Author: Ron Graham
Ron Graham’s Ministry Reports
—For the year 2005
This page holds the reports on my voluntary ministry activities for 2005 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.
Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2005
Dear Brethren... This report covers the three months from 1-Oct-2005 to 31-Dec-2005, the last quarter of 2005. I trust this letter comes at a time when your soul prospers and you are able to live in peace and joy. In any case, I wish you a blessed new year.
Spring and early summer in Bairnsdale have been pleasant with some good regular rains. Susanne has made a no-dig "organic" vegetable garden in an unused part of our backyard, and its abundance is an amazing sight.
Regular personal support for my ministry has continued at around $200 per week, for which I am thankful. The loss of my weekly $40 window cleaning income, due to my illness, has been replaced with a carer's allowance granted to me in recognition of the work I do looking after Susanne. So what I lost one way was found in another. The Lord helped me there.
My illness gave me a hard time through the quarter. I had to have a catheter inserted through my abdomen in a second emergency. Fortunately the doctor on duty was from my own clinic, and is an expert in this procedure. He has looked after me since the emergency. It was a very painful and frightening day. I had seen a specialist who appeared to me to be incompetent because of two incidents which made it impossible for me to have any confidence in him. So I gave my doctor the name of two specialists who were highly recommended to me. My doctor smiled at the first name on the list, saying that this specialist was the top man in Victoria if not Australia, and people wait many months to see him. However he picked up the phone and called the specialist's office in Melbourne. It turned out the specialist had just taken a new list in Bairnsdale, and there was still one vacancy, so I got on it.
Three weeks later, this excellent man operated on me right here in the local Bairnsdale hospital. It turned out to be a difficult and lengthy procedure, but was successful. I got an infection as a complication, but it was detected and treated early and thoroughly. At the end of my street there is a nursing clinic that specialises in my problem, and the nurses visited me at home twice a day helping my recovery. I suffered severe pain in the three months, but mostly it was only in five-minute spasms with at least an hour's relief between, and did not occur during the night, so I was able to bear it. I am now free of pain. My energy levels are returning to normal, but there is not much reserve in the "batteries" so I still have to take things a bit easy. One good thing that came out of the operation was that tissue tests confirmed that there was no cancer.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to stand strong in the Lord. At the end of the year the church decided to give two worthy men $1000 each in support of their ministries. One is a young man from a family in Bairnsdale church. He is going to Sydney to study and train for the ministry. Another is a preacher in Ghana who is well known to brethren in Queensland who many years ago were members of the church here in Bairnsdale. This preacher works hard in a radio ministry among other things.
Sunday adult Bible classes completed the study in Philippians, then were led by me in a verse by verse study of Acts chapter 1. This was interrupted by my operation in hospital, when John took over the classes, studying Galatians.
Tuesday night home Bible study was served by a various lessons not belonging to any series or particular theme. These included The Dying Thief, The Visible Church, Three Kinds of Sinners. Toward the end of November I went to hospital, and for the rest of the quarter the class looked after itself until the final Tuesday when I took up teaching again.
The website simplybible.com grew by another 53 pages, and reached a total 678 pages comprising 619 Bible study pages and 59 service pages of information, indexes, etc. This was a very healthy growth in the website even though I myself was most unhealthy. I suppose I got absorbed in the website because there was little else, apart from my art work, that I could do. I was pretty much confined to the house and not able to be very active outdoors. It was a blessing to be able to sit and do something useful. I received fewer emails than usual in this quarter, but those I did receive were most encouraging. Nobody took issue with me about anything which was a mercy, since I already, in my illness, had a messenger of Satan to buffet me!
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. Thank you too, for your expressions of concern, and your prayers which obviously were answered in every way.
Report for Jul-Aug-Sep 2005
[From Ron Graham]
Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2005. I hope this letter finds you still walking by faith and serving the Lord with joy.
Winter in Bairnsdale was mild and moist, and Spring began with a beautiful burst of blossoms, magnolia, and wattle blooms all over town.
Regular personal support for my ministry has continued at around $200 per week. Susanne's work income has completely stopped now, and she is not fit for work. She is receiving a small pension for the time being. For reasons explained below I am not able to continue my small window cleaning run from which I was earning about $40 per week.
