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!


Joseph & Zulema Kotvas, JJ & Esther

Joseph Kotvas
13 Nov

November 2019 Ministry Update

 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 🚙

Dear friends and family,

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

– Philippians 4:11

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

Challenges and Blessings

Thank you all for your prayers and support! Deputation is a major undertaking, but slowly but surely becoming a “new normal” for our family, as we develop and refine strategies for the constant packing and unpacking, budgeting for eating in and out, managing long trips and the pressures that come along with them, and contacting and following up with churches and friends. We are on our third vehicle (this one’s an ’06 Dodge Grand Caravan!) in six months, and we are putting on the miles quickly.

Deputation certainly offers its challenges, but it has also been such a joy and blessing for our family. The time I spend with my wife and children as we travel has been a real treasure, and our family is better and stronger for it. The constant tangible demonstrations of God’s providence have awed us and built our faith. God has encouraged us, humbled us, and taught us to both be content with a little and to appreciate the many material and spiritual blessings that he does send our way.

Provision and Progress

Just last month, when our minivan broke down on the side of the road, we received a total of $2000 in one-time love offerings from people hundreds of miles away, who had no idea of the need we were experiencing at that moment. We were able to get back on the road without missing a single scheduled meeting. Many thanks to Faith Baptist Church in Terre Haute, IN and to the Nelsons in Harrisburg, IL for allowing the Lord to show us his love and provision through their generosity.

Thank you to each of you who has been supporting us and praying for us throughout these past six months (and some of you for the past four and a half years)! We started this deputation in the middle of March at around 10%, and with the monthly commitments of four new churches, we are now up to around 15% of our goal! I am sure that additional churches we have visited over the past six months will also be taking us on shortly; several pastors have indicated such a likelihood.

Itinerary and Communication

This next month will be a busy month for us, with 13 meetings scheduled for September. I write this letter from Kalkaska, Michigan; please pray for us as we travel around Northern and central Michigan through September before heading back down to Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky in October.

I will be communicating with you more frequently from here on out; several pastors have expressed a preference for monthly updates. From now on, I’ll be sending out my updates via email the first week of each month. Postage is not cheap, and my mailing list is rather large, so the first week of each quarter, (March, June, September, and December) I will send out my three latest letters via regular mail.

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

Prayer and Praise

JJ and Esther at “School”

Please continue to pray for our health and strength on the deputation trail. JJ’s dental surgery went remarkably well, and he no longer complains of pain in his teeth or gums. Zulema’s chronic struggles with fatigue, dizziness and nausea continue to recur, but she pushes through it and is a wonderful blessing as a wife, mother and travel companion. Later this winter, we will be on the Ontario peninsula in southern Canada, and my children, growing up in Peru, have never dealt with temperatures that low, especially for extended periods. Please pray we don’t fall ill!

JJ is working on reading and writing his ABC’s, and is doing very well, and Esther is parroting everything any of us say. Zulema and I are so thankful for them both.

Also pray for the ministry back in Peru. We yearn to get back to the work there; there is so much to be done, and so many souls to reach. Pray with us to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. It’s our joy, privilege and grave responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with this lost and dying world.

That’s all for now, but we’ll be in touch soon! Again, please be sure to let me know if you are not receiving my email updates, and I will get you added to the list.

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

Joseph S Kotvas

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

30 May

May 2019 Ministry Update – God is Real

Dear friends and family,

God’s power is real, and I’d just like to testify to his goodness and blessings today. God has done more than we could have imagined in our lives over the past few months of travels. May His name be praised!

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

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

God’s Grace in Luis’s Life

In my last letter, I shared what a blessing our January deaf camp was for our ministry, with five salvation testimonies. In April, we learned more about one of their stories. Among those saved was a young man named Luis Huaicho. Luis was a “low-verbal” deaf man who traveled around Peru “singing” on the buses, asking for charity for his living expenses.

