Josef Sponar – Kurim, Czech Republic

Hello everyone,


Thank you for your support of God's ministry here in the Czech Republic. I appreciate your prayers and support; it is such a blessing from God. I would like to update you on how the ministry and life are going.

One passage to which I often return now, as the ministry intensifies before the summer camps and church events here in Czech, is Isaiah 66:1-2:


Thus says the Lord:

Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

This passage is really important to me because it redefines our ministerial success and success in general to a very different dimension. Isaiah shifts our focus from our actions to the heart behind our works. It is quite counterintuitive because, as sinful humans, we are inclined to boast in our works and focus on what is visible to our eyes.

This means that our focus can be on how many lectures or sermons we give, rather than on our attitude while moving from one church to another. We might look at how big our camp is or how many weeks of ministry we can do in one summer, instead of focusing on our spiritual state and devotion to God amid this busy season.

When our ministry resembles the examples stated above, we are treating God like bringing your best friend a birthday gift of peanut butter, knowing your friend is allergic to peanuts. Our service to God might look nice, but when all the details are known, it is no longer beautiful.

So, what does true ministry look like? First, true ministry to God has a correct understanding of who God is in comparison to ourselves. We must understand that God is a limitless being with undisputed authority. God asks a rhetorical question: where is the house that you would build for me? The humble heart doesn't even need to reply, knowing the answer is nowhere. We are insufficient to add or give anything to God that doesn't already belong to Him. This question reflects Solomon's prayer at the temple: But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!(1 Kings 8:27). Like Solomon, we must acknowledge God's overarching character, independent of our ministry (Rom 11:33-36). We must live under His authority, which cannot be done without realizing and believing in His reign. The question of verse one for everyone is: do you believe it? And if you do, what is your reaction?

In verse two, God tells us the reaction He requires. He announces it through the phrase: but this is the one to whom I look.It means this is the one to whom I look with favor, as the HALOT dictionary suggests. What are God's parameters of beauty? It is humility and fear. Both words emphasize that it is not about what you do but who you are.

As humans, we are not born with humble and God-fearing hearts. On the contrary, we are prideful and naive. Therefore, we need to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. Trust that through His humility and complete obedience to His Father shown on the cross, we can be reconciled before God. Jesus died and was raised again so that the one who believes in Him can have such a humble, fearful attitude.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I hope that your work is not in vain due to a prideful, not-fearing attitude. Watch your heart, pray, read your Bible, and view your life through what you are reading. Whenever your life is not aligned with what the Bible says (James 1:22), repent of your sins. Also, look for ways to minister to others (Phil 2:3). But never forget whom you are serving, for whom you are reading your Bible, praying, and serving. Do not forget who your God is and how great He is. When this is at the forefront of our minds, our hearts will be humble, and our approach to scripture will be fearful. If you could also pray for me to never forget these truths, I will thank you one day when I find out!

Aside from this spiritual encouragement, God has given me the opportunity to work more with young guys in our church. One of the Ukrainian mothers brought her 13-year-old, fatherless son with her. By God's grace, I can spend some time with him and use our relationship for discipleship. He helped me with the kids' program at the Czech Bible Institute conference. When we are in the kids' clubs, he helps younger kids open their Bibles to the right place and serves more and more self-sacrificially. Please pray for him. I am not sure of his exact spiritual state right now. He is either a very young Christian or very close to being born again. Please pray for him as well as for my wisdom in leading him.

Another guy, who was baptized a few months ago, studies the Bible with me every week. He is a young Christian and has a desire to become a Bible teacher, which makes me joyful and fearful at the same time. At the Czech Bible Institute conference, one young guy who serves in a Myanmarian Baptist church asked me for help with his kids' club teachings. I had one follow-up call and am excited to help him in his endeavor. His need is something I encounter more and more: people in churches who are hungry for good materials and curriculums on how to teach and minister to kids and youth. Please pray for me to use the talents and experiences I have gained in the last ten years of kids' ministry to serve the Lord best, as well as for these dear believers doing their best to serve their kids.

In our kids' club, we have finished the whole Bible and are starting over again from Genesis. The youth group is going through the book study of "Opening Up the Book of Proverbs" by Jim Newheiser. I really enjoy asking our youth what they are reading, and I can report that some of them are now reading the book of Proverbs on their own because they understand its importance. I am also thankful for the group of leaders who faithfully and self-sacrificially serve in both. They are capable of running the whole show without me, which is a success because I am replaceable (even if I like to do it all). Please pray for your kids and youth to know the gospel and live it out from their conviction (2 Tim 3:14-15).

Thanks to God, through the TMAI, I can grow more in my preaching abilities and skills to be a more effective preacher and teacher. I have completed two semesters of biblical Hebrew and now I am preparing for a pastoral leadership class. After pastoral leadership, there are two more courses ahead (Theology 2 and Advanced Hermeneutics). I am in the second of three phases to become an ACBC counselor. It is my joy to learn and teach for the glory of God. In the last three months, I have been able to teach a few classes in apologetics and Biblical counseling at the Czech Bible Institute. It is encouraging because not only do I enjoy my lectures, but some students have given positive feedback.

Looking ahead to the holidays, there are three big events where I will be in charge of the kids' program. Please pray for the kids who will be hearing the gospel to respond well, pray for their leaders to disciple them well, and for the safety of all of us. The first event is the camp of our five partnering churches, where we have around 80 kids and 55 helpers coming. The second is a church retreat, where many kids are familiar with the Bible but often not born again. The third is a day camp here in Kurims church. I am most excited about our day camp because there are 43 kids signed up, and more than half of them are from unbelieving families around Kurim town.

With such a filled schedule, it is challenging to stay spiritually and physically vigilant. Speaking of physical condition, please pray for my knee. I tore my ACL during a basketball game right before Christmas. I have surgery scheduled after the camp season on the 26th of September. Please pray that I can make it there without any further injury and for financial provision for the surgery.

Thank you for your prayers. Also, thank you for your support through Come Over and Help. I am very thankful to the Sunday School class of Bill from the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, who graciously donated $700 to help before the summer. I will use their support to make some important fixes to my car, which is crucial for this ministry, and for the needs of the kids' program. If there is anything left, I will use it to save up for a discounted bundle of resources in Logos Bible software, offered through my university.

If you have any prayer requests, please let me know at I am thankful for the few people who contacted me, and I am really glad for Bill and Evelyn from the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, and Thomas and Meta Moerdyk, who met me here in the Czech Republic.

To God be the Glory,

Josef Sponar