14 Jan

A New Year

January 2017 Prayer Letter

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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


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!


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


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.


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 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!


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


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.


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

15 Oct

La Obra del Señor

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Queridos amigos,

Como siempre, gracias desde el fondo de mi corazón por sus oraciones y apoyo. Los meses transcurridos desde mi último informe me han enseñado muchas cosas, el principal de ellos siendo que la obra del Señor en mi ministerio sigue necesariamente la obra del Señor en mi corazón. Y por cierto, Él ha estado trabajando! Dios me tiene justo donde Él me quiere, y yo creo eso desde el fondo de mi ser. Sordos y oyentes están aceptando a Cristo, y estoy creciendo como pastor y como líder.

Ministry Plant in El AgustinoHemos arrancado un nuevo ministerio sordos en El Agustino, a unos 45 minutos de Efata. Esto ha sido un gran reto. Algunos de los sordos que vienen tienen cero conocimiento bíblico, y otros asistieron a una iglesia hace años, pero recién se están abriendo al Evangelio. Hasta la fecha, tres almas sordas han sido salvos solo por este ministerio. Por favor oren para que los nuevos cristianos crezcan espiritualmente y para que más almas se salven.

Estamos preparando un diccionario de la lengua de señas peruana. Cristianos, y en especial nosotros los bautistas, siempre hemos tenido el estudio de lenguaje y comunicación en alta estima. Misioneros a lo largo de la historia han dedicado largas horas elaborando diccionarios y traducciones de la Biblia. Un diccionario de la lengua de señas peruana ayudará a los sordos a comprender lo que leen, y ayudará a aquellos que quieren alcanzar a los niños y adultos sordos a comunicar de una manera más efectiva.

Joseph & Zulema Kotvas - Expecting!¡Estamos esperando una bendición! Bebé Joseph James Kotvas está por nacer en diciembre. Zulema y yo estamos emocionados! Mi casa está siendo invadido por ropa y accesorios de bebé, y nos estamos preparando para ser padres. Durante los primeros meses, el embarazo le chocó fuerte a Zulema. Ella estaba en cama durante semanas! Gracias a Dios, el peor de eso ya pasó, y estamos ansiosos por tenerle a nuestro hijo en brazos.

Por favor, sigan orando por nuestra familia y nuestro ministerio. ¡Dios sí escucha sus oraciones!

Dios les bendiga,

Joseph y Zulema Kotvas
Misioneros a los sordos y oyentes en Perú, Sudamérica

15 Oct

The Lord´s Work

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Dear friends,

As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued prayers and support. The intervening months since my last report have taught me many things, the chief of which is that the Lord’s work in my ministry necessarily follows the Lord’s work in my heart. And He’s sure been working! God has me right where God wants me, and I believe that from the depths of my being. Hearing and deaf souls are being saved, and I am growing as a pastor and as a leader.

Ministry Plant in El AgustinoWe launched a new deaf ministry in El Agustino, around 45 minutes from Efata. It´s been a great challenge. Some of those attending have zero biblical knowledge, and others went to church years ago at another location and are just now opening up to the gospel. So far, three Deaf souls have been saved in that ministry. Please pray for the new Christians to grow spiritually and for more souls to be saved.

Joseph & Zulema Kotvas - Expecting!We are preparing a Peruvian Sign Language dictionary. Christians, and the Baptists in particular, have always held the study of language in high esteem. Missionaries throughout history have dedicated long hours to the development of dictionaries and Bible translations. A comprehensive dictionary of Peruvian Sign Language will help the deaf understand what they read, and help those who are trying to reach deaf children and adults communicate more effectively.

We are looking forward to a blessing! Baby Joseph James Kotvas is due to be born in December. Zulema and I are ecstatic! My house is slowly being overtaken by baby clothes and accessories, and we are preparing for parenthood. For the first few months, pregnancy hit Zulema hard. She was practically bedridden for weeks on end! Thankfully the worst of that is behind us now, and we are looking forward to having him in arms.

Please continue to pray for our family and our ministry. God hears your prayers!

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

16 Apr

Sirviendo y Esperando

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Queridos amigos y familiares,

Muchas gracias por sus oraciones y apoyo este año. No podríamos hacer este ministerio sin ti.

Married CoupleZulema y yo nos casamos el 3 de enero de este año. Estamos agradecidos por el precioso regalo de Dios de matrimonio y familia! Pasamos luna de miel en Ecuador y en las islas Galápagos. Tuve la oportunidad de visitar varias iglesias en Guayaquil y Portoviejo, predicando y compartiendo mi testimonio.

