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

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Christians and Muslims united for peace!

Back at Luna Park!
Celebrating Ange's birthday!
Another great gathering of faith communities at Holy Trinity!
with members of the Romero Community of Adelaide
with Nader Hamdan at the Arrahman Mosque
a great night at Masjid Arrahman
a great night at the Imam Husain Centre

G’day Fighter,

I am writing to you today primarily to ask for your help in sharing my ‘STOP THE WAR’ video appeal with the rest of the world. I’ve also though had a couple of dramatic weeks since we last communicated and I must share some of the highlights with you too.

I mentioned in my last post that we’d planned two inter-faith events for late September. There ended up being three events, and they all went brilliantly!

  • September 28 at Holy Trinity Church, where we watched ‘Forbidden Pilgrimage’ together – a documentary made by a Palestinian Muslim about problems facing Palestinian Christians.
  • September 27 at the Arrahman Mosque in Kingsgrove where I spoke alongside Sheikh Jehad Ismail on the topic of “Unity in Diversity”.

This last event was particularly memorable for me as I hadn’t met the community of Masjid Arrahman before and they were wonderfully hospitable, even baking me a cake in honour of my wedding anniversary!

The team from Arrahman Mosque also put together a video on the night, and it’s a beautiful 4-minute tribute to our time together. I was tempted to embed that video in this post alongside my ‘STOP THE WAR’ appeal but instead I’ve given it a page of its own on ChristiansandMuslims.com. If you have 4 minutes please visit the page and enjoy this wonderful glimpse of people from different cultures and faiths breaking bread together in harmony.

Father Dave’s STOP THE WAR video appeal

OK, here it is! I spent about three weeks writing the script for this video and I truly pray that it will achieve some good.

My appeal is about the length of one of my sermons (17 minutes) and I appreciate that it therefore takes some commitment to hear it through. Even so, I hope you will do me the favour of listening to it in its entirely and then passing it on to anybody who you think might benefit from it.

I’m directing my appeal primarily to others in the Christian community who have little understanding of what’s going on in Iraq and Syria at the moment beyond that Al Baghdadi’s ‘Islamic State’ is an evil group of fundamentalists who are killing people without reason and therefore need to be stopped with force.

My purpose is in no way to defend ‘Islamic State’, but I do think that it is essential that we understand what is driving these people, and I do believe that a proper examination of the facts will show that there are better ways of responding to this crisis than sending over American and Australian troops! Indeed, there are excellent reasons for assuming that our involvement will make things much worse, at home and overseas!

I’ll leave you to judge whether I am correct in my analysis, and I’d very much appreciate your feedback in the comments section below. I must say though that the feedback I’ve received thus far has been very positive, especially from my Muslim friends. Indeed, two gracious souls paid me the highest of compliments, saying that they had never before heard a non-Muslim articulate so well what Muslims are feeling!

If this video appeal does help other non-Muslims to better understand how Muslims today are feeling and thinking it will have accomplished much! My prayer though is that it will also motivate many of us to stand up to our governments and tell them to STOP bombing yet another majority-Muslim country – the 7th since Mr Obama took office!

There are lots of ways you can share my video appeal:

This last site is the one I would recommend that you refer people to. It is an engaging format and it also invites visitors to join my mailing list

 Masters’ Boxing

a strong win over Queensland's Barry Hancock
a narrow points loss to Kevin Selby

I don’t think I mentioned last time that I’d signed up to compete in this year’s Masters’ Boxing Tournament in Adelaide. The event took place over the 1st weekend of October.

I fought twice over the weekend. My first fight resulted in a points loss to Kevin Selby – a very tough opponent with 41 fights to his name, including 17 professional bouts. I won the first round but ran out of gas in the third.

I made up for the loss the next day with a win over Barry Hancock of Queensland – a man with 46 amateur fights behind him as well as 5 professional bouts. He was only slightly heavier than me but was 10 years my junior. Even so, I knocked him down with body shots in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds for a strong win.

The sequel to all this was supposed to be a rematch with Mr Selby this coming Saturday night for the NSW Masters’ super-middleweight title! Unfortunately I got a bit carried away in the sparring last night and big Matt Richardson landed a heavy blow on one of my ribs and … I won’t be back in the ring for a month. 🙁

So … I’ve had a big couple of weeks – fighting prejudice, fighting militarism, and fighting some very tough men in the ring! I’ll be taking a few weeks forced rest from the ring. Meanwhile the greater battle for justice and peace rages on and I look forward to continuing to battle on in that one with you by my side!

