Author: Ron Graham
Ron Graham’s Ministry Reports
—For the year 2004
This page holds the reports on my voluntary ministry activities for 2004 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.
Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2004
Dear Brethren... This report covers the last quarter of 2004. I trust that you were able, in 2004, to enjoy the Lord's blessings, face your challenges with his help, and grow in spirit.
Spring in Bairnsdale was wet and this put a smile on everyone's faces after two years of drought. Summer is now in full swing, but still there is occasional good rain to bless us.
Susanne's health has neither worsened nor greatly improved. She is not well enough to work. We start the new year 2005 facing the loss of her income, which will make things difficult for us.
Regular personal support for my ministry continued without a hitch for another quarter. Thanks for being so reliable. I am currently receiving $150 per week personal support (one day's wages) and $35 per week toward working expenses.
Bairnsdale baptisms Our next door neighbours from South Africa (whom I mentioned in my last report) were baptized in December and have been added to our small spiritual family. Robert (Bob) Dow, Susanne's brother, came down from Wagga Wagga to perform the baptism. It took place by the jetty at Eagle Point on beautiful Lake Victoria. It was a perfect summer morning. Most of the church members turned up to witness the baptism. Afterwards, we all had breakfast cooked on the electric barbeques. Robert also preached for us on the Sunday. We enjoyed the company of Robert and his wife for a few days.
Sunday adult Bible classes for the quarter were all on a new series of studies I developed, called Isaiah Gleanings. The 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. You will find the lesson notes on simplybible.com of course. We finished the quarter in the middle of a lesson called "The Blessings of David" and so the Isaiah series will continue, God willing, into the first quarter of 2005.
Tuesday night home Bible study entered upon a study called "The seven Ems of Spiritual Understanding". These studies were also placed on the simplybible.com website. The studies were newly prepared, but used as a basis an outline I prepared in the 1980s. If you keep something long enough, it comes in handy someday.
Feedback from the website increased, ans was encouraging. Once again it was all positive, and from people who used lessons in their own ministry, or gained help in their research, or had a genuine question. I took pains to change the email section of the main information page so that my email address is hidden from those "ebots" that search websites for email addresses to send spam (junkmail) to. While I still get a lot of spam, the problem is not getting worse.
I have prepared a special report with much more detail about the website
Video ministry I am gradually transferring the video ministry master tapes on to digital video disc (DVD). I had hoped to finish this project. However every session requires a certain amount of manual work at the end, so I have to be at the machine toward the end of the copying process. This is no great drama, except that I can't copy tape to disc if there's any danger that I won't be at the machine at the end of the copying session. So the process is a bit inconvenient. Once a master tape is copied, there is no further problem when copying disc to disc.
Thank you again for your continuing encouragement and support these past three months. May the Lord bless our efforts as we all have fellowship in the work of his kingdom.
Report for Jul-Aug-Sep 2004
Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2004. I hope this letter finds you well, and fruitful in faith and obedience to the Lord.
Winter in Bairnsdale has run its course, and spring is here. The winter wasn't as cold as we thought it might be. We had plenty of rain, for which we are thankful. The house next door to us has sold after being empty for months. Our new neighbors are a young couple from South Africa. They are most friendly and kind, and we have been enjoying their company. They accepted our invitation to come to church.
Susanne's health has taken a serious tumble again. She is back at home and has had to give up working at the Aboriginal co-operative. She is so unwell at the moment that she has no capacity for work.
Regular personal support for my ministry continued reliably and consistently for another quarter. I am currently receiving $150 per week personal support (one day's wages) and $35 per week toward working expenses. A brother in Christ in Melbourne, my best friend, gave me a computer that he no longer needs. We have set that up in a corner next to the office, and it will be a great help to us.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to do follow the Lord faithfully. I continued to teach Tuesday Home Bible study and Sunday adult Bible study, as well as my share of the Sunday sermons.
