Weekly Missive – June 21st, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I’m beginning this missive from a small room in a monastery on the outskirts of Canberra.

Yes, I’m in the nation’s capital today and tomorrow, accompanying Mother Agnes as she appeals to Australian political leaders not to fuel the fire in Syria.

with-agnes-and-carmel

I don’t know how closely you’ve been following developments in Syria over the last few days and weeks but things are certainly hotting up!

The key developments are:

  • The Syrian Army won a major victory at al-Qusayr.
  • The Assad government thus seems to be winning the war.
  • The US has therefore decided to channel more weapons to the rebels!

This is the long and short of it, though the US is not admitting that they are acting out of a desire to see their side win. Rather, US officials are saying that the evidence for Syrian Weapons of Mass Destruction all of a sudden looks a lot more credible!

To my mind, FSA+USA=WWIII

In other words, Obama’s decision to give military support to the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) is a choice for World War III!

My reasoning is straight forward:

  • By arming the FSA Obama is ensuring that the war will continue
  • As the war continues, so does both the death toll and the refugee crisis
  • The refugee crisis, if it expands any further, will destroy Lebanon
  • Further death and displacement will likewise destroy Syria
  • Iran will not allow its only two allies to go down without a fight
  • Iran, Syria and Lebanon will therefore have to declare war on the US and Israel and whoever joins them.
  • The rest of the world will inevitably get drawn in to what will become a battle between East and WestMuslim vs. Christian.

Anyway, for all of the above reasons I am down in Canberra with Mother Agnes and we’re chatting cordially with political heavies from all sides of politics.

with-tony-abbot

From here we head back to Sydney and have a big fundraiser dinner. If you haven’t heard the details about that, you can download the flyer here.

On Sunday (June 23) we’ll be having Mother Agnes join us for prayer and worship at Holy Trinity and we’d love to have you join us.

with-kevin-rudd

One serendipitous moment yesterday happened when I was slumped on a bench in the foyer of Parliament House. I was only half-awake when someone approached me and thrust out his hand, saying “Kevin“. It was former Aussie PM, Kevin Rudd!:-)

PrayersforSyria.com

I want to thank everybody for their suggestions regarding which of the three domain names I should use to set up my new Syria site (www.syria.net.co, www.newsinsyria.com or www.syriaupdate.com).

For better or worse, I decided to drop all three domain names and go for one that targeted the religious community – www.prayersforsyria.com.

Please take some time to look over some of the articles, press releases and videos on my new site.  I’d particularly like to draw your attention to:

Of course, the fact that I have chosen a different domain name from the three I originally purchased means that the others are available for anyone who wants to build their own Syria website. Just go to ZeroCostWebsite.net, sort out a hosting package and get back to me. I’ll be happy to contribute one of the above-mentioned domain names if you can put it to good use.

Big changes at Binacrombi

The other big news for us at Fighting Fathers Ministries at the moment is that we are losing our beloved caretaker family from Binacrombi Bush Camp.

Geoff and Laura and the boys will be relocating to New Zealand at the end of July, and while we wish them well in their new life, Binacrombi will be mourning their loss.

My plan, for the short term at least, is to try and run Binacrombi without a full-time caretaker family on site. Instead I am hoping that we can have teams of people go down on weekends and open up the place for our clients.

Let me know if you’re interested in being a part of a team. The pay will not be huge but if you’re looking for challenge and adventure, this is the place to find it!

A first aid certificate and a basic level of mechanical expertise is requisite for anybody who would like to lead one of the teams.

Farewell to Jim

It is a month for sad farewells. Last week we also had to say goodbye to our beloved webmaster, Fighting Father Jim.

Fighting Father Jim

A sad farewell to Fighting Father Jim

Jim is relocating to Melbourne with his partner, Kiko, from where he will be continuing his creative work. He wish him every blessing and strength for the future.

