September – October 2023

Dear Friends and Family,

This has been an especially busy few months. God continues to be faithful to us and this ministry. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 100:4,

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

We are so thankful for all He has done and is doing.

Ministry News

In September we hosted a Pastors’ School sponsored by International Baptist Church here at Efata. The week was extremely busy, and many good decisions were made. Over six hundred were in attendance every night with dozens of pastors from all over Peru. It was a blessing to be a help to International Baptist by providing our infrastructure for this conference.

In October, Efata hosted our Ladies’ Retreat which also was a great blessing. The men of the church did all the cooking for three days for the Ladies.

In November we had our Bible Conference for the Deaf and the hearing. Deaf Pastors Bruce Kelly and Todd Reynolds preached for the Deaf, and Pastor Dario Balcazar preached for the hearing. What a tremendous week that was! Several people were saved, and the messages were exactly what the church needed.

We also celebrated Thanksgiving with a nice Turkey and all the trimmings for all who live here at Efata. It was a wonderful time of giving thanks to the Lord for all he has done for us.

I was able to fly to Piura, a city in northern Peru, to coordinate the evangelism explosion that we are planning for next year in that city and in Arequipa. Piura and Arequipa are the second and third most populous cities in Peru. We plan to do evangelism and Bible distribution with one container of Bibles for each city.

We are working very hard with several events and outreach activities for the Christmas season. I will send an end-of-year report out in January for these events.

Family News

In October, our family celebrated 25 years as missionaries to the Deaf and beyond. Wow, how time flies! I can remember when Lisa and I and the five children we had at the time stepped out by faith to serve the Lord as missionaries.

I resigned from the sheriff’s department and from my position as assistant pastor at LaBelle Baptist Temple to go on full-time deputation in November of 1998, and on December third of 1999 we moved to Peru.

None of this would have been possible if it were not for the faithful prayer and support partners and churches that have sustained us throughout these many years. We have done this together. Thanks to all of you who have been a part of this great missionary endeavor. Many of you have been with us from the beginning, and we rejoice with all who have joined us along the way.

Blessings,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica & Jennifer

Junio – Agosto 2023

Perdón que esta carta llegue un poco más tarde de lo habitual. He estado viajando y han sucedido muchas cosas. Recuerdo a Jesús en Mateo 9:35 yendo por todas las ciudades y aldeas enseñando y predicando. Qué bendición estar “ocupados en los negocios del Padre”.

Noticias del ministerio

En junio, el Colegio Cristiano para Sordos Efata celebró su 53º aniversario. ¡Qué tiempo tan bendito tuvimos! Acudieron sordos de todo el Perú y algunos de otros países para celebrar esta monumental ocasión. Debido al COVID, no pudimos celebrar el 50º aniversario, así que esta fue la celebración conmemorativa. Fue muy bueno ver a tantos exalumnos antiguos y ponernos al día con ellos.

Pudimos reabrir el colegio después de los cierres de COVID de manera limitada. Es el comienzo de un nuevo futuro para nosotros mientras trabajamos para reconstruir después de tanto tiempo.

Varios pastores amigos de este ministerio vinieron y participaron de los eventos. Estábamos especialmente felices de recibir al evangelista Jim Sloan, al pastor Reggie Rempel y al misionero Steve Houghton, todos amigos desde hace mucho tiempo tanto para mí como para Vernon Miller, el fundador de Efata. Estuvieron presentes varios de nuestros misioneros enviados desde Efata y algunos de los antiguos maestros y trabajadores. Tuvimos la bendición de que los sordos fueran salvos y bautizados, y de que otros reconciliaran sus vidas con Cristo.

Dos semanas después, tuvimos nuestra conferencia misionera. Fue bueno ver a nuestra gente volver a comprometerse con las misiones y nuestra responsabilidad de apoyar a nuestros propios misioneros. Además, desde finales de julio hasta las primeras dos semanas de agosto, tuvimos el privilegio de llevar a un grupo de 30 miembros de nuestra iglesia a un viaje misionero a Ecuador para visitar, animar y apoyar a nuestros tres misioneros allí. Este fue un momento maravilloso. Fue una gran bendición ver a nuestros misioneros y sus familias trabajando y sirviendo. Varios se salvaron durante el viaje.