A stay in London encouraged Susanne. She was able to be present at the birth of a grandchild and spend several weeks with her daughter and son in law, helping with the new baby. I went to London after that, intending to accompany Susanne on the journey home via Russia and China. However the day after arriving, I suffered a severe medical emergency and we had to cancel the trip. After two weeks the doctors cleared me to fly home from London, with a day's rest in Singapore. We got home all right. I am presently under medical care and am waiting to see a specialist. There is considerable discomfort and inconvenience, however I am still feeling fairly well and able to get around, except that I cannot do window cleaning, digging, and such like. Tests here in Australia show quite an improvement on the results of earlier tests in London. So there is reason to be optimistic.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to get along well. Again we've had some members away on trips for rest, work, or family assistance. To cover the time that I was away, I left prepared lessons for the classes and a couple of video lessons. One of the men conducted the classes in my stead, using the kit of lessons I had prepared. When I returned early, because I was not well, the lessons were continued and came in very handy.
Sunday adult Bible classes were mostly taken up with studies in 2nd Peter. The complete set of lessons and outlines are now on www.simplybible.com We finished the series at the beginning of September. For the rest of September, including while I was away, the class studied some of my lessons in Philippians.
Tuesday night home Bible study was served by a series called Through Much Tribulation. For the rest of September, including while I was away, the Tuesday class studied some of my lessons in Philippians. Some of the Philippians lessons were used on Sunday, and some on Tuesday.
The video ministry work continued the transfer of master video tapes on to digital video disc (DVD). Some video was used in Bairnsdale classes and another church of Christ also requested a set of DVDs.
The website for the internet grew by another 46 pages, and reached a total 625 pages. It was on August 3rd 2005, that the number of pages on simplybible.com passed 600, including both service and study pages.
On July 21 2005, I registed the domain name www.simplybible.com including the Australian extension .au to cater for people who naturally enough assume that an Australian website will have .au on the end of its URL. So now people will reach this website using either www.simplybible.com or www.simplybible.com and the latter will contribute to the website's good image in Australia.
On September 1, 2005, I added a search facility powered by Google. This facility took a few hours to design, however it causes Google to return results only from simplybible.com except perhaps for a few of its sponsored sites. The new page provides and explains the facility, giving some useful tips. The search facility is available from any page using the pick-a-box site map. It provides a third method of finding what you want on the site. The other two methods are a very large alphabetical index and detailed topical listings.
During the weeks Susanne was in London I had some extra time on my hands, and used it mostly to get ahead with the website work so that the growth of the website would not suffer because of my taking a break from the work.
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. May the Lord bless and prosper the work that you and I are doing together. More than ever, without your support I could not do it on my own.
Report for Apr-May-Jun 2005
[From Ron Graham]
This report covers the second quarter of 2005.
Autumn and early winter is the best time of the year in Bairnsdale and the rest of East Gippsland. We had no rain through April and May, but we are getting some again now. Salt water has gone further upriver than usual and a lot of people are fishing the river, getting mullet and other fish by the bucketsfull.
Regular personal support for my ministry has not only continued but increased to $200 per week. I appreciate this very much because Susanne's income has completely stopped now, and she is not fit for work. We will have to learn to live like pensioners in future, since my only other income-earning work is a small window cleaning run from which I earn about $40 per week.
Susanne's health has has not deteriorated, and has even improved a little more, but she has a long way to go. Fortunately she can still receive medical care at little cost to her. Her treatment has not required medication for the past few months, so that is an improvement.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to get along well. We've had some members away on trips, but of course folk on trips have come to visit us, so the numbers stay the same, only the faces change. Most of our members have had their personal challenges and changes, however at present we are all coping well enough. The church is remaining faithful, and on the unchanging things of the Lord we continue as the church here has done consistently for decades.
Sunday sermons continue to be taught in turn by three men, including myself. The younger of us (much younger!) has become quite accomplished at preaching the word, choosing excellent topics and preparing his own lessons. I'm not sure how he does it because he has a full time job, plus a demanding community service involvement. It is encouraging to see his continued development.
