Fit to Box

speaking at Al Quds Day in Melbourne
enduring the Binacrombi billabong for 4.5 mins (nb. the freezer burn)
celebrating with the kids
'Mr Jones' Egberime still training the kids at our gym
with Sheikh Jehad Ishmael and the boys
a day away with my darling daughter, Imogen
my brother, Andy, turns 50! 🙂
the new Muhammadi Welfare Association development at Granville
with Denning and Syed Shoaib Naqvi
Veronica and I meet the 'Ice Man' - Wim Hof
with the team from Lock In TV
at the Syria vs. Australia World Cup qualifier

.
Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I must confess to feeling somewhat exhausted as I write to you today. It’s been an overwhelming month:

  • I’ve been trying to recover from my brain haemorrhage.
  • We’ve had much turmoil in the community (and perhaps in the church, most especially) over our government’s postal vote on same-sex marriage
  • Syria lost the World Cup qualifier match to Australia
  • One of my old friends has just taken his own life

Thankfully, not all of these struggles has ended badly. Indeed, as regards my recovery from the brain injury, my progress has been nothing short of miraculous. Last week I fronted up to the doctor’s office armed with the results of both and MRI and a CT scan. This was the same doctor who had told me a few weeks earlier that my boxing days were over. This time, after looking at the results and shaking his head, he ticked ‘fit to box’ on the appropriate form.

I give thanks to God for healing my brain so that I can fight again. I’ve been feeling rather lost over the last month, wondering how else I can raise money. As I often say, I can only do two things well – preach and fight – and I can’t see anyone handing over big dollars to hear me preach. Anyway, those concerns are behind me for the moment, though the painful thing is that both the fights I had scheduled were cancelled during my recovery period.

When the injury happened, I’d been in training for a big show-down with Dave Birchell. This naturally had to be called off. I had another fight though lined up with Mark Bouris in late November at a PCYC fundraiser event. Unfortunately, Mr Bouris was rematched. I did ask them to hold off on rematching him and to expect a miracle. For some reason the organisers followed common sense instead. And so, I find myself ‘fit to box’ but, once again, without an opponent. Even so, I’m sure the Lord has healed me for a reason, so something (or someone) will no doubt appear soon and make the way forwards clear.

As to the same-sex marriage debate this country has been enduring, I feel it has been a despicable process. I have seen so much pain caused by this postal vote! It has brought the worst out of a lot of people – reinforcing prejudices and eliciting violence and vilification from both sides. It truly was a gutless decision of our government to encourage this process.

As you may know, I was urged once again to publish my views on the subject of same-sex marriage. The result was an article that appeared on news.com.au that has generated no end of hate mail, phone calls, lost friendships, and enough social media banter to fill a decent-sized book. The process culminated for me when I received a call from a man claiming to have been sexually abused by a priest. He was so angry about my Archbishop’s support for the ‘no’ vote that he said he just needed to scream at someone. He knew I wasn’t to blame but apparently nobody else would take his call.

Another distressing dimension of this process for me has been the damage done to my relations with the Muslim community. I had two inter-faith events planned for this month where my Muslim friends withdrew due to the views expressed in my article. One woman even said that her Sheikh now refused to enter our church building! That hurt.

I’m know that doesn’t represent all my Muslim friends. Indeed, I’ve had others affirm their love and respect for me, even though we disagree on this issue.

Sermon Time

Perhaps my sermon today reflects a bit too much of my hurt referred to above. Certainly, the text of Matthew 21:28-31 did tap right into the issues I was struggling with, though the connection may not be immediately obvious. It’s a parable Jesus tells about two brothers – one who is pious and obedient and the other who is rebellious and disobedient, or so they appear to be. First impressions can be deceiving, and maybe we need to be cautious in passing judgement on either of the brothers too quickly.

Back to the Bush

When the going gets tough, I get going, and my favourite place to go when I’m feeling under pressure is our bush camp – Binacrombi. Can you join me there this coming weekend?

I’m sorry for the short notice but this event has been a difficult one to organise. The camp was originally designed to be an interfaith project, bringing together Christian and Muslim kids in an integrated training environment. Unfortunately, as indicated above, many have pulled out, though some friends from the Australian Muslim Youth Association are now trying to see if they can get a new group involved! Either way, the camp will go ahead, but there is currently plenty of room for extra participants.

