Boxers for Peace chalk up another success in Syria!

training with the Syrian national boxing team

training with the Syrian national boxing team

Hi Fighter,

I’m currently in New Delhi, slowly making my way back home after completing our latest ‘Boxers for Peace’ mission in Syria. Unfortunately, in order to get the cheapest tickets, I had to opt for a 12 hour wait between flights in Dubai and a seven-hour wait here.  Even so, nothing can dampen my spirits after the week I’ve had.

Nothing went as I expected, and yet it was fantastic!

The boxing match I’d been hoping for with Ben Ali did not materialise. Even so, Jacob Najjar (my fellow boxer for peace) and I were certainly kept busy. Indeed, we must have boxed more than a hundred different people over the last week, amongst whom were some great fighters and many champion human beings! Moreover, our support team – Issa (the national boxing coach) and his boys – were simply excellent! It was a very humbling experience to be so well looked after.

  • We boxed with the Syrian Olympic team in Damascus
  • We travelled north to Lattakia and had more than 200 kids show up to train with us, many of whom were displaced persons living in UNICEF-provided tents that ringed the stadium.
  • We headed south to Tartous and helped open a new boxing gym (and did some more boxing while we were there).
  • We made it back to the refuge on the outskirts of Yarmouk where in April I’d been told that while the children there were clothed and sheltered, they had no pillows. I promised to do something about that when I returned and, thanks to contributions made by friends in Sydney, I kept that promise! We also distributed soccer balls to the kids as well as boxing gloves and mitts, all courtesy of our friends as SMAI.

Apart from all the boxing, we also visited other sports complexes, schools and hospitals, and we met with numerous officials, including the Minister for Health, the Minister of Information and the Prime minister. Most enjoyable for me though was catching up again with my much-loved Mufti – Dr Hassoun   More on that another time.

Indeed, I won’t say more here as I really need time to process it all.  God was in it! I’m sure of that. And if nothing else it’s given us an excellent framework for pursuing a bigger and better ‘Boxers for Peace’ program in 2016. I do sense that we are starting to make a difference and that much good can yet come of this.

It will take me a while to process all the photos so for now I can only offer you the two promotional videos that I put together on my iPhone.

Boxers for Peace - Syria 2015
Building Bridges with Boxing Gloves

click either image to watch the video

I’ll get back to you after I’ve had a little rest. Thank you for all your prayers and for the financial support that made it all happen.

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.boxersforpeace.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.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria – April 4, 2014

Hi Fighter,

lighting a candle for Syria
sharing the light
Imogen lets her light shine 🙂
Imogen and Soren help lead the prayers
a great Aussie BBQ followed

our ‘Prayers for Syria’ service and farewell BBQ

Father Dave here, speaking to you from sunny Tehran, and despite what you might have heard, it is a beautiful city and seems to be filled with gracious and hospitable people!

I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest historical movie drama – 300 II – the Battle of Salamis. It’s part two of what I assume will be a trilogy covering the three great battles between the Greeks and the Persians in the 4th Century B.C.

Like its predecessor that covered the epic battle of Thermopylae, I expected 300 II to be more drama than history. Even so, I hadn’t expected the Iranians/Persians to be portrayed quite so inhumanly!

While the Greeks were depicted as the authors and upholders of democracy, the Iranians were bizarre creatures led by demons! Their religion was thoroughly irrational. Their leaders were merciless. And they even had ancient versions of suicide bombers!

Perhaps that was all just intended as good theatre (and I confess that I did enjoy the movie at that level). Even so, I was left with a deep degree of suspicion about the underlying motives of the author and director. This is, after all, how many in the West envisage Iran – as a dark and scary place led by irrational religious fanatics. It only takes a day in the capital to discover that Iran, like every other country in the world, is filled with ordinary people like you and me.

Indeed, the chief cultural difference that confronts you in Tehran is that everybody seems more comfortable being outdoors! The parks are filled with families just lounging around.  Girls are playing badminton and boys are playing table-tennis or kicking a football around. Admittedly, it’s a public holiday, and Mansour tells me that all Iranians are strangely driven to seek out green-space during public holidays!

Oh, did I mention that I caught up with Sheikh Mansour?