The other sad farewell we have made this week is to the shell of our beloved Youth Centre – now bulldozed to the ground with so many memories buried beneath it!

Rather than show you scenes of the demolition, let me instead offer you this picture of students from Petersham Public School, gathered on the street in front of our old hall.

Petersham Public raised over $500 towards our reconstruction through a cake stall.

students from Petersham Public School

students from Petersham Public School

Similar thanks go to so many friends in the community who have contributed towards our rebuilding. Let me mention by name:

  • Dulwich Hill Public School ($700)
  • Petersham Preschool (who sold mulch from their garden to raise $274)
  • St Paul of the Cross Catholic Church ($500)
  • Jack Wardana and his group of ‘poppers’ ($845)

For those who don’t know what ‘popping‘ is, it’s a type of rap dancing, and ‘Popping Jack’ was using our church hall to teach a lot of our local young people to ‘pop’ before the fire. I’m thinking we should have a dedicated popping room when we eventually rebuild.

Mussalaha for Syria!

Let me conclude today with Fighting Father Denning‘s teaser clip of his upcoming documentary on our trip to Syria. ‘Mussalaha‘ (for those who might have forgotten) means ‘reconciliation’ in Arabic, and our trip to Syria was as a part of a Mussalaha delegation.

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t view this video, click here.

Please pray for mussalaha for Syria and pray for the work of Mother Agnes. And please join us at Holy Trinity this Sunday if you’re in the area. I’m hoping that we’ll have many members of the Syrian community come along to meet Mother Agnes and that it will be a truly multicultural worship experience.

We start at 9.15am (or shortly thereafter ).

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 22nd, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I’m afraid this is going to be a single-issue missive. 

I had planned to tell you more about our trip to Syria next week and about plans for the next Boot Camp and a whole variety of other things, but I’m afraid everything was turned upside-down for us on Sunday morning when a fire gutted our gym and youth centre!

I’ll try to be brief in my description but I can tell you that it was quite a drama!

A Cat in the Yard?

I didn’t get to bed till after 3 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’d been attending a  “Hands Off Syria” function that evening and hadn’t returned till near midnight, and then had to work on my sermon for Sunday morning.

I’d been sitting in my study, which looks out across the road at our Youth Centre and gym. I turned off the light a little after 3 am as I was exhausted. On reflection, I wish I’d stayed up just a few minutes more!

It was 3.45 am when the dog started barking uncontrollably. I thought there must be a cat loose in the yard again. Suddenly there was a powerful flash of light across the bedroom! When I looked out my bedroom window, I was struck with an awesome sight!

Trinitys on fire! (click to enlarge)

Trinitys on fire! (click to enlarge)

I ran out on to the balcony and was hit by the wall of heat!

I’ve never been this close to a fire like this before. I always thought that if I saw a house on fire I’d run inside and check if anyone was there. I couldn’t have gone anywhere near that fire even if my children had been in there! The wall of heat was impenetrable, and I was on the other side of the street!

I went to call 000 (our emergency number) and had no sooner dialed than a police car screeched to a halt in front of our house. Evidently someone had already called, and thank God they had! The police were followed by the fire-brigade within about three minutes.

Fire-crews were mobilising within minutes! (click for full-size)

Fire-crews mobilised within minutes! (click for full-size)

The Miracle!

It took the fire-brigade two hours to put the fire out! It was a raging inferno! The miraculous thing – and I’m not using the word ‘miraculous’ metaphorically – is that no one was hurt!

On the right-hand side of our blazing Youth Centre is the house of a Vietnamese family. Six people had been asleep in that house. The heat was so intense that it melted both glass and metal, but not a single hair on any of their heads was burnt!

Look closely at the first picture above. Is that the hand of God I can see, holding back the flames from their house?