Just give me a call on 1800 620 706 if you’d like to join us. All the details are on the Facebook page as well as on the poster (which can be downloaded here).

That’s enough from me today. I’ve got plenty more I’d like to share but, in truth, I’d rather do it over a beer at Binacrombi. Of course, if our Muslim friends do join us, I’ll happily forgo the beer and substitute coffee. Either way, I’d love to have you with us if you can make it.

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

Adventure Time!

Fighting Father Tim
Graham
Johann
Sheikh Tahwidi

Hi Fighter,

I have had an adventurous time since last we communicated.

  • Our fight club has moved into its new gym, located in our new church hall
  • We’ve restarted our Youth Drop-In program in the same hall.

And some even bigger adventures lie just around the corner!

In a moment I’ll do my best to convince you to join us either in the bush or in Syria
(or both), but first let me say a word about the Father Dave Selfie Competition.

You can see some entries above. I’m hoping for more. It seems that a lot of you guys had trouble finding the array of images that had been posted across walls in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. I know that some of them were removed by overly-diligent Councils with no appreciation of art. Even so, if you can find a pic, there’s still time to enter. and the prizes haven’t changed:

  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)

The winner will be judged by the number of likes each image gets on Twitter and/or Facebook. At the moment, the leaders are:

  1. Fighting Father Tim, with a Twitter response of 11 likes and 6 retweets, along with 14 Facebook likes (31 points)
  2. Joe Barnes with a straight 24 Facebook likes (24 points)
  3. Sheikh Tawhidi, with Twitter response of 9 likes and 5 retweets, along with 7 Facebook likes (21 points)

I think I’m going to have to give some thought as to how I distribute the prizes.

Easter Sermon Time

It’s Easter time, so no prizes for guessing the topic of today’s sermon. Even so, just because you’ve heard the story before, doesn’t mean there isn’t something new to glean from it. Besides that, we get the same advertising slogans shoved down our throats 24/7. It surely can’t hurt to balance all the mind-numbing commercialism with a message of resurrection and hope at least once per year!

Back to the Bush!

Yes, it’s time for another Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi. You are invited to join us – Training like a Trojan and Praying like a Monk.

The aim of these weekends is three-fold:

  1. Build your fitness
  2. Grow spiritually
  3. Make new friends

Of course the three work seamlessly together, and that’s why these weekends are at the heart of our Boxing for LIfe social integration strategy – bringing people together from different cultural and religious backgrounds, and transforming us into one team!

Yes, these weekends are about more than fitness. Even so, you don’t need to be a kid at-risk or someone called to work with kids at-risk in order to join us. You just need to be willing to commit your body to a weekend of hard training and high rewards!

The cost, as usual,depends on your circumstances. It’s $200 for the rich, $100 for the poor and free for the destitute. In other words, including GST, it is:

  • $220 for workers
  • $110 for students and unemployed
  • Whatever you can afford to those who can’t afford the regular rates.

Be assured that nobody profits from these weekends. All the trainers donate their time. We just need to cover our costs, and if you can’t contribute financially you will be expected to contribute in other ways, such as through helping prepare meals and/or taking on extra clean-up duties over the weekend.

If you’re ready to book, push the button below to make a payment. If you have questions, email me. and if you’d like to download the excellent flyer, promoting the camp, click here.


Worker/student



The time has come for Syria

Back with the kids of Yarmouk

with the kids of Yarmouk – July 2015

Those who have been following recent events in Syria will have celebrated with me the recent liberation of Palmyra from DAESH insurgents. This victory is the clearest demonstration to date of the resilience of the Syrian people who have withstood terrorist attacks coming from every corner of the globe. The Syrian people are winning this war and it’s time we pitched in and helped them to rebuild.

I can’t give exact details, but Boxers for Peace should be back in Syria by the end of next month, and we hope to be boxing with:

  • the Syrian Olympic team in Damascus
  • Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk
  • the kids of Palmyra

Yes, Palmyra is on our to-visit list this time and I am full of hope that we’ll be able to compete with athletes there and broadcast a message of hope to the whole world – that new life and joy can be found amidst the ruins in Syria!

