Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
The last two months have been blessed of the Lord with very good development in the work. They have also been a time of hard work, requiring much perseverance from our men in the field ( Hungary , Ukraine , Romania ). Something akin to what Paul said about his great Ephesian ministry, “A wonderful door for a great work has been opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” (I Cor. 16:9). It is always thus. When God opens a door for a great work, He also allows much opposition so the work itself will have the advantages that go with opposition (this is too long to discuss, but ponder it, please) and, in the end, no one but God will get the glory. Regarding the latter, Paul later described his opposition thus, “We want you to understand, brothers, how much we suffered (in Ephesus )…and see that it all happened in order that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead…. And be sure that He will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers.” (II Cor. 1:8-11)
Here’s a quick recap of what’s happening on the fields. In Hungary , Imre Szoke and Gyula Bagoly are seeing steady progress in their ministries. Imre has one congregation in Miskolc , one of the largest in our church (Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe) with 16 members and about the same number of growing non-members. Imre also takes the lead in our publications and in caring for the work in Ukraine . Recently, a week before Imre was to go to Ukraine for a weekend of teaching and pastoral care, the husband of one of our believing women showed his wife a knife and told her, “This is for Imre when he comes this time!” But two days before Imre came, the Lord suddenly intervened and took him from this life! Yes, God protects His servants. Gyula has two congregations in southern Hungary with a total membership of 16 and about the same number of growing non-members. In addition, he is getting some important new contacts in other parts of southern Hungary . In Budapest , Peter Szabo has taken over as new pastor of our congregation there (they have 17 members and almost as many interested non-members). I am especially thankful for Peter’s attitude and aptitude toward what we call our Personal Discipling Program. In Debrecen , where Mihaly Siko has just moved, it is so good to see “Misi” already settled in his new apartment (costing $100,000, but paid out of his own inheritance). He is eager to develop his little “core group” and is weekly increasing the number of his contacts. PTL!
In Ukraine , our three men are plodding on, making slow but steady progress. Ukraine is a difficult field because the whole country is underdeveloped, making it much harder to train people and sharpen their minds in biblical truth and application. However, the gospel is still “the power of God unto salvation,” so we are seeing steady progress in our work of personal discipling. We must, in fact, see this progress, for if we don’t have it, the work will never amount to anything. For it is only as people become believers, then are trained, that the church will grow. So many missions make the mistake of thinking that evangelism is everything. Yes, it is the critical starting point, but all this work will be of naught unless believers are rigorously trained in the faith. But this is what is now happening in Ukraine . PTL!
In Romania , our nine men there are in a situation midway between Hungary and Ukraine . Hungary is a fairly highly developed country. Ukraine is not so well developed (though it is rising). Romania stands between the two. So, armed with the Word of God, the truth of God’s holiness, man’s sin and the glorious salvation that God offers through the gospel, we are making slow but steady progress there as well. All the congregations are seeing some growth (I am so thankful for the good leadership of Ferenc Kovacs). We are especially excited about our new field in Csikszereda where Sandor Tamas has just started. He and his wife, Biborka, are a tremendous combination. This is where we just bought land and soon hope to start construction. Pray earnestly for Sandor and all our men and their ministries.
Two weeks ago, the Session of our church (our five ordained men) had their quarterly meeting and went over the following issues: (1) ) The distance education program of our school in Miskolc , Hungary . (2) Our two new church plants in Debrecen , Hungary and Csikszereda , Romania . (3) Peter Szabo’s new ministry in Budapest . (4) Our publications ministry –22 books and three periodicals. (5) The status of our work in trying to legalize home schooling in Romania . (6) Catechetical teaching and memorization by the children of our church. (7) The status of the daily Bible reading program in our church. (8) Issues involving several church members and one excommunication due to gross, unrepentant sin. (9) Progress being made in training ruling elders and fully organizing our congregations and entire church as they/it becomes self-supporting. (10) The impact of distributing thousands of Hungarian and Romanian calendars (received at no cost from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland). (11) Reissuing our youth songbook. (12) Our contact with a Romanian Calvinist group we are nurturing in Vulkan , Romania . (13) The 17 camps we are planning to conduct this summer in Hungary , Ukraine and Romania .
Let me expand on several of the above: (1) We now have 9 students in distance education. This is where we are training new men for the ministry, some of whom will also make excellent ruling elders. (7) We are making real progress in our efforts to introduce good legislation on home schooling in Romania . Some big steps forward have been the printing in Romanian of Chris Klicka’s book (Home Schooling – the Right Choice”) and the first ever all-Romania home schooling convention March 19, 20 in Arad. Pray for Gabor Curcubet as he contacts legislators in the Romanian Senate (upper body) and House of Deputies (lower body) and people in the Ministry of Education. Pray for Romania that its leaders will be led of the Lord to enact enlightened educational law in this regard. (9) Pray for this item, too. We want our entire church to be self-supporting in the next three to five years (in regular operations). Meanwhile, we are training men to serve as ruling elders. Four of them may be ready later this year and, when this happens, they will be appointed “elders designate.” Actual ordination must wait until we can organize local congregations, and that must wait until the whole church is strong enough to handle its operational funding. But once these men are appointed “elders designate,” they can begin to perform many of the functions of a ruling elder. This whole process is being guided from here at home. So pray for me and the Mission ! (13) Please look carefully at the attached supplement and note our 17 summer camps in the three countries and pray!
Let me now move into the area of finance, and this is where you loom big and large in the success of this operation! Whether your giving is large or small, the key to your help is that you are willing to sacrifice in order to give! And for this, you must believe deeply in this work and see that it is rigorously biblical and efficient in the way it is being run. It now costs $100,000 to $120,000/year to support one American missionary and his family in Europe . We now have 16 nationals fully trained for this. This costs about $160,000/year, but half of it is being met by the congregations our men have started! This means we need your help for the other $80,000 plus items such as vehicles, land, and construction. We need, first of all, $4,000 to pay the transfer tax on this $100,000 apartment ”Misi” just bought with his own money. Here we got a free gift – no cost to us because of the unselfishness of our worker and unexpected help from his parents. Now all we need is pay the transfer tax and we have a man in Debrecen set up and ready to go. Next we need $24,000 to buy a car for Gyula Bagoly. His existing car is finished at 200,000 miles and starting to ring up big repair bills. We know of a Volkswagon Touran we can buy. They normally cost $34,000, but this one is two years old and only has 7,500 miles on it. It is in top condition, so we want to buy it. But we need funds for it immediately. Then we have this tremendous opportunity in Csikszereda , Romania and land on which to build. We need $76,000 for construction, but only $15,000 to start. What a glorious opportunity we have here to serve Christ! Clara and I give, too, by taking no salary (we take only for our medical needs). But here is where we need you. Please pray and give as you are able!
Speaking of Clara, we are rejoicing greatly that, in answer to your prayers and the prayers of many, her pelvic pain is gone. It’s a long story. The bottom line, however, is that all her pain is gone, and she can live and work in a normal way after a two-year battle with this.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara Rapp