Hi there. This is Joseph Kotvas, your missionary to the Deaf in Peru, South America.
I’m in Peru right now; I’ve been traveling in the States with my family: Zulema, my wife, and JJ and Esther, my two children. The way it worked out, we come back to Peru for a while just all of this hit. We had planned to return to the States on April 2nd, and that hasn’t worked out; the borders have been closed and a curfew has been imposed. No one can go out after 8 o’clock until 5:00 in the morning, and no one can go out period except to the grocery store and to the bank or to the hospital in case of emergency.
But God’s been good to us; we’re together. If this had happening a week or two previous, I would have been in the States by myself, my family here with no way to to get back to them. I’m so thankful the Lord allowed us to to be together at this time and I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Him.
I’ve been able to help the church here livestream their services and do some preaching to the Deaf over Facebook Live and also do some some counseling and witnessing actually through video chat. No one’s coming to the services, but people are scared and people are concerned right now and so there’s been a large opportunity for us to speak truth to people who really weren’t open before that, and I’ve heard testimonies of people in other places that have been saved as a result of coming to realize their own mortality through this crisis.
I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with the Deaf online. I had an opportunity to provide relationship counseling online, and it’s amazing what you can do through that. Now, it’s not a replacement for church, but I sure am glad we’re able to do that.
JJ, come here buddy. I want you to say hi everybody. Tell them, please pray for us in Peru South America.
Our quarantine measure has just been extended; the president just announced that it’s been extended through April 12th, and so just pray for us. We’re doing okay. We’re thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord, but we do need your prayers. Thank you for your prayers and support, God bless you. Bye-bye.
Deaf Camp last week was a tremendous blessing, with one
young deaf girl receiving Christ as her Savior and thirteen people making
decisions to dedicate their lives to the Lord. Several of you who
received my last prayer letter gave to help the campers financially this year;
thank you so much! It
was worth it.
We had over 70 campers this year. Pastor Frank Chavez and Pastor Jorge Pozo, our two Deaf pastors in Peru, directed the camp this year, and they did a great job. It is wonderful to see Pastor Frank assuming more and more leadership and responsibility in ministry. Missionary Markos Lindsey brought great Bible preaching in Peruvian Sign Language throughout the week of camp, and he and his family were such a blessing to our people.
The campers returned to Efata last Friday, and the church immediately transitioned into a Fires of Evangelism Bible Conference and Youth Bible Conference, with Pastors José Aguero, Gil Torres, Franco Loyola and Carlos Sauceda as guest speakers. Deaf and hearing believers from around the country came together for a week of challenging Biblical preaching.
Zulema is in Peru right now with our two children, and she enjoyed helping with the hospitality and interpreting at the conference. She is going through a lot with her health this pregnancy.
It has been difficult for her, and doubly so these past three
weeks as I have been away from the family for the first time in our marriage.
Please pray for strength for her and the kids. We are looking forward eagerly to being reunited in Peru
on March 9th.
Meanwhile, I have continued to travel, preach, and present
our work to churches across the United States, and our labor and ministry of
deputation has yielded much fruit. Each church has been so kind and generous to
me and to my family, and over the course of the last month, three additional churches have
notified me that they are adding us to their missionary family.
Providence Baptist Church in Springfield, TN, Bible Baptist Church in Grove City, OH, and Open Door Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO, thank you for partnering with us to reach this world for Christ! Thank you to each of you reading this letter for your faithful prayers and support. Praise the Lord!
God bless, Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
As I write this prayer letter, we are
preparing to drive to Chicago and board a plane headed to Lima, Peru. We have so much to share with you
this month, with major family news as well as ministry opportunities. We are
thankful for the Lord’s promises in Psalm 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths
of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
On Friday, January 17, Zulema’s
brother, David, went home to be with the Lord. While this is a difficult time for
our family, we are praising the Lord for David’s testimony, and because of our blessed hope of reunion with
him at the end of our own journey.
A charismatic and expressive signer,
David dabbled in television acting and directed sign language dramatic
presentations. He made friends easily and was quick to help when a deaf person
needed an interpreter or advocate. David learned the Word of God from an early
age, but for years he chose a different path and faced the consequences of
My wife and I are so thankful that in
the final year of his life, David accepted the Lord as his Savior and lived out
the fruits of the Spirit in his life, demonstrating love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance in his own
life. Instead of being a tragedy, his life became a trophy of grace.
Over 400 people attended the service
this past Sunday at Efata Baptist Church, including over 100 who would not
ordinarily come under the preaching of God’s Word, but came out to remember
David’s life and pay their respects. We are thankful for David’s life, and most of all, we
look forward to meeting David again one day in glory.