A friendly face on arrival! 🙂
three amigos!
at the lecture hall of Ayatollah Khomeini
at the adjacent Khomeini museum

The poor man met Sam and I at the airport, spent the day with us, and then headed back to his home-town of Esfahan overnight!

I hadn’t envisaged it this way. I knew he was scheduled to leave on a flight to the USA the day after we arrived but I had assumed that his flight was leaving from Tehran and so I thought it would be convenient for him to meet up with us before he left.

On the contrary, his flight left from Esfahan (more than four hours away by car), and so he caught a bus overnight to Tehran on the Monday, spent Tuesday with us, and then caught another bus back home overnight so that he could fly out from Esfahan in the morning! When I told him this was too much to expect of him he said “Hey, in the olden days I would have had to do it by camel!”

We had a great day with Mansour. We visited both the former palace of the Shah of Iran and the former home of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The contrast could not have been more stark! The Shah’s palace (or rather, complex of palaces) were the epitome of luxury and indulgence, reflecting a particular penchant for French art and culture (which was something I hadn’t expected). The Ayatollah, on the other hand, had lived in a two-room flat! He entertained guests in one room and ate and slept in the other!

I evidently need to do some proper research on this figure – a man I’ve known nothing about but who always looked alien and scary to me with his long beard and black hat. Could there really have been something of a Ghandi-figure behind that stern expression?

I’ll do more research before I say more. My immediate concern is to get the rest of my team safely into Iran.  Most of them are due to arrive in the next couple of hours. Unfortunately we had one member (Sheikh Ali) almost barred from entry at Sydney and another member – our dear boxing champion, Solomon Egberime – stopped in Perth!

Apparently one of the Qantas staff mucked up his ticketing in Sydney and he wasn’t able to board the connecting flights. He’ll be stuck in Perth for a night and then in Doha for another night during transit!  And the worst part of it is that (thus far) Qantas have expected us to foot the bill for re-booking the flight. Indeed, as I understand it, they haven’t even given him a hotel room to stay in while he waits!

As I always say, ‘if you’re not getting shot at you’re not in the front line’. Perhaps these mishaps are all a part of the greater spiritual battle that we’re engaged in here. Either way, I am confident that none of us will buckle under the pressure. We have a job to do in Syria and we are assembling quite a team to make sure that job is done right!   I’ll update you more on the team in my next post as they should all be assembled by then.

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.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Weekly Missive – September 11th, 2013

[imaioVideo v=1] Speaking at the “Hands Off Syria” rally in Sydney
(if you can’t view this video, click here

Hi there Fighter,

It’s been a dramatic week!

While America prepares to unleash hell on Syria, Australia has elected a new government that promises to make life hell for asylum seekers!

We live in dark times – dark times indeed – and yet, as ever, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it!” (John 1)

For me that light shone most brightly this week in St Peters’ Square in Vatican City where the Pope led a hundred thousand people in prayer for Syria and for peace.

We are at a critical point in human history. The powers of darkness are emerging from their crevices and the stench of death is in the air. At the same time, I have never in my life seen the church so united as they are over this looming escalation in global violence.

The forces of darkness and light seem to be lining up! It’s time for all of us to decide where we stand!

I swore at the Television!

I swore at the TV the other night!

I appreciate that this sort of thing doesn’t accomplish much, but I couldn’t help myself.

I was listening to Barack Obama addressing a press conference. He had a look of deep sincerity on his face as he said “It’s not me that has drawn the red line over chemical weapons. It’s the international community”. I cried out “BULL****!”

Whatever opinion you might have of Syria and of the American President’s plans to bomb Damascus, we all know that the international community is NOT behind Barrack Obama!

Not even the American public are behind him! Indeed, in no country in the world (apart from Israel) does Obama have anywhere near majority support for his militaristic agenda, and the man knows this full well! And yet he smoothly spits out his lie – that the whole of humanity is supporting him in his stand, and then the camera pans around the room to focus on more sincere faces, nodding in agreement.

It’s all so smooth and it’s all so convincing and it’s all so entirely FALSE!

