Author: Ron Graham
Ron Graham’s Ministry Reports
—For the year 2007
This page holds the reports on my voluntary ministry activities for 2007 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.
Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2007
Dear Brethren... This report covers the final quarter of 2007.
Changing Childers... Having settled in Childers, we decided to change the town slightly by replacing our back stairs with a small deck and butterfly staircase, and also removing a huge tree in the back garden. Both the stairs and the tree were dangerous. The stairs went 16 steps straight to the back door, no landing. It was most awkward to open the door. One found oneself teetering at the top of the stairs trying to open the door on to oneself. Quite a balancing act, especially if trying to hold a bag of shopping as well. Now the door opens on to a safe deck and the stairs descend in two stages. Removal of the tree has improved our view, and we can enjoy it more sitting on the new deck. The old stairs were re-used in the new, and the tree was turned into garden mulch and firewood for the community —it was no good for milling.
Bundaberg congregation is currently where I am preaching and teaching classes. Attendances at Bundaberg exceed 30 on Sunday mornings, and around 20 at the classes. The original agreement I made with Bundaberg was to teach two classes per week and take my turn at preaching --that was what I did at Bairnsdale. In fact, I am taking three classes a week and preaching most of the Sunday morning sermons, nearly twice the workload I had intended. In nine months to the end of December, I had given 139 lessons at Bundaberg. This has been too much really, but I can see the need for it. Furthermore, it is a way for me to compensate the Bundaberg church for the expenses it paid to assist us in moving to the area. I take no wages from the Bundaberg church treasury, but do receive a monthly cheque of $100 per month as reimbursement of expenses.
Sermon and class topics: During the quarter, in the three class periods Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wedensday evening, I presented four series of lessons. The theme topics were The Ancient Order, Study of Isaiah, Seven Ems in Colossians, and Special words in the New Testament. In addition to these I preached many single lessons on a wide variety of topics.
The video ministry continues to be useful and I hear of people still using the tapes. I do not make videos anymore, but have very occasionally been working on the digitizing with a view to preserving the video lessons and making them available to modern media.
The website for the internet grew by another 33 pages, and passed two milestones: 800 study pages, and 900 total pages. The site had its sixth birthday on December 19, and has now been 5 years online. I added a Quiz Master program to enhance the Bible quizzes and provide another way of enjoying them. There were 174,258 page requests for the quarter, an average of 1,894 pages being accessed per day. Several emails were received from various places telling me how useful this or that lesson was, or just simply thanking me for the website. I still spend a lot of time on the website, adding lessons and upgrading existing ones. The small website "Trutok long Baebol" written in the Bislama language, was accessed during the quarter 248 times at its home page, and several of its lessons were each accessed around 50 times.
Susanne's health remains a concern and I expect to continue being her carer permanently. Fortunately she now has medication that is agreeable, and helps her to better manage her illness rather than making it worse with serious side effects. We go for walks every day on doctor's orders.
Regular support has continued to be sent faithfully, and I am very thankful for that. It is far better to have a small amount of regular and reliable support over many years than to have much support that fizzles out in a short time.
Thanks once again, your servant and Christ's,
Report for Jul-Aug-Sep 2007
Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2007 (July, August, September)
Settled in Childers... we unpacked the last cardboard carton and said, “Never again!” It is now over six months since we left Bairnsdale, and only just now are we beginning to settle, get organized, and feel ourselves again. But we thank the Lord for blessing us throughout the move.
Childers is a pleasant place. We discovered, with the help of neighbours, that from our kitchen window we can look out toward the hill on which the hospital used to be, where Susanne's father (a faithful gospel preacher) was born. We have enjoyed the weather over winter's end and early Spring. We had several inches of needed rain, and temperatures by day mostly between 20°C and 30°C. One highlight of exploring our new environment, was the kindness of a Bundaberg cane farmer in letting us view a cane fire on his property. Sometimes it is necessary to set fire to a cane field before harvesting. It's spectacular.