Zulema and I are thrilled to announce
we are expecting a baby this September! JJ and Esther are looking forward to having a brother or
sister. God has been so good to our family. Zulema’s pregnancies have always
been difficult, and in order for her to receive the care she will need as I
travel on deputation, we
are making the difficult decision for her to remain in Peru with our children
while I travel and present our ministry over the next few months. We
are flying out this Saturday, January 25. At Efata, our parents will be able to
help with the children and monitor Zulema’s health. I will return to the US on
February 6, and once Zulema is well enough to travel, she will join me back in
Deaf camp is upon us! Those of you who helped us last year
may remember that we had five professions of faith as well as seven young
people who surrendered their lives to preach the Gospel to the Deaf. This year,
Brother Frank Chavez and Brother Jorge Pozo are coordinating the Deaf camp, and
we do need sponsors
again for those deaf young people who want to go but don’t have the funds.
If you would be able to sponsor some
campers, please let us know! This year, the cost per camper is $45.00. Deaf camp is a wonderful
opportunity to invest spiritually in our people.
Other Praises and Prayer Requests.
Praise the Lord for His presence, his power,
his protection and his provision.
Praise the Lord we are now at 30% of our
needed support level, and we have many meetings on the calendar this year.
Praise the Lord for eternal life and for new
life in the womb.
Pray for souls to be saved and lives changed during Deaf
Pray for safety as we travel, and for provision for travel
Pray for Zulema’s health during the pregnancy.
Pray for our family during this time of necessary
Pray for fruit as we labor, and for more laborers to be
called out into the harvest.
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
While I will send out a
full prayer letter in January, today I want to wish each of you a Merry
Christmas and Blessed New Year and thank you for your faithful prayers and
support. Our ministry is possible because of the Lord’s grace toward us
As we conclude this
year, allow me to say thank you:
To those who have been supporting us now for five years, holding the
ropes for us from the beginning of our ministry. The fruit we have seen on the
mission field abounds to your account!
To the new churches who have accepted the challenge to begin supporting
us this year. Thank
you for believing in us, and in our Great Savior!
To those who gave us generous love offerings this year. So often, God has used these special
offerings to sustain us in the face of accidents and personal needs.
To those who have prayed for us throughout this time. “The effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much.”
God bless you for your
heart for World Evangelism among the Deaf!
Thank you for your prayers and support! God is so good to us. It is our joy and privilege to be able to serve him in ministry. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”– Psalm 122:1
A New Supporting Church. In October, I had the privilege to present our burden in six new churches across Kentucky and Illinois. We are thankful to Pastor Al Roose and the members of New Beginnings Baptist Church, Creston, IL, for partnering with us as our latest supporting church. One step closer to Peru!
This month we are traveling through Missouri, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida as we continue raising support for the ministry to which God has called us.
World Evangelism Fellowship. Last week, I attended the World Evangelism fellowship and heard Dr. Don Sisk, Pastor Austin Gardner and other veteran missionaries preach on missions at Vision Baptist Church, Alpharetta, GA. What a challenge! The opportunity to fellowship with missionaries and learn from them at every stage of ministry – beginning deputation, finishing deputation, on furlough after some time on the field, and retiring with decades of service – was invaluable.
Macedonia World Baptist
Missions Annual Conference. As I write this letter, we are preparing for our mission
board’s annual conference, to be held this year at Calvary Baptist
Church in Statesville, NC from November 13th to 17th.
This will be another opportunity both to present our calling and to “sharpen
our iron” with others with the same vision to fulfill the great commission and
reach every creature with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Family News. Joseph James
(JJ) and Esther are doing great. Esther turned two last month, and we enjoyed
celebrating with our current neighbors, Missionary Javier Pizarro and his
family. Esther is
adorable, learning and growing every day. What a precious gift from God!
Health Requests. Zulema’s health
seems to be getting worse; please keep her in your prayers. She deals with back
pain, insomnia, and dizziness and balance issues, among other things. We really
need to do some further testing to ascertain if there is anything we can do to
get some relief. Our support is not yet sufficient to cover medical insurance
or bills, and we are praying for the Lord’s wisdom and provision in this
matter.Also, please pray for the health of one of
Zulema’s family members in Peru. I can’t give more details at this point, but we truly appreciate your prayers.
