15 Feb

Teaching, Preaching, Conferences & Camp

God has been so good to us and our ministry over the past few months. We have been able to lead souls to the Lord, encourage the church and minister across Peru.

August 2022

In August, we led a missions trip to the jungle city of Pucallpa, Peru, where we ministered to the Deaf and hearing congregation there.

We also continued visiting and encouraging our church members in Lima. Pictured here is our son JJ with Flor, the Deaf and blind lady who suffered a terrible accident last June. She was still bedridden in August, and we weren’t sure whether she would ever walk again.

September 2022

In September, our daughter Esther was baptized! We also had several activities at Efata recognizing the contributions of our faithful interpreters and thanking the Lord for the Deaf in our ministry.

Efata Baptist Church has been growing here in Villa El Salvador, and the auditorium was no longer large enough to for the congregation to meet together. We’ve gradually been converting our sports area into a “gymnatorium,” and in September the Lord provided the funds to enclose this space with metal siding providing much-needed protection from the elements.

This was just in time for our church to host a pastors’ conference organized by our friends from Team Peru, with lots of great preaching and many young people surrendering to full-time Christian service.

Also, our little Grace turned two in September.

October 2022

October 16th was Esther’s birthday; she’s already five! Both of our princesses are growing up so quickly. We made a quick trip to the US in October to attend a family wedding and take care of some checkups.

Lord willing, we will have another brief trip at some point over the next few months for follow-up appointments, especially for Grace. Praise the Lord, she is doing well and her throat condition has become less pronounced, but we still want to get the doctors to take another look and let us know if there is anything else we need to do to help her as she develops.

Also In October, I had the opportunity to lead two Deaf young men, Brandon and Aaron, to the Lord. Please pray for Brandon as his family is moving away from Lima this month and he will be without a church or school for the Deaf in his area.

Later that month, we took our Bible institute students and staff on a missions trip to the northern cities of Chiclayo and Ferreñafe to encourage our missionaries Cesar and Leonor Quiroz and their family in the work they are doing for the Lord there. Several of our new institute students taught their first Bible class on this trip.

Efata has been supporting Cesar as he has been reaching the Deaf and hearing in that area for years, and it was a joy for us this month to accept them as missionaries sent out of Efata Baptist Church. Please pray for them and for the Deaf of Chiclayo and the surrounding towns.

November 2022

Our annual Bible Conference was in November. Pastor Wayne Van Gelderen came and spoke for the hearing, and Pastor Bill Schutt Sr. was our guest speaker for the Deaf.

Zulema worked hard to make sure we had great dramas and special music for the Deaf, and Pastor Schutt brought clear, powerful messages in Sign Language.

Several more Deaf and hearing people were saved, including Deaf teens Sebastian and Fernando. Four-year-old Cesia, who can hear, is Deaf Pastor Frank Chavez’s oldest daughter. Cesia paid close attention to the messages and told her father she wanted to be saved.

Pastor Frank witnessed to her in Sign Language, and Zulema was able to help explain the Gospel in Spanish as well to make sure that Cesia understood everything. Little Cesia then asked Jesus to save her!

December 2022

December always brings a whirlwind of activities and celebrations. Esther finished K5, and JJ turned seven.

Our Deaf youth group prepared a special dramatized song for the Christmas service, and I brought a message on living out the Christmas story.

We also hosted a special service and gift exchange for the Deaf, and as you can see in the first photo above, Flor was able to join us for the first time in six months after her accident! She is now walking independently and attending church faithfully! This is a major answer to prayer.

January 2023

The ministry in the jungle city of Pucallpa is currently without a Pastor, and leaders from our church here in Lima have been taking turns traveling to minister to the congregation there. Please pray that God would provide His man for that place.

I was able to return to Pucallpa in January with Zulema, and it was a joy to teach the simple truths of God’s Word there. Rachel, a young teen whose sister was one of our former students at Efata, responded to the message, and Zulema was able to lead her to the Lord. What a blessing it was to baptize her the following week in that ministry.