En julio tuvimos nuestra primera reunión de seguimiento con varias de las iglesias de Lima que participaron en nuestro evento masivo de evangelización en mayo. Estamos trabajando y planeando para duplicar nuestro esfuerzo el próximo año en otras dos ciudades clave del Perú. Es maravilloso ver a las iglesias locales unirse para asumir el costo de imprimir los tratados y comunicarse con los pastores locales en las dos ciudades que tenemos como objetivo para el primer trimestre de 2024. Estamos agradecidos con la Iglesia Bautista Faith en Tacoma, Washington, quienes al momento están preparando tres contenedores de Biblias para nosotros para este esfuerzo. Qué alegría trabajar con el pastor Smith y su equipo y las iglesias que apoyan sus esfuerzos para enviarnos Biblias y materiales.

Durante el viaje misionero, viajé a los Estados Unidos para una cita médica, y pude reportar a un par de iglesias en Florida. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el placer de interpretar para personas sordas en una conferencia en Orlando con mi mentor y amigo Steve Houghton. Después de esto, visité a varias iglesias de habla inglesa e iglesias hispanas en Washington y Oregon para presentar nuestro ministerio, y asistí a una maravillosa conferencia de la familia en español en la Iglesia Bautista Riverview en Pasco, WA. Fue grandioso ver buenas iglesias bautistas españolas fundamentales que creen sólidamente en la Biblia creciendo y preparando a los jóvenes para la obra del Señor.

Lisa y yo acabamos de regresar a Chiclayo donde prediqué para uno de nuestros misioneros para sordos y oyentes para otra conferencia de la familia. Qué alegría para los dos. Era un buen momento. Muchos tomaron decisiones por sus familias.

La primera semana de setiembre, tenemos la bendición de brindar instalaciones y apoyo para la Escuela de Pastores nuevamente este año, organizada por la Iglesia Bautista Internacional aquí en Lima. Esta conferencia es siempre de mucha ayuda, y de mucho ánimo y desafío.

Noticias de la familia

Lisa está muy ocupada preparándose para una conferencia de mujeres en octubre. Ella está ayudando a enseñar a nuestros nietos y continúa enseñando a las niñas sordas en nuestra clase de economía doméstica del Instituto Bíblico para Sordos.

Los niños están bien. Jessica y Jennifer continúan con sus estudios y están completamente involucradas en el ministerio y aprendiendo a tocar instrumentos. Joel realmente está mejorando mucho en sus habilidades lingüísticas y le encanta ayudar a mamá en la cocina.

Una vez más, gracias por todo su cuidado y apoyo, tanto en oración como en finanzas, por este bendito ministerio para las personas sordas y oyentes del Perú y más allá.

Joe Kotvas Signature

Bendiciones,

Joe y Lisa
Joel, Jessica y Jennifer

June – August 2023

Dear Friends and Family,

Sorry for this letter being a bit later than usual. I have been traveling and there has been a great deal going on. I am reminded of Jesus in Matthew 9:35 going about all the cities and villages teaching and preaching. What a blessing to be “busy about the Father’s business.”

Ministry News

In June, Efata Christian School for the Deaf celebrated its 53rd  anniversary. What a blessed time we had. Deaf came from all over Peru and some from other countries to celebrate this monumental occasion. Due to COVID, we were not able to celebrate the 50th anniversary, so this was the memorial celebration. It was so good to see so many former students and to catch up with them.

We were able to reopen the school after the COVID shutdowns in a limited fashion, but it is a start to a new future for us as we work to rebuild after such a long time.

Various pastor friends of this ministry came and participated in the events. We were especially happy to have Evangelist Jim Sloan, Pastor Reggie Rempel and Missionary Steve Houghton, all longtime friends both to me and to Vernon Miller, the founder of Efata. Several of our missionaries sent out of Efata and some of the former teachers and workers were present. We were blessed to have Deaf saved and baptized, and others reconciling their lives to Christ.

Two weeks later, we had our missions conference. It was good to see our people recommit to missions and our responsibility to support our own missionaries. In addition, at the end of July through the first two weeks of August, we were privileged to take a group of 30 members of our church on a mission trip to Ecuador to visit, encourage and support our three missionaries there. This was a wonderful time. It was such a blessing to see our missionaries and their families working and serving. Several were saved during the trip.

