Author: Ron Graham
Ron Graham’s Ministry Reports
—For the year 2006
This page holds the reports on my voluntary ministry activities for 2006 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.
Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2006
Dear Brethren... This report covers the final quarter of 2006. I hope you have been blessed to be fruitful and zealous in your work for the Lord. I certainly appreciate the manner in which you have helped me through the year.
Summer in Bairnsdale... This season can be summed up in two words: drought and bushfires. Our river looks full enough, but its flow has reduced to a tiny fraction of normal, so we are on unprecedented water restrictions. The bushfires are immense, the worst in seventy years. A great wild fire is burning over a huge area (9000 square kilometres) of forests and alpine regions to the north of Bairnsdale, witha very active section of the fire front close to the town. On December 14, Bairnsdale and surrounding towns were plunged into two hours of total darkness in the mid afternoon. The town had been in halflight all morning, blanketed by a cloud of smoke and ash. The cloud became so enormous that no sunlight could penetrate. From 2.30pm to 4.30pm, it was as black as night.
Classes in Bairnsdale... For Sunday Bible classes I continued the series of word studies. These studies double as a glossary for the website. We studied justification, sanctification, reconciliation, predestination, and regeneration. The next word was covenant but I did a detour through a series of studies on that subject, before doing the word study itself. On Tuesday nights I continued to teach "Something Old, Something New". I selected and revised some lessons from my old notes, as well as some brand new lessons prepared in this quarter.
Website (www.simplybible.com)... I added 22 more pages. All but one were Bible lessons. These pages include a new series on the New Covenant.
Page requests for the quarter were October 53,974, November 53,575, December 54,892. On average there were 1,785 page requests per day. (There would actually be more, because browsers often satisfy a page request with a cached page rather than downloading from the server.)
The website celebrated its 5th birthday on December 19th. To mark this occasion an Ebenezer page was added.
Proposal to move to Bundaberg... After discussions with the Bundaberg church we placed our Bairnsdale home on the market, and when it sells we will move to Bundaberg, God willing. Several people have looked at the home, but no buyer has emerged yet. Nevertheless, we are busy sorting through "stuff" and getting things in order for the move. We held a giant garage sale for a start.
Report for Jul-Aug-Sep 2006
Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2006.
It is Spring in Bairnsdale, and our garden is showing an abundance of flowers in spite of some neglect. This is the time of year when we get some strong winds, and the weather is cold some days but predominantly warm and sunny. It's also time to finish painting the outside of the house —a relatively easy house to paint.
Bairnsdale Work... The Sunday adult class continued the study of words having special meanings in scripture. The word studies define the words and present relevant scriptures in a lesson outline. These studies also form a glossary for the website. We studied confession, baptism, church, grace, gift, apostle, pastor, deacon, evangelist, priest, prophet, and redemption. On Tuesday nights I taught various lessons rather than following a theme. The class was dubbed "Something Old, Something New" because some of the lessons were decades old, whilst others were brand new. From time to time on Tuesday nights we have a singing instead of a class, and there were three such nights this quarter. I took several turns at preaching on Sunday morning in addition to the class work.
Queensland Journey... In the last two weeks of the quarter Susanne and I went to Queensland. We flew to Brisbane, then hired a car in which we drove more than 2000 kilometres. A major purpose of the journey was to visit churches. We attended midweek Bible study at the Point church in Brisbane. I had offered to preach for that church but my offer was declined. We were able to go to Maryborough however, and I both preached the sermon and taught the adult class there on Sunday morning. Next we went up to Bundaberg where I taught the midweek class. From there we visited Gladstone where we enjoyed a meal with a beloved Christian and family. We also prayed and sang songs. Coming back to Bundaberg for the Sunday, I taught the adult class and preached twice. During the journey Susanne and I also visited the site of a church of Christ where her father and grandfather used to meet. The chapel has gone, but a memorial has been erected there. We said a short prayer at that very special place. The trip doubled as a holiday for Susanne and I, and we spent some time sight-seeing.
Progress on the Internet. The website www.simplybible.com grew by 43 pages (18 Bible lessons and 25 system pages) and reached a total 780 pages. Site traffic for the quarter exceeded 8 gigabytes. In July, page requests for the month exceeded 50,000 which is the highest month ever and a milestone for the site. Page requests for year to date are: Jan 35,572, Feb 30,308, Mar 33,900, Apr 43,351, Jun 38,048, Jul 55,661, Aug 48,702, Sep 53,556. There are about 44,000 minutes in a month, a figure well exceeded by page requests each month this third quarter. So we may now say that on average, someone is accessing a page on simplybible.com every minute, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I continued to work on the site's database which is now well advanced, and added a search bar that appears in the banner at the top of every page of the site. Web statistics are beginning to register usage of the search engine. This will, in time, give me excellent feedback and insight into what users are seeking. I ran some tests to verify the site statistics as analysed by the program to which my ISP gives me access. The test keywords and files registered accurately. This test not only helped me to trust the statistics, but also to verify my interpretation of them.