At the very end of January, we held our first Deaf camp since 2019! As it was only for two nights, we called it a “Deaf retreat,” and to be honest I thought we would only have around 35 or 40 people attend. Praise the Lord we had over ninety in attendance, and two of the campground staff team members, including the ice cream vendor, made professions of faith that week!

We look forward to the year ahead, May the Lord be glorified. Thank you for your prayers and your faithful support. God bless you!


Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace

17 Jul

We’ve been busy – July 2022 Ministry Update

The Kotvas Family
Joseph & Zulema Kotvas, JJ, Esther & Grace

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s been a little longer than usual since our last letter, and I’d like to apologize for that. I’d also like to thank each of you for your continual prayers and support for our ministry here in Peru. It means so much.

In our last letter I asked for prayer and help with several projects. Since then, we have been able to open the Bible Institute for the Deaf with four students.

Bible Institute Chapel
Bible Institute Chapel

A number of other students have expressed interest but are hoping to get started next year.

Bible institute students signing with the church choir
Bible institute students signing with the church choir

After about a month of classes, it became clear that two of our current students are not ready for institute level study. Instead, we are helping them with remedial school programs where they can improve their reading and writing so as to go on to resume the institute courses when they are ready.

Please pray for our students – Rosalinda, Yazzeli, Hilda and Richard – as they study the Word of God and seek to do his will.

Praise the Lord for our new van!
Praise the Lord for our new van!

I also asked for help with the purchase of a van for our family and ministry. Several churches responded generously, and we are so thankful that we were able to purchase a 2011 Honda Odyssey in great shape.

It has already been such a help on visitation and for church activities, as well as just for getting around town with the family.

We have had several outreach activities over the past few months.

Deaf Ministry Outing
Deaf Ministry Outing
Church-Wide Outing
Church-Wide Outing
Memorial Service for Janeth, who attended our church
Testimony time with the young adults
Testimony time with the young adults
Church Anniversary
Father's Day Dinner
Father’s Day Dinner
Deaf Ministry Youth Group Lunch
Deaf Ministry Youth Group Lunch

We have also ramped up visitation, and many have made professions of faith on Deaf ministry visitation.

Out on Visitation
Out on Visitation
Visitation Follow-Up Meeting
Visitation Follow-Up Meeting

In April we traveled to Iquitos to help a church there that is adopting a deaf ministry. We taught Sign Language and preached faithfulness and service.

Preaching in Iquitos
Iquitos Sign Language Students
Iquitos Sign Language Students

In May, we visited the mountain city of Arequipa for a family member’s wedding. While there, I visited a national missionary and was encouraged by his vision for a church plant there. I also preached in another local church in the area.

Preaching in Arequipa
Preaching in Arequipa

In June, Efata held our international missions conference, and the church family had a wonderful spirit of service and sacrifice. We are hoping to take on two or three new missionaries this year.

Missions Banquet
Missions Banquet

The following week, we hosted a ladies’ conference organized by a fellowship of like-minded churches.

Ladies' Conference
Ladies’ Conference

Two months ago, a deaf-blind couple who attend our church faithfully were hit by a large truck. Yoni was flung aside and suffered only minor bumps and scrapes, but Flor was pulled under the vehicle and crushed beneath it.

She has gone through much since then, including three intensive surgeries, but we are so thankful that she is stable and recovering.

Many have given to help with her medical expenses. Please pray that Flor will eventually recover the use of her legs.

Flor is slowly recovering.
Flor is slowly recovering.

Up next is another missions trip. Lord willing, on July 31 we are going with around forty members of our church to the jungle city of Pucallpa, where we plan to spread the Gospel message and do some much-needed maintenance on the ministry infrastructure there.