Truly this President is far more dangerous than his predecessor! George Dubya was a clown – albeit a criminal clown, but a clown nonetheless – and we all knew it! This guy is slick, and he seems like such a nice man! That makes him far more dangerous!

There was one valuable lesson that I learnt from my first Martial Arts instructor, Mr Kim. He taught me “your mouth can lie but your body can’t lie”. He was referring to people who said they were looking for a friendly sparring session but once they got into the ring it was an all out war! The principal applies across various areas of life. If you want to know what someone is really on about, don’t just listen to what they say. Watch what they do!

Barrack Obama’s record speaks for itself. Military expenditure is greater than under any previous administration, a covert domestic surveillance programs is eroding American civil liberties, whistle-blowers and dissenters are being handled with unprecedented brutality, and now Mr Obama seems to be on a personal mission to destroy what is left of Syria!

001_military_spending_dollars

Christians around the world unite!

joining hands with Mother Agnes and the Melkite Patriarch in Damascus

joining hands with Mother Agnes and the Melkite Patriarch in Damascus

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it!”
(John 1)

I can say in all honesty that I have never in my lifetime seen the church so united on any one issue. It seems that every Christian leader in the world is speaking as one in their opposition to Barrack Obama’s plans for war with Syria!

In St Peter’s Square the Pope openly denounced those “captivated by the idols of dominion and power” who destroy God’s creation by war, and earlier in the week he wrote to leaders of the G20 meeting in Saint Petersburg, urging them to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” for Syria (see full report here).

Meanwhile, Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch (who was my host while I was in Beirut earlier this year) spoke optimistically to the faithful in Damascus “This is the start of the victory. No to war. Yes for peace.” (see full report here).

Archbishop Matta Roham, Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates, was explicit in his concerns: “It is easy to pave the way for air strikes on Syria, but it is difficult to end the war and the consequences of these attacks throughout the Middle East”. (see full report here).

Father Adolfo Nicolas, superior-general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was even more explicit in his condemnation of Obama’s plans, saying that any attack from the United States will be a “terrible mistake” and an abuse of power. “The US has to stop acting and reacting like the big boy of the neighbourhood of the world. This leads inevitably to abuse, harassment and bullying of the weaker members of the community.” (see report here)

Not to be outdone, mainline Protestant and Evangelical leaders have also been adding their voices to the growing throng.

Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance, pointed out the negative effect military strikes would have on Christians in the Middle East. His remarks were given during a meeting of Christian leaders in Jordan. He added “I couldn’t find a Christian leader at the conference who supported military intervention”.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore echoed Tunnicliffe’s concerns, saying, there are just-cause principles missing “both to justify action morally and to justify it prudentially.” (Read both full statements here).

I must say that I find all this deeply encouraging! It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly and unambiguously through every branch of Christ’s church! The only question is whether those in power who claim to be Christians will be willing to listen!

Shall we meet in Damascus?

Mother Agnes with children in Damascus

I must be honest and say that I don’t expect the light to prevail in the short term.

The US Congress is yet to vote on the US attack as yet, of course, but President Obama has not ruled out the possibility that he will personally authorise an attack even if his Congress votes against it! The people of Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Thursday.

I haven’t heard much from my friend in Damascus, Ghinwa Maia, over the last week. She and her family are on the move, looking for a safe place to hide. The one text I did receive from her said “We are not afraid of the US strike itself as much as we are afraid of terrorist groups moving on the ground while the US would be covering them from the sky!”

This is indeed a legitimate concern. According to all reports, Jabhat Al-Nusra and various Jihadist groups are massing on the outskirts of Damascus, ready to use the American missile strike as air cover while they make their ground assault!

If appeals to common sense and the vote of Congress won’t dissuade Mr Obama from the path of violence, I can only see one other strategy remaining. Concerned people from around the world will have to gather in Damascus to act as human shields. Should we go together?

A number of people I know in Syria, Lebanon and the US are trying to put together a human-shield program at this very moment. Indeed, there have been 100’s of emails circulating over the last week as we rapidly try to organise something.

The problem is that it can’t be a rush job. One friend who was involved in the human-shield program in Baghdad in 2003 warned me that a poorly organised program only serves to put more people at risk. It needs to be well organised, and this takes time. The problem is, of course, that we don’t have time.