Six Years of Website Development I began working on simplybible.com in December 2000. As it happened, my first year of work on the website was also the first year of a new millennium. Here's how the work has developed...
- 2001 Researched/studied website design and markup, and produce first 80 pages.
- 2002 Site went online and increased to 200 pages.
- 2003 Site accepted by dmoz and Google and increased to 300 pages.
- 2004 Domain simplybible.com secured and site increased to 400 pages.
- Monthly requests for pages exceeded 50,000—a rate of one access per minute.
- The simplybibleFinder search engine and database was written and introduced.
- All pages were upgraded to a minimum standard for strict xhtml.
- A glossary system was added as a special study series.
- The service pages were enhanced with some new-look iconized listings.
- The webservant's manual was revised and incorporated into the site.
- The site should increase to 800 pages by the end of 2006.
Reaching Age 65. At the beginning of the quarter I turned 65. I have been living on a low income and in part retirement for some time, gradually winding down my business activities. Much of my energy and time in retirement is taken up as Susanne's carer. I also continue to be occupied with this website and helping out at Bairnsdale church. I hope that the support of my ministry will continue at its present level —about $240 per week. Currently these funds split at about $130 per week to pay for special expenses of the ministry, and $110 per week taken as personal income. I truly appreciate this level of assistance. which is adequate for my present needs.
Report for Apr-May-Jun 2006
This report covers the second quarter of 2006.
Late autumn and early winter were very cold and very dry. For the first time for several winters, I have not had to cut and carry firewood. We were able to acquire a reverse cycle air conditioner which cools in the summer and heats in the winter. Firewood is getting so expensive that I doubt we will pay much more for electricity to run the heater than we did for wood to burn in the fire. There are benefits to our health as well.
Regular personal support has continued at the same level. For another three months. Nobody has given up on me, and again I must say thanks for the regularity and reliability of this support, with which enables me to maintain the important work. It gets done because you help me. I couldn't do it alone.
Bairnsdale congregation maintained all its services and faithfulness for another quarter. We continue to meet Sunday mornings and evenings at the Noweyung Centre (used during the week by disabled people). Our midweek gatherings are held by turn in five homes.
Health and wellbeing. Susanne continues to have serious problems. My health, however, continues to improve and I seem to have made a full recovery, so this makes it easier for me to care for Susanne.
Visiting churches. Susanne and I had to travel to Melbourne and Moe for appointments a week apart, so we decided to fly to Brisbane in between to see new grandchildren. We had enough points to get free flights. We were able to see Susanne's new grandson and my new granddaughter, and enjoyed catching up with our children. We also attended the Point church and renewed acquaintance with some old friends. Back in Melbourne the next Sunday, we attended Belmore Road church in Box Hill and visited with brethren we've known for many long years.
Bairnsdale Sunday adult Bible classes In April I completed the studies from the series Jesus Changed My Heart. During May, we studied lessons about the interpretation of scripture. In June we began what is likely to be a long series of word studies. These studies are also forming a glossary for the website. Words such as “salvation, sanctification, repentance, baptism, church...” have special meanings in scripture, and need to be properly understood. The word studies define the words and present relevant scriptures in a lesson outline. I consider this new series of lessons, which I am preparing, to be a very important work, of benefit to our class, to users of the website, and possibly later, the makings of a very useful book.
Tuesday night home Bible study A new series of studies in 2nd Thessalonians occupied April and May. In June, the class enjoyed some alternative activities including singing and a video lesson from the USA
The website for the Internet www.simplybible.com again grew by more thant 30 pages, and reached a total 737 pages. All the new pages were Bible lessons except six new system and service pages.
Behind the Scenes I did a lot of work on the website. First, I had the "rare flash of insight" I was in need of to complete the search engine. It wasn't exactly an epiphany, but it worked fine. Second, I continued to work on the database. This is an ongoing day-by-day project. Third, I brought all the service and information pages into line with the underlying structure, and this is reflected in a revised service directory. Fourth, there were the several emails to answer from users. The site is obviously helping a lot of people and being appreciated by them. One user called it the best Bible site on the web. Another told me he was pointed to my site from another site that described my teaching as "painful" —however he himself thought the teaching was good and helpful.