Sunday adult Bible classes for the quarter continued with the series of studies called "Isaiah Gleanings". The complete set of lessons and outlines are now on www.simplybible.com We finished the series at the end of June. It ran for nine months, and I think that the class would have been happy for it to continue. Frequent comments were made to me about how much they gleaned from the book of Isaiah with the help of these studies. I have always wanted to make a thorough study of Isaiah, and in my preparations I came across notes from about 25 years ago where I had made a start. Now perhaps many people around the world will find these lessons of great value.
Tuesday night home Bible study continued to follow the study of Acts based on the places mentioned in the book. Every place is noted in alphabetical order, and we look up the location on a map, then look up the passages in Acts where the place is mentioned to see what happened there. This series is also now available complete on www.simplybible.com along with the set of maps. The Tuesday night class almost completed the series. The alphabetical order makes the series a good reference, but it may seem like a daft way to proceed in a Bible class. Oddly, it works quite well so long as you skip over the redundant and repetitive entries. For example we didn't turn up Acts 2:9-11 and read it every time a place name came up! On the other hand, when something instructive and very interesting came up, we would dwell on it. For instance we spent an entire class just reading about and discussing Pau's journey to Rome, especially the shipwreck. So approached intelligently, the Acts Facts series is not only a helpful reference, but also good class material. I feel very satisfied to have completed the revision, taught the series for the third time (originally prepared and taught in Tasmania many years ago, and a second time in Melbourne).
The video ministry work continued the transfer of master video tapes on to digital video disc (DVD). The job is still far from finished, but we are gradually getting there. That's word-for-word what I said in my last report, isn't it?
The website for the internet grew by another 52 pages, and reached a total 579 pages. On May 18th 2005, the number of Bible study pages on simplybible.com reached 500. At that date there were an additional 52 service pages with indexes and information, but study pages such as lessons, charts, and quizzes numbered 500 exactly. When simplybible.com was uploaded to the internet for the first time on December 19th 2001, I envisioned that, God willing, I might be able to build it to as many as 500 Bible study pages. Now that goal has been exceeded, I still feel as strong a call as ever to continue the work.
Still on the subject of the website, I am gradually sorting through old material and selecting the good stuff for the website. Some of my old writings are rubbish, and some were written for particular situations and have no general relevance. However some of the "stuff" is worth revising and preserving on the website. So I have regular (and at times nostalgic) "tidy-ups" and "sort-outs" of the old files and this activity is bearing fruit for the development of the website. Every now and then I get emails from visitors to simplybible.com who are using the material for classes they teach. These include not only members of churches of Christ, but also folk from among the denominations, and not only Australians but folk from other countries. Knowing that my teaching is being multiplied through others makes me feel very responsible to teach what is true and edifying and fruitful. I request your prayers.
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. May the Lord help us to continue the co-operative and fruitful work that you and I are doing together (for without your support I could not do it on my own).
Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2005
[From Ron Graham]
This report covers the first quarter of 2005.
Summer passed with mostly mild weather and plenty of rain, for which we thank the Lord.
Regular personal support for my ministry has continued. I appreciate this very much. I've been receiving close to $150 per week (gross before tax). This good day's wage each week meant that I could devote extra time necessary for the Lord's work above and beyond my spare time. Like everyone else, I have bills to pay so I really appreciate your help. Toward the end of this quarter, another person began contributing a weekly amount that took my ministry support to just over $200 per week (gross before tax). Because Susanne's income has shrunk and is on its last legs, the offer of this extra support was quite literally a Godsend. So the Lord and his people have enabled me to continue serving.
Additional support for my ministry has also continued in the form of working funds. I appreciate not having to spend a lot of my own money on the costs of my ministry. One church sends me $60 every three months, a young man manages to send $50 about once month for costs of running the website, and Bairnsdale church pays for odds and ends as necessary. So these days I don't have to pay very much out of my own pocket and this too is greatly appreciated.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to be a "together" group. Some of the older members gathered for a picnic at Eagle Point on Lake King. One turned up with a swag of freshly caught fish and it didn't take us long to cook and demolish them. We then got to playing petanque, the men struggling against the women who proved a dab hand with the boule. At the church meetings we had brethren visiting as usual during the holiday season. On the other hand, some of our members attended an Easter camp in Victoria, enjoying a time of fellowship with saints from several congregations.