In Case You Missed It. Last month I included an appeal for
help for Rafael Ramirez, a fellow missionary in Venezuela, along with a link to
his recent video presentation. If you haven’t had the change to watch it yet,
please take the time to do so; it is a great blessing and eye-opener to see what God is doing in
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
A Whirlwind of Meetings. In September, we traveled throughout Michigan, sharing our work in 15 (!) churches. Thank you so much to each of you who hosted us and loved on us. We are so blessed. We received several offerings and pledges that will allow us to purchase needed clothing, as well as a laptop for ministry use. We made many new friends as we traveled. I hope to stay in touch with many of you, whether through email, Facebook, or telephone.
More to Come. This month we are presenting our work in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Illinois; in November we will be speaking in Missouri, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, and then we will be headed up to Ontario for more meetings and a VERY white Christmas in December!We are currently scheduling meetings for 2020 and 2021. Some of the best meetings are scheduled by personal reference; would you help us connect with more churches and present our burden for the Deaf in Peru?
Our Trusty Van. Those of you who received our
September letter may remember how the Lord provided for us to purchase an ’06
Dodge Grand Caravan at the end of August. We started out at around 201,900
miles, and the van certainly worked hard last month, adding 4000 more miles to
the odometer! It has been so amazing and encouraging to see how the Lord has provided each time
there has been a need and kept us on the deputation trail.
Deaf People Along the
Way. We enjoyed
meeting two deaf people last month. My wife was able to interpret the service
for one deaf lady in eastern Michigan, and we spent some time with her
afterwards. We try to be an encouragement as the Lord allows to those deaf
Christians we encounter, as well as challenge churches to reach out to the Deaf
in their communities. Several people approached us after services mentioning
specific deaf people whom they will try to reach in the coming weeks. Pray for them! It’s not easy
reaching across languages and cultures. Pray that the Lord will give them
boldness and that he will give the increase.
Family Praises and
Prayer Requests. My
son JJ (3 ½ years old) is learning more about God every day. When we pass
churches on the road, he calls them out to us, recognizing what he calls “Christ’s
letter t” 😃
We remind him that it is called the cross, and he replies, “yes, where
God died for us.” He has much to learn, but we’re on the right track! It’s
heartwarming how people have gone out of their way to bless our children. JJ
prayed for over a month for a “Bumblebee” transformer robot toy, and at a
church in Grass Lake, MI, the children were showered with “Christmas presents.”
My son was jumping for
joy because God answered his prayer!
Esther will turn two on October 16th, and we can’t
believe it! She’s talking so much already, in full sentences. She’s so much
fun. She’s a handful, too! She and JJ keep us on our toes 24/7. Continue praying for my wife’s
health; she deals with a lot most days.
Opportunities in Venezuela. I close this month’s letter with an appeal for help for another missionary. Brother Rafael Ramirez and his family have been doing a wonderful work with the Deaf in Venezuela despite incredible economic and social hardships. Please take a few minutes to watch the following video and pray about joining me in giving to help this wonderful ministry. Also, please pray for me as I may have the opportunity to travel to Venezuela in 2020 to encourage the churches there in their work with the Deaf.
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
P.S. As announced last month, this letter has been sent via email only. I’ll continue to mail printed letters every three months. To make other arrangements, please give me a call at (904) 335-8563 and I will gladly accommodate your needs.
Thank you all
for your prayers and support! Deputation is a major undertaking, but slowly but
surely becoming a “new normal” for our family, as we develop and refine
strategies for the constant packing and unpacking, budgeting for eating in and
out, managing long trips and the pressures that come along with them, and
contacting and following up with churches and friends. We are on our third
vehicle (this one’s an ’06 Dodge Grand Caravan!) in six months, and we are
putting on the miles quickly.
certainly offers its challenges, but it has also been such a joy and blessing
for our family. The time I spend with my wife and children as we travel has
been a real treasure, and our family is better and stronger for it. The
constant tangible demonstrations of God’s providence have awed us and built our
faith. God has encouraged us, humbled us, and taught us to both be content with
a little and to appreciate the many material and spiritual blessings that he
does send our way.
Just last month, when our minivan
broke down on the side of the road, we received a total of $2000 in one-time
love offerings from people hundreds of miles away, who had no idea of the need
we were experiencing at that moment. We were able to get back on the road
without missing a single scheduled meeting. Many thanks to Faith Baptist Church
in Terre Haute, IN and to the Nelsons in Harrisburg, IL for allowing the Lord
to show us his love and provision through their generosity.
Thank you to
each of you who has been supporting us and praying for us throughout these past
six months (and some of you for the past four and a half years)! We started
this deputation in the middle of March at around 10%, and with the monthly
commitments of four new churches, we are now up to around 15% of our goal!