At any rate, I know that Mother Agnes and various Christian leaders are planning on being involved and I am certainly interested in joining them. I mentioned this in church on Sunday and a handful of others expressed an interest too. Would you be interested in joining me in Damascus too, fighter?

As I say, I don’t have any details at this stage but if you’d like me to keep you in the loop as plans develop, just hit me back and let me know. Take note though that while I’d like to take a sizeable team with me, I’d prefer to take only those who are over 50 years of age and don’t have any young dependent children.

The Cost of Discipleship

It was serendipitous that our Gospel reading last Sunday was that dreaded passage from Luke 14 where Jesus says that we need to ‘hate our fathers and mothers and children and our own lives if we want to follow him!’ (Luke 14:25-34).

The passage has always confused as well as disturbed me, but this time when I read it, it all seemed to make sense! Jesus is addressing His disciples the same way a military commander might address his soldiers. The issue is not really so much how they feel about their loved ones but whether they are willing to let go of them. In other words, Jesus is asking His disciples whether they are ready to die for Him (or rather with Him)!

[imaioVideo v=2]
(if you can’t view this video, click here)

As is always the case, thoughts of death reminds us of how much we have to live for!

This month is a time of great birthdays for us here!

Last weekend we celebrated our dear parishioner, Rabiatu Kamara, turning 21!

Rabiatu turns 21!

Rabiatu turns 21!

Today I celebrate my dear daughter, Imogen, turning 16!

Imogen turns 16!

Imogen turns 16!

This month is also Ange’s birthday and our wedding anniversary.   Indeed, with so much to celebrate it seems like an odd time to be planning a trip to Damascus. And yet it is precisely our appreciation of the value of human life that makes the survival of the people of Damascus so imperative!   We’ll talk again soon.

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!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Weekly Missive – July 2nd, 2013

G’day Fighter,
Father Dave back with you – a little weary but strong in spirit. :-)
I seem to have been spending all my time travelling and speaking since last we spoke.
  • I spoke to a Lions Club gathering, hoping to raise more funds for our youth work.

2013 - guest speaker at the Sydney Executive Lions Club

  • I spoke to at a gathing of the Wikileaks Party faithful

2013 - Addressing a gathering of the Wikileaks Party faithful

  • I had the privilege of being guest speaker at Sydney’s 2013 Muslim Youth Conference!

2013 - it was a great privilege to be invited to address the Sydney Muslim Youth Conference

I’m still trying to work out what made the ‘Muslim Women’s Association’ think I’d be a good speaker on the subject of issues facing Muslim youth, but I must say that it was a great privilege and I had a great time! :-)

As to travelling, I’m still following dear Mother Agnes around!

You’ll remember that not long ago I dragged Mother and Sister around Canberra. We got back and went one step further up the ladder of greatness and met with Bishop Rob!

2013 - Mother Agnes and Sister Carmel meet Bishop Forsyth

Then, before Mother Agnes left our fair state, all the churches shared with her in a wonderful evening of prayer for Syria at the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Sydney.

2013 - a great night of prayer for Syria at the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Lidcome

Right now I’m en route to meet up with Mother again – this time in Kuala Lumper! Indeed, I’m starting this missive at an altitude of 11582 metres according to my flight information (and I thought they always measured these things in feet :-0)!

Within a few hours of landing we are scheduled to meet with members of the Malaysian Department of Foreign Affairs. Our subject, of course, will be Syria.

Our host in Malaysia is the great human-rights activist, Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

I first had the privilege of meeting Dr Muzaffar in the late 80’s in his home in Penang. I had read about his exploits – how he had worked tirelessly to defend the rights of minorities in Malaysia, especially Christians. That was the first time I had heard of a Muslim community leader putting himself on the line for Christians.

And then I heard how he’d been imprisoned by the government for his efforts – an act that created such a stir worldwide and generated so many protests (including many from prominent church leaders) that the Malaysian government was force to release him!

It seems that this year I am getting to meet all my heroes!.

