Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
Greetings in Him who died for us and now lives in us by His Spirit, calling us to serve Him by spreading His truth throughout the world according to His “discipling” standards in Mt. 28:18-20. As I write this letter, we are very close to seeing the Hungarian work be fully self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. The Lord led me to go to Hungary in 1990 and now, 24 years later, we are on the verge of seeing this. In some circles, “retirement” is not a word ministers and missionaries like to use. But the other day I read it in Numbers 8:23-26. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell this to the Levites: Men 25 years old or more shall serve in the work at the Tent of Meeting (where God meets His people), but at the age of 50, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.’ ”
So there comes a time when God’s servants in ministry must “retire” from the work to which God once called them. It must go to younger men. The scaffolding must come down – so the building can function as it should. I believe this will happen December 31 this year – at age 82. That’s 32 years past the time the Levites had to retire! But the Lord is making His will plain in this. First, our Hungarian brothers want to take this step. And, in a sense, we have already turned the entire government of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe (RPCCEE) over to them. Second, this has always been the goal of the work – from the time I first went to Hungary. Third, world social and political conditions dictate that our Hungarian brethren must now be in charge of everything. Fourth, Clara’s health and aging and mine require this. Lastly, the Spirit of Christ strongly confirms this in our hearts.
As for the Bride, she is nearly ready for this, her day. In the last three months, since we last wrote you, we have not only seen more people come to Christ, but the entire church continues to grow in knowledge and obedience to Christ. The home schooling of our children grows. More and more people are listening to our men’s sermons on the internet. We still have unusual conversions taking place. And as the RPCCEE grows, more and more self-support comes from our 24 congregations. However, this giving, though it has gone from 50% to 60% in the last 12 months, must reach 75% before we can safely stop supporting our school and the church. For once we reach 75% self-support, mission funds which already are there can help the church the rest of the way. But not until then. So what is critical now is that our church’s 60% self-support move to 75% – and happen by the end of this year.
And the Lord has given us a solution to this problem! In addition to growth in the other 23 congregations of our church, our Budapest congregation has a field of two million people and is growing so fast that, if it keeps growing like this in the next few years, it can be a great help in making up the shortfall in some of our other congregations. So what does the BP congregation need to do this? It needs to double its space – get a meeting hall that can handle 120 people instead of the current 60 people. It needs 4 to 5 rooms for Sunday School space and nursery care. And some extra land on which to build once this space becomes too little. The beautiful thing about this is that the congregation in BP has a field of two million people it can reach and, as it grows, can assist our 23 other congregations in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. Half of these congregations have only a dozen members (remember, they started from zero). So the BP congregation can be a mother church to these others. But for this to happen it must keep growing. And to keep growing means finding a new property. The current property is worth $120,000. And the kind of property we need would run at least $250,000. This means we need at least $130,000 in the next five months to buy and move in October – this in addition to the $75,000 needed for the next three quarterly budgets. What a prayer need this is! What an opportunity for you to help!
Turning to general trends in the RPCCEE, we are rejoicing that 1) Our students in the distance education program of our school are growing in their ability to reach unbelievers with the Gospel and counsel believers in the Word. 2) Home Schooling in all three countries is going well. Gabor Curcubet in Romania is still working with members of the Chamber of Deputies to have Home Schooling openly recognized. And at a recent conference, 14 new families decided to home school their children, and some of these are interested in our church and want to attend. 3) We are moving forward in the training of some men to become REs (ruling elders). 4) We had outstanding Easter conferences in Hungary and Romania– with a total of almost 200 people, of whom 1/3rd are not yet members, but moving in this direction. The messages were timely, spiritual and practical, resulting in much blessing. 5) Our webpage now has over 2,000 of our pastors’ sermons and is being heavily used. In fact, several of these hearers have started to attend our services. PTL! 6) Mihaly Siko was recently able to sell his apartment in downtown Debrecen and use these funds to buy a property in a good residential area with two buildings– one for his growing family and one that eventually can serve as a meeting hall for his growing congregation. This did not cost the mission anything. 7) In Ukraine, the Hungarian Session decided to let Geza Demeter take a secular job and, instead, use the funds we were giving him to help a promising young man named Attila Orosz (one of our students). This arrangement is working out very well. 8) It is personally very encouraging for me to hear all our congregations reporting on a work of God’s Spirit in their midst in converting sinners and building up believers in the faith.
Please take special note of our supplement this time. This year we expect to have 19 summer camps in Hungary, Ukraine and Romania. Please pray fervently for all these camps and keep this chart in your Bible. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would pour out His Spirit in power, first upon the teachers and their teaching, then upon the people God sends. These camps are times when God speaks to people. The outside world gets shut out, and unbelievers often hear more of the Word in one week than all year long. It is a time when they can get away from the grind of life, face their sins, gain the grace of repentance and faith in Christ and go home changed people. Pray that God will be pleased to do this work again this year and protect all the campers and staff from injury and illness. God’s blessing is not an automatic thing. Pray fervently for the convicting work of God’s Holy Spirit in the lives of many.
Some of you have asked about our work in Ukraine in light of the Russian invasion there. In a few words, Putin is a ruthless dictator with the support of most in his country, including the apostate Russian Orthodox Church. World Magazine says, “Thanks to an endless stream of propaganda…his image has been transformed over the years from a cold Soviet KGB officer into… a leader worthy of leading Russia into a new era…. More than this, he is heralded as the protector of Christendom.” (5/17/14) The Prophet Daniel and John in Revelation had something to say about the spirit of Antichrist toward the end of this age. They also spoke of the heroism of God’s people, His bride, in these days. Pray, then, that God would strengthen our people in Ukraine to witness to many that an evil, uncertain world calls for a safe haven. And that haven is Christ – He who said, “I am the light of the world” and “I am the good Shepherd.”
Turning back to finance, we are coming closer and closer to the time we must exit the work. This means we must give our people what they need to keep growing until they can be as self-supporting as they are self-governing and self-propagating – and do this by the end of this year. Think of it! After 24 years of work, God is telling us to make an exit. But we are not there yet. We have one more task to accomplish before everything falls into place. And because the Bride belongs to Him who died and rose and is coming again for her, and because He is worthy of this joy, we have the unspeakable privilege of using our earthy goods to help bring this to pass. So let us all be very generous in the next seven months, run this race, and finish it together at the end of this year! Soli Deo Gloria.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara Rapp