Time to retreat!

Baptisms on Easter Day! 🙂
With Fran at the Easter Show
with my beloved Veronica 🙂
Soren turns 15
Celebrating my birthday with my brothers 🙂
Get well, Danny!
showing off our church to Syed Shoaib Naqvi
with Luke Cornish at his 'Road to Damascus' exhibition
Hands Off Syria!
Pick on someone your own size! 😉
The match that has got to happen!
Cooling off in an ice-bath at the Wim Hof seminar in Melbourne
with the amazing Wim Hof!

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, writing to you from the middle of the Australian bush! No, I’m not retreating from the Good Fight but I am retreating from the Big Smoke for a while.

I am on long-service leave, and will be spending most of my weekends up to the end of May at Binacrombi – our remote prayer-space, dirt-bike farm and boxing-training facility.

I’m hoping that these five weeks will be a rejuvenating time, though they are not a holiday. I’ve got three goals I want to achieve over my time away from the parish:

  1. Get Binacrombi functioning on a renewed basis
  2. Finish the book I’m working on – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”
  3. Get fully fit for my next fight.

As for the fight, I don’t have a date fixed yet, but I’ll be letting you know as soon as something is confirmed.

As for the book, I won’t say more about that here either, except that I’ll be looking for your help to spread it around once I get it published. In the meantime, you might like to help me come up with a better title.

As for Binacrombi, do you have a weekend spare before the end of May when you can come and join me?

I’m planning another Warrior Weekend for May 19 to 21 (and I’ll say more on that below) but I’d be happy to see you on any of the other weekends too. If I’m left here by myself, with only the kangaroos to keep me company, I may get a bit jumpy! 😉

OK … It’s not really the lack of company that I’m concerned about, but I am looking for good people who will help run weekends out here. Binacrombi has developed enormously over the last few years under the tireless and dedicated management of Fighting Father Tez. Even so, Tez is not as young as he used to be, and it’s time for a few more of us to step up and give him a hand.

Perhaps you’ve always seen yourself as a farm-manager or as a fighting monk, or perhaps you’d just like to help develop the ministry of the Fighting Fathers? Here is your opportunity! Join me down here at some point in the next month and we’ll train you in the ways of Binacrombi. You might then consider coming back once every couple of months, to be an ongoing part of the team.

In truth, even if you only want to come and help me pray for Syria in the chapel here, I’d be very glad to see you. Call me or email me and let me know when you’d like to come. All my details are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version). Mind you, the obvious weekend to join us is May 19 to 21 – the date of our next …

Warrior Weekend

Yes, it’s happening again. From Friday evening (May 19) to Sunday afternoon (May 21) we will be giving you another opportunity to Train like a Trojan and Pray like a Monk at our remote bush training facility, Binacrombi.

The workouts will be fitness-focused and won’t be restricted to boxing training. Even so, you’ll get plenty of chances to show your prowess in the ring if you so desire, so bring your gloves and your mouthguard.

The prayer sessions are not compulsory, of course (and neither are the workouts), but those who are willing will meet for prayer and meditation according to the traditional Benedictine schedule – at 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. There will be separate prayer spaces allocated for Christian and for Muslim prayers.

We already have some young people from the Muhammadi Welfare Association joining us for the camp, and I’m hoping that our friends from Fighting for Autism will  join us too. These camps not only offer participants great personal benefits in terms of physical and spiritual fitness but are also wonderful opportunities for social integration. 🙂

The prices for the weekend have not changed:

  • $200 for the rich
  • $100 for the poor
  • Free for the destitute

These fees cover accommodation, training, and all meals (excluding the BYO Saturday night BBQ). If you feel you fit into the ‘destitute’ category, let me know and we will organise sponsorship for you.

The flyer for this camp is here. Right-click and choose ‘save target as’ to download it.  The flyer includes a form that you can sign and forward to me.

Sermon of the month

Easter is the time of year when Christians remember how God confronts evil in our world. It was therefore an extraordinary time for Donald Trump to drop the ‘Mother of all Bombs’ on Afghanistan, and yet that happened on Good Friday (Australian time)!

This seems to be the only way the powerful in our world know how to deal with evil. They drops bombs on it and hope it will go away. In this case, the Mother of all Bombs was dropped on (what is perceived to be) the Mother of all Evils (Al Qaeda). The result was that 36 people died, which was apparently considered a success.

It is the unambiguous teaching of the New Testament that evil cannot ultimately be stopped by other forms of evil. The Easter story tells us about a God who confronts evil in a different way altogether – through suffering and death and resurrection!


(forgive me for the poor quality of this video. The written version of this sermon is here)

Becoming the Ice-Man

Before I let you go today, I want to explain the picture that appears at the top – the one of me and a group of men in an ice-bath!

Yes, it was ice! Perhaps you didn’t look too closely at the pic and thought I was enjoying a relaxing session in the pool with my mates. Take a closer look and you’ll see that the water was thick with ice-cubes. It wasn’t relaxing! 🙁

The reason for this bizarre behaviour is that I’m doing a ten-week course put together by a bizarre man, Wim Hof, otherwise known as the Ice Man! There’s a picture of me and Wim up the top too. 🙂

The ice-man has been able to perform some amazing physical feats, considered impossible before Wim did them. He climbed Mount Everest in his swimsuit and  broke the world record for swimming under the ice. He then ran a marathon through the Sahara Desert without taking any water! And he’s a couple of years older then me!

Wim’s training method combines breathing techniques with stretching and ‘cold therapy’, which means cold showers and ice-baths, and by the time I make my next blog post, I should have reached the end of his 10-week course. I want to share my progress with you.

I’m hoping that Wim’s techniques will give me an edge in the boxing ring, and at my age I need every edge I can get. And if you do decide to join me on the camp, be aware that I’ll be integrating some cold therapy into our training routine (though, of course, it is not compulsory for anybody except me).