Please pray for our family – for our health, for our stamina and for our growth in the Word. Our children are doing great; Esther made a profession of faith last month the Wednesday before Father’s Day.

Zulema’s health is up and down, and all of us have been dealing with recurring flus and colds. Thank you for your prayers.


Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace

23 Feb

A New Season of Fruitfulness – February 2022 Ministry Update

Our Family

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.

Deaf Youth Group Christmas Program

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.

Efata Bible Institute for the Deaf Shield

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?

Our Children

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

16 Dec

On the Field and in the Work – December 2021 Ministry Update

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support for our family. God has been so good to us over the past few months as we have settled back into life and ministry on the field. He has provided for all our needs, and we want to give him all the glory.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Lucas 1:49-50

We returned to Peru in August. Thank you again to all those who gave to help with the moving and setup expenses.

In September we had our first major outreach activity since the pandemic began, and over sixty deaf showed up at the church. Our faithful members have been returning, and we continue to encourage those who are still at home to set their fears aside and come together as a church. Many deaf and hearing have been saved and baptized, with new baptisms every week.

The deaf youth group has begun meeting again. We kicked off with a special fellowship activity, and this month I am working with the teens to prepare a Christmas presentation of the many prophesies foretelling the birth of the Savior.

In October, our family visited the jungle city of Iquitos with National Deaf Pastor Frank Chavez and his family. Pastor Frank and I preached a Bible Conference for Missionary Matt McKendree’s deaf ministry there. This was my first visit to the city where my wife was born. It was a rewarding and emotional experience. One deaf lady was saved during the conference. I was honored to speak in two other ministries in Iquitos that week as well.

We are looking forward to working with several of our deaf young people next year in the Bible institute program, preparing them to be Christian leaders and teachers. We are also excited about our new evangelistic outreach to the deaf in cities around Peru. We should be ready to take our first five-day trip this coming April.

This brings me to a special need. I have been looking for a vehicle for our family that can also be used on visitation and for these special evangelistic trips. We’ve settled an 11-passenger JAC Refine. The van will cost us approximately $21,000.00. Please pray with us about this need. This vehicle will be a core part of our ministry going forward. If you can give toward this need, please let me know.

The family is well. Zulema has fully recovered from her gall bladder surgery. She still deals with chronic health issues, and the trip to her birth city as well as a variety of family issues over the past few months have taken a toll on her. She does such a great job in the ministry here. Please keep her in your prayers.

JJ is almost six! He graduated from kindergarten this month, and we are so proud of him. Esther is working through K4 and doing a great job. Both of them are settling in so well here, catching up on Spanish and Sign Language and enjoying the many adventures the mission field holds for them.

As to Grace, she just started walking around on her own, and she is so precious. Please do continue to pray for her. She still chokes up every once in a while because of her throat condition.

God bless you all! We love you and are praying for you.


Joseph S Kotvas

Joseph & Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace

04 Aug

We’re Almost There – July 2021 Ministry Update

The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:17

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank the Lord for each of you who has faithfully supported us throughout the first half of 2021. It is a great joy to share what God has done with us in ministry and as a family over the past several months.

Our deputation continues to bear fruit. We have heard back from several more churches that have adopted us for monthly support. We have also received several special love offerings to help us with the tax situation at Efata as well as our move back to Peru and setup costs there. It is so encouraging to know that you are “holding the ropes” for us as we go forward in ministry.

Praise the Lord, through his grace and faithfulness, the back taxes on the church property in Peru have now been paid off in full as of last week! Thank you so much to those who gave through us toward that project. Also, both our travel and setup expenses have now been fully funded.

In other news, Zulema is now an American Citizen! Now that our entire family are dual citizens, travel will be so much easier. We will not be at the mercy of political whims, and we will be able to go back and forth freely as we do ministry. Thank you all for your prayers throughout this process.

Zulema had her gall bladder removed in June, which was quite the ordeal. Thankfully she is recovering well from the surgery and is ready for the trip back to Peru. While in the hospital, Zulema had the privilege to meet a nurse from Peru and witness to her.