Doquier que fuimos en Ecuador, fue refrescante encontrarnos con cristianos que nos trataron como hermanos y hermanas. Muchas gracias a los pastores Simón Rodríguez, Jonathan Ramírez y Michael Lanchang y sus esposas y congregaciones. Una excepción fue en las mismasislas hermosas de Galápagos; no hay iglesia Bautista allí. Oren por pastor ecuatoriano Franco Loyola; su ministerio desea iniciar un ministerio allí este año con la ayuda del Señor.

VBSDe vuelta a Lima en febrero, tuve la oportunidad de coordinar una Escuela Bíblica de Vacaciones por cuatro días en dos locales. Terminando la semana tuve la oportunidad de guiar quince niños al Señor. Gracias a Sra. Lily y las jóvenes de Iglesia Bautista Gracia en Chiclayo por un programa maravilloso creacionista.

Fines de febrero, un grupo de Efata viajó a Chiclayo para la conferencia anual de Fuegos de Evangelismo. Zulema y yo viajamos con los jóvenes y coordinamosla interpretación para los sordas. Después de un servicio, tuve el encanto de guiar un hombre al Señor. Una abuela en nuestra iglesia había orado por años que su hijo sea salvo. Sus oraciones fueron contestadas esa noche.

Las clases comenzaron en marzo, y he estado enseñando tres horas diarias en el aula de quinto grado con once estudiantes. Es un desafío, pero me gusta enseñar a estos niños adolescentes sordos temas de la Biblia, de ciencia y matemáticatodos los días. Un alumno de quince años vino a nosotros este año con lengua  de señas muy limitado. Oren para que él entienda el Evangelio.

El AugustinoEstoy orando acerca de una oportunidad para iniciar un nuevo estudio Bíblico en El Agustino, una municipalidad de Lima a una hora y media de Efata. Hay tantos sordos allí, y no hay un buen ministerio alcanzándolos. Semana pasada, hablé con José, un joven sordo en ese lugar que no tenía idea deAdán y Eva, o del significado de la palabra “pecado”. Oren para que pueda encontrar una buena iglesia allí con buena voluntad para dejarnos usar sus instalaciones.

He reservado mis noticias más emocionantes para el final. En diciembre próximo, un nuevo Kotvas pequeñín se unirá a nuestro equipo misionero! Zulema y yo estamos muy gozosos de estar esperando a un hijo(a).

Sé que algunas de las iglesias que visité el año pasado estaban esperando para me establezca en el campo misionero antes de comenzar con apoyo mensual regular. Si ustedes todavía no lo hacen, les pediría que en oración consideren apoyar económicamente a nuestra familiamientras servimos al Señor aquí.Una vez más, gracias por sus oraciones y su apoyo. ¡Que Dios los bendiga ricamente!

Joseph and Zulema Kotvas
Misioneros a los Sordos y Oyentes en Perú, Sudamérica

16 Apr

Serving Expectantly

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Dear friends and family,

Thank you so much for your prayers and support this year. We couldn’t do this ministry without you.

Married CoupleZulema and I were married on January 3 of this year. We’re thankful for God’s precious gift of marriage and family! Our honeymoon was spent in Ecuador and the Galapagos islands. I had the opportunity to visit several different churches in Guayaquil and Porto Viejo, preaching and sharing my testimony.

Everywhere we went, it was refreshing to meet Christians who treated us as brothers and sisters. Many thanks to Pastors Simon Rodriguez, Jonathan Ramirez and Michael Lanchang and their wives and congregations.  An exception was the beautiful Galapagos Islands themselves; there is no Baptist church there. Pray for Ecuadorian Pastor Franco Loyola; his ministry intends to start one this year with the Lord’s help.

VBSBack in Lima in February, I had the opportunity to coordinate a vacation Bible School during four days across two locations. By the end of the week I was able to lead fifteen children to the Lord. Thanks to Mrs. Lily and the young people from Grace Baptist Church in Chiclayo for a wonderful Creationist program.

Towards the end of February, a group from Efata traveled to Chiclayo for the annual Fires of Evangelism conference. Zulema and I traveled with the young people and coordinated interpreting for the Deaf. After one service, I was thrilled to lead one man to the Lord. A grandmother in our church had prayed for years for her son to be saved. Her prayers were answered that evening.