That’s plenty for today. I’ll hope to see you at the camp. 🙂

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

an update from Syria

Soren and the Mufti
on the set of Syrian TV
with His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II
Father Michael with the Patriarch and Father Alexi
with the team at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
we joined Damascan church leaders for a wonderful dinner in the old city
with Issa - boxing coach of the Syrian Olympic team
Christians and Muslims meet at the Orthodox Patriarchate
in the footsteps of St Paul - Father and son at the home of St Ananias
a humbling meeting with Dr Faisal Mekdad - Deputy Foreign Minister of Syria
in St Thecla's church in Maaloula
Maaloula - one of Syria's most ancient Christian villages
Soren does his first media interview
with Father Toufic in St George's Maaloula

Hi Fighter,

Firstly, let me thank all of you who made our New Year’s trip to Syria possible – supporting us financially and with prayer. Secondly, let me apolgise for the time it has taken to feed back to you about the trip.

I’ll address my time issues later in this missive, but let me say first that I think the trip was highly constructive and that we achieved most of our aims, if not all of them.

We didn’t get to Aleppo, and we didn’t get the media focus on the Syrian people that we had been looking for. Even so, we did deliver some tangible aid and, most importantly, we did work out a way of getting ongoing aid where it’s most needed.

This, in my opinion, is the biggest problem facing Syria at the moment. The victory on the battlefield is all but complete. Even so, life is not returning to normal. So many homes have been destroyed and so many people are in need, and the country is simply out of resources! The Syrian people need help in order to rebuild, yet instead of sending them aid, we impose sanctions, making it impossible for them to rebuild!

There is a demonic paradox at the heart of Western foreign policy towards Syria:

  1. We bomb their country and destroy their homes
  2. Through sanctions, we then stop them from rebuilding
  3. We then complain like hell if they try to leave their country to join us!

US Senator, Chris Murphy, summed up the situation rather succinctly in a Twitter Tweet recently: “We bomb your country, creating a humanitarian nightmare, then lock you inside. That’s a horror movie, not a foreign policy.”

We must urge our governments to show some humanity and drop  these vicious sanctions. Until this happens though, we must find ways around the sanctions to get resources where they are most needed. Is there a back-door into Syria for humanitarian aid and medicines? The answer is YES, and that back door is the church!

Our delegation was deeply impressed by the aid work being done by the church in Syria, and no work was more impressive than that of ‘Gopa Derd’ – the aid arm of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

The Greek Orthodox Church is by far the largest Christian communion in Syria, and they have aid work going on across the country, including major food-distribution and education centres in Aleppo and other critical areas. Gopa Derd does not discriminate in terms of who benefits from their aid. No preference is given to Greek Orthodox Christians or other Christians over Muslims or anybody else. It is a truly Christ-like work!

Most importantly, Father Alexis Chehadeh, the head of Gopa Derd, has a German passport, allowing him to travel in and out of Syria with ease. This means that money can be sent to Alexis’ German account and he can physically carry that money back into Syria to channel it where it’s most needed. Thus we get around the sanctions!

If you’d like to know more about Gopa Derd, this 20-minute video is worth watching in its entirety. If you’d like to contribute to their work, contact me. I can give you the bank account details you need. Personally, I’m trying to coordinate a broad fundraising effort from churches in Sydney to support the work of Gopa Derd. At the same time, I (and my fellow delegates to Syria) are doing our best to lobby our government to end the inhumane sanctions.

Our interview on Syrian TV

In keeping with the Syria focus of this post, the video I’m featuring today is of the delightful Vanig Gonjian interviewing our delegation on Syrian TV. I note that neither my son, Soren, nor Troy Hester – both of whom were essential members of our team – were included in the interview. Even so, it was a great opportunity for Mother Carol, Father Michael, Maher and myself, to further extend the hand of friendship to Syria, not only on behalf of our greater team, but on behalf of all Australian people.

If you feel you’ve missed out on getting your sermon fix today, you can always get my latest sermon on www.fatherdave.net, or my entire sermon video-gallery here! You may also be interested in my Syria video-gallery, featuring our 20 most recent Syria clips.  You’ll find that here.

I need your help

In closing, let me apologise again for the time it’s taken to get this update to you. The truth is that I am not on top of things and that I frankly need more help if I’m going to keep all the balls in the air. I balance a variety of responsibilities:

I’m also trying to finish a book on “Christians and Muslims can be friends”. On top of that, there’s my commitment to Syria and all that is involved in that, as well as my other social justice and community commitments.

I sincerely believe in the work I’m doing but I need more help if I’m going to get on top of things. So far as I can see, I have three options:

  1. I find an apprentice who is willing to do long hours for next to nothing
  2. I broaden my support base so that I can afford to pay people to help.
  3. I get a boxing match that will pay big dividends and so solve all my problems in one hit (pun intended)!

My search for that big fight is no joke. I haven’t fought for more than a year now and have just had another fight cancelled on me (my 3rd cancellation in a row). I’m fit and ready to rumble if any of you can help me find an opponent.

While I wait for that, I’m open to all suggestions about broadening my support base. As things stand, about 20 of your guys subscribe to www.fighting-fathers.com for $10/month and one of you contributes $100/month. I am deeply grateful to you guys, and if it wasn’t for your support we would have crumbled long ago. Even so, I need a lot more active subscribers if Fighting Fathers Ministries is to move forward, and I’m not sure if that’s even plausible.

So … if you have any ideas, please share them with me. Alternatively, if you’re feeling called to be that overworked and underpaid apprentice, let me know. In truth, I’m wanting to hear from you. All my contact details (including my mobile number) are in the ‘contact’ section of www.fatherdave.org (non-mobile version). Call me, visit me or email me with your wisdom.

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

our delegation meets Dr Hassoun - the Grand Mufti of Syria

our delegation meets Dr Hassoun – the Grand Mufti of Syria (and one of my favourite people)

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace in Palmyra


Hi Fighter,

We are back from Syria.

We’ve been back for a a couple of weeks now, in fact, and I apologise for not publishing much about our journey until now. In truth, I’m still trying to process it all.

It was a magnificent trip. We saw some amazing things and met many amazing people. As has always been my experience in Syria, we were greatly blessed by the generosity and grace of the Syrian people. They took us into their hearts and homes, showing us great love and hospitality.

  • We trained with the Syrian Olympic boxing team in Damascus
  • We celebrated the liberation of Palmyra by boxing in its ancient amphitheatre
  • We taught our sport to hundreds of young orphans in Homs
  • We travelled into remote villages in Latakia to touch gloves with the locals.