I had the privilege of travelling to Syria with the great peace-maker and Nobel Laureate, Mairead Maguire, and now I’ve been invited to Malaysia by another champion of human rights! And of course it didn’t surprise me when Dr Muzaffar told me that Mairead was on the board of his human-rights organisation – JUST (The Campaign for a Just World).

God has been extremely gracious to me of late and I do not take it for granted. :-)

Anyway, I’ll send you a full report of my two days in Malaysia next week. For the moment I have some more urgent things to share with you:

George Galloway in Sydney

Just when I thought I was running out of heroes to meet, that outspoken and wonderfully offensive Scotsman, George Galloway, arrives in Sydney!

galloway-townhall

If you don’t know George, he’s a British politician and a passionate human-rights activist, particularly well-known for his Palestinian advocacy.

How did he come to be in Sydney? Well … it’s a long story, but my friend Mohammed Naqi gets the credit for organising both his trip and his appearances!

There are two public gatherings and only one that has not been sold out. It’s at the Sydney Town Hall this Thursday evening. Click here to get the details on Facebook or here to download the flyer.

The event is not free because Mohammed needs to cover his costs for the hire of the Town Hall (which doesn’t come cheaply). Even so, this is a great opportunity and not one to be missed. I will certainly be there (God willing) and hope to see you there too.

The Youth Centre is Re-Opening

No, we haven’t rebuilt our Youth and Community Centre yet after the arson attack in March that completely destroyed it, though we have now levelled the site and have submitted our ideas to the architects.

2013 - our once-mighty Youth Centre has now been levelled to the ground

While we wait for our new centre to be constructed, we are teaming up with our new best-friends – the Salvation Army Corps of Dulwich Hill – to open a new Youth Centre in our area, based on their premises! :-)

It’s a true joint venture. The Salvo’s are providing their wonderful space and are also contributing a youth worker. We are contributing more team members and lots of equipment, including a new boxing ring! I guess the Salvos are also counting on us to supply a truck-load of kids, and I trust that we won’t disappoint! ;-)

At any rate, we have scheduled our grand opening for Sunday July 28. We’ll probably start with a lunch-time BBQ and continue till early evening.

I know that some of our Koori friends have expressed enthusiasm with regards to providing a band. My idea was to celebrate the opening by having a last-man-standing bout with Fighting Father Caine!

Either way, we’ll hopefully also have clowns and jumping castles and sticky food and lots of other great party stuff! It will be a great opportunity to put the ashes of the past behind us as we forge ahead with new initiatives of service to the young people of our region! :-)

Binacrombi Needs YOU!

I mentioned last week that our beloved Binacrombi caretaker, Geoff, is leaving for New Zealand and that we are looking for teams of people to run weekends down there.

I’ve had a handful of people express interest, but now I really need those of you who are interested to get down there before the end of this month (when Geoff leaves) and get trained in how to run the site!

It’s not easy! We have our own eco-system at Binacrombi. We are not connected to the power-grid, the gas-grid or to any mainline water or sewerage system. You need to know how our generators, gas system and water-piping system works, and you can only really learn through hands-on experience.

So if you’re keen please book in over the next few weeks and let’s make Binacrombi the greatest adventure camp for young people in the Southern hemisphere!

I’m selling my websites

OK, I’m not selling all of them, but with Fighting Father Jim now gone (see last week’s post) it’s going to be impossible to maintain so many of my traditional sites.

I have at least three ‘mininets’ of sites that I’m willing to part with. All are useful and informative sites that can also generate a significant income through Adsense ads etc. These site networks are currently being under-utilised as I just don’t have time to maintain and develop them any more. They cover topics such as child custody and drug addiction.

Each of these mininets offers a significant public service and each has generated up to $1,000 per month at different times. At the moment though they aren’t generating more than a few hundred per month between them, but if you were willing to put the necessary time and energy into them …

Interested? Send me an email and we’ll work something out.

Mother Agnes’ gives us the Good Word

OK. It’s high-time I got back to more spiritual matters.

Last week we had the privilege of having Mother Agnes join us for worship at Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, and it was a wonderful service!

Here’s a pic of our liturgical team just before the start of the service.

2013 - Mother Anges joins us for worship at Holy Trinity

Some said that it was the greatest service they had experienced at Holy Trinity. Mother Agnes, for her part, said that it had ‘all the grandeur of the Byzantine liturgy’.