Luis showed up at Efata just a few weeks before camp, and he was immediately interested in going. The day before camp began, he came and brought a little plastic bag with assorted change and counted out enough to pay for camp. He was a coin short, but we left it at that. Luis asked me if the casual clothing he was wearing was all right for camp, and he informed me that he didn’t have special clothing for soccer or for swimming. I told him that what he was wearing would be fine; he was welcome to wear his jeans and polo shirt. He seemed relieved.

Luis settled in well at camp, and when I asked him how he was doing, he grinned and said he was glad to be there. We learned the next day, however, that Luis wasn’t participating in any of the outdoor camp activities. We realized that he literally didn’t have a change of clothes! As soon as we could get out to the town, Zulema and I went shopping in the market for clothing for Luis. We bought him a couple of changes of shirts, pants, socks and other necessities for camp, and gave them to the male camp counselors to give to Luis. That afternoon, Luis came to me with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, and grabbed me with a big hug, thanking me so much for his new clothes. He couldn’t get over the fact that we had cared enough to do this for him.

Luis Huaicho at the Efata Deaf Camp

That week, Luis prayed and trusted in Christ as his Savior. He rode the bus back home with a smile on his face, and when he got back, he asked to sleep at my father-in-law’s apartment, since he didn’t have anywhere to go that night. In the morning, Luis left his backpack with his new clothes at my father-in-law’s place and went out… and he never came back. We didn’t know what happened to him, and we had no way to contact him. All we could do was pray for him. After a few weeks, his father, who lived in the mountain city of Cuzco, contacted Efata, looking for Luis, but we had no new information. Photos of Luis started circulating on social media and on the news, as others tried to locate this deaf young man.

Finally, our worst fears were realized, as in the middle of April the government identified Luis’s body at a local morgue. He had been there since February 15th! Apparently, he had been mugged and murdered on the unforgiving streets of Lima, possibly the day after he returned from camp. As I heard the news, all I could think of was that I would see Luis again in heaven! That our deaf camp had made an eternal difference. That Luis’s life was changed forever because of the love we showed him, and more to the point, because of God’s love.

Still Going – Because God!

Toward the end of April, we drove down from Indiana to Florida for several meetings in the Fort Myers area. About half an hour from the FL / GA border, our trusty Yukon gave out with a bang in the middle of the interstate! Thankfully, no one was hurt, but we were stranded at my grandmother’s house in North FL for several days. A combination of engine and transmission failure made a repair financially unadvisable. We couldn’t afford the repairs, let alone a new vehicle, but God could!

Brother Fred Kindhart of our mission board, Macedonia, put me in touch with the Philadelphia Baptist Church in Calhoun, GA, which gave us a 2010 Chrysler Town & Country, free and clear, in great condition! The Pastor had tried to sell it and even give it away at least three times already, to no avail, because God had our name on it! The van was just what we needed to get back on the trail, praising His name.

Praising the Lord for His Provision

Sometimes I catch myself acting like the children of Israel in the wilderness, always wondering whether God is really going to provide for the need at hand, instead of looking back and recognizing that He always has, and he always will. Over these past three months on deputation, God has been faithful and has provided for need after need – health, housing, vehicle, finances, lodging, and more – in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. God is good all the time!

Our family is doing well; pray for JJ as we take him in for an intensive dental surgery on June 25, and for Zulema; as we enter the hot summer months of June and July & August, her skin condition that flared up a few months ago seems to be reappearing. Thankfully, many of the symptoms she was dealing with such as dizziness, numbness and migraines disappeared after her root canal in March. Thanks, Dr. Lovan!

Pray for me as I schedule meetings, and as we present the work God has for us in Peru. We’re still going strong, and still serving because God is real, and with God, all things are possible.

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

Joseph S Kotvas

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

09 Mar

March 2019 Ministry Update – Back on Deputation

Dear friends and family,

Greetings in the blessed name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your prayers, and for taking the time to read this ministry update. I write to you from West Baden Springs, Southern Indiana. Two weeks ago, on Monday, February 25th, we returned in the US to finish deputation after completing our first full four-year term on our mission field.