That is a very superficial summary, of course, but I’m going to resist the temptation to say too much more about our experiences here as I want to focus on inviting you to the exhibition that we have organised.

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition

The Peace in Palmyra exhibition opens this coming Sunday – June 19th – at 3pm, and will run for the entirety of Refugee Week (June 19 to 25). It will be held in our church’s new Community Centre in Dulwich Hill (2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill).

The exhibition will include photographs, video and live art (ie. boxing) that chronicle our 2016 Boxers for Peace mission to Syria, with a special focus on our time in Palmyra – the site of so many famous ancient ruins – overtaken by DAESH (ISIS) in 2015 but retaken by the Syrian Arab Army on Easter Sunday (March 27) 2016.

PALMYRA AS A SIGN OF HOPE IN REFUGEE WEEK

If we really want to solve the global refugee crisis, we have to tackle the problem at its source. We need to create conditions on the ground where people no longer have to flee from war and famine but can live in safety, and those who had been forced to leave can return to their homes.

In Syria, more than half of the country’s population has been displaced since the outbreak of violence five years ago. Millions have fled overseas, but millions more have fled into other parts of Syria. This exodus of Syrians from their homes had seemed irreversible, and yet in recent months, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been able to return home as their cities have been liberated!

The retaking of Palmyra was especially significant in this regard, not because of the magnitude of the refugee exodus from the city but on account of the place Palmyra holds in the hearts of all Syrians. As one Syrian army officer said “when my son died defending Homs, I didn’t cry. When my men were beheaded by DAESH, I didn’t cry, but when they took Palmyra, I cried.”

Palmyra, with its rich history and spiritual beauty, is the beating heart of Syria. The liberation of Palmyra was not only a major defeat for DAESH (their first major defeat since their inception) but a victory for all Syrian people, and for all of humanity! Homelessness and destitution do not have to be the final word! Liberation happens! Refugees can return home!

  • You can download a poster with the details of the exhibition here.
  • If you’re coming, please register on the exhibition’s Facebook event page.

Video time

We took a lot of video footage during this last trip to Syria and you can see all the stuff we’ve published so far on www.father-dave.org/syria

What I’ve published below is a wonderful short compilation put together by boxer, artist, and much-loved team-member, Luke Cornish (ELK). It speaks for itself.

Let me close by thanking once again everybody who supported us on this mission trip. Quite literally, we could not have done it without you. It is only  because of your generosity and support that we are able to make any of these initiatives work.

Mind you, I know that a number of you guys tried to send us a donation through Paypal and most of those contributions were rejected! Unfortunately, Paypal has automatic filters that are tripped when anyone mentions the word Syria.

This is understandable. What is less understandable is why it took them more than a month to work out that we are not supporting terrorism but are Boxers for Peace (and this despite my repeated calls and emails), and why they cancelled donations rather than put them on hold until they worked us out!

If you did get your donation rejected or if you’d still like to support the work, let me encourage you either to:

  1. Take out a $10/month subscription to Fighting Fathers Ministries through our member site (fighting-fathers.com)
  2. Buy an item from the Fighting Fathers’ online shop (fightshop.biz).

With regards to the shop, I’m pleased to announce that there is a whole new batch of Fighting Fathers monastic smocks have recently been delivered. They are a unique style – modelled on traditional Benedictine design but short enough to allow full leg movement, allowing the wearer to both run and train as well as pray!

The Fighting Fathers' Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

The Fighting Fathers’ Monastic Smock on display in Palmyra

I hope you can make it to the exhibition, fighter, where I’ll be very happy to talk your ear off about the Syria trip. For those who can’t make it, I’ll be publishing more photos and videos and stories to www.prayersforsyria.com.

That’s enough for today. Keep me in your prayers as I do 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.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Still on my feet!

Nader warms me up
Tony leads us in prayer
acknowledging our supporters
the stare-out
parrying the jab
left rip to the body
keeping him in the corner
some wisdom from Danny
looks like I'm in trouble!
looks like he's in trouble!
Thanks to my team, thanks to my opponent, thank you God, and thank you Tom Toby for these wonderful pics 🙂

Hi Fighter,

It’s been an intense time for me of late. I turned 54 a week ago. Two days later I made my return to professional boxing, scoring a TKO over Glen Aristides in the 3rd round.

The timing of this was significant in a number of ways. For one thing, it meant that I became the oldest Australian ever to box professionally, beating the record set by Dexter ‘Dingo’ Dunworth, who boxed until he was 53. Secondly, it meant that there was no cake and feasting on my birthday, but I made up for that tonight with a lovely dinner out with the family. 🙂

As for the fight, it was a really positive experience for me. My opponent was an absolute gentleman, and despite his lack of experience, he was no push-over! Indeed, he showed greater balance and finesse than I had anticipated. I was counting though on his lack of match-fitness being his Achilles heel, and so I stayed on him tenaciously from the opening bell. By the end of the third round I had indeed worn him out and the referee stopped the contest.

As I say, it was a really positive experience for me. It was an honest and gutsy contest, and we raised some good money that will go a long way towards getting our Boxers for Peace team to Syria a little later this year. I am deeply grateful to my team, to my opponent, and to God. I am also grateful to all you guys who supported this mad venture with your finances and your prayers.

Expect a few more fights from me over the coming months. A number of offers have already come in but, quite honestly, I’m only now looking for fights that will deliver decent pay-packets. I know that sounds horribly materialistic but I believe in the work we are doing, and I believe that broad numbers of people are ultimately going to benefit from this work.

Sermon Time

We are in Lent – that 40-day period in the church year which is set aside for sombre reflection and personal spiritual reformation. It’s a 40-day experience that draws its inspiration from Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, as outlined in the Gospel according to St Luke, chapter 4.

The thing that really struck me this year as I read though the story again is that Jesus never suggests explicitly that we should all follow Him into the wilderness. Indeed, it’s not obvious that there is anything in Jesus’ temptation experience that we can model ourselves on. When was the last time I was tempted to turn stones into bread?

But if the temptations story is not given to us as a model for discipleship, what’s the point of Lent and, more importantly, what were the Gospel writers trying to teach us through this narrative?

