IF THE Lord works In mysterious ways, then so do some of his messengers.
Take Father David Smith. The Anglican priest Is challenging kids In the Duiwich Hill area to a five-round boxing match. If they win, he’ll shout dinner – but if they lose, he’ll see them at church on Sunday.
Father Dave used to be an angry young man but, at age 32, he’s trying to cool the anger he sees in some of Sydney’s teens.
“Making a breakthrough with the kids in the area is really difficult,” he said.
“You feel you’re swimming upstream, It’s a really depressing thing to look back over the past three years and see how much progress we’ve made here. Not that much.”
The Idea of a boxing challenge may seem a bit unorthodox for a priest – but this is no typical priest.
A former punk rocker, Father Dave grew up in Newtown, where he learned to be tough. He carried a knife, rode a motorbike, and was always ready for a fight.
Idolising the likes of Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols, he easily fell into the violent punk scene.
But at 18 he said he found his conscience, realised violence was wrong and turned to God, with martial arts providing the discipline to get his life back on track
Now, with a black belt in hapkido, a Korean martial art, he’s using his skills to give kids an alternative to the streets and attract them instead to his Holy Trinity Church Centre, channelling their energies into the disciplined form of sport Is also good for their self-image, he said.
After trying in vain to attract kids to the centre with free kick-boxing lessons, Father Dave said divine inspiration struck while he was on holiday on the Central Coast.
“I sat on it for six months because I thought it was too stupid,” he said. “I guess it wasn’t.”