Sunday adult Bible classes for the quarter were all on the Parables that Jesus told, a series started in March. The final lesson was given on the last Sunday in September. The parables were studied according to their main themes.
Themes covered in the quarter were Importance of Obedience, The Great Value of the Kingdom, a Spiritual Kingdom for All Mankind, a Kingdom in which the Weak are Strong, and God Looks on the Heart. Additional themes were the four great mistakes that people make, namely not accepting God's kind invitation, not hearing and doing God's word, failing to see the sin in oneself, and not getting ready for Judgment.
Some of the 22 lessons in the Parables series required more than one Sunday to cover, so the series all told lasted more than six months. The lessons were made into web pages for simplybible.com as well.
Tuesday night home Bible study completed the series called "Miracles". described in my previous report. Due to several members being out of town and some illness, we had a break from classes during August. In September we began some studies in Colossians. All these studies are also on simplybible.com.
Feedback from the website was quiet, although very encouraging. Once again it was all positive, and from people who used lessons in their own ministry, or gained help in their research, or had a genuine question. I have been having great difficulties with junk emails (spam) and invasions of my computer. I have installed a good firewall and stopped downloading emails. Fortunately my ISP has a good email service where I can look at my emails without bringing them down the line into my computer.
Video ministry Equipment to burn the videos onto DVD (Digital Video Disc) was purchased, and I set it up all in a day, combining the new DVD recorder and the new DVD player with my two remaining VHS tape recorders and the existing video enhancer. The new equipment cost just under $1000. I made sure when I purchased the recorder that it had all the right inputs and outputs and enough of them so that I would not have to continually fiddle around plugging and unplugging equipment. This meant I had to pay $100 more to get such a machine, but it was money well spent.
I spent a few hours over the following week learning how to use the system and getting the five machines to work harmoniously together. The system all fits into less than a cubic metre, and allows copying between the two formats (DVD and Videotape) in any combination, disk to disk, tape to tape, tape to disk, and disk to tape (If you can think of any other combination you are cleverer than I). This does not mean that I can mass produce DVDs like I used to do with video tapes. The main purpose at this stage is to get the master tapes transferred on to master DVDs. I have begun this project.
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support these past three months. May the Lord make our efforts fruitful, and richly bless us in all spiritual blessings in Christ, as we all work together in his kingdom.
Report for Apr-May-Jun 2004
This report covers the second quarter of 2004.
Autumn and early winter is the best time of year in Bairnsdale. The days are clear and sunny, and the air is fresh. However by the end of June the days are at their shortest, the snow is heavy on the alps, and it is cold enough to keep the wood fire burning 24 hours a day. This winter looks like being one of the coldest for a few years.
Regular personal support for my ministry continued reliably and consistently for another quarter. I also received some one-off help, and the Bairnsdale church having enjoyed increased offerings over the past year decided to give me $100 a month regular support for my website work. I am very grateful for the support.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to thrive and I continued to teach the two weekly classes, namely Tuesday Home Bible study and Sunday adult Bible study, as well as my share of the Sunday sermons.
Sunday adult Bible classes for the quarter were all on the Parables that Jesus told, a series started in March. The first few lessons were introductory, then we embarked on the study of individual parables. The parables are studied according to their main theme. The themes covered in the quarter were the goodness of God and the severity of God. We then began to look at the importance of obedience as the third theme. This study of the parables has also been made into web pages for simplybible.com so that other brethren may share it. The material on one of these web pages may require two or or even three class periods to cover, so the study will take some months to go through. Although lengthy, the study is by no means tedious
Tuesday night home Bible study commenced and completed a series called "Miracles". This is a series of several lessons showing the nature of the miracles that Jesus and his Apostles were able to do. The study also includes lessons about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The lessons relate to a chart entitled Three Works of the Holy Spirit The series was also prepared as web pages for simplybible.com on the internet.