School started in March, and I’ve been teaching three hours a day in the fifth grade classroom with eleven students. They’re a challenging bunch, but I enjoy teaching these deaf children and teens the Bible, science and math every day. One fifteen-year-old student in the class transferred in this year with limited Sign Language. Pray for him to understand the Gospel.

El AugustinoI’m praying about an opportunity to start a new bible study in El Augustino, an area of Lima almost an hour and a half away from Efata. There are so many Deaf there, and no good ministry reaching them. Last week, I spoke with José, a Deaf young man there who had no idea who Adam or Eve were, or what the word “sin” meant. Pray that I can find a good church there with interest in allowing us to use their facilities.

I’ve saved my most personally exciting news for last. This December, a new little Kotvas will be joining our missionary team! Zulema and I are overjoyed to be expecting.

I know some of the churches I visited last year were waiting for me to get established on the field before beginning regular monthly support. If you haven’t already, I would ask that you prayerfully consider financially supporting our family as we serve the Lord here. Again, thank you for your prayers and your support. May God richly bless!

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


29 Dec

Wedding Bells in Peru – Ministry Update

I write this letter from Peru, South America, finally back on the field here, in the ministry God has given me and with the love of my life.

This year has been such a great joy and blessing to me. I have been able to preach in churches across America, presenting the real and pressing need for world evangelism among the Deaf. Thank you so much, each and every one of you who has helped me along the way.

Since I arrived in Peru, I have had multiple opportunities to preach and minister. Several weeks ago, I led a fifteen-year-old deaf boy to the Lord. Paul has been attending our school for a year and a half now, and as his understanding has opened, the Lord has done a work in his heart. There’s nothing like introducing a soul to the Savior!

Joseph & Zulema KotvasIt has been quite the ordeal getting all the paperwork in order for my wedding with Zulema. For a week or so, we even thought we might have to postpone the wedding due to paperwork. Praise God everything worked out! Our civil wedding ceremony and vows, required by law here in Peru, were performed on December 26th. This means Zulema and I are now legally married.

Our church wedding will be as scheduled at 2pm this Saturday, January 3. We invite you to join us online http://www.Efata.org/live on our special day.

There is so much to do here in ministry! When we get back from the honeymoon in January, I will be on the job, serving as pastor for the Deaf at Efata Baptist Church and teaching in the Christian School. I will be working to see our people grow and invest in those who show potential to serve in future ministry.

Please pray for our wedding plans, pray for the ministry here, and pray that God will guide and bless each step of the way.

To the churches which have contacted me with promises of support, thank you so much, from both Zulema and myself. With God’s help, your support enables us to serve and minister here. Thank you for partnering with us to reach the Deaf of Peru.

We do not yet have full support, but are trusting in the Lord to provide for our needs. He’s cared for us all this year, above and beyond what we could ever ask, and we know he will continue to provide.

Have a wonderful New Year holiday, and may God richly bless each and every one of you!

Joseph & Zulema Kotvas,
Reaching the Deaf in Lima, Peru

20 Sep

Projects and Progress – Ministry Update

ReachTheDeaf.com, Debtor to Grace & The Big Box Project

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God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!

That’s the truth, and I’m thankful for His goodness. I pray His blessings on you and yours, and I trust you are following His leading along life’s way.

The Bible says, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.” I’m certainly “in the way” now, traveling from church to church and raising support to head back to Peru on December first. On the way, I’ve been working on a number of projects, and I’d like to share them with you.

ReachTheDeaf.comReachTheDeaf.com – Community Site for Deaf Ministry Leaders

My heart and my ministry focus is the Deaf – ensuring that God’s love is real in the experience and Lives of deaf people around the world. I want to encourage and help those who are pursuing this vision. I love the people in the trenches of Deaf ministry, be they Deaf or hearing themselves.

To this end, my good friend and pastor for the Deaf Cody Holland has collaborated with me to develop and publish a website specifically for ministry leaders. Every week we are publishing articles, quotes, interviews and resources that can be used in practical ministry with the Deaf.

This is exciting! Do you care about reaching the Deaf? Well then why don’t you come on by and join the conversation? It’s happening on ReachTheDeaf.com

CD spread - Debtor to GraceDebtor to Grace – Album  Release

I’ve played the piano since forever, and the joy of sharing truth through music never gets old. Music gives voice to the inner man, communicating joy and sorrow, tears and triumph. This year I recorded a piano solo album celebrating the wonderful Grace of God, and I’m thrilled to share it with you today.