Most used lessons I am often asked, "How many hits do you get?". For the three months there were 124,532 successful requests for pages. That's well over one thousand per day. The most used page was the Bible Maps (2411 requests). The training page, "Success in the Pulpit" was accessed 716 times. That is almost entirely due to personal recommendation either by word-of-mouth or by links on other websites. For actual Bible studies, the single most used lesson was "The Last Word" (916 requests). That is due mainly to people Googling for definitions of the word “Amen.” There was a lot of interest in lessons on the Parables, the most used lesson being "Stories for all Peoples" (677 requests). Lessons on Bible interpretation and translation were well used, one lesson in that series getting more than 500 hits. Another popular lesson was "God's Magnificent Promises" (595 requests).
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. May the Lord give us grace as fellow workers for him, and may he make our efforts bear fruit.
Ron Graham’s Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2006
This report covers the first quarter of 2006.
Summer passed with mostly mild weather. It started off with good rains, then went dry. Now the Autumn begins and the mornings feel fresh and sweet. Susanne planted a no-dig garden in spring. We have enjoyed heaps of vegetables including 16 pumpkins on one huge vine. These are the Queensland Blue, and two grew very large whilst the others were a good size.
Regular personal support has continued at $240.00 per week. I am thankful for the regularity and reliability of this support without which I could not continue the important work that I do.
Bairnsdale congregation continues in faithfulness. As well as our fellowship in worship, we also make a habit of enjoying each other's company and hospitality. On Sundays between services we continue to have lunch together in two or three homes. At our home there is a roast dinner followed by a Scrabble game or two. While that is going on, I am allowed to work on the website so long as I do the dishes and serve the coffee.
Susanne's health. Susanne seems to have reached a point beyond which it is difficult for her to improve. The expert panel of doctors who examined her have said that she is unfit for work indefinitely. This is a deep loss to her and to the aboriginal community in which she did so much good work.
My health. I made a good recovery from my operation, and am so pleased to be walking around normal again without tubes stuck in me and nasty pains. I have lacked energy, but the energy levels are returning to normal and I reckon that I'm about ninety percent of my old self now. Through lack of exercise, my body is a bit soft, but over the next few months I should tone up again. The operation has left me with some minor after effects of very little consequence, and they are probably temporary. The infection caused me a lot of trouble but I seem to have got on top of it, although I'm still watching it carefully. I'm sorry to have caused you all so much concern, but much appreciate your prayers and encouragement.
Sunday adult Bible classes In January I completed the studies in Acts with a verse by verse study of the first chapter and encroaching into the second. In February and March I presented lessons from the series Jesus Changed My Heart. This series can be presented at a basic or much deeper level, and I chose the latter because the members of the class are very mature Christians. One younger lady who lives in Melbourne but comes "home" to Bairnsdale from time to time, mentioned how good it was for her to get some "meat" of the word.
Tuesday night home Bible study We continued in January with various lessons namely: (1) No Night There, (2) Right and Wrong Judgment, (3) Sheep Without Shepherds, (4) Ready to Answer. Then in February and March we began a new series called Dead or Dedicated?. One Tuesday night was cancelled because most members were travelling.
The website for the Internet www.simplybible.com grew by about 30 pages, and reached a total 703 pages. That's another milestone, passing the 700 page mark. (Thank you Lord). Of the new pages, 20 were Bible lessons and the rest were new system and service pages.
I pay a lot of attention not only to the content of the site, but to the ability of the site to interact properly with the user, especially when the user is trying to find study material on a given topic. The indexes and topic lists are very extensive and comprehensive, but they tend to be an old-fashioned approach. I keep on improving and building them nevertheless, because many older users of the website prefer to browse through an index or table of contents because it has that familiar bookish feel to it. It also provides accessibility for disabled persons who use special browsers that are text based. However, I have been aware for a couple of years that I really need to supplement these indexes with an up-to-date approach that respects the younger people and their preferred methods.
In February, I went back to normal activity, adding new study pages including the new series mentioned earlier, Dead or Dedicated?.
In March, instead of adding more Bible studies to simplybible.com, I spent the month working on a search engine for the site. I did try several search engines offered on the internet, but they were all unsuitable for one reason or another. So it was a case of starting from scratch and building a search facility that suited simplybible.com exactly. It was quite a programming job, but I fed my brain on Vegemite and Milo and nutted it all out. The simplybibleFinder search engine is now up and running. Of course, there's a bit fine tuning to do, and the database needs quite a lot of refining. There is also one important subroutine to write that's got me stumped at the moment. Waiting for one of those rare flashes of insight! The simplybibleFinder search engine is completely integrated into the website's control system. This means it is directly available on every page of the site.
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.