Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
As a missionary and as one believing in God’s sovereignty over all the affairs of men, including divine election, I am intrigued with Paul’s words: “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2 Th. 3:1) Here is the Lord’s servant, Paul, who fully subscribed to divine predestination (Rom. 8:29, 30), urging his brothers to pray that the Word of the Lord would “spread rapidly…” Paul is urging that prayer be offered up that the work of winning the lost to Christ and building His church would go faster! How does this add up? It doesn’t seem to. On the one hand, election is real. As the WCF says, “The (number of the elect) is so definite that it can neither be increased nor diminished.” (III.4) On the other hand, our Savior wept over Jerusalem; He urged us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into His harvest; and here, through Paul, He instructs us to pray that that the gospel “may spread rapidly and be honored among other Gentiles, just as it has among you” – meaning “a large number.” (Acts 17:4).
The truth is that God has His “secret will” (Deut. 29:29) whereby He “effectually calls His elect to faith in Christ” and leaves the rest of mankind in their sins “to the praise of His glorious justice.” Then He has His “revealed will“ (in His Word) where He sets forth His standards to win the lost and build His church. It includes our tears, our earnest prayers, our sacrificial giving, taking the gospel to “every creature,” and doing His work in His way – not the aimless way so much missionary work is done nowadays. The Lord’s work must be done with excellence. “The king’s business is urgent.” (I Sam. 21:8) Indeed, “Cursed is he who is lax in doing the Lord’s work.” (Jer. 48:10) So these two great truths are before us. 1) The Lord on high will call to Himself all whom He has foreordained. 2) He will not use sloth to accomplish this, but our sweat, blood, and tears – our earnest prayers and sacrificial giving. If we love Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, we must offer Him the best of our flock, not the maimed or poorest of it.
On the mission field, this means building Christ’s church in Christ’s way. This means training nationals to reach nationals. The church at home which has no vision to plant churches abroad through discipling (“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…”) and which is satisfied to send warm bodies (no church planting strategy – no discipling of nationals) is not only pouring its money down a rathole. It is also demeaning the Lord Jesus to do His work this way. He is a king and deserves kingly obedience. Let us, then, stop sending our poorest and send our best. Let us pray fervently, work earnestly, give gener-ously, and weep for those who are lost without Christ. I am attaching a supplement to this letter, asking you to use it to uphold these camps in serious prayer. You may not be able to go. But you can pray fervently – and you can give of your means. This is not a time to “cut our losses” by giving less to God’s work. This is a time to lay up treasure in heaven, where “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt”!
Remember, then, to pray for each of these camps. Pray for the conversion of souls in those camps where that is the goal and for the equipping of the saints where that is the goal. Pray for our other programs to reach the lost, the most important of which is to train our people who already know Christ as savior. We can’t do anything with an unconverted person other than make his sin and the gospel plain to him. But a true believer has a new nature. So once he has come to Christ, he can and must learn how to be an effec-tive witness for Christ. Our men’s hardest work, then, is with believers – showing them how to live for Christ and serve Him. The more I am a missionary, the more I can see that, after our men get their basic theological training, they need to be effective disciplers of others. They need to systematically help true believers “shed their grave clothes” and get on with the business of living for Christ. When this is done, the Word of the Lord will “spread rapidly and be honored” and have strong results.
News from the fields: In HUNGARY, Imre Szoke (northern Hungary ) and Mihaly Siko ( Budapest ) and Gyula Bagoly (southern Hungary ) are doing this work of discipling well and seeing very good results. We are also very happy to have new contacts in Hungary ’s second largest city, Debrecen (eastern Hungary ). This city was once the hub of the 16th century Reformation and called “Protestant Rome.” But its great theological seminary fell under the spell of liberalism and unbelief in the 1930’s – followed by God’s judg-ment (WWII, then Communism for nearly a half century). Until now our church has not had any way to start church planting there, but of late the Lord has given us some good new contacts. Pray with us about the return of “Protestant Rome” to the faith of our fathers. And remember our 16th worker, Peter Szabo. He will marry Erika Szocs this fall, then join our team in BP.
In UKRAINE , Istvan Gal, Geza Demeter, Bertalan Lorinc are growing in their ability to disciple others. God has also helped us in other ways. On April 17, thanks to your prayers, we bought a $50,000 property in Zapszony (lowered from $70,000). Many different things had to fall into place for this. We needed a buyer for our Gat property. The Lord gave us one even though the banks in Ukraine had frozen people’s assets and this seemed impossible. The money from this sale and $34,000 from you made this possible. When the pastor of the nearby Hungarian Reformed Church learned of this, he went ballistic and railed at the man who sold it to us, decrying us as a “dangerous sect.” But this and other events in the last six months have opened new doors to us. Just a week ago, our men sold and gave our books in downtown Beregszasz. The mayor’s office gave us permission to do this. Many came by and told us they were happy we are in the region, preaching the gospel and giving so much good biblical teaching. We also have one location where our attendance has spiked because some people have left the HRC to join us (it started when this HRC pastor went on the attack six months ago and gave us this really “good” publicity).
In ROMANIA , Attila Szasz and I are working to improve his Friday meetings (Kolozsvar). On Fridays, he has a forum where his “Athenians” come to hear some curious new thing. For a time, Attila has just been giving them good teaching in this forum context. Lately, however, he has started to preach to them boldly about their need to be born again. They are very “religious” but not very keen in following Christ as Lord – meaning they probably do not know Him as Savior. Pray for the salvation of these “Athenians.” We are close to buying the land we need for Lehel Lazslo’s work in Erdoszentgyorgy. Ferenc Kovacs (coordinator) and I spend a lot of time discussing the old way of preaching the gospel to sinners and the new ways our men need to equip and disciple new believers. Sandor Tamas will marry Biborka Fodor this fall, then move to the strategic city of Csikszereda . Pray for them. Szabolcs Simon had a serious, crippling back problem hit him about three months ago, but is now much better. PTL. The Lord heard prayer for Csaba Zolya and his wife, Ibolya. They were warned of possible serious complications in the birth of their twins, but just a few weeks ago, Ibolya delivered two healthy baby girls. Again PTL.
Regarding our financial needs, we praise the Lord for this tremendous victory in buying this property in Zapszony , Ukraine . But it did empty all our funds here at home and in Hungary and in Romania where we normally try to keep a little reserve. On top of this, our summer budget is upon us. We will also need funds soon to buy Lehel’s land in Erdoszentgyorgy , Romania ($14,000) and enlarge our meeting hall in Szekelyudvarhely , Romania ($16,000). Please pray earnestly that the Lord would touch the hearts of His people to give for this, His work in Hungary , Ukraine , and Romania .
Remember, then, to pray for: 1/ Our 18 camps this summer in Hungary , Ukraine and Romania 2/ Our school, Karolyi Gaspar Institute of Theology and Missions, and our 11 students (including two just en-rolled). 3/ Our 15 (soon 16) church planters and their 22 congregations and four preaching points where they are laboring to reach the lost and equip the saints. 4/ Our 19 publications, including our latest on Calvin’s anti-Nicodemite writings where Calvin calls on God’s people to leave the church of Rome and all false churches. 5/ Our children’s ministries and our efforts to develop Christian home school movements in Hungary and especially Romania , where we are working to have home schooling legalized. 6/ Clara and me – for wisdom, health and daily strength. 7/ Funds for all the above.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob and Clara