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

As I mentioned in our last letter, our final ministry project in Peru was the annual Deaf camp, which we held this year from Monday, January 28 through Friday, February 1. The groundwork for the camp was much prayer and many months in the making. I thank God for everyone who participated and gave to make the camp a success, to God’s great glory. We had 108 campers present, five people made professions of faith in the Lord, and seven young people surrendered their lives to the Lord’s service. Several of our missionaries working with the deaf and hearing around Peru were able to come and participate in various teaching roles.

Our main speaker for the camp was Pastor Jonathan Ramirez, our missionary in Ecuador. Jonathan did a wonderful job, and it was a joy to have him and his family with us. Jonathan is my wife’s cousin, and he served at Efata Baptist Church as the pastor for the deaf for years before leaving to plant a church in Ecuador. Both of Jonathan’s parents are deaf.

Several months ago, Jonathan was diagnosed with a serious medical issue, and just after camp, he underwent an invasive operation there in Lima. He is now going through a painful time of rest and recovery, but praise God he is doing well. We were glad to have him and his family with us during the weeks just before we returned to the States. Please pray for Jonathan’s ministry in Ecuador and for his continued recovery. He will be returning to Lima for another operation in about six months to complete (Lord willing) his treatment.

Please pray for my wife Zulema as well. She has been struggling with a non-contagious skin condition since last December that eventually spread across almost her entire body, discoloring large swaths of her skin and provoking considerable discomfort. We went to four different doctors and dermatologists in Peru throughout January and February, and they gave us three different diagnoses. It appears that the correct diagnosis is Psoriasis Rosea, Thankfully, the virus seems to be receding. We appreciate your prayers!

As we prepared for camp and dealt with Zulema’s health, we have been getting ready for our deputation. Over the next two years, we will be visiting churches across America sharing our vision for the deaf and for Peru. Deputation is never easy, but I can certainly testify that, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.” Our God has prepared our way before us and has provided for us at every step of the way, and we thank him and praise Him for it.

We are currently at a home for missionaries provided by the team at Shepherd’s Bethel in West Baden Springs, Indiana. We have been blessed beyond measure, as despite our (very) limited resources, God continues to use His people to meet our every need. As we get started traveling in the States, our financial needs are the basics: we are trusting God to provide for our car payment, utilities, and health sharing costs this month, as well as our daily bread and gas money to get to the next meeting.

Our prayer is that throughout this time God would continue to open doors and move hearts, giving us grace in His sight and the sight of the brethren as we seek support not only for our personal ministry, but also as a channel of blessing for the Efata church, school and home. As the Lord allows us to return to Peru and minister, we will be investing in young men and women in the Bible Institute and Bible college and preparing the next generation of Deaf and hearing leaders to reach the Deaf in Peru and beyond, planting churches and ministries across Peru.

We covet your prayers for our ministry and our family. Pray that God would keep in me a humble, servant’s heart and allow us to be good examples for our children and for you as your missionaries, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

God bless,
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther

Joseph S Kotvas

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

23 Feb

Pray for Us 🛫

Please pray for us tomorrow.

After over four years on the field, we are headed back to the states for a time of furlough and deputation. 

Our flight leaves tomorrow night at 11:55pm EST. Please pray for:

  • Safety in the air and on the road
  • hasslefree trip through customs and immigration checkpoints
  • Health (especially for Zulema as she recovers from a nasty virus – more on that later)
  • Provision
  • The Lord’s leading as we schedule meetings and plan our trip

Thank you!

The Lord bless you in each service and opportunity tomorrow as you serve him. 

Joseph Kotvas
Zulema, Joseph James & Esther
Missionaries to Peru, South America

Joseph S Kotvas
28 Dec

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

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

> Download PDF to Print <

> View the presentation <

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

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

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

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

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