Bundaberg sermons and classes... continued to occupy much of my time. In the three months I preached 10 Sunday morning sermons and 12 Sunday evening lessons. I also taught 12 Sunday adult classes and 11 Wednesday evening classes. This amounted to 45 lessons in all for the quarter. The tally of lessons given at Bundaberg stands at 98 as of 30 September 2007. The only other place I had a preaching engagement during the quarter was Wagga Wagga.
The Sunday morning and evening sermons provided a variety of topics, all of them central to the Christian life and faith. The Bible classes on Wednesday night continued studies in Isaiah, with a semester break in which I taught on the second coming in Paul's letters to the Thessalonians. In the Sunday morning classes, we continued with word studies, examining words associated with the church and various ministries. Between twelve and twenty people attend the classes Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.
Health wise... we have both have had some trouble, but have not done too badly considering the health issues we have to manage, and the stresses and strains of moving and living in temporary digs. A trip to Melbourne and a trip to Wagga Wagga took a bit out of us too. But we are really quite pleased with how well we have coped with all the comings and goings.
Regular personal support... continued at the same level over the quarter, and I am very thankful for this. I still split the support about fifty-fifty using half for out-of-pocket expenses and half as a contribution toward my personal income.
The website for the internet (www.simplybible.com) grew to 886 pages. In the three months I added 20 new study pages. Users made 235,530 page requests for the quarter, an average of 2588 per 24 hours. This indicates that several hundred people use the site every day. The home page is now one of the most accessed pages, indicating that some users are telling other people about the site.
The search engine, now called “simplybibleFinder”, is being used more frequently —in September the search results page was the most accessed page on the website. The program was called 2375 times. I added a system of annotations to the search engine, improving upon and replacing the popup widow system. That system became obsolete because most browsers now block popup windows by default.
I am noticing the development of a more generalized usage of study pages —around 100 different lessons were accessed 100 times or more over the three months. The most used topical series were Prayer and Providence, Parables, Glossary (word studies), Times of Israel, Acts Facts, Isaiah, Hebrews, Jesus Changed my Heart, Sin and Legalism, Bible Interpretation and Authority, and Revelation the Book.
Thank you again... for your encouragement of my work in the gospel, and for your prayers. I'm always very aware that without the care and prayer of brethren in various places, I would not be able to continue the work. Your sharing in the gospel is both needed and appreciated.
Report for Apr-May-Jun 2007
Dear Brethren... This report covers the second quarter of 2007.
Winter in Bundaberg... Well, what a surprise. Bundaberg turned on what the locals have called “the coldest winter for ten years”. We had to hunt among our unopened boxes to find extra blankets. We had a nice lot of rain, but not like Bairnsdale. They got the worst floods for many decades. There was a bad flood before I came to live in Bairnsdale, and this even worse flood soon after we left. People are saying that our comings and goings have affected the weather!
Classes and Sermons at Bundaberg... On Sunday mornings I have been teaching word studies on resurrection, redemption, salvation, sanctification, justification, reconciliation, and faith. On Wednesday evenings I continued teaching lessons from Isaiah. Sunday evenings, and some Sunday mornings, I preached on a variety of subjects. In the three months I delivered a total of 41 lessons at Bundaberg. There is a list of the lessons provided on www.simplybible.com for those who would like to view it.
Finding a New Home... We found it very difficult to find a new home. Houses of interest to us were at the low end of the market. These are about a third higher in price than in Bairnsdale. Worse still, there is no time to inspect several houses and choose from among them, because by the time you get back to the agents the house you chose is likely to have been already sold to someone else! We had also noticed some health issues living in Bundaberg, and I began to look a little further afield. Susanne and I found Childers (about 40 minutes from Bundaberg) to be very suitable. The local business people went out of their way to assist us. We found a two-bedroom home, which had beneath a large third room that could not be counted as a bedroom. The home has a pleasant outlook, is in very good order, and was a reasonable price. It has a double garage providing room for our car, some storage, and a small workshop. There is also a neat shed for garden equipment. God willing we move in at the end of July. It is interesting that Susanne's grandfather and father preached in Childers for the church of Christ. Sadly, there is no church of Christ there today.
