Author: Ron Graham

Ministry Reports

Ron Graham’s Ministry Reports
—For the year 2010

This page holds the reports on my voluntary ministry activities for 2010 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.

Jan-Feb-Mar | Apr-May-Jun | Jul-Aug-Sep | Oct-Nov-Dec |

Ron Graham’s Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2010

Dear Brethren... This report covers the final quarter of 2010. We had the wettest Spring for many years and it looks like Summer will be an old fashioned wet season. More about the wet later in this bulletin.

Lessons at Bundaberg

I taught and preached on 21 occasions at Bundaberg during October, November and the first Sunday of December 2010. That comprised 10 Sunday sermons, 6 Sunday Adult classes, and 5 midweek lessons. Most of these lessons were devoted to the Parables of Jesus. I spoke on the nature of parables and about their themes. Other lessons were expositions of selected parables.

Dangerous Driving

Very wet weather interfered with our mid week attendances. We have given up driving at night in wet weather, and there were several wet Wednesday nights. However we always got to Bundaberg on Sundays whatever the weather, because it is much easier and safer in daylight. That was until December 12. We set out for church twenty minutes earlier than usual because the rain had been extreme and we feared there may be holdups. It was worse than we expected. We took the main road rather than one of our back ways. But even the main road had flooded. We noticed that oncoming traffic from Bundaberg had ceased except for one or two large vehicles. We decided that if we went on we could be stranded, so we turned back home and observed the Lord's Supper by ourselves at home.

Two days later we saw the state of the roads and decided that even if it wasn't raining there's no way we could avoid those pot holes in the dark, so we notified the brethren that we would be absent raining or not. Well at just the time when we would have been on our way, the biggest black thunderstorm hit, with cracking thunder, blinding lightning and an absolute deluge.

Our local paper reported (front page and more inside) that on Sunday the 12th Childers, Gin Gin, and some other towns were cut off in all directions. Even the main highway was cut in several places. Around the area, several roads and bridges were damaged badly. One lady in Childers attempted to drive through a flooded section of a main road and was washed with her car into the torrent. She got out the car window and climbed on to the roof. She was rescued just in time by some men who had a boat handy, but she almost lost her life.

And Also Fire

I know you like to read our dramas, and the half has not yet been told. We also had a fire in our kitchen. We returned home from a four-hour outing to find the house full of heat and smoke. The stove top was glowing red and there was a heap of ashes on it, and more ash on the floor. Some place mats had been left on the stove top covers, and we think I knocked the stove knobs on when I brushed past the stove at one point, then we went out without realising what had happened. On our return, there had obviously been a lot of flame. Its a wonder and a blessing that the whole house did not burn down. As it was, the stove and rangehood were ruined, the bench top and floor damaged, and a really nasty stink permeated the whole house, floors, walls, and ceilings. The smell got into our clothes, curtains, carpets, indeed everything. The insurance quickly arranged for the house to be fumigated with ozone and then cleaned totally. Then, over the next few weeks they replaced the damaged items in the kitchen. So our home has been topsy turvy for a couple of months but at least it was back to rights a week before Christmas.

Website Work

This quarter was very busy for work on simplybible.com. The project was to upgrade 1,300 web pages in three ways. The first was to ensure that all elements on a page respond to various window widths so that the page looks good on small, medium, and large devices. The second aim was to ensure that all lesson pages print properly, looking as professional on paper as they do on the screen. The final aim was to ensure that pages comply with the best modern standard (known as "xhtml strict"). All these goals were better than 99% achieved. This was a huge job and very tedious. I could have broken up the work into three separate and consecutive tasks. However, it was more efficient to do the three things at once, because then I only had to set up once.

Now people can easily print the website lessons. Furthermore, people with disabilities can see a simplified version of any lesson with large and easy-to-read type. People with hand held devices can view the site in a more suitable format. In addition, being now XHTML strict, the site will work reliably on a variety of computer and internet systems (“platforms”). So quite a lot of improvements have been achieved.

A Free Ad on National TV

At the end of December, Bundaberg (like many other places) suffered severe flooding. In a national television newscast, one of the roadside billboards advertizing the website was shown standing in floodwaters. The sign pretty much filled the screen and was clearly readable. That was pretty good ay, even if the flood wasn't.

A Short Break

The last half of December I set aside for some respite from the computer and pulpit work. We spent Christmas in Brisbane with family and met on the two Sundays with the church at Wellington Point.

May you have a blessed New Year. Thanks so much for your interest in 2010, and I hope you'll continue to encourage my ministry in 2011. Your servant and Christ’s,

  Ron Graham


Ron Graham’s Report for Jul-Aug-Sep 2010

Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2010. The winter has been wet, our tanks are full, and the garden refreshed. In Childers the cane harvest is in full swing, the trains running up and down their lines taking their bins of cut cane to the mill. There's plenty of activity in town.