Grace is growing and developing well. Because of issues she was having, we were afraid she might suffer from more generalized paralysis on her right side, but she is strong and full of energy, scooting around and working on standing up!

We were all packed up to return to Peru last Wednesday, July 28. Zulema’s paperwork was done and her passport had arrived… then JJ and Esther both tested positive for COVID last week! Thank the Lord they are doing well with minimal symptoms.

We rescheduled our flight for the third week of August. We are more than ready to get back into the work God has for us there. Pray for us to be able to get on the plane and back to the field.

Praise the Lord our church in Peru continues to gather in person to learn the Word of God, worship, serve, and fellowship together as the body of Christ. July 28th was the 200th anniversary of Peru’s independence as a nation, and it was also inauguration day for a new president. This new president has socialist ties, and he has declared his intention to rewrite the constitution of Peru.

There is a great deal of turmoil and fear in Peru that the country may take a turn toward socialism in the vein of Cuba and Venezuela. Prices are rising across the board, and the national currency shown signs of inflation. Pray for missionaries and believers in Peru. We trust in God, and we know that his plans are always just and right.

We are eager to get back to the field and begin training the next generation of Gospel teachers and preachers for the Deaf.

In March of next year, as the Lord leads, we will begin the new Efata Deaf Bible Institute program, where we will invest in our young Deaf men and women with practical, hands-on training in ministry, doctrine, work, and language. Apart from Bible and language instruction, we will be teaching practical work skills such as carpentry, sewing, and cooking, as well as visitation, teaching and preaching, and counseling.

Through conferences and campaigns across Peru, we will sow the Gospel seed for the Deaf around the country. Pray for wisdom and direction as we pursue the vision God has given us. The time we have spent here in the States has allowed us to reflect and mature as we have learned to rest in Him and thank him for his enduring mercy.

As I close this letter, I would like to recognize the passing of a good friend in ministry. Missionary Ben Millican, who served for 37 years with our mission board, is home with his Savior.

Brother Millican and his church, Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Testamento, have always been a blessing to us. Although Pastor Ben went through so much with his health, he was faithful, continuing to get out and win souls and minister until the end. He is such a great blessing and example for us.

We are so thankful for every pastor, missionary, and faithful Christian we have met along the way. Your testimony as a witness for Jesus gives us strength and encouragement as we press on in the Service of the King.


Joseph S Kotvas

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace

26 Jan

If the Lord Will – January 2021 Ministry Update

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James 4:14-15

Dear friends and family,

As the adage goes, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.” I am thankful we can rest in God’s will as we continue down life’s path.

As we explained in last month’s letter, our deputation plans for 2020 were interrupted by both the border closings and by our pregnancy. We finally did return to the US on December 16th. We are still taking things month by month as the Lord opens and closes doors.

Praise the Lord, just before we came back, I was able to lead a young deaf man to the Lord after the Sunday morning service, and another told me that God used our online Deaf Bible Conference in November to call him to preach the Gospel.

Pray for these new Christians, Jair and Richard, as they grow in the Lord at Efata. Deaf pastors Jorge and Frank, as well as my brother-in-law, Abraham, are doing a wonderful job investing in these and others. I can’t wait to get back to the field and continue to train and reach the Deaf for Christ.

Please pray for Dr. Dean Hamby and his wife, Karen as they are battling COVID. Dr. Hamby is the assistant director of Macedonia World Baptist Missions, our wonderful mission board. He and Mrs. Hamby are such a blessing and help to us, and I know they would appreciate your prayers for a complete and speedy recovery.

Also, pray for our people at Efata Baptist Church. Several of our staff and their families who live on campus have been infected with the virus. Because of the recent spike in cases across Lima, the government has again forbidden in-person services for several weeks. Restaurants, malls, festivals, theaters, casinos, etc. have also been shut down. Of course, the Gospel continues to be preached and taught faithfully over live streaming and video calls.

