Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
Let me begin with a note of rejoicing in the way the Lord has provided through you to make it possible for our work in the Hungarian lands to move forward financially. Our expenses are of two types. The first is operational and includes all we need to maintain our 15 men who are developing the 22 congregations we have in Hungary , Ukraine , and Romania . It also includes all we need to run our school (Karolyi Gaspar Institute), develop new publications, support home schooling efforts (especially Romania ), and maintain vigorous camp and conference ministries throughout the year. Our second kind of expense is capital in-vestment (land and buildings), improvements, equipment for our men (cars and computers), and printing our publications. As for operating costs, our congregations in Hungary are nearing full support of their pastors and their own needs (85 to 100%). Our congregations in Romania are at 50%. Our congregations in Ukraine are at 10 to 15%. Overall we are HALF way toward self-support in our operating costs. It has taken us ten years to come this far. Barring the unforeseen, we can go the rest of the way in another five years. So, of the $160,000/year needed to maintain our 15 men and these other ministries, the congrega-tions now give $80,000/year. For the present, we need to be faithful in keeping up our half.
The other part of our program is capital spending. We have come about two-thirds of the way in this. We have not had anyone on the field who could help us in this. But any time we erect a building, we get a lot of volunteer help from our members. This means, e.g., we can put up a $110,000 building for $70,000. It is inspiring to see our members helping this way. Looking at the next few months, our most urgent need is for $16,000 to finish buying a $50,000 property in Zapszony , Ukraine (to locate there, one must buy a pre-existing building.) We were able to negotiate the price from $70,000 down to $50,000, mainly because of the financial crisis in Ukraine where people’s savings are frozen in banks. But, to do this, the owner wants all the money at one time – and quickly. So, by faith, we have agreed to pay him everything on April 18. In God’s providence, we have a buyer (in dollars) for the property we are leaving. This gives us $16,000 (he has gathered these funds from relatives who did not have their savings in banks). We have another $18,000 in hand. So, between now and April 18, we need $16,000 more. PRAY about this. This should, then, be the last real estate purchase we ever need to make in Ukraine .
In Romania , we need $14,000 to buy land in Erdoszentgyorgy where Lehel Laszlo has a congregation (he also has a small Gypsy congregation in Rava). The owner of the land is almost finished with the legal work needed to clear the deed. And, as in Ukraine , when he is ready to sell, he will sell to the first person who has money to pay him. But we have an oral agreement with him that he will sell to us if we have it when he is ready. That could come at any time. So PRAY with us about this, for, indeed, we have been asking the Lord for several years for land like this. It is good that, once we get this land, we don’t need to hurry to build. But when we are ready, we can put up a $110,000 structure for Lehel and his family with a meeting hall for the congregation. And, because of its location (near some of our members who are very skilled workers) we can do this for about $60,000.
We also need, after that, $15,000 to $17,000 to increase the size of our meeting hall in Szekelyudvarhely , Romania . We presently have 22 to 26 people meeting in a tiny space (only 20 square meters). Gabor’s congregation is growing nicely. So we need to enlarge the meeting hall to 60 square meters. This should be the last investment we need to make there. Finally, our church planter in Budapest , Hungary (Mihaly Siko) needs to move out of the downtown area in the near future. Smog is a problem. His congregation has also outgrown our large room there (we have more than 30 people coming at times). “Misi” has some funds (inheritance), so we could jointly buy something using his funds, funds from our current property, and another $25,000 to $50,000 to buy a large house in a nice district not far from the center of town. But the property in Ukraine is urgent, after that land in Romania , then funds to enlarge our meeting hall in Szekelyudvarhely , Romania . These three needs come to $46,000. Please PRAY earnestly.
We also have good news about two of our men who are nearly ready for new church planting. Sandor Tamas, who has been helping Gabor, will marry Biborka Fodor October 10 and, since it seems the Lord’s will, will go directly with Biborka to a new field, Csikszereda , Romania . We have long desired to send a worker there. This is a very large city with 80,000 Hungarians and no Reformed witness at all. This is also Biborka’s home where she has many family members and friends who can welcome them to start a new work. This will mean more operational cost at the beginning, then a car, then likely a capital invest-ment a few years later. But God has been looking down on this city for some time, preparing the way for the good news of His Son, our Savior, to be preached there in purity and power. PRAY. We also rejoice that Peter Szabo will soon be our 16th worker. He will probably marry later this year, then do some work in Budapest (since it has two million people). But, in the last six months, the Lord has sent us some good contacts from Hungary ’s second largest city, Debrecen . An elderly couple with a large network of friends heard about us less than a year ago. They are now in our membership course. It is marvelous to see how the Lord raises up workers to preach the gospel, then people to lift up a Macedonian call, then help from here at home to send a preacher of the gospel at the right time. KEEP PRAYING. We must obediently “offer up our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will…” WSC #98
I recently did a study of our 22 congregations and found that five have 20 to 30 people at the worship service on the Lord’s Day. Six have 10 to 20 people, and the other 11 have 5 to 10. But this is only a tiny part of the story. The big story is that most of our 160 members have come to Christ in the last five to ten years. And their level of dedication is extraordinary. And most of them are people of learning and skill with many contacts. Teachers, doctors, engineers, chemists, economists, government workers, etc. We are loaded with talent and zeal. And trends indicate that this is only the beginning. I am so encouraged with the evangelism going on in all our congregations, not just by the pastor, but by our church members. There is also a lot of good discipling going on. The pastor must spearhead this, of course. It is called “equipping the saints for the work of ministry so the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:12) The lack of this in Ukraine , until recently, was a major reason for the slowness of the work there. That is why, 18 months ago, I became more involved, eventually starting a new program (not an academic program, rather hands-on discipling with weekly reports coming to me) to help our three men there in the work of discipling others. In the process, I’ve learned a lot myself as their teacher. If I was not so busy, I’d like to write a book on this. In any case, the work in Ukraine is now showing some very promising signs.
Even when our church (RPCCEE) becomes totally self-supporting, there will likely be many important things we can do to help it, even as it numbers, Lord willing, into the thousands with tens of thousands under its influence as “the whole body becomes mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13) After Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal, he prayed for rain. It took a long time. But eventually, he saw, far away on the horizon, a tiny cloud rising the size of a man’s fist. That wisp of a cloud eventually reached Mt. Carmel , at which point rain was coming down in buckets!
Let me summarize our prayer needs: 1/ Pray for our school, Karolyi Gaspar Institute of Theology and Missions in Miskolc , Hungary , that the Lord would bless it and our 11 students (including two new ones just enrolled). 2/ Pray for our 15 church planters (soon to be 16) in Hungary , Romania and Ukraine and their 22 congregations and four preaching points. 3/ Pray for our publications in these three countries, that the Lord would use all 19 of them to show forth the glory of Christ. 4/ Pray for our spring and fall conferences and summer camp ministries in these countries, that the Lord would use them to bring many to Christ and build up our church. Pray for our Easter conferences coming soon. 5/ Pray for our efforts to develop Christian home school movements in Hungary and especially in Romania , where we are working to have home schooling legalized. 6/ Pray for Clara and me – for wisdom, health, and daily strength. 7/ Pray for funds for all the above financial needs.
Yours in His glorious service,
Bob and Clara Rapp