Lessons at Bundaberg

I taught and preached on 24 occasions at Bundaberg during July, August, and September 2010. That comprised 12 Sunday sermons, 9 Sunday Adult classes, and 3 midweek lessons. Half of these lessons were devoted to the "Christ is All" series mentioned below. The other half were a mixture of lessons including teaching on the resurrection, daily work, what makes a Christian, and the preciousness of children.

Two Unusual Sermons

Two lessons were "unusual". "Is Paul’s Doctrine True?" had me take the part of a lawyer in court defending Paul against the accusation that his teaching is false and that he invented his own brand of Christianity. This defense used afidavits from three witnesses. "A Sermon in My Pocket" began by my emptying the contents of my pocket on to the pulpit in a vain attempt to find my "lost" sermon outline. In desperation I used the items from my pocket as the outline.

A Much Needed Break

During the winter months we took a six week break from the Wednesday night travelling to Bundaberg, which turned out to be eight weeks because the hall was closed on two nights during building renovations. We also missed another two nights because of rain —we cannot drive safely on the roads to Bundaberg at night in wet weather. Even so, in spite of the "break", I delivered 24 lessons at Bundaberg, an average of two lessons a week.

The “Christ is All” Series

Twelve of the 24 lessons presented at Bundaberg were part of the "Christ is All". series —systematic lessons about Jesus, taken from Paul's letter to the Colossians. Not only were these new lessons prepared with much care, and presented in Sunday sermons and classes, but they were also published as both web pages and tracts. That was heavy work, but well worth it considering how well the lessons have been received, and their ongoing usefulness.

Work on the Internet

I added six new lessons (eleven new pages) to the web site www.simplybible.com. However, making the site bigger was not my priority. Rather, I embarked on a thorough upgrade of pages building on work done last quarter.

This quarter I began to edit the site page by page with three aims. One is to ensure that all elements on a page respond to various window widths so that the page looks good on small, medium, and large devices. The second aim is to ensure that all lesson pages print properly, looking as professional on paper as they do on the screen. The final aim is to ensure that pages comply with the best modern standard (known as "xhtml strict").

If I had to do all the editing by hand, it would be an impossible task. Each page would have more than 100 "errors" to correct. Fortunately, most of these "errors" are common and could be corrected automatically with a special computer program. I can tell the program what to look for and what to change it to. It will then, in a few minutes, change every file. By getting it to do several sweeps, I was able to reduce "errors" on most pages to a mere three or four. Even so, there are around 1300 pages, and three aims to achieve. So the hand editing is still quite a task. I completed 332 files in September and hope to complete the other thousand files in the remaining quarter of 2010. That will be three jobs well done.

The new web statistics provider I had plugged into, turned out to be a diappointment. I discovered it had a bug that sent it into an "endless loop" slowing things down badly. So I quickly unplugged it and plugged in to Google stats, which is reliable but not so detailed. It shows around 800 to 1000 visitors daily. Google detects up to 2000 pageloads daily whereas my server's stats show more than 2500 page requests daily, some days well in excess of 3000.

By working with me through your encouragement, you are sharing in this effective way of speading the gospel abroad. Thank you again for your help, without which I would be hard pressed to continue this ministry.

Your fellow labourer in the Lord,

  Ron Graham


Ron Graham’s Report for Apr-May-Jun 2010

Dear Brethren... This report covers the second quarter of 2010.

During this quarter, the dreaded winter came. Mind you, our nightly low is better than Hobart or Canberra's top for the day. But cold is a relative thing. It's not the mild cold that makes you glum, so much as the short days, but even then we get eleven hours of daylight during the shortest days. Some parts of the world get half that, or even none! Anyway the shortest day went by, and I'm looking forward to longer warmer days ahead (God willing).

Lessons at Bundaberg

Work on the Internet

Work on www.simplybible.com saw 13 new Bible studies added. (There are now 972 Bible studies on the website. Other study pages such as preacher training and Bible quizzes brings the total study pages to 1033. Then add all the information and index pages and the total is 1160. So the site has grown over 8 years into a very large resource covering a wide variety of subjects in depth. Keep in mind that all the material is written in a concise manner. So it is quite a rich resource.)

I added a "simple" button that shows a page without banner, footer, or sidebar. This helps with accessibility for sight impaired users. It also gives another print version option for those who find their browsers don't render the other print version. This additional facility inserted nicely into the earlier work to provide printable versions of pages.