Father Dave’s selfie competition

OK fighter, I’ve finally got a competition going for you, and it’s one where you can accomplish some good simply by entering!

Over the last few days graffiti images of me have been turning up in various spots around Sydney. I think there are around 20 so far! They each carry a message. You can see examples of them below.


In truth, I’m not sure about the location of many of these. There’s one on the side of our church building, and one of the ‘Hands Off Syria’ versions is on the wall of the Prime Minister’s electoral office (included above). This could get me into trouble!

In truth, I haven’t posted any of these though I certainly am keen to get the message out, so here’s my plan: a competition!

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Get a selfie of yourself alongside on of my graffiti images. You can adopt whatever pose you like but just don’t obscure the message.
  2. Share the image through your social media network (eg. Twitter)
  3. Send a copy of the pic (or a link to the pic) to me.

If you want to get really creative you could hold up your own billboard, either echoing my message or broadcasting a similar one (but not a contrary one please). Hopefully this will help spread the message! 🙂

Prizes! I’ve come up with four:

  1. A year’s training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy (value $1,500)
  2. A weekend or mid-week stay at Binacrombi (value $300)
  3. Lunch on a Sunday arvo (value $20 as I’m into cheap eats)
  4. A front-row pew at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill for life (value: priceless)

Depending on the number of entries, these prizes may go to multiple people or they may go to just one person! This competition is obviously limited to people living or staying in Sydney, and most of my readership is NOT in Sydney. This means that if you’re  local you’ve got an excellent chance of winning, so get out there and take your selfie and spread the word!

I hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

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. My friend Keith Mascord is launching his new book “Faith without Fear” on Friday, March 4th, and you’re invited to the launch. Here’s a link to the Facebook Event page.

P.P.S. If you missed the fight, you might enjoy seeing this post-fight Today Show interview or this video of our time in the training room, preparing for the battle.

P.P.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.

P.P.P.P.S. And if nothing else, you can always buy me a belated birthday drink here.

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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.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Still Fighting!

Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Soren pitches into the work at Binacrombi with his chainsaw
Bob and John launch their book on Holy Trinity - "A Church for our Times"
'Hands Off Syria' rally - Sydney Town Hall
Imogen finishes school
Imogen finishes school
Imogen does an amazing birthday sketch for Ange
showing off my Father's Day hat

Hi Fighter,

It’s been a month since we last communicated and the world seems to have been turned upside-down since then!

When I last wrote there were still fears that Russia was going to sell out Syria for the sake of gaining time before the inevitable showdown with NATO over the Ukraine. Instead Russia went on the offensive – launching a blistering attack against jihadists in Syria! As a result, as I wrote in my Syria blog, Syria has won the war (almost)!

Putin’s bold move took the US and her allies (including Australia) by complete surprise and created a diplomatic scramble with everyone desperately trying to come up with a rationale as to why Russia shouldn’t be allowed to help the West achieve their stated objectives! While the great powers mumble and fumble Syrians around the world rejoice!

Meanwhile in Israel/Palestine things go from bad to worse! The violence is sickening. The one-sided coverage by Australian media is also sickening. I won’t say more here but point you instead to an article I published on my Israel/Palestine blog, entitled “Palestinians Die. Who cares?” Be warned that it includes a gut-wrenching video of a young girl being killed in cold blood.

For me personally the world has also been turning rather rapidly of late. Two Sundays ago I fought for another Australian boxing title (old bastards division, of course). I lost on a controversial split decision. This was disappointing as I was hoping to use this title as leverage to relaunch myself as a professional. Now I’m assessing my options.

It’s not that I feel I have anything left to prove in the sporting field. It’s a simple issue of money. I’ve found that there’s only so much I can raise through grant applications and online appeals and it never seems to be quite enough to keep our work going.

Put in a prayer for me please. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I’m sure I still have a few fights left in me. If I could get one or two high-profile fights I could put our work on a more solid financial footing.  I’m continuing to train hard and will take whatever opportunities open up to me. The rest is in God’s hands.

The Gospel according to Adolf Hitler

“You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43)

I’ve got a different sort of sermon for you this week. Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark chapter 10 focused once again on the issue of power. This was such a common point of contention between Jesus and His disciples that I covered the issue in detail in a sermon on Mark 9 only a few weeks ago. So I thought I’d take a different tack this time – comparing the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Adolf Hitler as spelt out in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.

I’m not suggesting that you read Mein Kampf (though you may be interested to hear my summary). I do recommend to you the teachings of Jesus on issues of power. Hopefully by giving you my take on both you’ll be less likely to confuse the two!


(for the written version of this sermon, click here, and for the audio-only, here)

The world continues to turn and my timetable for the coming months is looking increasingly dense. Hopefully some good will come of it.

Next weekend (October 23-25) is our Warriors’ Weekend two days of intense fitness training and prayer at Australia’s most beautiful bush camp, Binacrombi.

If you haven’t signed up to come there is still time (providing that you’re reading this before October 23rd). Just let me know ASAP. If you have no idea as to what it’s about, you can check out the Warrior Weekends website or download the flyer here.

Once this weekend is over things will really start to hot up for me. Highlights include:

  • Friends of Sabeel, Australia (Palestinian Liberation Theology) AGM on October 29
  • The completion of our new Youth and Community Centre in mid-November
  • Our community choir’s Bach and Vivaldi concert on November 22nd
  • A dinner to mark my 25th anniversary as Parish Priest on December 5th
  • Holy Trinity’s 100-year Centenary celebration on December 6th
  • The official opening of our new Centre by the Archbishop on the same day

In addition to all this I’m still hoping to slot that professional fight in there somewhere – perhaps on the same day as the official opening while I’ve got the Archbishop there to help work my corner.

If you’re a Christian who is committed to justice for the Palestinian people and you can make it to our Friends of Sabeel AGM that would be great! We start at 7pm and are meeting at the church building in Dulwich Hill.

If you’d like to come to my 25-year anniversary dinner, please get in touch with the church office.

If you’d like to join us for the Centenary celebrations and the hall opening, just show up (though if you warn me that you’re coming I’ll have a better idea of numbers for the BBQ luncheon).

