Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For most of you, this is a follow-up to my August newsletter, although I wrote some of you three weeks ago and asked for special prayer about property we were hoping to buy for one of our congregations. So let me begin here where my August newsletter left off. I said that Clara and I would now be staying with the work until the end of next year, mainly because we still had some very important things to do, one of which was to help buy a larger property for this congregation. After that, just three weeks ago, we received a very good offer for a property to meet this need. So I asked for special prayer from some of you, adding that “nothing is sure until a contract is signed.” As it turned out, we could not reach an agreement at that time. However, the arrangement still seems to be moving ahead. We just need more time to complete the deal. So please continue in prayer with us about this.
Let me now touch on our finances. First, we still need a good building for the above mentioned need. So please continue to give toward this need. Second, we need, early next year, to expand the meeting halls of other congregations due to a growing number of people interested in the gospel. And buy a few cars to replace some of the 13 in our fleet – all essential to the work of our men. Third, our men need their Christmas bonuses. They labor hard on modest salaries. We intentionally keep them near the level of their members so their members will imitate them and live and give sacrificially. Nothing would hurt this work more than to have our men living well above the level of the people we are trying to reach. When the Bible says that our Lord Jesus became poor for our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9) that we might be rich, it means He became poor in earthly things so we, through his poverty, might inherit the riches of glory. Yet the Father never let the Son go hungry or unclothed unless it was to go hungry in the wilderness (needful for our salvation) or fast and pray for us (another ministry need) or be naked on the cross (also needful for our Lord to do His work on our behalf). Having said this, we hope we can help our pastors again this year with a special Christmas offering. Please help in this. Our men need this for their end-of-the-year needs.
And let us be reminded that the goal of this work has always been to see the visible church of our Lord Jesus built in the Hungarian lands. We cannot read the Bible aright without seeing that Christ not only died for sinners as individuals. He came and died and rose for His church. “And on this rock (that Christ is the Son of God who came to save His people) I will build my church…” It is and always has been God’s will that His people be gathered into communities of the faithful who, together, would hear and obey His Word and, together, worship and serve Him aright. The independency of His people from one another is false teaching and practice. Indeed, as soon as sin came into the world, Christ was declared (Gen. 3:15) to be the “seed” of the woman and Redeemer of God’s elect who, as the captain of their salvation, would lead them and strengthen them against the world, the flesh and the devil. It has always been God’s design that His people be instructed together, worship together and serve Him together – even in Noah’s day when this community, the “sons of God”, became corrupted to the point God had to bring the flood.
Job was a member of this godly community and spoke of the wicked as belonging to another community. Then God revealed Himself to Abraham, to whom the gospel was given in clear community terms, instructing him to leave Ur of the Chaldeans for a land the Lord would give him and his seed. Moses was then called to organize Israel around the dual truths of God’s law and mercy through the blood, a community where His people would hear His Word – and worship and serve Him according to it. It took some centuries for this OT church to develop, but David understood it when He cried out in Psalm 5: 7: “But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house. In reverence I will bow down toward your holy temple.” Then came our Savior – our truth, our sacrificial lamb, our holy temple – who, far from teaching against this “one body” principle, lifted it to its highest level when He spoke of His church, died for it, then appointed apostles to establish churches wherever they might preach His Word. How can we read of Paul’s work and not see that he not only went to speak to people about Christ, but bring them together in one body to learn, worship, and serve Him in what He called His “ecclesia” (His called-out people).
When I went to the Hungarian lands in 1990, the Protestant church was in shambles. What liberalism had not done against Christ’s body, the communists finished by killing the few remaining godly pastors. Nothing seemed left. But this “nothing” had a good side. It gave us an opening to rebuild the foundations of the 16th century Reformation. So we trained church-planting pastors, used publications to address the Hungarian world, and home-schooled our covenant children so they would not be lost to us, but join us in the fight to rebuild the church of our Lord. We put godly order everywhere we could, not just as theory, but applied to our families and built into the life of our congregations. And, lately, by training ruling elders so that our congregations, upon becoming self-supporting and having a Session (of at least one Teaching Elder and one Ruling Elder) over them in the Lord, they might be organized as local churches. And, praise God, in October, we ordained our first RE in Szovata, Romania and trust we will soon have more RE’s not only in Romania, but in Hungary and Ukraine. Then, with some of our congregations organized, we can have one functioning presbytery for Romania and one for Hungary/Ukraine. In this way, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe will keep growing and growing. A stronger and stronger body – with greater and greater dependence on Christ as its Head and one another.
So please pray for our 16 men and the biblical growth of their 24 congregations. And their children who are coming along nicely in the Lord. And for the lost who live about them in spiritual darkness. And for a great turning of many to Christ as God’s Spirit anoints the teaching of His servants – pastors and members alike. “Pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified,” said the Apostle Paul. He also asked his friends to pray for him that God would give him boldness, knowing that without holy boldness people will hardly turn to Christ.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob and Clara Rapp