The website for the internet www.simplybible.com grew by 28 pages, and reached a total 463 pages (remembering that a "page" on the website is more than a page on paper and one web page may contain two or more A4 pages on paper). In addition to the new pages, I also continued to work on upgrading existing pages as explained in last report.
Feedback from the website was very interesting this period. I did not get a single raspberry or ratbag! All the emails were from satisfied users, telling me that they were finding the site most helpful. The enthusiasm of this feedback greatly encouraged me. One brother in the USA even sent me $50.00 which I thought was a very gracious and encouraging thing to do.
Video ministry Although I have done no work on the video ministry for some time, I still hear of people using the videos as individuals or small groups. Some small churches still use them as part of their Bible study activities. The Bairnsdale church has allocated funds to buy equipment to burn the videos onto DVD (Digital Video Disc). We have been talking about this for some time, but have delayed because the equipment is fairly new on the market, and it made sense to wait till a better range of equipment became available, and the price went down. Hopefully this project will get started in the next few weeks, and we will be able to offer the videos on DVD.
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support these past three months. May the Lord make our efforts fruitful, and smile upon us as we all work together in his kingdom.
Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2004
This report covers the last three weeks of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004.
After the long drought broke, we had a dry spell. The cyclones in Australia's top end, two thousand kilometers to our north, did send a tail of wet weather for a week or so. Otherwise summer and early Autumn have provided the usual beautiful days. Bairnsdale has been a very busy town, as always between Christmas and Easter, with tourists visiting East Gippsland to enjoy the great lakes.
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 is a reasonable day's wage. The Lord's work takes up more than a day each week, of course. However, to receive pay for one day each week, and to receive it so reliably and consistently, is a great help to me. I was able to get some temporary work as an Information Technology Assistant in February and March, and this helped to keep the budget afloat.
Bairnsdale congregation continues to be a united and happy group. We have had a good steady trickle of visitors from tourists and from family members who live in "the big smoke" and come back home to country Bairnsdale for a bit of relief.
I continue to preach and teach at Bairnsdale, taking the two weekly classes, namely Tuesday Home Bible study and Sunday adult Bible study. I also take a turn with the Sunday sermon. John and Rod share that labour, and do a good job of it.
Sunday adult Bible classes saw the completion of our study of the book of Hebrews. This new study followed a topical outline, in which the passages relating to each topic were examined together. The Hebrew writer treats a number of related topics, and may return to a given topic several times in the course of his letter. This series took us through to the end of February 2004. I also made this study into fourteen web pages for simplybible.com so that it can be shared with other brethren. The material on one of these web pages may require two or or even three class periods to cover, so the study is no quick course.
A new study on the parables of Jesus commenced in March and is set to occupy the Sunday classes for a long time. The first few lessons are introductory, giving an overview of the parables. After that, God willing, the studies will concentrate on particular parables. This series draws on some material I prepared years ago, but is essentially a new study. It is being committed to the website parallel with its use in the Sunday classes.
Tuesday night home Bible study completed the series of lessons on scriptural authority and interpreting the scriptures. In late January we embarked on a series called "Remember". Many years ago I came across a series of lessons produced by the elders of a church in the United States. The idea of the lessons was to stir up pure minds to remembrance of things that must not be forgotten. These lessons were very well conceived, and I have used them as a basis for the "Remember" series. I have modified some of the lessons, and added a new lesson called "Don't forget to pray". The ten lessons in this series took our Tuesday night classes through to the end of March. The lessons were also converted to web pages for simplybible.com on the internet.
The website for the internet www.simplybible.com grew by another 30 pages, and reached a total 433 pages including 384 study pages. The site is within cooee of 500 pages, and within six months God willing, I should be able to announce that magic number as having been achieved. (Of course a "page" on the website is always more than a page on paper. Some web pages when printed run to three or four A4 pages of text even without the headers and footers).
