Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
In my last newsletter, I wrote to you at some length about our Budapest congregation, how it is growing, and how we were beginning to ask the Lord what to do with our crowded facilities. I said that “our current facilities cannot handle more than 45 people at one time.” The very next week we had 46 people! Somehow we managed to find space for one more person. Of course, it is wonderful to see more and more people hungering for the Word of God. But with summer approaching, we remembered what it was like last summer with 25-30 people in the main room and only one toilet. The place has no air conditioning (the complex where we are located won’t allow it) and we cannot open the windows (except at night) because the fumes from the traffic on the street below are worse than the air inside. Needless to say, this intensified our praying to the point we were praying with fasting. We felt helpless to solve this matter because the real estate market in Budapest is virtually dead. We found this out when we tested the market last year and could not find a single buyer – and it is worse this year!
The very next week, however, someone contacted us and made us an offer. We were amazed that anyone even knew about us. We had not advertised or told anyone. Here now was someone making an offer – a very good offer. It turned out that an elderly lady was moving in right next door and wanted our place for her daughter to be near her! The condition, however, was that we move in five weeks. This was staggering since it hardly seemed possible to find another place in that short time – and even if we could, where would we get the rest of the money so quickly for a place twice the size? So we waited and kept praying. Two weeks later, the lady visited us again and said she needed an immediate answer. She now wanted us to leave in three weeks, but if we agreed, she would add another $2,500 to her offer. Our pastor (Peter Szabo) and I talked about this, and Peter suggested we take the offer and try to rent the next three, four months – and use this time to look for a new place. So we agreed. The next week, the Lord did more amazing things. First, He led us to a place we could rent inexpensively with a very flexible contract. Most contracts like this run a year, and you pay whether you stay a year or a month. Second, Peter and all our members, with the help of the entire RE network in Budapest, checked everything on the market. Our people checked 95 possibilities, studied 30 of them seriously, then personally visited 15 of them. One of them stood out for access to public transit, nice neighborhood, size, inside configuration and price. Finally the Lord reassured us He was in the move. Peter has been preaching through Exodus, and his last sermon “just happened” to come to Exodus 12 and these words, “And so the Egyptians urged the Israelites to hurry and leave the land.” We hadn’t asked the Lord for a sign. But this was precious.
So if the Lord had not helped us, even if we could have sold our place, it would not have been for $80,000. Maybe $65,000 but not $80,000. Further, we could not have found this new place in a nice neighborhood (small park nearby) with more than twice the meeting space and going for $130,000. Of all the properties we looked at, none up to $165,000 (our limit) met our needs like this one. So, instead of needing another $100,000, we now need only another $50,000. But again this is another hurry situation. The owners of this place want to sell quickly. They are an older couple longing to leave the city and return to the place of their roots in the country. The property was listed at $140,000 – an excellent price compared to all the others we saw. But this couple was tired of waiting and dropped the price another $10,000 if we could pay them $130,000 in the next two and a half months. Of course, the sobering reality is that this catches us right in the middle of four other projects which already have us stretched to the max. First there is the land we still need to buy in Erdo, Romania. Secondly we had hoped to start construction on this land soon. Thirdly we must finish renovations to our main property in Miskolc, Hungary. Fourthly we must finish the camp/conference building we started last fall in Ukraine.
So this is a time of testing similar to God’s command to the Israelites to enter the promised land and trust in Him. Of course, we do not want to be irresponsible. And we will not pay interest on any loans. But we are reprioritizing our first four projects and, after two more weeks of thought and prayer, conclude: We must finish buying this land in Erdo, Romania (we spent six years looking for it and need to pay the rest by April 30). But we can hold back on construction there until we get the $50,000 we need for Budapest. We would also like to finish these renovations in Miskolc, but we can do them this fall if necessary. As for Ukraine, it would be tragic not to complete this camp/conference building by June. Our entire summer work there depends on it. I also did a study of our mission income this time last year, and I believe, with extra giving from our people in the next two and a half months, we can, with the Lord’s help and a really good response to this need, finish these three critical projects by June 1. We want to be like Caleb and Joshua who cried out to the people, “If the LORD is pleased with us, He will lead us into the land…and He will give it to us. Only…do not be afraid…” (Num. 13:8, 9)
So we have notified the owners of this Budapest property we want to meet their conditions and work up a contract with them. This means we must have $50,000 for this new facility in 73 days and $5,000 for renovations. And $13,200 yet for this land in Erdo, Romania. And $18,000 to finish this work in Ukraine which is so critical. This is a lot of money. It comes to $86,200 of which we need $13,200 by April 30 and the rest by June 1. Further, in order not to be reckless, Clara and I are planning to go into our savings and give what we can. And we will rejoice in that. After all, we cannot take our money with us. Frankly, Clara and I have more fear of dying with too much or, given the serious condition of our economy, of losing it to forces beyond our control. Nor can we put our hope in gold. Gold cannot feed us, nor can we lay up treasure in heaven with it, nor do I think it likely, if we have a serious economic downturn in this country, that we would be in a good position, given the spiritual condition of our country. Everything seems be moving toward a situation where Christians might be asked, in the name of the “common good,” to choose between Christ and some another way. So those who have gold would probably not be any “better off” than others unless they renounce their Christian convictions. So if that time comes, no amount of gold can help, only hinder us from making that confession which Rev. 3:10 requires: “Fear none of these things which you shall suffer… Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” I know that G. Gordon Liddy jangles gold in his hands and gushes on how great it feels, but it is the “crown of life” which the Lord Jesus Christ can give which is made of real gold and not fool’s gold.
What is clear to Clara and me is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and has called us to labor for Him in Central and Eastern Europe where we have 16 wonderful young Hungarian men with their wives and 37 children who are working tirelessly to preach the gospel in the heart of Europe’s spiritual darkness. Let the world consider us fools, but the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. So we would gladly be fools for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us and obey His Great Commission. A missionary martyr (Jim Elliot) once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Then that gem in the first Q and A of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” And this is no more than our Savior said when He spoke of laying up treasure in heaven “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt nor thieves break in and steal.” (Mt. 6:19, 20) Losing our earthly wealth can happen gradually (moth or rust) or by a sudden collapse of our economy (thieves breaking in to steal). Either way it will be tragic for those who cling to this world’s gold instead of using what they still own to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Most of us cannot go to distant lands, but we can pray. And there are few, if any, who cannot give the “widow’s mite” at a time like this for a work like this. May the Lord direct you how to respond. May you do it with joy and sacrifice. And may He continue to use you for His glory and lead you in the way everlasting.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob & Clara