Another major task was making pages responsive to the width of the window in which they are viewed. There are millions of new small portable internet devices being used. Their small screens cannot display the site properly. So I wrote several javascript functions and cascading style sheets to allow pages to automatically adjust to narrow windows. (Some pages will need some individual tweaks from me). As a bonus, big-screen users can now narrow the window and hit the "fix page" button. The site will then display properly and not need to occupy the entire screen.

In addition to these major tasks, I completed several minor jobs to improve the appearance, functioning, and accuracy of various pages. I also connected the site to facebook.

I have plugged in to a new web statistics provider. The one that I have used for years has become extremely unreliable. The statistics I now get seem quite reliable and regular. They show (among other things) the number of actual visitors (600-1000 daily) to the site. These statistics are almost immediate (not yesterdays) and allow me to watch in real time as people access the site. Of course I cannot do that continually, but spending ten minutes occasionally, looking at the detail, informs me as to how people use the site. Around 100 visitors (daily) seem to spend an hour or more looking at many pages. I even found one person (from Argentina) who had used the site for a stretch of five hours!

Till next time God willing —again to those who take a personal interest in my work and pray for me, a big thank you and may God bless you. Your servant and Christ's,

  Ron Graham


Ron Graham’s Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2010

Dear Brethren... This report covers the first quarter of 2010.

Lessons at Bundaberg

From mid December until the end of January, I took a break from attending the midweek services, but kept up the Sunday work right through Christmas and New Year. There were 9 Korean services. Korean services were held either on Sunday afternoons, Sunday evenings, or not at all, depending on the ability of Koreans to attend.

As to subject matter of the lessons, midweek concentrated on the new covenant, who it was for, how it was instituted, why it was needed, and why it is a "better covenant". Sunday Bible class concentrated on Heroes of Faith in the Old Testament —selecting of them all Abraham and his family, Moses, David, John the Baptist. For the Sunday sermons there was a variety of lessons including "New Year's Revolutions", "A Mansion for You", "Why Be Baptized?", "The “Apostles' Creed”", "Is Satan Equal to God?", and a three part mini series, "The Arrows of God".

Korean Services

The Korean services described in my last two reports, and which began in September 2009, continued through until March 2010. In all, 26 services were held —9 of them in this first quarter of 2010. It has been a marvelous opportunity to teach the gospel and provide an undenominational worship opportunity to people "not our own". Many of the Koreans were very attentive to the word and have taken home to their country some important lessons from God's word. We also constantly encouraged them to use simplybible.com to continue their Bible study. Anywhere from six to 25 Korean young people attended the services —we estimate about 40-50 different individuals.

This work was enjoyable, but not without its problems. I was unable to preach two of my lessons, one on "baby baptism" mentioning original sin, and another on "The Apostles' Creed" and creeds in general. The translator was unwilling to translate these lessons. Not only was there this disagreement with the teaching, but certain Koreans wished to introduce the recitation of the creed and the "Lord's Prayer" and to use instrumental music in worship. Of course we were unwilling to assist in these things.

At the time this occurred, there had been a great deal of rain, so much as to affect the market gardening and thus to reduce the number of Koreans employed. As a consequence, the numbers coming to the meeting came down to around 8. It was that small group who made the decision to discontinue the services and to meet on their own. We had to accept that decision, which they communicated to us in person. Our parting was amicable. In this decision, there may possibly have been some influence from a Korean church in Sydney.

The disappointing element was the unwillingness to study the Bible together on these matters of difference. Certain Koreans felt that such discussion of the Bible was for "pastors" and not for ordinary folk who cannot understand the Bible (they thought). It seems that, in this point, certain Koreans were not Bereans (Acts 17:10-11). We told the Koreans that the door is always open and they are always welcome. We are very thankful to the Lord for the opportunity and privelege to serve him in the Korean work.

The simplybible.com Website

Work on the website took the major part of my time during the quarter. Regular statistics from the internet provider were only available spasmodically through much of the quarter. They seemed to have some trouble with the analyzer. However what figures there were showed page requests over 2000 daily, and some days even as high as 3500. I temporarily joined an online web stastics service which shows about 1000 visitors (as distinct from page requests) per 24 hours. The site now has over 1000 study pages, as well as all the information and index pages. I added only four new study pages, because my focus during the quarter was to continue the work described in my last report. This involves a new level of organization of lessons, namely presenting the lessons in parts and making available a "print-friendly" version. The task is now complete except maybe for the odd tweak here and there. Future editing of the site can take great advantage of this addition. There was another main job done on the site: re-designing the lesson listings, both the manual ones and those generated by the simplybibleFinder search engine.

Till next time God willing —again to those who take a personal interest in my work and pray for me, a big thank you and may God bless you. Your servant and Christ's,

  Ron Graham

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