As well as the brand new website pages mentioned above, I also improved a number of older pages. The upgrading of older pages brings their HTML coding up to current standards, provides an opportunity for some minor editing of the text, and enables the pages to refer to a more recent style sheet so that their appearance is consistent with newer pages. Since some of these older pages were placed on the internet, a lot of changes and developments have taken place both in the technology of the internet generally, and in the internal planning of my own web pages.
Another advantage of this upgrading is that it eliminates most of the meaningless text from the web pages. When Google captures the page, it is analyzing meaningful text that is information rich. That means that when people are searching, the results they get are much more likely to include articles from simplybible.com which increases the outreach and effectiveness of the website.
Young aboriginal children are again coming to the children's Bible classes on Sundays since the end of the January break. This is a lot of work for the women of the church, including having to go round to the homes to pick up and deliver the kids. It is a worthwhile project however, and is an opportunity to teach these children about the way of Jesus.
Thank you again for your kind help and continuing support this past three months. May the Lord look upon us favourably us as we work together for him, and may he make our efforts fruitful.
Annual Report 2004
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.
What is simplybible.com?
It is an internet presence for the typical teaching of undenominational churches of Christ. The site consists of more than 500 web pages, including more than 450 Bible study pages.
How is simplybible.com being used?
People from all over the world use simplybible.com. In December 2004 the site was accessed from 40 different nations. Australia itself was the third most frequent user however.
In the month of December 2004, almost 500 visits were made to the home page. However the pages of simplybible.com are usually accessed directly, rather than through the home page. People use search words to find information on the net, and this is the way most people get into the website. For example in December 2004, people came to simplybible.com 263 times using the word "prophecy", 209 times using the word "parables", 97 times using the word "miracles", and 93 times using the word "sermon".
The most often used lessons for the same month were "Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ" 151 visits, "The Last Word (Amen)" 137 visits, "Success in the Pulpit" 135 visits, "Promises to Abraham" 124 visits, and "The Beatitudes" 120 visits. Other most used lessons included studies on Satan, translation, Hebrews, Sowing and Reaping, God's promises, Galatians, and instrumental music.
How long has simplybible.com been operating?
The website first went online in December 2001 and was accepted by Google in July 2002 when it stood at about 100 web pages. In the three years since simplybible.com began, it has been a constant presence updated at least once weekly.
What is the mission of simplybible.com?
The website has several complementary goals. The first is simply the great commission to spread the truth of the gospel. The second is to assist those who wish to study and understand the Bible. The third is to assist those who are called upon to preach and teach with their lesson preparations. The fourth is to help isolated Christians and small churches with material for study. The fifth is to provide listener guides for the many lessons distributed on VHS videotape or DVD by the Australian Video Ministry. The sixth is to create a public archive for the collected work of one of Australia's oldest serving preachers.
How is simplybible.com hosted?
For lack of funding, the website relies on 10 megabytes of free space provided by Datafast/Eftel which has been a most reliable and helpful Internet Provider. (Unfortunately this restricts the site to fairly basic files. For example presently we have to forgo using sound/audio and video).
How is simplybible.com presented?
Every page on the site has the same format making it very user-friendly. The pages are designed to load quickly, especially at the top portion first visible on the screen. Access to the entire website is available on every page with consistent easily understood links, making navigation through the complex site easy for the user.
The pages of simplybible.com are unusual in that they are not locked into a set width, and therefore rearrange themselves when the browser window is narrowed. This means that the user can still see the whole page without having to scroll sideways -even when the window covers only a third of a normal screen's width. This allows the user to see the site properly on a small screen, or to arrange two or three windows side by side on a larger screen, without having to click back and forth to view the windows.
What is happening to simplybible.com in 2005?
Can your members help simplybible.com?
There are several ways that brethren can assist this work. You can pray for it, tell others about it, encourage us with your feedback, implement links to the site, and encourage the next generation of preachers to consult it as a reference.
Any member prepared to do some search term research for the site would be welcome to contact me.
Of course you can financially support the website too, and any expression of interest in this regard would be most welcome.