And I’m still looking for more help. Applications for the new Youth Worker position have now closed but I’m still hoping I can find people to help me with a variety of tasks, and if I can secure that fight I might even be able to pay people something for their efforts. 🙂

Keep your hands up, fighter. We’ll talk again soon.

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 atwww.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

What’s really happening in Syria?

Training with the Syrian Olympic Boxing Team
Training with the Syrian Olympic Boxing Team
A big day at Lattakia stadium!
Lots of the kids who trained with us were living in UNICEF tents that ringed the stadium
Training with the young people of Tartous!
Singing and dancing is very much a part of the culture!
At the gym in Tartous - boys will be boys!
with one of the young disabled veterans of Tartous
The art school in Damascus is full of kids!
The kids insisted on giving us some of their artworks
Damascus swimming centre where 1000+ kids get lessons each week
Back with the kids of Yarmouk
Working the pads with the kids of Yarmouk
we did lots of media interviews
with Syrian Prime Minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi
back with my beloved Mufti - Dr Hassoun
the Mufti is one of the most beautiful men I have ever met

Hi Fighter,

I apologise for the increasing gaps in communication. In truth, I simply have more to do than I can handle. There will be an appeal for help in the latter half of this missive. If you want to avoid hearing me grovel just quit after the sermon. 😉

This is the first chance I’ve had to share with you some of the photographic highlights of our last trip to Syria in late July. What a beautiful time it was, and what beautiful people! Once again the experience was one of hospitality and grace (mixed in with plenty of boxing). I came back full of hope for for the country and its people, though the subsequent moves being made by the US, NATO and my own country (Australia) to escalate the violence do bring me to tears.

Sometimes I don’t know which is worse – the way the West imposes its agenda on Syria at the cost of the lives of millions of people, or that it does so under the banner of humanitarian aid! In truth, these are days of shame for all of us who are a part of the ungodly coalition intent on destroying Syria, and it could backfire horribly. Australia has always been the ‘lucky country’ but by God we are pushing our luck at the moment!

I am regularly being asked what is going to happen next with Syria. I am no prophet, of course, but for the sake of those who would like my take on the subject, the future of Syria seems to be being determined by foreign governments, each of whom have their own agenda. It is a complex situation but I offer the following pointers:

  • Qatar wants a change of government so that it can pipe gas through Syria into Europe. Their agenda is straightforward.
  • Saudi Arabia and Israel are more interested in weakening Iran which threatens to overtake both countries economically (nb. the threat is economic, not existential). Syria is Iran’s main ally in the region (the only other being Hezbollah in Lebanon) and so destroying Syria will significantly weaken Iran.
  • Turkey’s militancy is being driven less by Iran than by the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood (though Turkish President Erdogan seems to also have a personal issue with Syrian President Assad).
  • The US is trying to back its allies in the region (Israel, the Saudis, Turkey, etc.) and are also interested in weakening Iran. Mr Obama is also still dealing with the embarrassment resulting from the fact that he told President Assad to stand down four years ago and he still hasn’t done as he was told!

These are the chief factors that have led to the war of foreign aggression against Syria. Let’s be clear about this: It is not a civil war and I doubt if it ever was. Certainly there aren’t many Syrians left on the rebel side now. We spoke to a young man in Tartous last month who was in a wheelchair. He’d been shot through the spine while fighting at Dier Yasir. We asked him ‘who were you facing there?’ He said ‘Libyans, British and French’. We said ‘no Syrians?’ He laughed.

So, given the foreign interests of this coalition of violence, why hasn’t Syria as we know it been wiped off the map? Here are some of the balancing factors:

  • Iran doesn’t want to lose its main ally in the region and hence has been giving financial and military support to the Syrian government.
  • Russia gives support too as it wants to maintain its military presence in the region (though its naval base at Tartous).
  • The uprising against Saudi hegemony in Yemen is forcing the Saudis to fight a battle on two fronts.

And so the future of Syria seems to depend on the wheelings and dealings of these foreign players, and a number of factors could tip the balance either way.

On the one hand:

  1. Iran could strike a deal with the US such that it would withdraw support from Syria in exchange for the lifting of all sanctions. This now seems unlikely.
  2. Russia might abandon Syria in order to buy time for the looming conflict with NATO in the Ukraine. This looks less likely now than it did a month ago.
  3. Israel might attack Lebanon (as it has been threatening to do) which will lead to the recall of all Hezbollah forces from Syria, thus weakening the Syrian Army.

On the other hand:

  1. Yemen may continue to resist the murderous Saudi onslaught (which is almost not being reported on anywhere) and may prove to be the end of the house of Saud. If this happens ISIS will shrivel up and die very quickly without funding.
  2. If the US does lift economic sanctions on Iran, the Saudis (and even the Israelis) may decide to cut their losses and work for economic cooperation rather than for the subjugation of their Persian neighbours. If this happens, once again, ISIS will shrivel up and die overnight.

As I said, it’s a complex picture, and the above analysis also leaves two vital factors out of the equation:

  • The extraordinary resilience of the Syrian people
  • The mysterious workings of Almighty God

Personally I am full of hope, as my faith is in God and in the Syrian people. Having said that, I won’t be surprised if God’s will is accomplished through the human agency of Iran, Russia, Hassan Nasrallah, and the people of Yemen.

Forgive me if I’ve bored you with the above analysis but I find that a lot of people are confused as to what is really going on and I thought it would be good to put it on paper.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to explore these matters with me further (and you’re in Sydney) I’ll be speaking at three different Syria forums over the next week:

  1. Sunday 13th – No Australian War on Syria Rally – from 11am at Sydney Town Hall. I’ll be addressing the rally at around 12.30
  2. Thursday 17th – The Geopolitics of the Syrian Crisis – 6.30pm at Sydney Uni. I’ll speak alongside Dr Tim Anderson and others who were on our recent trip.
  3. Friday 18th – Updates from the Axis of Resistance – 6.30pm at Coronation Hall, Arncliffe. This will be our team debrief with our supporters.