In July we had our first follow-up meeting with several of the churches in Lima who participated in our massive evangelism event back in May. We are working and planning to duplicate our effort next year in two other key cities in Peru. It is wonderful to see local churches band together to bear the cost of printing the tracts and reach out to the local pastors in the two cities we are targeting for the first quarter of 2024. We are grateful to Faith Baptist Church in Tacoma, Washington, who as of now have three containers of Bibles in the process of being prepared for us for this endeavor. What a joy to work with Pastor Smith and his team and the churches that support their efforts to send Bibles and materials to us.

During the mission trip, I flew to the States for a VA medical appointment and was able to report to a couple of churches in Florida. While there, I had the joy of interpreting for the Deaf for a conference in Orlando with my mentor and friend Steve Houghton. After this I visited several English and Spanish churches in Washington and Oregon to present our ministry and attended a wonderful Spanish family conference in Riverview Baptist Church in Pasco, WA. It was great to see good solid Bible believing fundamental Baptist Spanish churches growing and preparing young people for the Lord’s work.

Lisa and I just returned for Chiclayo where I preached for one of our missionaries to the Deaf and hearing for another family conference. What a joy for both of us. It was a great time. Many made decisions for their families.

The first week of September, we have the blessing of providing facilities and assistance for Pastor’s School again this year, hosted by International Baptist Church here in Lima. This conference is always a great help, encouragement, and challenge.

Family News

Lisa is very busy preparing for a ladies conference in October. She is helping teach our grandchildren and continues to teach the Deaf girls in our Deaf Bible Institute Home economics class.

The kids are doing well. Jessica and Jennifer continue with their schooling and are fully involved in the ministry and learning their instruments. Joel is really doing much better in his language abilities and loves to help Mom in the kitchen.

Once again, thank you for all of your care and support – both in prayer and finances – for this blessed ministry to the Deaf and hearing of Peru and beyond.

Blessings,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica & Jennifer

Abril – Mayo 2023

“Mas Jesús no se lo permitió, sino que le dijo: Vete a tu casa, a los tuyos, y cuéntales cuán grandes cosas el Señor ha hecho contigo, y cómo ha tenido misericordia de ti.”   – Marcos 5:19

Qué par de meses tan increíbles y ocupados para nosotros aquí en Efata. Como vemos en el versículo arriba, Jesús ordenó al maníaco de Gadara, después que experimentó “grandes cosas” de Dios, que fuera y contara a otros lo que Jesús había hecho por él. Me gustaría decirles que Dios ha hecho cosas maravillosas aquí en nuestro ministerio, y tenemos el dicho de compartirlas con todos ustedes.

Noticias del Ministerio

En abril, copatrocinamos la conferencia Fuegos de Evangelismo aquí en Efata. Qué tremendo tiempo de predicación y enseñanza durante cuatro días. Se tomaron muchas decisiones, y fue una gran preparación para la campaña de evangelización que menciono a continuación.

En la última carta de oración mencioné que estábamos anticipando un proyecto de evangelismo masivo en toda la ciudad aquí en Lima. El pastor Mark Smith y un equipo de 17 de la Iglesia Bautista Fe en Tacoma, WA, vinieron y se unieron a nosotros y a otras 35 iglesias en Lima para distribuir un millón de folletos evangélicos, 175.000 nuevos Testamentos y 75.000 Biblias completas.

¡Qué semana de evangelismo y puertas abiertas! Varios pastores pudieron ingresar a escuelas, comisarías, estaciones de bomberos y hospitales. Además, cientos de creyentes salieron diariamente y repartieron tratados y Biblias en parques, plazas, mercados y estaciones de tren y autobús, así como en las calles por toda Lima. Cientos de personas se salvaron, y tenemos informes de varias que visitaron a iglesias. Además, durante este tiempo pude predicar a más de 1500 cadetes en la escuela para oficiales de policía y suboficiales. Pudimos predicar el evangelio en otras dos divisiones policiales: investigaciones y suministro médico. Más de ochenta de nuestra propia gente salieron a evangelizar.

Se abrió otra oportunidad para reunirnos con varios asistentes del Congreso que pudieron facilitarnos una reunión con el Presidente del Congreso. A través de esa reunión, pudimos proporcionar más de 400 Biblias completas para el Congreso. Por favor, oren por esto. Al momento de escribir este artículo, tengo una reunión programada para el 12 de junio con el tercer vicepresidente del Congreso para programar cuándo tendremos una asamblea con el Congreso y el personal del Congreso para distribuir las Biblias y predicarles el Evangelio, que será televisado por toda la nación.