I’ll be in touch 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.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. For those who have been waiting for my feature episode on ABC’s Compass program, the screening has been pushed back one week. It was supposed to be this Sunday (October 19th). It’s been pushed forward to the 26th. Details here.

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.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Boxing in the streets of Syria

OK Fighter,

It’s been a long time in production but here it is – the video that I’ve been yearning to share with you since returning from our peace mission, entitled “Boxing in the Streets of Syria”

Syria deserves peace
boxing in the streets of Homs
boxing in the streets of Latakia
Boxing with refugees from Yarmouk
Boxing with refugees from Yarmouk

As you can see from above, Fighting Father Denning also took some wonderful still shots of the action but it’s his video I’m most keen to see circulated.

My plan is to use this video as the basis of our recruitment drive to see if we can capture the imagination of some high-profile boxers from Australia and from around the world – capture their imagination to the extent that they will be drawn to join us in running boxing-training camps for the young people of Syria! 🙂

As you’ll see from the video, we were very well received by the Syrian people, and the children of Syria were enthusiastic beyond words! Sol Egberime – Australia’s greatest Junior Welterweight fighter – was an absolute natural with these young people. At one point, as we finished a session with a group of boys in Latakia and got back into our bus, the entire troop of kids followed the bus chanting “Solomon, Solomon …”, which brought our young champion to tears!

Will you do me a favour please and share this video with everybody you know? The persons we are most hoping to reach are high-profile boxers, but even if you don’t know any fighters at all, it may be that some of those you send it to will know some boxers and will pass it on.

Boxing in the Streets of Syria


My hope and prayer is that this video will generate sufficient interest such that we can head back to Syria during their school holidays and spread some more happiness and hope amongst these young people who have seen so little joy in recent years.

So please share the video. I’ll be developing a dedicated site for it very soon to make this easier. In the meantime simply direct people to this blog post, and please add a prayer that people will be moved to join us in doing something for the young people of Syria.

Yours in the Good Fight,

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

P.S. And if you’re moved to join us on our next mission to Syria yourself, just let me know. 🙂

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.

 

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria – peace work in Iran

Hi Fighter,

Once again it’s been too long since I’ve posted. 🙁

I’m back in Oz now, well ensconced with my family. Even so, a large part of my heart remains in Syria. So many memories and images continue to turn over in my mind.
Not all of them are good but all are full of life and colour.

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted all the pics and videos from our pilgrimage up here yet. That’s partly because I’ve been under the gun since I got back. It’s also because we’ve been waiting to see whether any TV stations are going to screen our footage. Things are still unclear but we know that they won’t screen our material if we’ve already publicly released it. My plan is to share the images of Sol and me boxing with kids in the streets of Syria next week if we haven’t heard from them.

In the meantime I thought I’d publish a series of images and videos that won’t be of interest to the networks as they concern our week in Iran during which we made our preparations. We secured the medicines and toys we were taking with us and we met with some wonderful Iranian peace activists, many of whom went on to join us in Syria..

Meet the team - Sam and Ulrike
Meet the team - Mairead, Ulrike and Carmel
Meet the team - Denning
Meet the team - Dave and Mohamed Reva
Meet the team - Roohulla
Meet the team - John
Meet the team - Mairead and Solomon
Meet the team - Dave & Ali
Meet the team
Meet the team

Four videos are thumbnailed below. Just click one to watch it.

  1. The first video is a three-minute offering from our man, Denning. It’s an overview of the week that is as brief as it is artistic. 🙂
  2. The second is a Press TV report on the delegation. We actually received a lot of media attention. Unfortunately it was all from Iranian or Syrian media.
  3. The third is a talk I gave on “the role of religions in bringing peace” in Qom. Denning has edited it down to 3 minutes which is about as long as I had to prepare it!
  4. The fourth is a wonderful 10-minute compilation of our time in Iran, put together by a wonderful young Iranian film-maker, Mehdi Khoshnejad.

The last of these videos is actually longer than the other three put together. Even so, it is worth watching. It features our time touring one of the ancient mosques in Esfahan wherein there is a special spot marked on the floor from which you can sing and somehow join in the chorus of your own echo!

Denning's Tehran video
Press TV report
Talk at the Armenian Church in Qom
Mehdi Khoshnejad's video

Let me end today by sharing with you the wonderful way in which I met my friend Mohamed Reva (featured in one of the pics up the top).

We were in Tehran, gathered together for a delegates meeting in the lobby of our hotel. I hadn’t met Sheikh Mohamed Reva at that point but he was a part of the gathering.