If you’re able to attend any of these events, the links above will take you to their respective Facebook Events Pages where you can get more info. And if you can’t make it, just keep track of what’s being published on my Syria blog: www.prayersforsyria.com

Sermon Time

From violence to sex – this missive has everything! 😉

Yes, my featured sermon for this missive is on the Song of Songs – certainly the most raunchy piece of literature in the entire Bible and also one of the most controversial.

The book is controversial for two reasons:

  1. It is entirely about sex and romance
  2. It doesn’t mention God at all!

What is this book doing in the Bible? That’s a question that a lot of believers have asked over the last few thousand years. Even so, some of us believe that this little book may have a lot to teach us about love and life and even about God!

(for the written version of this sermon, click here, and for the audio-only, here)

I warned you earlier that this post would include an appeal for help. Here it is:

…. HELP! 🙁

The problem is that I have more work than I am able to handle at the moment, including five speaking engagements in the next seven days, and beyond that I can see a giant tidal wave coming towards me associated with the completion of our new Youth and Community Centre and the 100-year anniversary of our church building!

Highlights include:

  • October 4-6: I fight for the Australian Masters (ie. old bastards) Boxing Title
  • October 16: Book-launch of A Church for our Times’ celebrating our 100-years!
  • October 23-25: A big Warrior Weekend of fight-training and prayer at Binacrombi
  • October 29: ‘Friends of Sabeel, Australia’ Annual General Meeting
  • Mid-November: work should be completed on our new hall complex
  • late-November: re-starting Trinity’s Youth Drop-in Centre
  • November 22: Jubilate Singers (our community choir) fundraiser concert
  • November 29: Fight-Night fundraiser in the new hall
  • December 5: Anniversary dinner to mark my 25th year in Dulwich Hill
  • December 6: special Centenary service followed by the official hall opening
  • December 25: Christmas

You are invited to all of the above events, including the Friends of Sabeel, Australia AGM (which is a Christian group focused on Palestinian human rights). Moreover, you are invited to help me survive this cavalcade of events, especially the re-starting of the Youth Drop-in Centre and the Fight-night fundraiser.

The good news is that we are offering a paid part-time position for a new youth worker. Just email me if you want the details. The not-so-good news is that I’m going to need voluntary helpers too, at least for the short term. And I don’t just need volunteer youth workers, but also web assistants, events coordinators, and just about anybody who thinks they can help me balance this intimidating schedule!

Email me if you’re interested in the paid position or a voluntary position, or a voluntary position that might turn into a paid position. Either way, I’m keen to hear from you.

Till next time, 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.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 atwww.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

to Syria and back

at Yarmouk, doing what we do best 😉
with Kaouthar Bachraoui and Maria Saadeh at the Dama Rose in Damascus
there's no shortage of pretty girls at Damascus University!
at the home of Ananias - Straight Street, Damascus
with Maria Saadeh at the Umayyad Mosque
at the ancient Christian villiage of Maaloula
with the Bishop of Saydnaya in Maaloula
honoring the martyrs of Maaloula
I was glad when they said to me let us go up to the House of the Lord (Psalm 122)
honoring the martyrs of Saydnaya
a performance by Saydnaya's Youth Fellowship
remembering the genocide of 1915 with the Armenian bishop
Armenian Christians fighting with the Syrian Arab Army
Dinner at the Mufti's place 🙂
interviewing the Grand Mufti of Syria
with the Mufti and friends 🙂

Hi Fighter,

I’ve been to Syria, I’ve come back, and at the moment I’m sick in bed. I guess I’ve been pushing myself a bit too hard, but I’m now on long-service leave and will hopefully get a bit of a break.

People have been asking me how I would sum up our Syria experience in a word, and the truth is that there is no one word that can do our time there justice.

What I must say is that my heart is still there, and that I felt awful leaving – as if I was walking out on a friend who might die at any moment!

When I returned to Australia everyone was stressing about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran – about whether they were about to be executed. I appreciate that it was a horrible situation. Even so, I was walking away from a whole country full of people who were living with the same stress – ‘Are we about to be executed, and if so, when?’

Syria is at a very volatile point and, I hate to say it, but I think the future of all those people is being decided upon now in negotiations between the US and Iran. In truth, Syria is only surviving because of support from Iran. If the USA though makes Syria a bargaining chip to be sacrificed in exchange for the lifting of sanctions then a great many of those good people may be dead by the time I return.

Having said that, the indications at the moment are that Iran is not going to give up on Syria, and neither are her other two allies – Russia and Hezbollah. Nonetheless, things are at boiling point right now, with ISIS embedded in Yarmouk in the south and Palmyra in the north! Anything could happen over the next few weeks and months.

In terms of our Fighting Fathers’ visit, I have written-up some of our experiences in detail on www.prayersforsyria.com and www.christiansandmuslims.com.

Specifically, I’d encourage you to look at the following three articles:

The title of this last article is a quote from my interview with the Grand Mufti of Syria – Dr Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun – which I’ve embedded below. Indeed, it was such a great privilege for me to get half an hour, one-on-one, with the great man!

I won’t say more about that experience here except that he said three words to me in English before we parted. He said “pray for me.”  I said, “I do every day”, and indeed I do, for I know the takfiri will have no mercy on him if they get hold of him.

Dr Hassoun considers himself the Mufti not only of the Sunni but of the Shia and the Christians too! That’s the sort of talk that enrages religious fundamentalists!

I am hoping to be back in Syria in the next couple of months – this time with a larger team of boxers.  I’m also working on lining up a title fight for myself against one of Syria’s great veteran boxers.  My goal is to hold the fight either on the outskirts of Yarmouk or at another key Syrian city – perhaps Palmyra – and use the fight to draw attention to what’s really going on there.  It’s an ambitious ploy and I’d appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime there are plenty of other things happening, and a few that I’m keen to pass on to you here:

  • In case you didn’t hear, the United Nations Human Rights Committee finally replied to our official complaint regarding the Australian government’s treatment of my dear friend Sheikh Mansour Leghaei. Indeed, they upheld our complaint and instructed the Australian government to re-examine his case and to compensate him for damages! If you don’t know the full story, it’s on savethesheikh.com.
  • Another dear brother who has received even harsher treatment from his government – Mordechai Vanunu – just got married! The picture below was taken at the Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem! I look forward to meeting Morde’s Norwegian wife, Kristine, in person as soon as they are allowed to leave Israel and travel to Australia. I trust they’ll find Mansour here when they get here!
  • And some more good news concerning a very talented sister – Ruth McCall – who will be having her own musical works performed by ‘Echology’The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir! There’s a performances at our church, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, on Sunday May 31st.  Full details can be found on the poster here.
Morde & Kristine are married!