Efata is also facing a serious financial need right now. We have been negotiating with the local government for several years over municipal taxes. The city abruptly raised our rates retroactively, and we were facing a tax bill of over $75,000.00 in back taxes. Praise the Lord we have been able to get them to reduce that amount considerably.

After exhausting appeal options, we were left with a tax bill of around $20,000. Our Peruvian church members and others have given generously, and we now owe around $16,200. If you can help with this need it will be much appreciated. Once this debt is cleared, we will be able to keep things current as we always did before.

The Kotvas Family

Our family’s current roadmap is to continue in Florida throughout February before hitting the deputation trail during March and April and into May. Praise the Lord, I have been able to preach in several of our supporting churches this month as well as pick up a brand-new supporting church in Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Testamento, Labelle, FL. We are currently just under 40% of our support target, and it is our prayer that we can get to 60% before returning to the field.

We have been doing paperwork for Zulema’s citizenship, and because of pandemic office closures, we are hitting some roadblocks and delays in the process. Please pray that the Lord would allow us to get her American citizenship this year. As always, also pray for her continued health.

Pray too for our baby, Grace. Her respiratory issues were aggravated over the past couple of weeks after catching a cold. We are keeping a close eye on her as she is prone to choking up. We had to rush to the emergency room last week to clear her airways. Please pray for God’s hand of protection on her as we travel.

JJ is now five, and Esther is three. All three of our children love to travel. God has taken care of us every step of the way thus far, and his promises have never failed. We are honored to partner with you in his service.


Joseph S Kotvas

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther, and Grace

09 Dec

December 2020 Prayer Letter

Dear friends and family,

Thank you for your prayers and support throughout this year. I have heard many friends mention that 2020 is a “year best forgotten” or a “lost year” due to the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. For our family, it has been anything but wasted. 2020 has been full of blessing and opportunity.

Our daughter, Grace Lynn Rose Kotvas, was born on September 8. She is truly a gift of grace for our family. She was born a month before her due date, and so we faced some respiratory issues after her birth, but at three months old she is doing better every week, and is a healthy, happy baby. We dedicated her to the Lord before our church on November 22.

 Esther, our second child, turned three years old on October 16. She is our little princess. She loves her little sister and likes to sit and gaze at her exclaiming, “my baby is so cute!”

Our oldest, Joseph James, is almost five. He made a clear profession of faith in Christ back in July, and it was my joy to baptize him this month before our congregation.

JJ had been asking to be baptized for weeks, but he was afraid of the water. We decided to practice in the bathtub every night so he would not freeze up on his big day. On November 22 he was still afraid, but he took the plunge, and he did great!

The ministry is doing well, and we are praising the Lord that the government has relaxed some of the harsh restrictions that kept us from holding in-person meetings. We resumed services in our facilities on November 15th after eight months of primarily online meetings.

Our Deaf and hearing people have responded well, and it has been such a blessing to see many of them face to face again. We have had visitors and decisions each week.

Last week was a big week for us as we coordinated our first ever International Deaf Bible Conference online.

We had 22 speakers from across the US and South America participate to preach the Word of God in Sign Language and challenge the Deaf to reach the world for Christ. You can view the conference website and each message online at www.DeafBibleConference.com. (Sign Language only.)

We are looking forward to many more doors of opportunity opening before us in ministry here in Peru next year. Pray for wisdom as we plan to serve and invest in souls.

Next week, our family will be flying to the US for a couple of months to do some paperwork and take care of unfinished business from before the pandemic. Please pray for us as we travel with our three young children. Lord willing, we will return to the field in February.

If you would like to have us visit your church in the month of December, January, or February, please reach out to me at joseph@reachandteach.org and we will do our best to work something out.


Joseph S Kotvas

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
JJ, Esther & Grace