It was with great sadness that we received the news of Ron O' Grad's death. Ron passed away on February 26, 2014 at the age of 83. I first met Ron in a general conference in Sri Lanka. It was apparent that he was an important person in the event, yet he maintained an unassuming demeanor. He accommodates everybody and treats everyone equally. I was an upstart and relatively unknown artist yet he bought two of my paintings. He exudes a fatherly aura stemming from years of experience and wisdom. These gave him a deep understanding of humanity, which is perhaps why he was very receptive to the arts.
Paul once said that "To live is for Christ and to die is gain." Ron O' Grady has truly lived a life for Christ. His service towards people began in his native New Zealand where he served in parishes in various parts of the country. He later became an Associate General Secretary at the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Singapore. In 1982 he became the Director of Australian Churches Overseas Aid Program. His 1990 visit to Thailand led him to encounter the rampant child prostitution in that area. He later founded ECPAT, an organization that aims to end child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking.
This seemingly busy schedule did not deter him from pursuing other worthy causes. Ron recognized the importance of Asian Christian art and its liberating effect on the locals. It was he together with Dr. Masao Takenaka, who founded the Asian Christian Arts Association (ACAA) in 1978. He and his wife Alison became one of the most active members of the ACAA- building networks, organizing events, sourcing funds and making publications. Even after they have left administrative positions, Ron and Alison still continued to support ACAA.
Ron has gone beyond the church and into the world to reach out to those in need. He did not discriminate nor did he crave for recognition, a real follower of Christ.
The Christian community suffers a great blow from the loss of such a great man, but his contribution continues to lives on. The ACAA is very much honored to have Ron O'Grady as its co-founder.