I am sure that additional churches we have visited over the past six months
will also be taking us on shortly; several pastors have indicated such a
month will be a busy month for us, with 13 meetings scheduled for September. I
write this letter from Kalkaska, Michigan; please pray for us as we travel
around Northern and central Michigan through September before heading back down
to Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky in October.
I will be
communicating with you more frequently from here on out; several pastors have expressed
a preference for monthly updates. From now on, I’ll be sending out my updates
via email the first week of each month. Postage is not cheap, and my mailing
list is rather large, so the first week of each quarter, (March, June,
September, and December) I will send out my three latest letters via regular
* If you would like to be added to my email list in order to
receive more frequent updates, please write me at email@example.com.
Please continue to pray for our health
and strength on the deputation trail. JJ’s dental surgery went remarkably well,
and he no longer complains of pain in his teeth or gums. Zulema’s chronic struggles
with fatigue, dizziness and nausea continue to recur, but she pushes through it
and is a wonderful blessing as a wife, mother and travel companion. Later this
winter, we will be on the Ontario peninsula in southern Canada, and my
children, growing up in Peru, have never dealt with temperatures that low,
especially for extended periods. Please pray we don’t fall ill!
JJ is working
on reading and writing his ABC’s, and is doing very well, and Esther is
parroting everything any of us say. Zulema and I are so thankful for them both.
Also pray for
the ministry back in Peru. We yearn to get back to the work there; there is so
much to be done, and so many souls to reach. Pray with us to the Lord of the
Harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. It’s our joy, privilege and
grave responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with this lost and
That’s all for now, but we’ll be in touch soon! Again, please be sure to let me know if you are not receiving my email updates, and I will get you added to the list.
God bless, Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
God’s power is real, and I’d just
like to testify to his goodness and blessings today. God has done more than we
could have imagined in our lives over the past few months of travels. May His
name be praised!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the
Greek. Romans 1:16
God’s Grace in
In my last letter, I shared what a
blessing our January deaf camp was for our ministry, with five salvation
testimonies. In April, we learned more about one of their stories. Among those
saved was a young man named Luis Huaicho. Luis was a “low-verbal” deaf man who
traveled around Peru “singing” on the buses, asking for charity for his living
Luis showed up at Efata just a few weeks before camp, and he was immediately interested in going. The day before camp began, he came and brought a little plastic bag with assorted change and counted out enough to pay for camp. He was a coin short, but we left it at that. Luis asked me if the casual clothing he was wearing was all right for camp, and he informed me that he didn’t have special clothing for soccer or for swimming. I told him that what he was wearing would be fine; he was welcome to wear his jeans and polo shirt. He seemed relieved.
Luis settled in well at camp, and
when I asked him how he was doing, he grinned and said he was glad to be there.
We learned the next day, however, that Luis wasn’t participating in any of the
outdoor camp activities. We realized
that he literally didn’t have a change of clothes! As soon as we could get
out to the town, Zulema and I went shopping in the market for clothing for
Luis. We bought him a couple of changes
of shirts, pants, socks and other necessities for camp, and gave them to
the male camp counselors to give to Luis. That afternoon, Luis came to me with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, and
grabbed me with a big hug, thanking me so much for his new clothes. He
couldn’t get over the fact that we had cared enough to do this for him.
That week, Luis prayed and trusted in Christ as his Savior. He rode the
bus back home with a smile on his face, and when he got back, he asked to sleep
at my father-in-law’s apartment, since he didn’t have anywhere to go that
night. In the morning, Luis left his backpack with his new clothes at my
father-in-law’s place and went out… and he
never came back. We didn’t know what happened to him, and we had no way to
contact him. All we could do was pray
for him. After a few weeks, his father, who lived in the mountain city of
Cuzco, contacted Efata, looking for Luis, but we had no new information. Photos
of Luis started circulating on social media and on the news, as others tried to
locate this deaf young man.
Finally, our worst fears were
realized, as in the middle of April the
government identified Luis’s body at a local morgue. He had been there
since February 15th! Apparently, he had been mugged and murdered on
the unforgiving streets of Lima, possibly the day after he returned from camp.
As I heard the news, all I could think of was that I would see Luis again in
heaven! That our deaf camp had made an eternal difference. That Luis’s life was changed forever because of the love we showed him,
and more to the point, because of God’s love.
Still Going – Because God!
Toward the end of April, we drove
down from Indiana to Florida for several meetings in the Fort Myers area. About
half an hour from the FL / GA border, our trusty Yukon gave out with a bang in
the middle of the interstate! Thankfully, no one was hurt, but we were stranded
at my grandmother’s house in North FL for several days. A combination of engine
and transmission failure made a repair financially unadvisable. We couldn’t afford the repairs, let alone a
new vehicle, but God could!
