January, 2008

Dear Praying, Helping Friends:

Greetings in this new year of human uncertainty and God’s unchanging promises!  I begin with a review of our school, Karolyi Gaspar Institute of Theology and Missions.  KGITM started in Hungary in 1992 after I started traveling there in 1990.  The Lord gave me a vision for such a school both from Scripture and my experience in three previous fields – Brazil, Pakistan, and South Korea.  I was impressed with the pattern of St. Paul’s work in his three missionary journeys, the first of which involved the serious discipling of nationals (Acts 14:21-23), the second of which led to his institute of theology and missions in Corinth (Acts 18:9-11), the third of which had his institute of theology and missions in Ephesus (Acts 19:8-10) as the centerpiece  of his entire ministry in that region.  Paul did exactly what the risen Lord told His disciples in the Great Commission to do: “Make disciples of all nations!” (Mt. 28:19)

And, so, in 1990, as I saw my work in South Korea fully established and the Communist Iron Curtain in Europe going up, the Lord called me to Hungary with a vision to train nationals on the field as I had done in Brazil and South Korea and helped do in Pakistan.  In 1992 we started KGITM.  The Lord brought students and teachers.  I was (and still am) director of the school and, as such, have had the joy of sharing this work with you, asking for your help, and trying to use your help wisely and well.  Over the years, I have been conscious that you are the ones praying and paying for this work.  I am only an instrument for the Lord and for you at home who are the foundation of this work by your prayers and gifts.  Your prayers and gifts are holy offerings given to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus.

And, so, I have had to be strong in the administration of this work, howbeit with a tender heart.  Over the years, we had 90 some students come into our first year of studies.  Only 30 of them finished the four-year course, and only 15 of them are now on the field.  So there has been a lot of weeding, and this has been painful, but the alternative would have been a garden full of weeds.  So today, praise God, we have a well-ordered garden.  We have the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe (RPCCEE).  We have what the Lord intended in His Great Commission, not just some scattered disciples, but a church made of those who have heard the gospel of sovereign grace and been trained in it.  And KGITM has been “mother” to this, the place where our young Hungarian men have been grounded in the truth and trained to preach and nurture others who have come to Christ.  This is why we now have 22 small congregations and four preaching points in Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, and Slovakia.

And the work is growing.  In Hungary, we hope to expand our efforts into the southern part of the country where we have more and more contacts and two house churches which are thriving but need better care.  We have a man we can send.   Gyula Bagoly has been working with Imre Szoke in Miskolc, but now can go as soon as there are funds to send him.  Our two house churches will help in his support, but he must first have a vehicle and place to live.  We can rent something for him for a time, but we need a vehicle for him right now.  We can give him our vehicle in Miskolc , but if we do that, it should be replaced with a Volkswagen seven-seater.  When funds for this come in, Gyula can have our car in Miskolc, and, hopefully, he can be in the south of Hungary this fall.  We are also praying about expanding our work in Budapest (possibly into two congregations), but that is a bit further down the road.

In other news, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland again gave us this year thousands of beautiful calendars and hundreds of Bibles.  Our men have been busy distributing them.  This is not only a witness to thousands.  It gives us hundreds of contacts we can follow up with pastoral visits in people’s homes.  Our church is growing in other ways.  In addition to some of our members, three of our men have children on the way.  This includes Sandor Molnar whose little son, Joseph, was taken from us two months after his birth in late 2005.  Some of you remember “Little Joseph” who died in a Romanian hospital after a failed operation on the brain.  I am also glad to report that construction in Vulkan, Romania continues apace.  The foundation, walls, and roof are up.  This week the inside electrical work will be started.  And in Erdoszentgyorgy, Romania Lehel Lazslo continues to look for land to construct a home/meeting hall (while he and Judit still live in a rented place and the congregation meets in a home).

Let me give you an update of KGITM.  Since 2003, we have not had any students in residence.  That was the year we switched to distance education.  We currently have nine men enrolled (from four countries).  They are required to complete the same intensive four-year course our resident students once did.  The difference is that they study for us as they work professionally.  Most are university graduates (only one of our former students was such).  We have a university professor, a medical doctor, a chemist, a teacher, an engineer, an economist, a man who works in the Ministry of Finance, and two in the printing business.  Their instruction is carefully guided by Imre Szoke and Gyula Bagoly. (Gyula will continue to help when he moves south.  Such things are possible in this age of technological innovation!)  At the same time, the students often travel to Miskolc to confer personally with Imre and use our library there.  This is where our future pastors will come from and, just as importantly, our future ruling elders.

Let me also give you an update on our efforts to legalize homeschooling in Romania.  We have been working on this almost as long as we have been homeschooling there, since 2002 when the first children of our men started kindergarten using materials from Christian Liberty Academy (Arlington Heights, IL) paid for by the Home School Legal Defense Association (Chris Klicka).  The history of our efforts can be described as a great struggle on the part of our homeschooling parents, especially Gabor Curcubet who heads up this effort in Romania.  Currently, there is a bill that the Ministry of Education has proposed and is now undergoing a one-month debate, after which both houses of Parliament will vote on it.  It is good in that it makes provision for homeschooling, but very bad in that it does not allow it to kick in until the 5th grade.  So we are planning, with help from HSLDA, on another email alert in early March.

Let me summarize, then, what to pray for.  Pray for our school, that the Lord would bless it and our nine students currently enrolled.  Pray for our 15 church planters and their 26 congregations and preaching points.  Pray for the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon their efforts to evangelize the lost and teach and train those who have come to Christ.  Pray for our publications ministry, 17 books already translated into Hungarian and three more we hope will come out this year.  Pray for home schooling in Romania at this critical time when our efforts to have it legalized hang in the balance.  Pray for Clara and me and daily strength for this work.  And pray for the financial support of all of the above.

Speaking of finances, please note we need $150,000/year to support our operations in five areas (school, 15 men and their ministries, homeschooling efforts, camps and conferences, and publications).  Our Hungarian congregations now provide $40,000 of this, leaving us with $110,000 to meet.  Of this amount, 75% is pledge supported.  This means that in the next two months we need $4,600 in extra giving for regular operations.  We need $16,000 to complete construction in Vulkan, Romania.  And another $13,500 for a new vehicle in Miskolc, Hungary so Gyula Bagoly can move to South Hungary with his family.  We also need $4,600 in the next two months to print several publications now ready for print.  And $1,650 to buy some computers at this time.  We realize this is a lot of money, so we remind you that all we ask is that you pray and ask the Lord what you can and should do to help – little or much.

Finally, let me share with you the testimony of Rev. William C. Traub, Director of Theological Education and Training for MTW in Europe.  Will visited our work last fall and said of it: “The RPCCEE seeks to be a self-consciously and consistently Reformed witness in its church planting work in the ethically Hungarian region.  Hence it is of immense strategic importance.  Let me say how impressed I was with both the theological orthodoxy and missionary zeal of this group.  I want to recommend your support of it in the most positive and wholehearted way I can.”

Yours in His glorious service,

Bob & Clara Rapp

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