For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
Dear friends and family,
Thank you for your prayers for our family and ministry. As I mentioned in our last letter, my family and I have been in the States since December for paperwork and to raise additional missionary support.
Throughout March and April we have been traveling across the Midwest and Southwest, visiting Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. The trip has been a blessing, with many opportunities to present our ministry and share what God is doing in Peru. The churches have been so encouraging.
Praise the Lord, several new churches have taken us on for monthly support, and many others have expressed interest. We are praying that we will reach 60% or even 80% before returning to Peru.
Next week we will be returning to Florida to finalize my wife’s US citizenship papers, visit a few more churches across the state, and prepare for our return to Peru in July. We are glad to be able to spend some time there with my father, Missionary Joe Kotvas, who recently had surgery on his lower back and is now in recovery. Thank you for praying for him and the family.
Over the past few months, our ministry in Peru has been working hard to help our church family with provision for physical and spiritual nourishment.
The Peruvian government continues to maintain a state of emergency due to the growth of COVID-19, with a strict quarantine still in effect. Many of our members, including several on our pastoral team, have been ill. Zulema’s father contracted the virus and was very sick for a few days. Thank the Lord he is recovering well.
Please continue to pray for our dear people. In the midst of these dark days, God’s glory shines through, and several have recently been saved there in Peru.
Moises and Naysha, two faithful deaf young people from our church, were married last week. It was a joy to see God’s faithfulness and perfect timing.
I had the privilege of preaching and officiating their wedding ceremony via Zoom, live streaming on our church’s Facebook page. What a unique experience!
Our three small children continue to grow and thrive. They had a stomach infection earlier this month but are much better now. My wife is struggling with back pain and vertigo. The pace of travel has been extremely physically demanding for her. Pray for her to recover her strength. Grace has been doing great, growing stronger every day.
We have several upcoming financial needs, including traveling and shipping our belongings to Peru as well as setup costs once we arrive. Airline tickets and shipping will cost around $3000, and we will need around $3000 more to purchase appliances (refrigerator, washer, dryer, stove, air conditioning, furniture, etc.) once we arrive. If you are interested in helping with these setup costs, please let us know.
Thank you for all your prayers for us and our ministry. God has been faithful to us in times of trial, in danger, and in blessing. We know that we are not alone, and we are comforted to have you as part of our family, watching over us in your prayers.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to work something out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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!
God bless, Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
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.”
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
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
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
Pray for safety as we travel, and for provision for travel
Pray for Zulema’s health during the pregnancy.
Pray for our family during this time of necessary
Pray for fruit as we labor, and for more laborers to be
called out into the harvest.
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther
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
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!
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
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!
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
Joseph and Zulema Kotvas, JJ and Esther