Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
“Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, the name of the LORD. Let His name be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to where it sets, let the name of the LORD be praised…. Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust, the needy from the trash heap….” (Ps.113:1-8) “When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel His domain…. Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.” (Ps. 114:1-2,7) “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Ps. 115:1)
These three psalms speak of the incomparable glory of God in His triune being, in the attributes of His greatness and goodness, and in His activity toward all His creation, especially to those who are known of Him and drawn by Him to love and fear Him. No-one, nothing, is comparable to the triune God of the Bible in His being, His character and His acts in creation and loving redemption and keeping of His own. And the better we understand this, the easier it is for us to keep worshiping Him all day long.
I begin this letter this way since the Hungarian work continues to progress so well. And I find myself more tempted to think I have done something when I have done nothing but try to serve the Lord through the years – a “trying” that has availed only because of His infinite grace and perseverance, always at war with my self-centeredness, pride, impatience, and worse. He has done it all. At the same time, I am aware that He called me (1951) when I was a lost sinner, then called me (1952) to be a missionary to the world, then helped me stay true to this calling, sometimes sending sad events into my life to keep me from an idolatry of self. He has privileged me to serve Him on four mission fields, each one preparing me for the next – finally sending me to Hungary in 1990 where I had the opportunity to start with nothing, go from this to a school, send some of these students to do church planting, then become a new denomination in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. And if you want to know where we are today, study the attached supplement and revel with me in God’s work at our camps this summer.
Please look at this supplement. First, the number of campers jumped from last year’s 550 to 748 this year. Second, God’s presence at the camps was really something. He used our men’s experience in previous years to prepare them for this year – strong biblical themes, much Scripture, great discussion groups, better application than ever, and wonderful interaction between the campers. Best of all, a work of the Spirit in all the camps. Third, good visible results. And, though visible results can be deceiving, eyes like the eyes of a godly parent who knows what he wants to see in his child saw many good things at every camp. Strong attention to the Word, repentance and confession of faith in Christ (with a Romans 12:1,2 kind of response). And no disciplinary action, sickness or accidents – also a wonderful answer to prayer.
This jump in number and deep spiritual working was especially evident in the Ukraine camps. It seems that the Lord, along with sending Putin’s treacherous bands into Ukraine, is sending His Spirit into the hearts of these poor, beleaguered people. So God by His Spirit gathered the largest number ever to a children’s camp in Ukraine. And at the youth camp 23 of 30 teenagers were boys – so different from the usual where girls outnumber boys by a ratio of 2 to1. And even at the last camp with a drawing card for ethnic Hungarians to learn the Ukrainian language– so important these days when minority Hungarians in western Ukraine must know Ukrainian in case the entire country is engulfed in war – even here the Spirit of God was at work in hearts. For when our great God works to save, all things must work together for the good of those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
For God’s work means the Father planned it all, the Son paid the entire price for it, and the Father and Son now send the Spirit to make it happen in time. God can do this in small or large numbers. If in large numbers, we call it revival and conceive of it as sent by His Spirit. But if it is only one person, we are less apt to see its stunning, supernatural quality. But this Hungarian work comes from only one mind. In 1990, it looked as if nothing was happening. Yet God gave us a school, then a way to send out workers, then the ability to introduce many changes in our new denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central & Eastern Europe (including home schooling). And now, just as my Mission and I are ending our part, it seems to be going forward as if we were never there, though we know that the Mission and I were essential (as God’s instruments) during the first 24 years of this work.
And where are the Mission and I now? At this year’s end, we plan to turn everything over to the national church. Our properties will be theirs, and we will not send them any new money. They will, however, be able to start to use our emergency fund there – enough for two more years of help for our 16 pastors until their 22 congregations can become 100% self-supporting. But we must still aid some critical projects that we now see will spill over into next year. The main one is the Budapest project (see my last letter) where I estimated we would need $130,000 above the selling price of our current property to buy another property. It now appears that we will need $50,000 more to buy what we need. So our part in this is now $180,000. We will also need $120,000 to replace three cars in our aging fleet of 13 cars and three expansion projects for congregations that are outgrowing their meeting halls. This totals $300,000 which, by Christmas, will only be $240,000 if current giving holds. We will then need you to persevere with us the first 8 months of next year (up to August 31) to reach this $240,000 goal ($30,000/mo).
And since Clara and I could not lay up much for retirement all these years, we ask you, when we reach this first goal, to use the last four months of 2015 to help us by designating your giving toward our retire-ment. In the last 10 years, Clara and I took almost no salary in order to buy the essentials for our men on the field and their work for Christ and His church. (If churches or donors designated anything for us, we used it for ourselves, but because the field needs were always critical, we appealed for them and not ourselves.) To summarize, we ask you to persevere with us to the end of 2015, giving the first 8 months toward these special projects and the last 4 months toward a small fund of $120,000 (which we would use to buy an annuity to increase our income stream the rest of our earthly journey).
I have another request of our donors (I will contact our churches separately re. this). Clara and I cannot continue our current system of mailing our letter/supplement in 2015. But, beginning 2015, I can email you to keep you informed for prayer and giving. So email your address to me or send me (regular mail) the email address of a relative or friend who can print it and give it to you. If you absolutely cannot do this, let me know by regular mail, in which case we will make an exception. We will also make an exception for those at Westminster PCA, Lancaster (where we hand it out postage free) Summary: Please email me your email address (unless I have it now) OR write me (at the mission or our address below) and ask to be kept on our current mailing list. It’s very simple. I’m now 82, and Clara will be 83 in a few days. We have only so much strength. But God be praised that we could live to see this God-prepared army cross the Jordan and enter the promised land – though we could not go in with them.
A few more words. We now have five great-grandchildren we would like to see before we go to glory and encourage in the Lord. (All five live on the West Coast.) Also, our one grandson, Eric Rapp, had a very complex procedure (ERCP) August 14 involving his liver. It was helpful in giving diagnostic information, had therapeutic value, and no damage was done by this risky procedure. Please keep praying for Eric (20 yrs) and his wonderful testimony for Christ.
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob and Clara Rapp