“It was hard because I never knew what they will learn from somewhere. I did not know what they will ask me. Moreover, before I took up the position, I as a dustman had a cellar in the cooperative house, which we built with our own means, and I had books worth tens of thousands there. It was smuggled from the West. They never asked me about it during those nine years.”
“My function of the paid worker was established because the state administration, the Ministry of Culture required us to take part in various events that were organized for the purpose of presenting what freedom is like in our country and how the churches are involved in the peace movement and so on. But we were slipping out of it. We told them our members have jobs, we do not have paid clergy nor pastors. If we are to go to the seminars of the Christian Peace Conference, these people need to take a vacation. So, there was this pressure from the state administration to have at least one paid worker. He had to manage all these events and ways more or less as it appeared to the state administration. We recognize that, but we could not oppose it."
“During that time our brother Mojžíšek and Karel Kořínek, doctor of pedagogical sciences, from Prague were the speaker and representative for the state administration. Brother Kořínek was about to retire. Brothers turned to me whether I would accept the position after him. It was during the time I was finishing the second year with the dustmen. So, I accepted that function, of course with all its consequences and obligations which resulted from it. Which was also more less one of the unwritten conditions – being in touch with the officers from the state administration, including the State Security. Well, it was another era of my life which concerns the negative sides of the otherwise positive experience and reality that we were given permission as the religious society. Based on those conditions which often stayed on paper. The fact remains, however, that even under the regime of district and regional ecclesiastical secretaries we have enjoyed a freedom that perhaps no other Christian denomination has had."
“In 1951 we were officially banned as a religious society. The ban lasted until 1956. It was a time which influenced us also in another way because we were officially banned but we did not stop meeting. We split up in small groups so that we would not attract too much attention. Nevertheless, the offices did not miss it and certain pressures started concerning we do not subordinate to the ecclesiastical supervision. During this time our brother, doctor Zeman, was arrested and kept in prison.”
He guaranteed freedom for the church. But he lost his freedom
Jan Kašparec was born on 6 July 1935 in Brno. He grew up in a deeply religious family and it was faith which has been shaping him for his whole life. His father died prematurely and he and his brother became half orphans. Until they were fifteen years old, they visited children asylum in Brno every day. The witness later studied at business school and then he worked his way up and he became the head of one factory in Brno. But because of stress and communist regime, he was eventually forced to transfer to the workers’ professions, among others, he made his living as a dustman. In 1980s he was the speaker of the Křesťanské sbory movement (Open Brethren) and his task was to maintain the relations with the state administration, including the State Security. But the personal sacrifice of Jan Kašparec meant freedom for the whole movement when the believers were tolerated by the regime. Jan Kašparec was the only employee of the Křesťanské sbory in the Czechia at that time who was paid by the Ministry of Culture, specifically the Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs. He resigned in spring 1989. He remembered the euphory of the November days of that year. Jan Kašparec died on April 10, 2021.