31 Jul

July 2020 Prayer Letter

Dear friends and family,

Greetings from Peru! Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support. God is good, and despite current circumstances, our family and ministry are well.

As I mentioned in our last prayer letter, we have been on a modified quarantine and curfew since March. These restrictions were lifted to some extent in July, but there is still a 10:00pm curfew as well as restrictions on assembly and travel.

I requested prayer for several people in our previous letter, and I want to share with you how they are doing. Pastor Austin Gardner was in a coma for 21 days but has since beaten the virus with the Lord’s help and is recovering his strength one day at a time.

Gisela Sayritupac was overwhelmed by the virus and passed away last month. Please continue to pray for her family as she is greatly missed. Praise the Lord, we will see her again in glory. Pastor Jairo Villaseca’s other family members have recovered, but his mother just tested positive for the virus, so please continue to pray for them. Our church lost two additional members this month from other causes.

Thank you for your prayers for our people. Also, thank you so much to everyone who has continued helping with the food for needy families. It is such a blessing to our congregation and community.

The virus finally made it to our family; I contracted COVID-19 several weeks ago, as did my parents and several of my brothers and sisters and several others in the ministry here.  Out of an abundance of caution, I moved into a guest bedroom for almost two weeks, but praise the Lord I had minimal symptoms, and am now fully recovered. Zulema and the kids tested negative.

I know many of you who are reading this letter may have been impacted by the coronavirus personally. Know that I am praying for you and your families also.

Grace Lynn Rose Kotvas

Zulema is doing well; thank you to all those who have been praying for her pregnancy.

Lord willing, in less than two months we will be holding our little girl in our arms! We are so looking forward to meeting our Grace Lynn Rose Kotvas the second week of September.

As we approach childbirth, we will have some additional expenses. The Lord has been good to us in the birth of each of our children and has always provided for all our needs according to his riches in glory.

I have continued to preach and teach over the internet throughout this time, using Facebook Live for messages and Zoom for my Sunday School class. It is wonderful to see how the Lord uses these things to encourage and strengthen our deaf people.

Cuan Bueno es Dios

There is a renewed desire among many of our people to reach their friends and family for Christ. Cesar Salas, one of our deaf men, recently invited me over to his home to share the Gospel with his family at a memorial service for his sister. The family listened respectfully, but It was so sad to see the grip Catholicism had on their souls. Pray for the Lord to shine a light in the darkness of this family.

God bless!

Joseph S Kotvas

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

22 May

May 2020 Ministry Update (With Video)

> Click here to download and print this letter as a PDF <

Hi there! I’m Joseph Kotvas, missionary to the Deaf in Peru, South America.

In Christ Jesus, we have victory.

The Bible says in I Corinthians 15:57-58,

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

God has work for us to do in these uncertain times, and in Christ we have the certainty that our service to him is both valued and valuable.

Coronavirus Update

Like most of you, my family and I are under quarantine orders right now. Peru has seen more than its share of infections and fatalities; as of this recording there have been over 100,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths. Peru has responded by instituting universal quarantine and curfew for the past two months.

In spite of all the restrictions, the food markets continue to function. People have to eat! Recurring outbreaks in each major market have fueled one of the fastest growing contagions around the world. Peru is now facing over four thousand new cases each day, and over 100 new deaths. The contagion curve hasn’t showed any sign of flattening as of yet; each day brings more new cases than the day before.

Our church members and students, their relatives, our friends, and national pastors; all have been touched by plague and death. Please pray for the Lord’s hand of healing, protection and comfort for our people. As of right now, there has not been a single case of the coronavirus among those of us who live on the mission campus here at Efata, and we are praying that it will remain so. It’s really in God’s hands.

I want to especially mention a few cases for which I would like to request prayer. Gisela, the sister of one of our dear ladies here, Ellie Cherre, is in critical condition in the local hospital. Because of the overwhelming crisis, the hospital here is not taking phone calls or providing regular updates to family members. Of course, no visitors are allowed either. All the family can do is wait and pray. They need your prayers.

Pastor Jairo Villaseca is a national missionary on our team here whose brother and uncle are in the hospital with the virus as well. Please pray for them. And American Pastor and former missionary to Peru Austin Gardner in Georgia, a friend and mentor of mine for years, is now in an induced coma in ICU battling the virus.

Also pray for the jungle city of Iquitos, where my wife was born. Iquitos has been particularly hard hit. Several national pastors have already gone home to be with the Lord, and more are in intensive care.

Please pray for these dear people, and for all those affected here and around the world.

Family News

I am currently staying an apartment on the grounds of Efata Baptist Church here in Lima, Peru. Our ministry is in a walled facility including the church building, classrooms, dormitories and a play area, as well as a number of apartments housing the pastoral and maintenance staff. So quarantine within Efata isn’t as bad as it might sound.

