😉

Father Dave vs. Luke Baro
Father Dave vs. Luke Baro

Of course, the focus of my return to PNG is the main event, and assuming that I recover adequately from my bout, I’ll be a part of Ezatullah’s corner team. Either way, I intend to interview him extensively before the fight and try to get his message out to the world. Ezatullah says he will be fighting for all the men of Manus, and for the men, women and children of Nauru.

My plan is to publish everything through the Father Dave Facebook page, at least initially. You don’t need to be a member of Facebook to access the page, and I’ve found that Facebook pages are an excellent platform for live video. Once we’ve streamed via Facebook, we’ll archive the footage as quickly as possible on YouTube. Either way, you should be able to access all the action as it happens or shortly thereafter.

Of course, all this assumes that the technology will work flawlessly, and I’m not taking that for granted. My experience with PNG thus far has been that most of these things work most of the time there. Even so, it’s in God’s good hands, and I trust that it will all come together somehow.

As to the financing of this one, I am deeply grateful for the support I’ve already received from our church community. I’m also being supported by everyone who contributes monthly support through membership of our Fighting Fathers’ online community (www.fighting-fathers.com).

Over the coming months, I’m hoping to get new members signing up at www.fighting-fathers.com.We’ve been working hard on getting the new site fully functional and are grateful for all feedback. I figure that if I can get twenty good souls subscribing at the $100/month level (or better) that we’ll be able to keep this sort of work going indefinitely without the need for special fundraisers. Indeed, maybe I’ll even be able to stop fighting?

Keep us in your prayers, please. There is much to pray for (as always), but pray especially for Ezatullah, and that our efforts will achieve something for the men of Manus and for the men, women and children of Nauru.

Sermon Time

November 11th this year was a historic day – 100 years since the end of the first World War – and it fell on a Sunday. I felt I could not avoid the subject of war in my sermon, however controversial my views might be, and the Gospel reading – the story of the Widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44) – seemed highly appropriate.

If you know the story, Jesus praises a widow who puts her small coin into the Temple treasury, even though it is everything she has to live on. The story is haunting, for we cannot but join Jesus in admiring the sacrificial generosity of the woman and yet, at the same time, we know that the cause for which she sacrificed herself was of highly ambiguous value. Indeed, in the same passage, Jesus rips into the very same temple institution for its corruption – the institution that took this woman’s money.

The parallels here with our history of warfare seemed all too obvious to me. We cannot but admire the self-sacrificial courage of those individuals who serve in our defense forces. At the same time though, we have to question the institutions and governments that send our people to war.

As I said, I knew I would be controversial. Even so, I think this is the only sermon I have ever given at Holy Trinity where one of our beloved parishioners stood up and confronted me verbally during the sermon. Perhaps you would have too?

(for the written version of this sermon, click here)

I’ll try be in contact with you again before Christmas, fighter. if you’re going to be in the Dulwich Hill area though over the next two weeks, do make plans to join us in our Yuletide festivities.

  • Christmas Eve: Carols on the rectory lawn from 7 pn
  • Christmas Day Eucharist at 9.15 am
  • lunch afterwards with our family if you’re on your own 🙂

And if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, consider signing up to our members site at www.fighting-fathers.com. That would indeed make me merry 🙂

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