Morde & Kristine!

That’s enough from me, especially as I’m still coughing and spluttering.

As I say, I’m on long-service leave at the moment and will be for the next three weeks. I’ll be spending the weekends down at Binacrombi, developing our youth camping program. You’d be welcome to join me on any of these weekends, especially this weekend when I think I’ll need all the help I can get. 🙁

I’ll be in contact again soon. Until then I remain …

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

Getting ready for Syria

about 80 people joined us for our Syria fundraiser
the food was fantastic
Bianca and Jemma put on a great display
Danny refereed a few friendly rounds between me and Nader
Some of Australia's greatest boxing personalities were with us
keeping them under control was a problem 😉
Fran loses a baby tooth! 🙂
we shared our training weekend at Binacrombi with a band of hardened bikies (all under 10 years old)
I pushed the limits of my fitness
Mungo managed it all far more easily
I did some great rounds with Kaveh
Mungo put in some tough rounds with Mahmoud
I had a great team to work my corner on Saturday night
A TKO in the 1st minute of the 1st round
a big thanks to the team

Hi Fighter,

This is Father Dave with another far-too-infrequent update for you.

I’m afraid the last three weekends have been a roller-coaster ride for me and I am somewhat exhausted:

  • Week 1: we had our fundraiser dinner – raising more than $6,000 towards sending our boxing team to Syria.
  • Week 2: we took another dozen kids on a Warriors’ Weekend at Binacrombi Bush Camp, in the heart of the Australian bush
  • Week 3: I fought for the NSW super-middleweight title (old bastard’s division), winning by TKO in the first minute of the first round.

With regards to the fundraiser dinner, there are so many people I need to thank:

And thank you to all 80 people who showed up on the night – members of Holy Trinity Church, the Salvation Army Dulwich Hill corps, our Fight Club, and all you subscribers who made the effort to join us. It was a wonderful night, and thanks to you we almost have the funds we need to make the Boxers for Peace 2015 Mission to Syria a reality!

Sermon Time!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

If you had a solid Christian upbringing like I did, this verse is very familiar to you. I don’t think modern translations still use the word ‘whosoever’ but what I typed above is the translation that has been in my head since I was a child. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know these words. They were taught to me at an early age as a one-verse distillation of the Gospel message!

What has really struck me more recently is that this familiar verse is not at all familiar to many people I live and work with. Moreover, I’ve found that the concepts contained in this verse are rather difficult to explain to those who haven’t had a Christian upbringing. Indeed, I’ve realised on further reflection that the concepts contained in John 3:16 are not self-explanatory by any means but rather mysterious!

So I’m not sure if my goal in this sermon is to explain John 3:16 to the uninitiated or to confuse those who feel comfortably familiar with it. Hopefully there’s something in it for both groups.

As I said above, I’m a little exhausted by the antics of the last three weeks, and now we’re in the middle of Holy Week, shortly after which we are taking off for Syria, so there’s no time to rest, especially as we still need a bit more help before we can go.

We almost have all the funds we need for the Boxers for Peace mission. We need roughly another thousand to cover everything. It would be great if you could help me reach the goal and I’d like to offer you something of value in exchange for your support.

Tom Toby - auctioneer extraordinaire!

Tom Toby – auctioneer extraordinaire!

The picture above is of our good friend Tom Toby auctioning off a signed poster of the Boxers for Peace Syria 2015 team. It’s in A3 size and is signed by each of the team members. I have two more of these signed posters and am ready to pass them on in exchange for a decent contribution towards our peace mission.

If you haven’t seen the actual image, which was the work of master-photographer John Clutterbuck, you can see it here.

My thought is to simply ask for contributions via my buy me a drink page (click here). You’ll find that you can make donations of any amount there, with a suggested starting point of $5. Whoever makes the two largest contributions will get the posters.

So make sure you include your address with your donation. I’ll post to anywhere in the world. If you live locally and can pick your poster up I’ll frame it for you. Otherwise it will come rolled up in a water-resistant tube from the post office.

Join us this Easter!

And if you’re free to join us for worship this Easter, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill would love to have you. Services on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday are at our usual time of 9.15am. If you don’t know how to find us, there’s a map on the Holy Trinity website.

And if I don’t see you this weekend, do have a happy and holy Easter. 🙂

I’ll do my best to be in contact again before we depart on the big trip.

Until then I remain …

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.

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

I need your help

we begin our fundraising campaign for our new Youth and Community Centre
Fighting Father Danny maintains control in the ring!
Jessie and Aaron stoush it out in the Binacrombi ring
We dedicate the Binacrombi Chapel - Shiloh (a place of peace)
Our Abbot - Fighting Father Terry - delivers the inaugural Binacrombi chapel homily
Fighting Father Mungo keeps the troops entertained
The stumbling, bumbling monks of Binacrombi
Three Amigos
Fran and I visit the Sydney Tower
I love having daughters!
Don has his hands full (at the Australia Day celebrations)

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave. It’s been too long since I’ve communicated with you. 🙁

It’s not that I’ve been having a holiday (I wish). On the contrary, I’ve been struggling with a workload that threatens to overwhelm me at times, and I’ve got two major projects on the boil at the moment, and I’m looking for help with both of them.

Warrior Weekends

The first is the Warrior Weekends bush camp project. We had a fantastic camp in January (as you can see by the pics displayed above) and I’m mad keen to run a few more of these weekends this side of winter.

In truth, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to hang on to our wonderful bush-property, but while we’ve got it I want to make the most of it, and I do believe that our distinctive format where we spend a day training like Trojans and praying like monks is a formula that invigorates body, mind and spirit in a way that is quite unique!

On our January weekend we had Muslims as well as Christians, young as well as the not-so-young, people of various backgrounds and ethnicities, and the intense training-praying format pulled us all together in a powerful way!

