February 21, 2015
Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
Greetings in Him who loved us and gave Himself for us! For those of you who do not know, this is to be our last year of full activity in the Hungarian work. The Lord willing, after 55 years of mission work (in Brazil, South Korea, Pakistan and Hungary) Clara and I hope to retire this December. It is not totally clear to me what this retirement will be like since it is hard to see myself not staying in touch with the work in Hungary. But I do hope to be able to tell you this December that your support will no longer be necessary, though I may continue to send out an occasional prayer letter for special prayer needs. In other words, the last major goal in this mission phase of the work will have been reached. After starting with nothing but a vision in 1990, we 1) organized a school in 1992 to train young Hungarian men for the ministry, then 2) created a new Reformed Presbyterian denomination (RPCCEE) in 1998 and 3) now have 16 church-planting pastors and 24 congregations in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine and 4) hope, at the end of this year, to turn everything over to a national church that will be self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. Only the Lord could have done all this in the last 25 years.
Let me now move to what has happened since last November. First, we praise the Lord that our BP (Budapest) congregation was able to move to its new property (the one we wanted) on January 10 and had its first worship service there the next day. You may remember that in November we had a delay in buying this place because the contract had problems. But this was providential since we had no buyer for our old property until late December when we got our first offer for it. This offer was very good though it came with a condition that we had to move out in a few weeks. But just then the main contract problem with the new property was solved. So, overnight, our position changed to where we could sell our old property and move to our new property, taking with us all the money from our old property. This was a stunning development. And because the timing was so good, it was easy and inexpensive to move all our furniture from our old location to this new place – all in the same day. Thank you so much for your prayers for us in this! The Lord wonderfully heard your prayers and ours.
Here are the details on the cost of this move and what we still need for it. This new property, including the $35,000 needed to refurbish it this spring, comes to $305,000. We sold our old property for $100,000 and had $100,000 in emergency mission funds in November to add to this, leaving $105,000 still needed. But we have seen $36,000 come in for Hungary the last 2½ months, leaving us only $69,000 still needed. This $69,000 is covered by several members of the BP congregation in the form of 0% loans until we can raise the rest of the money here. Let me say again that this new property should not only allow our BP congregation to expand nicely in the next 5/10 years. It should enable them, as they grow, to help our smaller congregations become self-supporting and not run out of money when our STF (Special Transition Fund) money (already given to the nationals) is used up in the next two years. Please, therefore, continue to give generously so this $69,000 is quickly raised and we can address other important projects (cars, enlargement of other congregations’ meeting halls, etc.) which are not included in our estimate when we say that the RPCCEE can be fully self-supporting by the end of this year.
Let me now turn to a new development which would be very troubling except that our God, who has not changed, has ordained all things for His glory and the good of His people. A new law in Hungary has just been announced that, beginning September 1, all children three years or older must attend a state school. This, of course, does not affect students in the schools of recognized/state-supported churches such as the Roman Catholic Church and liberal churches such as the Hungarian Reformed Church. We are not a state-supported church, of course. And even if we could obtain this status (and the money that goes with it), we would not want it. In any case, only one year of kindergarten was required in Hungary until now, not three, and it was relatively easy to gain an exemption to home school on this level and higher levels. But now, as the law reads, two years of pre-kindergarten have been added, and the steps required to gain an exemption will be much more difficult. No one knows at this time how this will work out, but as the law now reads, this would force many more children to go to school at the age of three, spending five days/week there for at least four hours/day. In one way, it would be a kind of glorified child-care center, yet have the potential to physically and psychologically brainwash these little children to hate what is perceived to be “intolerant” to the liberal mind. And not only endanger young children this way, but also make it much more difficult for children grades 1-12 to get an exemption to be home schooled.
Let me talk about the benefits of home schooling for our home schooled children, their parents, and the nation of Hungary. The children are very obedient to their parents, intelligent, loving toward others, and very sociable. Should anyone, Christians at least, be surprised that this is the fruit of learning the gospel of Christ and the work of God’s Spirit in their hearts? But this generally requires a home environment where the parents can biblically train and instruct their children. In any case, this kind of education at home has given our families very obedient and loving children, and this has been an important part our men’s witness to their neighbors and the building of our church in three countries. Beyond that, such children will always be a great blessing to any nation. Romans 1 tells us that every person is born with a totally depraved heart, but biblical instruction and the work of God’s Spirit can change this. If, however, a law is created, as in Daniel’s day, that requires God’s children to sin against God in order to please the king, it is bad law – and a curse to any nation. It will also be the beginning of the withdrawal of God’s Spirit from that nation. As for us, we must pray as never before, knowing that, as we pray, God will hear our crying out to Him. As for you, our beloved prayer warriors and helpers, God will show you, too, how to pray for our men and their families and their witness to the Hungarian world.
Let me now say something about the ministry of our 16 men and their 24 congregations in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. God is working through His truth which they are telling many and doing this in the power of His Spirit for the salvation of His elect. Yes, God calls all to Himself in the gospel, but there is a special call by God to His elect. At the same time we, not knowing who the elect are, must preach the gospel to every human creature. And as we do this, we know that, although not everyone will be saved, those who become saved are saved because God foreordained them to this – and no king, government or law can keep them from this glorious calling. At the same time, our great King, the Lord Jesus, gave us an example in prayer that we must follow. He who was the Son of God was also a true man. And as a praying, Spirit-filled man, he had to fight through the hell of Gethsemane and the cross of Calvary. So let us learn from Him to be fervent in prayer for all, including the Hungarian people.
Two weeks ago, I was surprised to hear from a Korean student of mine (class of 1984), now working as a pastor and living outside Chicago. Our school in Seoul (Westminster Graduate School of Theology) contacted him and told him that our school and alumni association want me there for a special home coming and will pay all our expenses. As founder and first president of the school (25 years), I could not turn them down. So Clara and I plan to fly there April 23, returning May 4. Please pray earnestly for us in this. First that our 82 and 83 year-old bodies would take this trip well. (After flying to Chicago and connecting there, it will be 13 hours non-stop to Seoul.) Then for my meetings – with the Board of Trustees, the current president and faculty of 25 professors (our school now has 300+ students), the Alumni Association, then some lectures to the students, preaching in three/four churches, and finally do a television interview. Pray that God would be greatly glorified and that, in our weakness, the banner of the truth of His Word would be highly exalted.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara Rapp