I’m sorry I can’t give you a recording of the whole service but I have got Mother Agnes’ sermon for you. Enjoy! :-)

[imaioVideo v=1]

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

OK guys. That’s it for me this week.

As expected I’m now in Malaysia. I’ve just met with the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and am soon to head off for dinner with dear Dr Muzzafer!

So I’ll hold off on the details of all that till next week.

Until then, I remain …

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!

Please follow and like us:

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!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – November 19th, 2012

Hi Fighter!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a week since the latest assault by the IDF on Gaza. There has been so much death and destruction in the last few days! I’m afraid that it’s going to be difficult for me to talk about much else in my missive this week.

The Assault on Gaza

I appreciate that I will have already alienated a lot of my readers by speaking of the ‘assault on Gaza’ when the official narrative says that it is not an assault but a war. I’m sorry. I can’t use that language.

I appreciate that there are casualties on both sides of this conflict, and indeed I grieve for the Israeli dead as I do for the Palestinian dead, but a war suggests that there are two armies involved in this conflict. There are not two armies. There is one army. It is a highly-trained and well-equipped army. Fighting this army are disparate groups of home-grown militia-men.

If you think I’m being outrageous, let me quote from the great Noam Chomsky:

Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army … and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder.

When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing. You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. (see Chomsky’s full statement here).

Chomsky’s last point is important too. Defending yourself is not always an act of self-defense! If a thug attacks an old woman in the street and she fends him off with her umbrella, the thug might indeed have to defend himself against the blows of the umbrella, but this would not make his assault an act of self-defense.

Don’t misunderstand me: I do not approve of the fact that the people of Gaza are firing rockets into Israel. I pray to God that they will show restraint and recognise the futility of retaliating in this way. Further, I am not anti-Israel and do not want to see the country wiped off the map or anything of the sort. But that is not what this latest outbreak of violence is about. What it’s about, I believe, is politics. Specifically, I believe it’s about the Israeli Prime Minister ensuring his victory at the polls in the forthcoming Israeli elections.

Am I being overly cynical? Read Uri Avnery’s analysis (former member of the Israeli parliament).

While you’re at it, you might appreciate a few other choice articles and videos that depart from the official narrative:

I include this last link as a reminder that this violence is not about race or religion. The problem is not the Jews or the Muslims or the Christians or the Arabs or the Palestinians or any particular racial or religious group. The problem is (as always) politics, greed, and the lust for power!

Pray for Peace!

And don’t simply Pray for Peace. Pray for Peace with Justice – the only kind of peace that can last.

And don’t simply Pray. Protest!

There is a wonderfully long list of protest rallies that are taking place around the world listed on the Facebook page of the Palestine Action Group of Sydney.

There’s a Sydney rally listed there for this coming Saturday. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

Heading to the USA

Thanks be to God, I am now booked to fly to the USA next week to support by dear brother and Holy Trinity parishioner, Solomon Egberime, in his fight against Paul Spadafora on December 1st.

The fight has evidently been generating a lot of interest. I did a quick Google search on ‘Egberime v Spadafora’ and got more than 22,000 results, including this press release from Roy Jones Jr.!

Egberime v Spadafora

I have had the privilege of being in Sol’s corner for each of his fights since 2008, but this is certainly the most significant one to date. I know I carry the hopes and prayers of our parish and suburb and country with me as I go to support our Nigerian-Australian brother.

Of course, I am also hoping to catch up with as many of my American friends and supporters as possible while I am in the US. My itinerary has not been finalised but my current plans are to:

  • Leave Sydney on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 27th
  • Arrive in Los Angeles about six hours before I left (go figure) !
  • Fly to Washington D.C. the same evening (November 27)
  • Drive from Washington to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 28
  • Drive from Gettysburg to the fight venue in Chester, West Virginia on November 30
  • Drive to the monastery in Princeville, Illinois on December 3rd
  • Fly out from Chicago airport on December 5th (landing in Sydney December 7th)

As I say, none of this has been finalised as yet, though the flights (and the fight) are fixed. Certainly I’ll be looking for someone to share lunch with in LA on November 27, though I suppose I can make a day-trip to Hollywood if I don’t get a better offer!