The album Debtor to Grace is now available for purchase on my website, but I’d like to give you one of the tracks for free right now as a personal thank you for your support and encouragement. Your prayers and financial support have, with the Lord’s help, brought me this far, and I appreciate each one of you. You can download the mp3 now at ReachAndTeach.org/thanks

The Big Box ProjectThe Big Box Project

Speaking of prayer and financial support, the Big Box Project is still underway, and going strong! The folks in Jacksonville who have been organizing this project have put forth a herculean effort collecting donations, packing, coordinating shipping logistics, and generally being an amazing blessing.

It’s gonna be a big box! In a few weeks, the itemized list of donations, ranging from thousands of dollars of school supplies to audio and office equipment, church pews, and clothing and uniforms for the children, will be on its way to the customs officials in Peru. We hope to get everything delivered in the next three months or so.

Just a little more than two months to go!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. It means a great deal. Before long I’ll be back in Peru, serving the Lord at Efata together with Zulema. I’m looking forward to that day!


Joseph S. Kotvas, your missionary to Peru, South America

20 Sep

Proyectos y Progreso – Informe del Ministerio

ReachTheDeaf.com, Debtor to Grace & The Big Box Project

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¡Dios es bueno todo el tiempo, y todo el tiempo Dios es bueno!

Que dicha palabra. Estoy tan agradecido por la bondad de Dios. Pido Sus bendiciones sobre Ud. y los suyos, y confío que Ud. está siguiendo Su liderazgo a lo largo de su camino en esta vida.

La Biblia dice, “Bendito sea Jehová… guiándome Jehová en el camino”. Estoy sin duda “en el camino” ahora, viajando de iglesia en iglesia buscando apoyo para volver a Perú el primero de diciembre. Por allí he estado trabajando en una serie de proyectos, y me gustaría compartirlos con ustedes.

ReachTheDeaf.comReachTheDeaf.com – Sitio web para líderes con los Sordos

Mi corazón y mi enfoque es ministerio con Sordos – asegurando que el amor de Dios sea real en las experiencias y las vidas de personas Sordas por todo el mundo. Quiero animar y ayudar a los que están realizando esa visión. Me encanta la gente que trabajan en el ministerio con Sordos, sean ellos mismos sordos u oyentes.

Con ese fin, mi buen amigo y pastor para Sordos Cody Holland ha colaborado conmigo para desarrollar y publicar un sitio web específicamente para líderes de ministerios con Sordos. Cada semana publicamos artículos, citas, entrevistas y recursos útiles en la práctica del ministerio con los Sordos.

¡Eso es emocionante! ¿Se preocupa Ud. por llegar a los sordos? Entonces ¿por qué no te unas a la conversación? Ahora en ReachTheDeaf.com.(Por hoy en inglés, aunque esperamos que en el futuro también en español.)

CD spread - Debtor to GraceDeudor a la Gracia – publicación del álbum

He tocado el piano desde siempre, y el gozo de compartir la verdad a través de la música nunca me disminuye. La música da voz al hombre interior, comunicando alegría y tristeza, lágrimas y triunfo. Este año he grabado un álbum de música instrumental (piano solo) celebrando la maravillosa gracia de Dios, y me alegro poder compartirlo con ustedes hoy.

El álbum Deudor a la Gracia está disponible para comprar en mi sitio web, pero me gustaría darle una de pistas de forma gratuita como un agradecimiento personal por su apoyo y aliento. Sus oraciones y su apoyo financiero, con la ayuda del Señor, me han traido hasta este punto, y aprecio a cada uno de ustedes. Ud. puede descargar el mp3 ahora en ReachAndTeach.org/thanks

The Big Box ProjectEl proyecto “Big Box Project“

Hablando de la oración y el apoyo financiero, ¡el “Big Box Project” sigue todavía en desarrollo! La gente en Jacksonville que organiza este proyecto ha presentado un esfuerzo masivo recogiendo donaciones, empacando, coordinando la logística del envío, y siendo una bendición increíble.

¡Va a ser un container enorme! En pocas semanas, la lista detallada de donaciones, que incluyen miles de dólares de útiles escolares, equipos de audio y máquinas para oficina, bancos de la iglesia, y ropa y uniformes para los niños, estará en las manos de los funcionarios de aduanas en Perú. Esperamos recibir todo en los próximos tres meses.

¡Regreso a Perú pronto!

Gracias todos por sus oraciones y apoyo. Significa mucho. En pocos días estaré de vuelta en Perú, sirviendo al Señor en Efata junto con Zulema. ¡Espero ese día!


Joseph S. Kotvas, su misionero en Perú, Sudamérica