I spoke to the father of the family this afternoon. He said that he’d had a phone call from his mother-in-law in Vietnam the night before, telling them that she’d been down at the church praying, as she’d had a premonition that something bad was about to happen to them! Moreover, the father told me that he always sleeps soundly, but that night he was wide awake at 3.30 am and heard some noise coming from the Youth Centre. He got up to check out the noise and saw that some lads had broken in and were starting a fire. He called the police and mobilised his family!

It may be that this good man’s prompt action saved the lives of his family and neighbours! On the other side of the Centre are a series of mechanic’s workshops – each storing large quantities of highly-flammable fuels – while above those workshops numerous elderly people and families live in small flats.  I hate to think what might have happened if those fuel-tanks had caught on fire while all those people slept! Truly, It was a miracle!

Only the shell of the old building remains! (click for full size)

Only the shell of the old building stands (click for full size)

The End of an Era

And so the sober light of dawn revealed that the Youth Centre was completely gutted BUT not a single dwelling on either side, nor at the back, had been affected!

People have been asking me why I am so up-beat about what is obviously a tragedy, and I am concerned about the impact this is going to have on all the young people for whom the Youth Centre is a second home, and for the boxers from Father Dave’s Fight Club, and for the mums and kids in the playgroup, and for everybody else who’s been using the facility BUT, having experienced the intensity of that raging fire at 4 am on that Sunday morning, I just can’t believe that nobody was hurt! To God be the glory! Great things He hath done!

Trinitys church, hall and Youth Centre - 1886 to 2013 (click for full size)

Trinity’s Church hall, Gym and Youth Centre – 1886 to 2013 (click for full size)

Community Support

The other thing that has been extremely gratifying is the outpouring of warmth we have received from the community. It has been absolutely overwhelming!

I’m afraid I have not been able to keep up with the phone calls, emails, text messages, Skype calls, people coming to the door, etc. And it hasn’t just been warm words either, but casseroles and home-made biscuits and even a bottle of red! :-)

I think that some people have been a little confused, as they’ve been expecting to find me tearful, sitting on the ash-heap, scratching myself, but I know that we can rebuild, and that this time we’ll be able to involve the whole community in consulting with us on a facility that will be tailor-made to respond to needs across our area!

And of course we are not going to abandon our young people nor our fighters while we wait for the building to restart. We will find ways to keep the work going. Indeed, offers have already started to pour in from people who want to offer us support and space.

To be frank, the most exciting proposal I’ve had thus far has been from the Imam Husain Islamic Centre, who are looking to see whether we might be able to use a part of their property for our gym! It might not be possible, but if it doesn’t work it won’t be for the lack of goodwill from these wonderful people! :-)

We’ve also had other offers from other churches and community groups, and it won’t be easy to keep both our Youth Drop-In program and our Fight Club going. Even so, the opportunities for working alongside other people of goodwill in our community are mind-blowing, and I’m excited by the possibilities! :-)

Media Coverage

I’m going to leave off here with a TV News report. We’ve had extraordinary media coverage thus far and, to tell you the truth, I haven’t even looked through it all yet. Even so, Denning tells me that the Channel Seven coverage was the best so I’m featuring that one.


[imaioVideo v=1]

Lend a hand!

I should say something in closing for those who wish to get involved in helping us get back on our feet and keep going.

As I say, we are entirely committed to continuing to do what we do best. We will eventually rebuild and there may be numerous fundraisers to come, and we will no doubt be looking for trades-people who can contribute their skills to that process. Even so, in the meantime you can help in one of three ways:

  1. If you are a local and you have space and you’d like to see that space used for a gym or youth drop-in centre, come and see me or Pastor Caine!
  2. If you’d like to make a one off financial contribution to keep the youth drop-in going, there’s a donate button on the church website (follow the ‘News’ link).
  3. If you’d like to support the work of Fighting Fathers (who run the gym side of the work, the boot camps, and all the online stuff) please join our member site.
    It only costs $10 per month but it’s what keeps us going (click here).

I’ll try to touch base with you again next Monday before we head off to Syria.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four