I’m going to try to be brief, as I leave for Syria today.
This last week has been one of constant activity and high emotion for me – most of which, of course, has revolved around the burning of our Youth Centre.
The community support has been overwhelming. I have received literally hundreds and hundreds of emails, text messages, phone calls, snail mails and visits from friends and supporters around the community and across the globe.
This has been both wonderful and exhausting, as I have tried to respond to everyone as best I could. At one stage I felt like I was holding back the tide, as every time I’d answer a text message two more would come in while I was still typing!
My apologies to anybody who didn’t receive a response from me. I fear that some messages have fallen through the cracks. Know that I am thankful to everyone for their prayers and support.
I won’t continue on about this much further, but I do want to single out a few expressions of support that I found particularly touching:
- Phone calls and a letter of support from our local Jewish community.
- The offer from our Islamic community to relocate our gym to their centre
- The young girl who lives in the flats alongside the Youth Centre who baked me a batch of cookies.
- The handful of letters from elderly people whose connection to our church goes back 50 years and more, some of which included cheques for amounts that are small in terms of our costs but large for those on pensions!
Again, thank you to everyone who has offered their support, whether it be in terms of money or expertise or lending us their truck. It is all appreciated. If we don’t need your help now we might well need it in the future.
For the moment our priorities here are helping the police in their investigations, finding ways to keep our work going, and determining exactly where we stand with the insurers.
As far as the police go, I am expecting some arrests to take place very soon – hopefully while I am away. We all know who the three boys were who did it. Now it’s just a question of tracking them down and charging them.
To be completely honest, I am hoping that the police find the culprits soon as I am starting to fear for their safety if they are not taken into custody. There are still some serious criminal elements operating in our area and I’m told that the leaders of these groups are not happy with what the boys have done. Quite frankly, I hope the police get hold of the lads before some of these other characters do!
Heading to Syria
Denning and I head off to Syria in only a few hours.
I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with the news from Syria but it is not good. A few days ago the White House issued a statement about Bashar Al-Assad having weapons of mass destruction. This is not good news.
The exact wording of the White House communique is as follows: “our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria” (read the full statement here).
For those not educated in political speak, a rough translation of this is “we are planning to kill more Syrians”.
I’ve just finished reading a wonderful book by Brian McLaren where he suggests that Christian propaganda all began with the Roman Emperor Constantine. It was Constantine who saw a vision of the cross in the sky and heard the words “with this conquer”.
A proper translation of Constantine’s words, McLaren points out, would be “with this murder”, for this is exactly what Constantine went on to do. He raped, murdered and pillaged his way across the known world – all in the name of the crucified Christ!
I think the statements of our modern Christian Emperors need to be translated in similar ways. When the US President speaks of Bashar Al-Assad’s chemical weapons and the need to save the suffering Syrian people from Assad’s tyrannical rule, this translates as “we are making plans to kill more Syrians”, and this is all that it means.
If you want to read more on what’s really happening in Syria, let me refer you to this excellent article by Sharmine Narwani, entitled “Chemical Weapons Charade in Syria“. Beyond that, keep an eye out for the stuff that Denning and I will be publishing over the next two weeks. We’ll be giving you a front-line report from Damascus very soon.
Time to go!
I haven’t packed my bags yet so I must be brief. Let me give you the other urgent matters in point form:
- Holy Trinity is having a fair/jumble sale/fundraiser this Saturday (May 4th). If you’re in the area, do join in. Of course we can’t hold this in the church hall now so we’re doing it on our front lawn (11 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill) from 10am to 2pm.
- Binacrombi Boot Camp II takes place on the following weekend (May 10th to 12th). I’m not going to be there for this one but I’m confident that the team – headed up by Fighting Fathers Mungo and Caine – will do an excellent job. Call 1800 620 706 if you’d like to book a place. If you didn’t see the video of our last camp, click here.
- zerocostwebsite.net is now fully operational. If you’ve been putting off getting yourself a website, now’s your chance to do it, with zero design costs!
Dreaming and Killing
I was really pleased with what I said in this sermon. Unfortunately the quality of our audio and video seems to deteriorate from week to week!
So I apologise in advance for the ‘packaging‘ but I do believe that there are some significant issues raised in this week’s sermon, and I’d be grateful for your feedback (via the comments box at the end of this post).
My text is from Acts chapter 11, and focuses on a dream the Apostle Peter had that changed his entire way of thinking with regards to what he should eat and who he should associate with. For Peter, these were not simply health issues or matters of tradition but deeply religious issues, and my interest here is not so much in the conclusions Peter came to but in the process he went through to reach his conclusions.
The basic question is ‘how do we think through issues in a way that has spiritual integrity?’ It may be that Peter models a way forward for us here, or perhaps what he shows us is that there is no simple pattern that everyone can emulate.
- If you can’t see this video at all, click here.
- If you get sick of the poor sound or video, the written version is here.
OK! That’s it for today, fighter. I’m actually finishing this missive in an airport lounge in Abu Dhabi. From here it’s only a few hours to Beirut, and from Beirut it’s only a three-hour drive to Damascus (assuming the road is open and uncluttered with war machinery).
I’ll be blogging and tweeting as I go, so expect plenty of updates from me over the coming days, and from Denning too.
In the meantime, if you haven’t joined us at www.fighting-fathers.com yet, please consider taking out a membership and supporting the cause.
Your brother in the Good Fight,