Brother Fred Kindhart of our
mission board, Macedonia, put me in touch with the Philadelphia Baptist Church in
Calhoun, GA, which gave us a 2010 Chrysler Town & Country, free and clear,
in great condition! The Pastor had tried to sell it and even give it away at
least three times already, to no avail, because God had our name on it! The van was just what we needed to get back
on the trail, praising His name.
Sometimes I catch myself acting like
the children of Israel in the wilderness, always wondering whether God is
really going to provide for the need at hand, instead of looking back and
recognizing that He always has, and he
always will. Over these past three months on deputation, God has been faithful and has provided for
need after need – health, housing, vehicle, finances, lodging, and more – in
unexpected ways and at unexpected times. God is good all the time!
Our family is doing well; pray for JJ as we take him in for an
intensive dental surgery on June 25, and for Zulema; as we enter the hot summer
months of June and July & August, her
skin condition that flared up a few months ago seems to be reappearing. Thankfully,
many of the symptoms she was dealing with such as dizziness, numbness and
migraines disappeared after her root canal in March. Thanks, Dr. Lovan!
Pray for me as I schedule meetings, and as we present the work God has for us in Peru. We’re still going strong, and still serving because God is real, and with God, all things are possible.
God bless, Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
Greetings in the blessed name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your prayers, and for taking the time to read this ministry update. I write to you from West Baden Springs, Southern Indiana. Two weeks ago, on Monday, February 25th, we returned in the US to finish deputation after completing our first full four-year term on our mission field.
As I mentioned in our last letter, our final ministry project in Peru was the annual Deaf camp, which we held this year from Monday, January 28 through Friday, February 1. The groundwork for the camp was much prayer and many months in the making. I thank God for everyone who participated and gave to make the camp a success, to God’s great glory. We had 108 campers present, five people made professions of faith in the Lord, and seven young people surrendered their lives to the Lord’s service. Several of our missionaries working with the deaf and hearing around Peru were able to come and participate in various teaching roles.
Our main speaker for the camp was Pastor Jonathan Ramirez, our missionary in Ecuador. Jonathan did a wonderful job, and it was a joy to have him and his family with us. Jonathan is my wife’s cousin, and he served at Efata Baptist Church as the pastor for the deaf for years before leaving to plant a church in Ecuador. Both of Jonathan’s parents are deaf.
Several months ago, Jonathan was diagnosed with a serious medical issue, and just after camp, he underwent an invasive operation there in Lima. He is now going through a painful time of rest and recovery, but praise God he is doing well. We were glad to have him and his family with us during the weeks just before we returned to the States. Please pray for Jonathan’s ministry in Ecuador and for his continued recovery. He will be returning to Lima for another operation in about six months to complete (Lord willing) his treatment.
Please pray for my wife Zulema as well. She has been struggling with a non-contagious skin condition since last December that eventually spread across almost her entire body, discoloring large swaths of her skin and provoking considerable discomfort. We went to four different doctors and dermatologists in Peru throughout January and February, and they gave us three different diagnoses. It appears that the correct diagnosis is Psoriasis Rosea, Thankfully, the virus seems to be receding. We appreciate your prayers!
As we prepared for camp and dealt with Zulema’s health, we have been getting ready for our deputation. Over the next two years, we will be visiting churches across America sharing our vision for the deaf and for Peru. Deputation is never easy, but I can certainly testify that, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.” Our God has prepared our way before us and has provided for us at every step of the way, and we thank him and praise Him for it.
We are currently at a home for missionaries provided by the team at Shepherd’s Bethel in West Baden Springs, Indiana. We have been blessed beyond measure, as despite our (very) limited resources, God continues to use His people to meet our every need. As we get started traveling in the States, our financial needs are the basics: we are trusting God to provide for our car payment, utilities, and health sharing costs this month, as well as our daily bread and gas money to get to the next meeting.
Our prayer is that throughout this time God would continue to open doors and move hearts, giving us grace in His sight and the sight of the brethren as we seek support not only for our personal ministry, but also as a channel of blessing for the Efata church, school and home. As the Lord allows us to return to Peru and minister, we will be investing in young men and women in the Bible Institute and Bible college and preparing the next generation of Deaf and hearing leaders to reach the Deaf in Peru and beyond, planting churches and ministries across Peru.
We covet your prayers for our ministry and our family. Pray that God would keep in me a humble, servant’s heart and allow us to be good examples for our children and for you as your missionaries, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
God bless, Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther