Dear Friends and Family,
As I write this letter, it seems we are on the brink of a new season of fruitfulness here in the Deaf ministry in Peru. The joy of watching the last vestiges of pandemic-era restrictions fall away is hard to describe – a feeling of gratefulness, relief, and freedom to serve as we see fit.
Our Christmas program was very special, with many young people participating for the very first time in a church presentation. We proclaimed the eternal truth that Christ has come to take away the sins of the world.
January was a rough month as the virus made a short but violent resurgence across Peru. Many in our leadership team fell sick, including Zulema and I, and a few of our church members were in intensive care for a while. Praise the Lord all have recovered and are well.
We planned a New Year’s Eve service, banquet, and gift exchange for our Deaf congregation, and had to postpone it because of the contagion among our leaders.
Praise the Lord on January 16th we held the activity, and it was a great encouragement for our people.
Just as quickly as the wave swept across our church, it receded, and with that, we are more determined than ever to reopen completely with no more hesitations or restrictions. Our services have been open in person since the end of 2019, with brief closures since when large numbers of our leaders or congregation were sick. Now it is time to resume our Sunday school classes and Bible training programs in person as before.
In March, we are opening Sunday School classes again; in April, we begin our brand-new intensive Bible institute for the Deaf, and also in April we return to the jungle city of Iquitos for another mission trip to encourage and strengthen a deaf ministry which recently merged with a hearing church in that city.
To those of you who have given toward our vehicle fund, thank you so much. We are halfway to our goal of $22,000 for a van that will meet the needs of our family here on the mission field as well as the need for transportation for the Bible institute and evangelistic mission trips. We continue to save and pray that God will provide for this need.
I have another opportunity that I would also like to present to you this month. The Efata Bible Institute for the Deaf is a new program designed to give young Deaf men and women a strong biblical foundation for the Christian life, the Christian family, and ministry in their local church.
Through this program with the Lord’s help, we will train the next generation of Deaf Gospel preachers, Sunday School teachers and Godly parents and give them the tools they will need to teach others.
The Institute is a three-year program of Bible education, language reinforcement and hands-on work training in carpentry, sewing, and other practical “tent-making” skills. Zulema and I are so excited about this nascent opportunity. Please pray with us for our incoming class.
We will need scholarships for most if not all our students. It is going to cost us $140 a month for each student to feed, house and teach them. I am praying for sixteen sponsors who would be willing to commit to $70 a month for April through December. This will be enough to fully cover the cost of 8 Deaf Bible Institute students for their first year. These sponsors could be churches, individuals, businesses, or Sunday School classes. Would you consider helping with this need?
None of this would be possible without so many of you who are giving every month to support our family and ministry here in Peru. God has been so good to us, as have you all. Thank you for partnering with us in this great work. If you would like to come see the work and participate firsthand in Deaf missions, reach out to me! We would love to have you.
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace