05 Sep

September 2019 Ministry Update – Deputation Blessings 🚙

JJ and Esther at "School"

Dear friends and family,

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

– Philippians 4:11

> Click here to download this letter as a printable PDF <

Challenges and Blessings

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.

Deputation 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.

Provision and Progress

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 likelihood.

Itinerary and Communication

This next 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 mail.

* If you would like to be added to my email list in order to receive more frequent updates, please write me at joseph@reachandteach.org.

Prayer and Praise

JJ and Esther at “School”

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 dying world.

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

Joseph S Kotvas

(904) 335-8563 | joseph@reachandteach.org | www.reachandteach.org

30 May

May 2019 Ministry Update – God is Real

Dear friends and family,

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!

> Click here to download this letter as a printable PDF <

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 Luis’s Life

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 expenses.

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.

Luis Huaicho at the Efata Deaf Camp

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.

Praising the Lord for His Provision

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

Joseph S Kotvas

(904) 335-8563 | joseph@reachandteach.org | www.reachandteach.org

09 Mar

March 2019 Ministry Update – Back on Deputation

Dear friends and family,

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.

> Click here to download this letter as a printable PDF <

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

Joseph S Kotvas

(904) 335-8563 | joseph@reachandteach.org | www.reachandteach.org

28 Dec

December 2018 Ministry Update – Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

In this letter, read about ministry activities, souls saved, ongoing projects, and current opportunities.

> Download PDF to Print <

> View the presentation <

“With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close, we want to express to you our heartfelt appreciation and joy for another year of blessing, collaboration and service to the King of kings and Lord of lords…”

  1. Thank You
  2. Trip to the North
  3. Pastor Joe is Back
  4. Bible Conference / Preacher Boy’s Contest / Family Fun Day
  5. San Juan de Lurigancho Christmas Activity / Souls Saved
  6. Efata Deaf Camp 2019 / Sponsors Needed
  7. Family News / Upcoming Deputation

Check out the latest photos, and an adorable video of Esther learning to walk!

You can download our December 2018 ministry update as a one-page PDF to print, or view it online as an interactive Sway presentation.

(904) 335-8563 | joseph@reachandteach.org | www.reachandteach.org

14 Jan

A New Year

January 2017 Prayer Letter

¿Prefiere Español? ¡Haz Clic Aquí! Download PDF to Print

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, Missionaries to the Deaf in Peru, South America

It’s a new year – time to reflect on what has gone before and look to the future for what God has in store.  Zulema and I are so thankful for all the Lord’s blessings throughout 2016 and for what he is doing today.

Our Family

My Beautiful Family

Our Beautiful Family

2016

Joseph James was born December 18, 2015, and we’ve watched him blossom throughout the past year.  He began walking shortly before his first birthday.
He is saying more and more words, using a mixed vocabulary of English, Spanish, and Sign Language!

There’s nobody cuter.  Even at his young age, he’s showing a fiercely independent spirit. We’ve got our work cut out for us!

2017

Lord willing, within two months I will receive my Peruvian citizenship and passport!  As a dual citizen, I will be able to come and go as needed inside and outside of Peru.

Please pray that the process will go smoothly.  Once my papers are done, I will also be able to vote and contribute to Peruvian politics. Next project: Zulema’s US citizenship!

Efata Christian School

Some of my 5th Grade Class

Some of my 5th Grade Class

2016

Last year I taught six deaf students in the fifth grade. It was a unique group, several had learning disabilities or recurring health issues, and two of the others were new to Efata, with a great deal of catching up to do.

The class did well, but they will need some more work before moving on to sixth grade. I will have them again this year. Two of my students made professions of faith and were baptized last year.

2017

This school year will begin in March.  Lord willing, I will have my students from last year, along with four more coming up from fourth grade.  I’m excited to try some new methods for teaching language; I want my students to be successful.

Pray for salvations and for spiritual growth. Also, please pray that the Lord will send us more teachers and provide for their salaries.

Efata Baptist Church

Lives changed at our Bible Conference

Lives changed at our Bible Conference

2016

2016 was a good year of for our church, with several challenging missions and Bible conferences. We held separate deaf and hearing Bible conferences, and the deaf Bible conference with Lee Johnson and Ray Bradley had a great impact on our people.

Our attendance has held steady and many souls have been saved and baptized.  We’re looking forward to what God will do this year!

2017

Our first major activities this year are the deaf camp and youth camp. Deaf camp begins January 31! We haven’t held a deaf camp for years, and we’re praying that this one will encourage, strengthen and challenge our people to serve him.

The theme for camp this year is “Clean Hands and Pure Hearts.” We want our people to grasp the importance of personal sanctification.

The El Agustino Mission

The El Agustino Mission Work

The El Agustino Mission Work

2016

Our ministry in El Agustino has been a great encouragement to me this year, with six professions of faith and three decisions to get right with the Lord.

The attendance every Thursday runs between 25-30 deaf people, and a few of them have begun coming to Sunday services at Efata as well. It’s a joy to see these people grow spiritually and learn God’s Word, many for the first time.

2017

This year we hope to continue to reach out to the deaf in the El Agustino and surrounding area, and also disciple and grow those who have been saved.

Several have been baptized, but others are not ready to take that step. Pray that I would have wisdom as I teach and counsel, and that the people would continue to respond to God’s Word. It is God’s Word that will make a difference in their lives.

Thank you for your prayers and faithful support! God bless.

Joseph, Zulema & JJ, Your missionaries to the Deaf in Peru, South America

joseph@reachandteach.org | (904) 335-8563
1819 Hill Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901

10 Jun

Back in Touch!

The Mission in El Agustino

Dear friends,

Thank you for reading this letter, and for praying for our family.  There is nothing more important to our success than prayers of the saints.  I truly believe I would not still be on the mission field today if it were not for your prayers.

Joseph James Kotvas

Joseph James Kotvas

I want to take a moment in this letter to reconnect with you and apologize for the lack of communication. We haven’t sent out any prayer letters since before our son, Joseph James was born in December! And that’s just not right.

There’s been a lot going on, between being a new parent, preparing and starting the new school year at Efata School for the Deaf, and working in ministry at Efata Baptist Church as well as leading a mission service for the deaf in El Agustino, another area of the city.  I’ve been busy, and we’ve seen much fruit.

Still, You deserve to hear from us more often, and from now on, you will.  I’ll be printing and mailing prayer letters bi-monthly, and sending out email updates weekly.

For now, here are a few praises and prayer requests I’d like to share.

The Mission in El Agustino

The Mission in El Agustino

1. The ministry in El Agustino is growing! We’ve had a constant flow of visitors, and several professions of faith. This week we had 34 in attendance – the most we’ve ever had attend a regular meeting.
2. Our son JJ is five and a half months old, and he’s so much fun. I have to say, I think he’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m biased, but still… 🙂
3. Our Christian School for the Deaf celebrated its 46th anniversary this past week.  Kids and teachers had a blast celebrating with games and contests.  Vernon Miller, the deaf man who founded this ministry in 1970, is rightly remembered as a hero of the faith by the Christian deaf in Peru.
4. We’re starting our yearly missions conference here at Efata next week. Pray that our Deaf and hearing will respond to God’s call to give and go.

Write us back!  It’s an encouragement and a blessing.

God bless,

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
Missionaries to the Deaf and Hearing in Peru, South America