My itinerary from Washington D.C. to Chicago is flexible, apart from the fight. I do hope to take some time to re-visit some of my favourite US Civil War battlefields, but I won’t let that take priority over meeting up with new members of the Order of the Fighting Fathers should there be opportunity.

Congratulations and Thanks

Let me say a big thank you to everyone who turned out to support the team from Holy Trinity Gym last Friday night at our charity boxing night.

  • Fighting Father Caine put in a strong performance to win his bout quite decisively.
  • Kath Biggs also put in a brilliant performance but lost a narrow points decision.
  • I likewise lost my bout in a points decision to Fighting Father Rod.

Mine was a bit of a surprise. I thought I’d done enough to win but the judges thought otherwise. This was sort of fitting though as in my last fight against Rod I thought he’d won but the judges scored it my way!

As I always say, you can’t control the judges decision. All you can control is how much effort you put in, and I can assure you that both Rod and Caine and Kath and I all put in 100%. Congratulations to everyone who had the courage to step in the ring on that night!

Holy Trinity Gym
(click on the pic to see it full-size)

And while I’m congratulating people, let me extend my congratulations to my dear brothers and sisters of the Passionist Order who celebrated 125 years of ministry in our area on the weekend.

Ange and I had the privilege of attending a fantastic celebratory Mass at St Brigid’s church in Marrickville. I know that our Catholic brothers and sisters in this country are facing some serious challenges at the moment, but this just made the celebration all the more wonderful to me. In the midst of adversity we celebrated the goodness of God and all the good things that the Passionist Fathers have brought to our region and our country.

God’s blessing to all our Passionist sisters and brothers, and a special congratulations to Father John (pictured on my left) for staging Saturday’s celebration.

125 years of the Passionist Fathers in Marrickville
(click on the pic to see it full-size)

And before I let you go I must apologise to you if you’ve been trying to catch the live video-cast of our service here at Holy Trinity.

We have been trying to stream our worship services to you each week but unfortunately the church.tv server has crashed and it’s taking them some time to put their network back together!

This Sunday coming Dr Keith Mascord is giving the first of a two-part sermon series on homosexuality, and I’m sure that many of you would have been keen to join us for the video-cast. Be assured that if church.tv can’t manage the live broadcast we will be recording the sermon anyway and will post it to YouTube as soon as possible.

Unfortunately my Sunday sermon from yesterday was recorded by neither video nor audio device, though you can read the written version here if you’re keen.

My text from the Gospel of Mark is about war and destruction in Israel, so you won’t be surprised to find more than one reference to Gaza in the sermon. In truth, it’s been difficult for me to think about much else of late. My heart bleeds for all who are caught up in the bloodshed.

That’s enough for this week.

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

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!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Monday Missive – July 16th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave again.

I’m just back from my Monday-night run and thought it was time to pen you a quick missive.

I ran by myself again this week, which was a bit lonely, but I appreciate that it’s miserable running weather in Sydney this time of year, especially if you’re struggling with a cough or cold.

Besides that, I had to run between 10pm and midnight this week, when most sensible people are going to bed!

Having said that, I’ve never understood why most boxers like to run in the early morning when they fight at night! I would have thought that the ideal would be to run at the same time of day that you compete, and I may in fact be fighting this Friday – at night!

I’ll tell you more about that before I close, I promise, but first …

 

Pain and Passion

I’ve had an extraordinary week of pain and passion.

The pain has come from losing two beloved friends this week past.

The first was Col Harding – a man I’d known for many years as one of Sydney’s finest wrestling coaches. We buried Col on Thursday.

You are not likely to have heard of Col before. He was never famous. He didn’t seek glory for himself at all but simply committed himself to working with any young person who was willing to ‘have a go’.

It was great to hear someone stand up at his funeral and talk about how Col had been saved from a life in prison. God knows how many young men (now adults) owe their lives to his silent but persevering work.

The other death was of my dear friend Morna.

I want to thank everybody who has been writing to me and assuring me of their prayers for Morna. It has been gut-wrenching to see the life dragged out of her over the last couple of weeks, an inch at a time. Even so, she held on long enough to see all her family, and last Wednesday night we prayed some final prayers together, I signed the sign of the cross on her forehead, kissed her and told her that it was time to let go and she slipped away about an hour later.

Here’s a picture of me and Morna in happier days – two years ago at her eightieth birthday.

As I said at her funeral, she was the toughest woman I’ve ever known. She drove trucks for a living, sometimes with her babies lying on the floor of the truck as she drove, and she did so at a time when a woman’s place was certainly NOT in a truck!

She had a hard life and dealt with a lot of hard people. She lived through violence and imprisonment. Even so, her later years were marked by her re-discovery of the grace of God, and by gentleness and compassion.

We buried dear Morna on Saturday.

The other event of great Passion that I experienced last week took place between the two funerals. Last Friday I flew to Melbourne to work the corner for my dear brother Solomon Egberime as he fought for another Australian Junior-Welterweight boxing title.

I could eulogise about Sol’s performance at length, but let it suffice to say that I’ve never been so proud of him! He excelled himself in every way – not only in his sporting prowess but in the grace and good-nature he displayed throughout the event. It goes without saying that he won, and did so with style!

Here’s a pic I took of Sol after the fight, with his son Niko on his shoulders.

Sol stayed on in Melbourne for a couple of days after the fight, but sent a lovely text message to us on Sunday morning that I read out in church, giving thanks to God and to the community for all the support he received.

Well done, brother!

 

One BIG Fight still to come

After two big fights in the last two weeks, you might think we’d take a break here for a while, but in fact the biggest fight yet may still be ahead of us.

On August 10th, our Parish’s most accomplished pugilist – Lovemore N’dou – will make his return to the ring!

Lovemore is a two-time world champion and is known as ‘The Black Panther’. Even so, he is 40 years old now, and some would say he is crazy to get back in the ring!

Lovemore claims that he was inspired by my efforts at our recent 120-round box-a-thon, and figures that it’s time he made a greater contribution!

Lovemore is looking to distribute his winnings between our work and other charitable works here and back in his homeland of South Africa. I can only say that it is a privilege and a pleasure to work with the man – a great athlete and a great human being.

Here’s a pic of Lovemore with me and one of our other pugilist parishioners, Mario Karacsony.

Now … the exciting news is that you can join us ringside for Lovemore’s come-back fight against Gairy St Clair if you’re quick!

We’ve booked two tables for 20 people at the event, which is to be held in Southport, Queensland. I know that’s a long way to go for most of us, but it looks as if at least 12 of those 20 spots have already been taken!

The seats cost $220 each and we’ll be trying to get a good deal on flights and accommodation as well. If you’re one of our Queenslander Fighting Fathers, the experience will be relatively cheap and easy. If you decide to come from Europe or the USA, I’ll pay for your seat!

Either way, if you’re interested in joining us, please contact me ASAP. Once we’ve filled up the 20 spots, they’re all gone!

 

One Last Thing …

I feel a bit embarrassed, looking back at what I’ve just written!

I figure a letter from your Parish Priest should be drawing out points from last Sunday’s sermon, whereas all I’ve done is talk about death and fighting!

Oh well, perhaps next week …

There is one last thing I must mention again though: THE CONTEST!

I’m sorry to say that the response to the contest has been dismal thus far.

I’m not sure why? I thought everybody loved a contest?

Is it because:

  1. You don’t like what the contest is promoting – ie. my eCourse?
  2. You don’t like the prize – ie. the super-duper arcade game, starring you?
  3. You don’t like contests?

Perhaps there are other explanations? I’m not sure, but I’d appreciate your advice.

The bottom line: I’m really keen to see lots of people take my eCourse, and so I’d really love to see you join in the contest. Instructions are on the contest page or in the eZine.

That’s enough for this week.

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

P.S. Oh! I almost forgot! I promised to tell you about my own fight this week!

It looks as if both myself and Fighting Father Mungo will be fighting at a charity-fundraiser event this Friday night at North Sydney Leagues Club (12 Abbott st, Cammeray).

Fights are scheduled to start at 7.30pm. If you’re in the area, we’d love to have your support.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four