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