At this stage we have six boxers – a mixture of amateurs and professionals – ready to go. If you’d like to join us, now is the time to let me know. Pray about it, and then email me or call me. All my contact details are on www.fatherdave.org (non-mobile version).

That’s plenty for one newsletter!

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

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

Weekly Missive – July 25th, 2013

G’day Fighter,

You’ll have to forgive me if this week’s missive reads more like a ‘positions vacant‘ ad, but we need some help over here at Fighting Fathers Headquarters and I’ve decided to put out a world-wide appeal.

Position(s) Vacant

The Good Lord has somebody in mind for this position, I am sure. Maybe they’re here in Sydney? Maybe they’re currently in Alaska or Damascus or El Salvador? I’ve got no idea, but if you’re in the mood for an adventure and you fit the criteria, it could be you!

The criteria are three:

  • You must love teenagers
  • You must be no lover of money
  • You have to be be a little bit crazy! 

Those are the primary requirements anyway. Being a champion boxer and having an excellent know-how with machinery would also be valuable assets, but are not essential.

In truth, there are actually three jobs, and they could be handled by three separate people (or even more) but they could also resolve into one full-time position too.

  1. We are re-opening Trinity’s Youth Centre in two weekend’s time. We’ll be sharing a space with our good friends of the Salvation Army of Dulwich Hill. We are going to need an extra youth worker to do between 15 and 20 hours per week.
    .
  2. Our brother Geoff is finishing up at Binacrombi Bush Camp in the next two weeks.  We are looking for people who are capable of being team-leaders in helping to manage the site over the weekends (Friday arvo to Sunday arvo). If we can find enough leaders, no one person will need to do more than one weekend per month.
    .
  3. We need someone to coordinate camps at Binacrombi for kids from Trinity’s Youth Centre. These are our Warrior Weekends, and we are looking to run at least one every few months at the moment.

As I say, these roles could be filled by three or more persons, but they could also become a full-time job for one person.

Binacrombi Boot Camp II

We need you! Come and help us!

Interested? Email me, phone me, or leave an expression of interest as a blog comment. Either way, I will get back to you.

Join us for Dinner this Saturday

This Saturday night, in case you’ve forgotten, you’re invited to a fundraiser dinner for the rebuilding of our church hall/youth centre/boxing gym.

The dinner is being organised and hosted by our friends from the Bourke Street Bakery – a tremendous group who have been supporting our youth work by providing our kids with their daily leftovers (of first-class breads and pastries) for a number of years. And now they want to help us rebuild! :-)

The details are on the flyer below (click to enlarge) but I’ll mention them here anyway:

  • Saturday, July 27th
  • 46a Macleay Street, Potts Point (enter via Crick Avenue)
  • cost = $100 (and includes wine!)
  • Call (02) 9569-3225 to book

Holy Trinity Invite

A Different Take on a Familiar Story?

It’s high time I shared another sermon with you in my weekly missives, and this week I thought I’d go with my recent sermon on ‘The Good Samaritan’.

I suspect that even my non-Christian readers will be familiar with the story. It’s one of Jesus’ most well-known parables. A man gets beaten up by thieves and is left at the side of the road for dead. Various religious figures see him there and do nothing. Eventually he gets help from an unlikely figure – a stranger from a different race and religion.

That’s the story in outline, and generally we take from this that the ‘Good Samaritan‘ is an example of how we ought to live – showing compassion to the bruised and bleeding.

I don’t doubt that the Samaritan in the story is a good example, but I don’t think this was the main thing Jesus was hoping to communicate through the story. Click the video below if you want to hear my thoughts on the subject, and leave your comments at the end. Let me know you’re take on the story.  If you prefer the written version to the video, it’s here.

[imaioVideo v=1]

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

That will do for this week, fighter, though I trust you won’t mind if I share another family photo with you this week before I go.

Imogen Angela Smith

That’s my 15-year-old daughter, Imogen, who is generally much more interested in drawing pictures than having them taken.

I couldn’t believe it was her when I first saw this photo. It seems like only yesterday that … (add typical dad-type reminiscences here …).

Thanks to John Clutterbuck who offered to create a portfolio for her at no charge. You can see more of his work on the Getty Images site.  And if you want to see some of Imogen’s wonderful drawing, you’ll find her site here.

OK.

I’ll hope to see you Saturday night at the fundraiser dinner.

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!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four