I’m still amazed at the opportunity to be here; I wasn’t even supposed to be in Peru right now! Or so I thought. God had other plans. We were traveling on deputation in the US, raising our family’s support to come back to the field, but a death in Zulema’s family and our pregnancy brought us to Peru just before the virus struck. So here we are! With the borders closed right now through at least October, it now looks as though our baby will be born here in Peru this September.

My parents and Zulema’s mother are all here at Efata, and they have been such a help for me with JJ and Esther while Zulema has been under the weather.

Please pray for Zulema right now. Pregnancy has never been easy for her. With each of our children she has had a lot of difficulty, and this time has been no exception. She has morning sickness all day long, and is confined to her room, for the longest time surviving on a diet mostly of citric fruit and mint tea. With that said, over the past few weeks she has seen noticeable improvement, so we are praising the Lord for that. Hopefully, the worst is behind us. Please continue to pray for her.

Ministry Video Production

Because of our unique location on campus, even though we are under strict orders to stay at home, I have had incredible flexibility to record and share messages, children’s programs, and special music over the internet for our congregation and around the world.

Our church has had significant fruit this past month. As a result of our online preaching and evangelism efforts, and the dedicated outreach of Deaf Assistant Pastor Frank Chavez, at least seven deaf people have accepted Christ as their Savior during this time. What a joy to see these people come to the Lord for answers and hope in these trying times. It’s not in vain, folks.

Over the past two weeks we hosted two online Bible Conferences in Spanish and Sign Language. Preachers from across the country joined in to share messages of challenge and encouragement “For Such a Time as This.” You are welcome to tune in at fb.com/IglesiaBautistaEfata as we continue to preach the Word in season and out of season.

Feeding the Hungry

Our ministry has also been heavily involved in feeding the hungry, and it’s been such a joy to be used as a channel of blessing, with a portion of our monthly support going to purchase rice, beans, sugar and milk for distribution to families in our church and community who have found themselves suddenly unemployed and destitute.

Operation Renewed Hope, with Brother Jan Milton, has also given generously toward this cause. There are multiple families in our church who would have nothing for their children to eat were it not for blessings such as this.

Thank you

Finally, thank you to all those who have been so faithful to give and support our family and ministry even as economic turmoil and uncertainty abound. As we are at around 30% of our support right now, and saving up for childbirth and travel expenses, God has been so good to us to allow me to find some extra work on the side designing and developing websites. This is something I have done professionally for years as my way of “tentmaking” to supplement our income and provide for our needs on the field.

If you are interested in hiring me to build a website for your business, blog, church or ministry, reach out to me at projects@josephkotvas.com, and I would be happy to look at your project. I’ll give you a competitive rate, and the additional income allows me to do more take care of my family and people here.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for God’s protection and healing for those who are threatened by the coronavirus in our ministry, our nation and our world. Especially pray for Gisela, Jairo’s family, Pastor Austin Gardner, and the jungle city of Iquitos.
  • Pray for wisdom for those in government who are guiding the country through the coronavirus crisis.
  • Pray for Zulema’s continued recovery and health throughout her pregnancy.
  • Pray for our online outreach to continue to bear fruit for the Savior.
  • Pray for those who have been left with no income or savings during this crisis.

Thank you, and God bless!

Joseph S Kotvas
27 Mar

March 2020 Video Update

Transcript:

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.

29 Feb

February 2020 Ministry Update – Praise the Lord!

Dear Friends and Family,

Praise the Lord! “Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.” (Ps. 150:2). God is so good to us, and we are thankful for the opportunity to serve him.

> Click here to download and print this letter as a PDF <

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!

Joseph S Kotvas

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

24 Jan

January 2020 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

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.”

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

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 those decisions.

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 the US.

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 Camp.
  • Pray for safety as we travel, and for provision for travel expenses.
  • Pray for Zulema’s health during the pregnancy.
  • Pray for our family during this time of necessary separation.
  • Pray for fruit as we labor, and for more laborers to be called out into the harvest.
Joseph Kotvas

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

22 Dec

December 2019 Greeting

Dear family and friends,

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 through you.

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!

Sincerely,

Joseph & Zulema Kotvas, JJ & Esther

Joseph Kotvas
13 Nov

November 2019 Ministry Update

Preaching in Illinois

 Dear Friends and Family,

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

Our Family
Our Family
Preaching in Illinois
Preaching in Illinois
Pastor Al Roose
Pastor Al Roose
Dr. Don Sisk at the WEF
Dr. Don Sisk at the World Evangelism Fellowship

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!

JJ and Esther
JJ and Esther
Esther is Two!
Esther is Two!
Party with Friends
Party with Friends

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 Venezuela.

Joseph S Kotvas

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

09 Oct

October 2019 Ministry Update – A Whirlwind of Meetings 📅

Thank you for praying for our family and ministry!

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

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.

Joseph Kotvas Speaking in Michigan

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!

JJ with his Bumblebee

Our Little Cook

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.

God bless,

Joseph S Kotvas

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.

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

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