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran's shoes

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran’s shoes

We did four intense training sessions on the Saturday, framed by five prayer-sessions. Not everybody joined in the prayers, and not everybody joined in all the training sessions, but by the time we got to the end of the day I think we all had a tremendous sense that we had accomplished something significant together, and this led us into a wonderful evening of sharing and reflection, followed by a beautiful Sunday morning of prayer and relaxation where we dedicated our bush-chapel.

In short, I can’t wait to do it all again, and I can’t wait to see more lives changed and refreshed by the experience. I’m thinking that we hit it again on the weekend of March 21-22. Are you with me? 🙂

Peace Mission to Syria

The other major work that is consuming me right now is a planned Boxers for Peace mission to Syria that’s scheduled for this coming April.

As you know, I’ve been a part of two peace missions to Syria now (in 2013 and 2014) and on our last trip I took boxing champion, Solomon Egberime, with me to feel out the possibility of a ‘friendship games’ in boxing between Australia and Syria (see the video). This current mission is the outcome of the negotiations that began then.

Our Boxers for Peace project is a strictly religious and sporting mission. Our intention is to work closely with the religious leadership of Syria and with the Syrian Olympic Committee. The goal of this mission is threefold:

  1. To bring some joy to people who are struggling (especially young Syrian people) through sport.
  2. To build ongoing ties of friendship between our two countries through the medium of boxing.
  3. To help give the Australian public a broader appreciation of the real situation of the Syrian people.

This last goal will be accomplished through media coverage that we’ll receive. We hope to have at least one film crew with us and one documentary film-maker.

The biggest hurdle for the mission at the moment is that we’ll need to raise the funds to send the whole team to Syria. The costs will amount to around AUD $2,500 per player. I’m hoping to take a team of six.

The names of the players haven’t been made public yet, and neither have the exact dates or details of the trip. This is partly for security reasons and partly because we haven’t worked it all out yet! One thing I have worked out though is that I’m going to hold a fundraiser dinner in a few weeks’ time – on Sunday March 8. Can you make it?

Date: Sunday March 8th, 7pm start
Venue: Salvation Army Hall, Dulwich Street, Dulwich Hill
Tickets: $55/person

The evening will include:

  • Exhibition boxing bouts featuring members of the Australian team (and at least one very well-known boxing identity)
  • Some (brief) speeches from local religious leaders – Priests and Sheikhs (including myself)
  • Screening of some documentary video material that we’ve put together from our previous peace missions to Syria

That’s as much as I can give you right now but I would really appreciate your help in making this work. I’ll need:

  • People to help run the night (set-up, clean-up, wash-up, etc.)
  • People to donate items that can be auctioned off
  • People to buy tickets

If you want to order a ticket from me online you can Paypal me the $50 and I will mail the tickets to you.

I do believe that we can really make a difference with this Boxers for Peace Mission. I think of the role that boxing played in Apartheid South Africa in bringing together people of different colour, and I think of the role boxing played in Northern Ireland in helping quell the violence there. Perhaps we can help bring Syria to the point where the only fighting going on will be in a boxing ring? When that day comes: Mission Accomplished! (but we might have to put in quite a few rounds before we reach that stage)

boxing in the streets of Homs

boxing for peace in the streets of Homs (2014)

Sermon Time

I’ve got an unusually uncontroversial sermon for you today!

Rather than try to interpret global issues or give commentary on the latest terrorist attack, I’ve devoted all my preaching energy this week to untangling the first chapter of the Gospel According to St Mark and, more specifically, to unpacking the implications of a particular incident the highlights the power of the words of Jesus.

I think we often see the words and the works of Jesus as being very distinct. Jesus’ miracles can heal our bodies but His teachings are there only to improve our minds. The Gospel depiction of Jesus though is not so clear cut! The words of Jesus have healing as well as didactic power, while the miraculous actions of Jesus also have something to teach us!

To say this isn’t controversial isn’t to say that it isn’t important, for the relation between word and worktheory and praxis – is something that many of us struggle to get right. Some sections of the church are so focused on maintaining doctrinal purity that they seem to have no energy left to support the poor and needy, whereas others abandon the traditional teachings of the church in order to pursue social justice. I believe Jesus models another alternative!


Before leaving you today I must tell you that I did have a third major project that I had been working on until very recently, and that was the scheduled visit of my friend Rev. Stephen Sizer to Australia.

It was all supposed to take place next month but it all fell apart at the last minute when Stephen was targeted (entirely unfairly, in my view) for his work in advocating for Palestinian human-rights!

You can read all about it in the British tabloids. Stephen has been accused of everything from incompetence to anti-Semitism!

I know Stephen well enough to know that he hasn’t got an anti-Semitic bone in his body, and if you look at the details of the accusations levelled against him it is hard to believe that they could lead anybody to that sort of conclusion! Even so, he has now been formally silenced by his bishop and cannot speak or write about anything remotely political – not at home in London nor anywhere else in the world, including Australia!  (though how he intends to manage this while continuing to preach the Gospel remains to be seen).

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

I find it hard to understand how something like this can happen while world leaders in Paris are marching to defend the right to free speech! It seems that the level of freedom judged appropriate for speech depends entirely on who is being spoken about! Western politicians and Church leaders don’t seem to mind if you are mocking the prophet of Islam or caricaturing countries like Iran and Syria, but if you call into question the policies of the state of Israel you are on far more shaky ground!

Put in a prayer for Stephen please, and put in a prayer for me too as I don’t think this bodes well for any of us who speak our minds on issues of justice and peace!

And I can’t close off today without telling you that next Tuesday is my birthday. I turn 53! That sounds to me like an appropriate age to capture a world boxing title. Let’s see if I can’t do it before hitting 54. 🙂

Actually, that also suggests to me a fourth way you can contribute to our Syria mission. Buy me a drink for my birthday (click here)!

I will drink to your health if you do, but I’m sure you won’t mind if I toast you using my existing stock and put all donated drink-money into the Fighting Fathers kitty! 🙂

I’ll be in contact with you again very soon to give you further details of our fundraiser and of the next prospective Warriors’ Weekend.

Until then I remain …

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