Subject for ezine:
Partners in the Good Fight
Father Dave's Partner's Ezine
Partners in the Fight
When one man dreams, it is just a dream, but when we all dream together, it is the beginning of a new reality.
Dom Helder Camara
It's good to be back in Oz, and it's great to be able to finally present to you a record of our historic Fighting Fathers Pastoral tour of the USA.
That's Fighting Father Scottie Minchin and me on the right, pictured in Fighting Father Cibby's home in South Carolina, and I'm sorry if you can't see the stag's head proudly mounted on the wall behind us, but you'll have to take my word for it.
Rather than eulogize here about the wonders of our trip, I'll allow Scottie's blog and the material below do that for me. Let me say in summary though that we were overwhelmed by the openness and generosity of our American sisters and brothers. It was both a beautiful and a humbling experience, and hopefully it will be only the first of a number of similar trips.
My only regret was that we couldn't visit all our US members, which would have conceivably taken about a year, and with Ange due to give birth to our fourth child in less than a month, I was at full stretch being away from home for as long as I was.
Meet the USA's Fighting Fathers
Of course my (other) main reason for the trip was to attend a conference designed to give me ideas for new ways to raise funds for our offline work, and I'll mention more about that at some stage too. But for the moment, enjoy the pics and enjoy meeting some of our fabulous Fighting Fathers from the USA!
Here's a quick shot of each of the Fighting Fathers interviewed below. Click the pic to see the full-size image If you want to see all the photos from our trip, click here to see the album on www.fighting-fathers.com
Fighting Father Alex (Los Angeles)
It was my great privilege to stay with Alex Ramos while in LA and to formally welcome him to the noble Order of the Fighting Fathers.
If you're not familiar with the 'Bronx Bomber's' spectacular career as an amateur and professional fighter, an excellent place to start would be Warren Spooner's article on Why Alex never won the Olympic Gold medal.
Today Alex's focus is on looking after retired boxers, as he is the co-founder of the 'Retired Boxers Foundation'. It is a magnificent work and he is a magnificent man.
The video will give you a colourful introduction to Fighting Father Alex. Listen to the audio interview (below) to get a more detailed account of the work of the Retired Boxers Foundation.
nb. the audio interview is 9.5 mins
Fighting Father Labib (San Fransisco)
Our time in San Fransisco was truly wonderful, thanks largely to the hospitality shown to Scott and myself by this wonderful man, Father Labib Kobti - parish priest and social activist.
As a priest, I see Labib as a true mentor - a real man of peace who both pastors his flock with love and who refuses to keep quiet about matters of injustice.
Labib is Lebanese by birth but his church brings together people from a great variety of nations - Arabic people, Burmese, Philippino, Portuguese, Brazilians, as well as locals.
Labib's social justice work focuses on the Middle East, where he lived and studied for many years. He is webmaster of Al-Bushra.org, which has been a portal for truth on Israel/Palestine since 1991! Labib also works with the Holy Land Institute, taking yearly educational tours of the Holy Land, where participants get to move beyond the well-worn tourist destinations and see the real Israel/Palestine.
nb. the audio interview is 13.5 mins
Fighting Father Tom (Reno, Nevada)
The hospitality shown by Tom to Scott and myself will stay in our minds for years to come, as he put us up at 'Peppermills Casino Resort' - the most extraordinary hotel complex I have ever seen!
In addition to his generosity to travellers, Tom impressed us greatly with his passion for his work in helping fellow senior citizens, both through his work in the insurance industry and through his work with senior2senior.org
Tom has developed the site largely by himself, creating a portal for seniors in need trying to find help.
senior2senior.org is an impressive work, and Tom and his wife Maureen are impressive people, and I can't wait to see them soon both sporting the Fighting Fathers tattoo on their upper-arms.
nb. the audio interview is 9.5 mins
Fighting Father Doug (Laurel, Montana)
Staying with Fighting Father Doug and his lovely wife Tracie and their children was certainly another highlight of the trip for us.
Doug, we note, was also the only Fighting Father that we actually got to fight with while in the US! He made sure he put aside time to kick my butt on the wrestling mats during our short stay in Montanna.
In truth, it was our great privilege to wrestle both physically and in dialogue with Doug and a number of the men from his church community.
I also took the opportunity to hear from Doug about his work in law enforcement, and in particular about his role in the Montana Meth Project - a program that has been so successful in combating methamphetamine abuse (ie ICE addiction) that it has been adopted by multiple other states in the USA.
nb. the audio interview is 9 mins
Fighting Father Cibby (Spartanburg, South Carolina)
Of all the Fighting Fathers we got to meet during our trip, Cibby is the brother I have known the longest.
We reached his open hearth fire and the warm embrace of his family after four days of driving through pelting snow. It was a sweet arrival
Our common love of the Old South brought Cibby and I together many years ago, and this remained the main topic of our discussion.
He may seem old-fashioned to some, but there's more than mere sentiment behind Cibby's love of history.
Fighitng Father Cibby's passion for history is rooted in his love of country, and in his desire to uphold the values that his Southern forefathers fought and died for.
Jesus said "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it." (Mark 8:34-35)
It's not a particularly cheery note to finish our USA tour ezine with, but we are in Lent, and in many ways these interviews have been sombre reflections on our individual struggles in ministry. The path to glory, Jesus warned us, is narrow, and it always seems to be an uphill path.
Full members of www.fighting-fathers.com can download the MP3 of this sermon by right-clicking here and choosing 'save target as' (nb. you may need to enter your member name and password)
Paid-members can also download the MP3 of my most recent sermon, entitled, "Jesus is Angry" by right-clicking here (nb. it's on Jesus' clearing of the Temple). Let me know if you think this one is worth streaming in the next ezine. The written version of this sermon can be found here.
Let me conclude today with a few thoughts on the conference I attended in San Fransisco, which was my chief reason for being in the USA.
The conference was about Corporate and Not-for-Profits Partnerships, and how to find corporate sponsors for your not-for-profit work. In my case my focus was on our Bush Retreat ministry (Binacrombi), which has been hit hard by the recession and is struggling to survive financially.
I believe that the conference was very worthwhile and that the strategies I learned there will bear fruit over time. I'm envisaging though that it will take at least six months before I'm fully able to roll out these strategies and see them bear fruit. In the interim, I'll be looking for whatever help I can get to keep the place alive and moving forward.
So ... if you (or someone you know) would like to invest between 20k and 50k in a burgeoning bush property, please let me know. Alternatively, if you would like to extend to me a long-term, low-interest loan (of between 20k and 50k) do contact me.
If you're not in a position to make a large financial commitment but would like to help, please consider:
I note too that I'm now trying to roll out a 'get it free' option on the fightshop.biz product line, where instead of paying for the product you can take out a free trial with one of our advertisers (who pay us anyway). Thus far I've only set this up for our Speed-Reading course, but if you haven't yet purchased the product, do check out the 'get-it-free' option here.
OK. My apologies for ending the ezine on such a note of desperation, but we are in Lent.
May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.