Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
Greetings in Him who has the “whole wide world” in His hands! Including South Korea and Central & Eastern Europe! In my February letter I asked you to pray for Clara and me in our travel to South Korea April 23 to May 4 and for messages I would bring at the school I founded in 1967 and headed the next 25 years. But that trip never happened. One week later, I learned my school, left in good hands in 1992, had seriously departed from the faith, highlighted by the fact that the head of the Board of Trustees was a woman ordained to the ministry. When I heard this, I sent a message to this lady and asked her board for permission to include, in my lectures, something from the Bible about women’s ordination. I was then disinvited. But I needed to ask (and not lecture on this without permission) since the school is no longer mine to run and, with the Alumni Association (AA), was paying for our travel and hotel expense.
After this, the AA, upon hearing I had been disinvited by the school, wanted me to come all the more (to lecture at a different location). I would have accepted, but by the time things could be sorted out, it was too late to prepare for this new arrangement. So I am now praying about going this fall, but some things must fall into place. Most of all, I need clear direction from the Lord Himself that He wants me to go. Please be much in prayer about this! I need to know that this is His will. Pray also for the school I pioneered that it might return to the faith. And for the AA that it might use its influence to help make this happen. And for another school and group of churches which has recently contacted me and wants to be what my school once was in its stand for the truth. I will let you know more about this in my August letter – or before then if I have your email address and can reach you this way.
One thing is certain. All that the Lord did from 1967 to 1992 in the hearts and minds of more than 1,000 of my students has not been lost. Nor was anything seriously lost in the 10 years after this when I was in Hungary, focused on the new work there. For when I was in Korea with Clara in 2002, the school seemed to be doing very well. Nor have the hundreds of new congregations started by my students and now in conservative Presbyterian churches been lost. But I am still burdened about this and would love to see our “first-born” return to the faith. After all, its name is Westminster Graduate School of Theology, and the main auditorium is named “Rapp Auditorium.” Please pray earnestly!
Moving on to Hungary, we have good news about the new property in Budapest. We had not yet signed the contract when we started using it rent-free in January. There were problems with its ownership. But the 85% owner let us use it while we waited for some things to be cleared up in court. And, two weeks ago, this also was finished as expected. We could earlier have signed an agreement with this 85% owner, but our legal counsel advised us to wait until everything was settled in court to the satisfaction of the 15% owner. So it is with great joy I can say we are the legal owner without any strings attached. And now can go ahead with our renovations. It is interesting, when this building was built a few years ago, it was designed to be a social center for special occasions (weddings, birthdays, etc.) So the entire lower floor was one large hall, which we are now converting into our worship hall with four more restrooms. The second floor was designed in such a way that it is now makes a perfect home for our pastor, Peter Szabo. And the third floor is perfect for Sunday school classes and small group meetings and has a separate (covered) entranceway connecting the 1st and 3rd floors. One might say this building was predestinated for us! At the same time, our predestinating God now loves to see us decorating it, adding more insulation, putting in new sets of windows and doors, etc. Praise God for His planning years ago and loving care now. And for the funds (through you) to do this so we now can focus on other vital projects such as cars and enlarging the meeting halls of some of our other 24 congregations.
Yes, we now have 25 congregations. None of these are fully organized congregations in the sense they (1) have an ordained pastor (2) can fully support their pastor and his ministry and (3) have at least one ordained ruling elder (RE). But six of these 25 have met conditions #1 and #2 and are close to meeting #3. Then when these six congregations meet all three conditions, two presbyteries can be formed, one the Hungary/Ukraine Presbytery and one the Romania Presbytery of the RPCCEE. Meanwhile, we have 25 unorganized congregations who qualify for this designation because they meet for worship on the Lord’s Day, have a pastor (licensed or ordained) and function during the week as a congregation should. Of course, there is already a Hungarian body ruling over everything as it now stands. It is called the Session and consists of our seven ordained pastors (the other nine are licensed to preach but do not give the sacraments.) This Session will then dissolve when the presbyteries and local sessions come into place.
Some of the other things happening in our church in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine are: We now have two congregations of Romanians where the Word is being preached in Romanian, not Hungarian. We also have a new group in Ukraine which started as a Bible study, but learned of us and now wants into our church. There is so much excitement in the group that they are telling everyone (in their city) about us. Pray for them and the Lord’s blessing upon them as we further instruct them about Christ and the Christian life. We also have some unusual kinds of people coming our way in all three countries, but cannot give more detail lest this bring persecution upon them. These are spiritual miracles, the greatest of which is the new birth of sinners in Christ, then the growth of new believers in our Lord, then the creation of biblically ordered families, then godly order in the church, then the zeal of every person in our 25 congregations in witnessing to the lost. In a few cases, we have also seen God’s works of physical healing in some of our people. Kalman Kovacs’ (Szovata, Romania) son, Amos, was in dreadful physical condition a month ago and now is back home from the hospital living a fairly normal life.
Let me also comment on this new law in Hungary set to go into effect September 1. It requires, unless there are exceptions, all children three and above, to attend a state-run kindergarten five days/week, four hours/day. But this is the age when children must bond with their parents through loving discipline and not the state. So, among other things, we have begun the process of legally registering a new association in Hungary and need your prayers for this. The country has patriots and parents who understand the danger of this new law, but they need the encouragement and guidance of true believers in this matter. This, in turn, will give us a great opportunity to share our faith with them.
Please note three more ways by which, in addition to prayer for the above, you can help. (1) Please keep faithfully supporting this ministry with your gifts. We need your generous giving through the summer months until September when, the Lord willing, the Hungarian work can support itself and Clara and I can share with you some personal financial needs. (2) We need you to give us your email address if you are still getting a paper letter but have a computer (please see the slip in your paper letter). (3) Our Mission board, all five men, has asked me to ask you to pray, if it be the Lord’s will, that it might continue to function after this year by serving other Reformed projects and/or missionaries. PLEASE GIVE THIS MUCH PRAYER. This is one fine biblically Reformed mission board.
Lastly, please note the attached chart on our summer camps this year. This year we have three more camps than last year, each one very much in need of your prayer. Remember that many of our current church members came to faith in Christ and learned to grow in Him at these camps in the past. Pray for a great work of the Holy Spirit in hearts, for God’s grace on those who teach and help, and for safety and protection from illness over everyone at each camp.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara Rapp