Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
So much has happened since November when I thought this letter would be a simple prayer sheet! But that won’t happen – not with a new field before us as I retire from Hungary! But before saying anything else, let me say that the work in Hungary is ending on a very happy note. I was concerned for awhile that our church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe (RPCCEE), had one serious, unresolved issue. It involved the non-communicant (infant baptized) teens of our church and their lack of pastoral care from the Session of the church. Yes, our teens have been and continue to be home schooled and, so, have a fine home environment. Yes, they have very good summer camps and other programs. And, yes, this has been a good formula for them until recent years. Unfortunately, neither the Session (nor I) saw the need for these teens to get additional care upon becoming teens. That is, care from the Session, working with the parents, to help them learn Christ in a personal way, then move through the steps of discipleship toward communicant membership in the church.
This got my attention when the Hungarian Session’s August report came and I learned that one of our teens had gone to Abu Dhabi on a four-year scholarship to New York University. I was stunned at this since he was 18 and not ready for church membership, yet allowed to go far from home to a secular university like NYU without any connection to our church. Somehow we missed Ephesians 4:9-16 and other such passages in the Bible about the visible church of Christ. So I wrote the Session. They initially thought they were already doing all they could do for our teens. But then, to their credit, they also saw that something critical was missing in our ministry to the teens of our church. PTL that, although I had to exit the Hungarian work December 31, the Session kept moving forward on this and is now in contact with Rev. Chris Walker of Westminster PCA here in Lancaster. Chris is associate pastor of youth in our church. He not only understands the importance of reaching our youth in their early teens. He can discuss this with the RPCCEE in detail – and how to do it there. So he and his wife (Kate), Lord willing, will be going to Hungary the third week of May (May 16-20). Not only will Chris meet and interact with all seven on the Session, but all 16 pastors (and some of the wives) from all three countries (Hungary, Ukraine, Romania) where the RPCCEE has its 24 congregations. This is thrilling! Thank you for your prayers! The Hungarian church still has a bright future. Pray now for Chris’ trip.
As this was happening, my spinal stenosis (lower back) was worsening. Also, after Christmas Day had ended, I had difficulty breathing all night long. That morning, for the first time ever, I checked into the ER of a hospital. Thankfully, initial tests showed no heart attack. But a test (Holter monitor) taken the next week showed a serious arrhythmia. The doctors were ready to give me a pacemaker and drugs to control Tachybradycardia. But I asked for time to get daily exercise and do better with my stress. A month later, my back was better. I also had a much better monitor reading. I am now scheduled for a third monitor test in three months, then go from there. Please keep me much in prayer.
In early January I wrote Rev. Chang in Korea (about his new seminary) and told him my trip to Korea in May was off, but he could come here. That was Monday, January 11. On Wednesday he wrote and said he and his granddaughter (whom he needed to interpret) would arrive Friday at the Harrisburg airport. The Lord wonderfully provided lodging and meals for them through friends, giving us four days to discuss ways to help his work in Korea. We now have a good plan in place and, PTL, it shouldn’t be stressful like Hungary since I won’t need to build a new seminary or guide graduates in a newly developing church. Work, yes, but manageable, low-stress work. Enough to keep me in my calling at age 83, but not enough to interfere with good exercise and paying attention to my health.
You may remember I went to Korea in 1967 and was led by the Lord to found a new theological seminary called Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS). We started with 12 students and, by 1992, had a student body of 300 and almost 1,000 graduates, most of whom had new churches in Korea or missionary work abroad (21). This school was greatly prospered by the Lord, who used my writings in Korea to awaken Christians to the world-wide ecumenical movement (WCC) and its unbiblical “social gospel” – also called “liberation theology” – a twin to Communism and its ideological front Socialism. I became well enough known in Korea that my school was informally called “ra-bo-do” (my Korean name) seminary, and the church that grew out of it ra-bo-do” church. Then came 1992 when I switched to Hungary, turning the work over to trusted friends. The school did well the next five years, but then got government approval in 1997 to operate as a postgraduate school named Westminster Graduate School of Theology (WGST).
But this “step forward” was a mistake, for it set the school on a path it could not financially maintain. So as time wore on, it was more and more tempted to look for a financial solution to a non-financial problem. Things kept getting worse. Around 2007 the school made contact with a rich Korean business lady who seemed to want to help it. This led to the purchase of a large new building costing $18 million. Someone sent me pictures of the new school, one picture showing the new “Rapp Hall.” And because I was working in Hungary and knew nothing of the situation, I appreciated this gesture. It seemed to recognize my strict stand for the Word of God. Indeed, it was meant to be that. Alas! It seems this helping lady wanted more than to help at a distance. According to my information, after a year of confusion as to who was in control, she sued the man who thought he was in charge. He had no money for drawn-out litigation, which opened the way for her to come in as head of the Board of Trustees. And one of her first actions was to open the way for girl students to be ordained as ministers of the gospel.
I still knew nothing of this when the school and its Alumni Association (AA) invited Clara and me to fly there last year for a vacation and speaking at the school. I gladly accepted, then providentially learned of this sad state of affairs from another source and advised the school I would still like to come, but would need to include, as part of one of my lectures, material explaining why the ordination of women to the ministry is unbiblical. This quickly led to being disinvited. After that, I heard from Rev. Chang, my student who graduated in 1985 (and again in 1987 with a master’s degree). This is why I was planning to go to Korea this May to see him and then, when I could not, asked him to come here instead. He had started a new school circa 2005 when he saw the way things were going, using the old name WTS. So the school with the new name (WGST) is not the school I knew. How can a school use the word “Westminster” in its name (after the historic Westminster Confession of Faith) and, at the same time, embrace women’s ordination and fire a teacher for teaching the biblical doctrine of election, and want less Bible in the curriculum – to be replaced with non-theological courses such as health and social need?
Pray now that WGST will drop my name as its honorary president and remove it from the door going into “Rapp Auditorium”. And for this new theological seminary (WTS) which has arisen from the ashes of the other. And for the Alumni Association. Too many of its older members, my old students, are still sending their young people to the wrong school. We now hope, the Lord helping, to send vital theological materials to Korea to be translated into Korean and printed there – for the sake of all Korea and biblical Korean missionary work all over the globe.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara Rapp
FINAL NOTE. This will be the last newsletter posted here. Future letters will be emailed only to those committed to this work. If you want updates, please follow the above financial information, giving a gift and your email address. Thank you, one and all, for your wonderful help until now.