Susanne's health has improved a little, but she still has no capacity for work and still has some bad days. We are hopeful that she will eventually recover from this long term illness.
Sunday adult Bible classes for the quarter continued with the new series of studies called "Isaiah Gleanings". As I said in my last report, this series does not attempt a complete or exaustive study of Isaiah, but tries to "glean" encouragement and important truth from the book. We are guided by the writers of the New Testament and their use of Isaiah. The lessons to date are on www.simplybible.com along with an outline of Isaiah partially completed.
Tuesday night home Bible study followed the series called "The seven Ems of Spiritual Understanding" with another series called "Seven Good Influences" which looks at what influences us to obey God. The seven good influences are Society, Conscience, Intellect, Faith, Hope, Fear, and Love. The studies were newly prepared, but like the previous series their basis was an outline I prepared in the 1980s or maybe it was the 1970s. Following this, we took a night off for singing, then began a series called Acts Facts. This is a study of Acts based on the places mentioned in the book. Every place is noted in alphabetical order. We look up the location on a map, then look up the passages in Acts where the place is mentioned to see what happened there. I taught this series in Tasmania many years ago, and in Melbourne. It worked very well and I hope Bairnsdale enjoys the series too. While teaching this course I am preparing a website version, including a set of small maps to suit.
The video ministry work continued the transfer of master video tapes on to digital video disc (DVD). The job is still far from finished, but we are gradually getting there.
The website for the internet grew by another 27 pages, and reached a total 530 pages. The extensive upgrade of the site was completed. As well as 24 new study pages, I added a mission statement, a history of Truth in Love, and a list of charts to the service pages. One of the men noticed my statement in the website report, "For lack of funding, the website relies on 10 megabytes of free space...this restricts the site to fairly basic files." He felt that Bairnsdale church could afford to get some more space. I hadn't meant the statement to sound like a complaint, because I still have a lot of basic files to produce and am not ready to add sound or video to the site. So the 10 megabytes was still adequate for a while yet. However I did get the church to give me $100 to finance another account so that www.simplybible.com could have the existing space all to itself and our own personal files could move into a new space. So I got that all set up, and in the process the nice man at Datafast/Eftel threw in an extra ten megabytes to www.simplybible.com without charge! So now www.simplybible.com has 20mb which should be adequate for quite some time to come. Sometimes things go well, don’t they?
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. May the Lord send his blessings as we work together for him, and may he make our efforts fruitful.
Annual Report 2005
Simply Christians Australia Website
Many members of the church will already be aware of the Australian website www.simplybible.com and even be regular users of it. You may be interested in the following report about this website.
- Data analysis period:
1-Oct-2005 to 31-Dec-2005
- Purpose of website:
An internet presence for the typical teaching of undenominational churches of Christ. See the following mission statements: Mission Statement, Simply Bible, Urge.
- Author and Webservant:
- Size of Site:
By the end of the year, the number of Bible study pages on simplybible.com exceeded 600. The number of additional pages (index and information pages) was about 50.
- International outreach:
The site was accessed from over 95 countries.
- Accesses to main index pages (Oct-Dec):
- Access by search terms (Oct-Dec):
Bible 1077, Jesus 837, parables 774, God 566, Isaiah 506, outline 401, amen 390, sermon 383, map 347, prayer 283, etc.
- Most used series (Oct-Dec):
Times of Israel 2400+,
- Most used lessons (Oct-Dec):
The Last Word 798,
Success in the Pulpit 591,
Sowing and Reaping 440,
Parables Stories for All People 401,
- Site has been operating for:
4 years (since December 2001).
Datafast (Eftel) now provides 20 megabytes of free space which we appreciate.
- Last Upgrade:
Upgrading to xhtml standard continued weekly throughout the year.
- Main Improvements:
A Google powered search facility was added to the site in October, and used 276 times by the end of December. The Australia-specific domain name, www.simplybible.com was registered and became active
I was amused to note that the number of requests (Oct-Dec) for pages in the Book of Revelation series was 666.