After the meeting he came across the room and grabbed my hand enthusiastically. “My name is Mohamed Reva”, he said. “I knew you were a special person the first moment I saw you. I am very keen to meet you.”

“Brother”, I said, “I am not special. It is simply the Spirit of God in you recognising the Spirit of God in me. We were connected in this way long before we met.” Mohamed smiled and nodded.

In some ways that experience summed up my pilgrimage to Iran and Syria this time. We generally think of a pilgrimage as a journey that leads to a destination of great spiritual significance. My experience was that wherever I went I found the Spirit of God already there to welcome me! What a wonderful privilege! 🙂

I’ll be back with you again next week.

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. If you’d like to see what I’m writing, I’ve just published a new article on www.prayersforsyria.com entitled, Why the Syrian rebellion may soon collapse like a house of cards!” I know that most commentators are convinced that the warring in Syria will go on and on with no near end in sight. I am far more optimistic. 🙂

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.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria – on the streets of Damascus

G’day Fighter,

It’s Father Dave here and I’m actually now in London, having finished my week in Syria where we’ve been spending time with both politicians and refugees, sharing in the joys and sorrows of the Syrian people, and boxing with kids on the streets of Damascus, Lattakia and Homs!

I have so much to share – pictures, videos and stories – that it’s going to take me a little while to put them all in order, but I want to share something with you today so I’ve chosen one picture that has behind it one amazing story:

Mother Agnes with Sheikh Tahhan and a former FSA fighter

Mother Agnes with Sheikh Tahhan and a former FSA fighter

See the pic above (you can see a larger version of it if you click on it). On the left you will recognise our beloved leader, Mother Agnes. The man in the middle you are less likely to recognise. His name is Sheikh Tahhan.

Sheikh Tahhan is apparently the only man in Homs that the FSA fighters trust if they want to take advantage of the armistice offered by the government. He roams the streets of Homs and seeks out rebel fighters who want to hand in their guns and stop fighting. On the right of the Sheikh is one of these fighters who is no longer fighting. Two of his mates are at his side (out of picture).

Naturally Sheikh Tahhan is a prime target for those who want to keep the fire going, and he is very aware of the fate of Jesuit Priest, Father Frans Van Der Lugt, who was shot in Homs only last week. Father Frans was apparently also involved in this same work – mediating between the government and rebels who want to lay down their arms.

So why, you might wonder, are both the Sheikh and Mother Agnes smiling when they both have prices on their heads? The reason is because the Sheikh has been telling Mother about a high-level meeting between the rebel leaders of Homs and the government’s Ministry of Reconciliation in Damascus. Apparently there is talk that the entire FSA contingent in Homs will hand in their arms and seek reconciliation with their fellow Syrians. If this happens it will mark the beginning of the end of the violence!

So many commentators are saying that there’s no end in sight to the Syrian catastrophe. If what the Sheikh has told Mother is correct though it could all be over within a couple of months! As I see it, if the Syrian rebels of Homs successfully take advantage of the armistice, other FSA fighters will follow quickly. Of course this won’t affect the more powerful rebel groups such as ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra, who are made up mainly of foreign fighters on jihad. But if the Syrian members of the rebellion stop fighting the government there is every chance that many of them will join with Assad’s forces to expel the foreigners! Once this happens the violence will wind up very quickly as the foreign backers who are funding the conflict will quickly cut their losses and pull out.

Of course nothing is certain and there are still many things that could become road-blocks on this path to peace. The Americans are still training rebel fighters in Jordan and graduating them at the rate of around 150 per month (see this excellent first-hand account by Sara Williams if you haven’t read it yet) and the Canadians have apparently been making preparations to enter Syria themselves, all guns blazing (see here)! Beyond this insanity though the victory of government forces seems inevitable. Moreover, if there ever really was any common ground between those Syrian rebels who were fighting for democracy and freedom and the foreign takfiri (who now make up the greater part of the rebel ‘alliance’) it has by now completely evaporated.

That’s enough from me today. You can see where my heart and my prayers are. I am hoping that the next time I am in Syria it will be to celebrate peace and to participate in the rebuilding of this shattered country. So many people have suffered and it will require a massive amount of sustained energy to reestablish the infrastructure of the country. Even so, my respect for the strength and determination of the Syrian people gives me every confidence in a bright future for this wonderful land and I look forward to joining hands with the Syrian people to do what I can to share in that rebuilding.

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. If you’d like to see some of the media coverage we had in Syria, check out these Arabic and Farsi language articles (using your brower’s translator):

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.

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.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four