Website (www.simplybible.com)... I added 25 more pages, all Bible lessons. These pages include part of a new series on The Ancient Order. A total of 168,693 pages were requested in the quarter, an average of 1854 per day. There was one patch where Google's robots messed up the indexing of the site. So daily usage went down to around 600 page requests daily for a couple of weeks. Fortunately on the next sweep the robots put it all back together better than before. The highest daily usage during the quarter was 3581 page requests in one day. The site now contains 865 pages of which 759 are study pages. The site contains 1,518 files requiring 12.5 megabytes. After several years of not including the site, Yahoo, a major and popular search engine, is now fully indexing it. Whilst usage of the site is world wide, usage by Australians seems to be increasing. The Bislama site “Trutok long Baebol”, when I first wrote it and put it on line, received no attention. Now its home page is being requested around 150 times per month and some of its lesson pages rate around 30 page requests per month. I don't know how many of these users are looking for Bible articles or simply looking for examples of Bislama language.
Bundaberg Welcome... The brethren organized a welcome evening for Susanne and I, hosted by one of the younger families at their home. We appreciated and enjoyed this very much.
Thank you again... for your encouragement of my work in the gospel, and for your prayers. I'm always very conscious that without the care and prayer of brethren in various places, I would not be able to continue the work. Your participation in the gospel is needed and appreciated.
Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2007
Dear Brethren... This report covers the first quarter of 2007.
Autumn in Bundaberg... As summer in Bairnsdale came to an end and Autumn began, the time came for us to travel up to Bundaberg. The weather for our journey was perfect, except for a small dust storm on the way to Goondawindi. When we arrived in Bundaberg the first two days were extremely hot and we were panting, wondering how we would cope if this was typical weather. But then we noticed all the locals complaining, so we knew it wasn't normal. The weather has settled down to around 19°C at night and 30°C in the day with a pleasant cool breeze. The water storages in southeast Queensland are critically low, but Bundaberg has an adequate supply from the Burnett River.
Classes taught... The Sunday adult class in Bairnsdale continued the study of words having special meanings in scripture. We studied covenant, hades, resurrection, boldness, and Amen. Tuesday nights at Bairnsdale I continued "Something Old, Something New" including some new lessons in Revelation and some old lessons on being simply Christians. In Bundaberg I commenced teaching a lengthy series on Isaiah for the Wednesday evening Bible study. I also commenced preaching in the Sunday night service. I preached on four other occasions at Bairnsdale, Wagga Wagga, and Bundaberg.
Page requests from the server for the quarter were January 63,890, February 62,561, March 65,767. On average there were 2,112 page requests per day.
Changing landlines from Bairnsdale to Bundaberg was made easy and seamless by Eftel and Telstra. Eftel's help desk and sales team were helpful and efficient. When I got to Bundaberg all I had to do was plug in my computer. Everything was go.
I have finished putting together the search engine and database. I consider the existing version of simplybibleFinder (7.1) to be complete. Of course the database will continue to be updated to incorporate new additions to the site. I'm sure I will make occasional minor edits to the database too. However I consider the simplybibleFinder program and database is fully developed now. It has passed from the development stage to the maintenance stage. I notice that the search results page is now the most requested on the website, so users seem to be taking good advantage of simplybibleFinder.
Bairnsdale's sendoff. On the last Tuesday night at Bairnsdale there was a surprise supper. Each home where classes were held used to have its own regular "speciality" for supper —dates scones at one home, lemon slice at another, and so forth. On the last Tuesday prior to our leaving Bairnsdale, we had all the specialities at once! That will be hard to forget and it was a very sweet goodbye.
Thank you again... for your encouragement of my work in the gospel, and for your prayers. You help to make my ministry successful.