También celebramos el 46º aniversario de la iglesia. Fue un tiempo maravilloso. El misionero Tom Knickerbocker de Ministerios H.E.L.P.s fue nuestro orador invitado. Fue una gran bendición, y nuestra gente realmente disfrutó de sus mensajes y aliento.

En cuanto al colegio para Sordos, estamos trabajando con cinco nuevos niños de inicial y seguimos apoyando a algunos jóvenes que cursan en primaria y secundaria. Continuamos trabajando en las soluciones permanentes que necesitamos para mantener y hacer crecer la escuela nuevamente. Esto, como con la mayoría de los asuntos burocráticos, requiere mucho tiempo y es costoso, pero seguimos progresando.

También hice un viaje a Pucallpa a nuestra Misión. Fue bueno ver a nuestra gente allí. Había alrededor de 20 sordos y algunos oyentes en el servicio del miércoles por la noche. Estamos orando acerca de mudarnos a una mejor ubicación para construir más cerca de donde haya más personas que no han sido alcanzadas con el Evangelio. También continuamos orando por un pastor y familia misionera que pueda liderar esa misión y trabajar tanto con los oyentes como los sordos. Mientras tanto, continuamos enviando predicadores cada semana.

Noticias familiares

Lisa y yo celebramos nuestro 35º aniversario de bodas el 20 de mayo. Que honor servir al Señor juntos por tantos años. Esperamos muchos años más juntos, Dios mediante.

Gracias por sus continuas oraciones, por nuestra familia y el ministerio. Es un honor para nosotros ser colaboradores junto con ustedes aquí en Lima, Perú.

Bendiciones,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe y Lisa
Joel, Jessica y Jennifer

April – May 2023

Dear Friends and Family,

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”   – Mark 5:19

What an incredible and busy couple of months it has been for us here at Efata. As we see in the above verse, Jesus commanded the Maniac of Gadara after experiences “great things” from God, to go and tell others what Jesus had done for him.  I would like to say God has done some great things here in our ministry that we are blessed to share with you all.

Ministry News

In April we co-hosted the Fires of Evangelism conference here at Efata. What a tremendous time of preaching and teaching for four days. Many decisions were made, and it was a great preparation for the evangelistic campaign that I mention below.

Last prayer letter I mentioned that we were looking forward to a city-wide mass evangelism project here in Lima. Pastor Mark Smith and a team of 17 from Faith Baptist church in Tacoma, WA, came and joined with us and over 35 other churches in Lima to distribute one million gospel tracts, 175,000 New Testaments and 75,000 whole Bibles.

What a week of evangelism and open doors. Several pastors were able to get into schools, police stations, fire stations and hospitals. In addition, hundreds of church members went out daily and distributed tracts and Bibles in parks, plazas, markets, train and bus stations, as well as on the streets all over Lima. Hundreds of people were saved, and we have reports of several visiting churches. In addition, during this time I was able to preach to over 1500 cadets in the school for police officials and sub officials. We were able to preach the gospel in two other police divisions, investigations and medical supply. We had over eighty of our own people come and go out to evangelize.

Another opportunity opened to meet with several congressional aides who were able to facilitate a meeting for us with the President of the Congress. Through that meeting, we were able to provide over 400 whole Bibles for Congress. Please pray for this. As of this writing, I have a meeting scheduled on June 12th with the third Vice-President of the Congress to schedule when we will have an assembly with Congress and congressional staffers to distribute the Bibles and preach the Gospel to them, which will be televised all over the nation.

We also celebrated the 46th anniversary of the church. It was a wonderful time. Missionary Tom Knickerbocker from H.E.L.P.s Ministries was our guest speaker. He was a great blessing, and our people really enjoyed his messages and encouragement.

On the School for the Deaf front, we are operating with five new kindergarten children and still supporting the several young people who are studying in primary and secondary grades. We continue to work on the permanent solutions we need to maintain and grow the school again. This, as with most bureaucratic issues, is time-consuming and expensive but we continue to make progress.

I also took a trip to Pucallpa to our Mission. It was good to see our folks there. There were about 20 Deaf and a few hearing in the service Wednesday evening. We are praying about moving to a better location to build closer to where there are more people who are unreached with the Gospel. We also continue to pray for a missionary pastor and family who can lead that mission who can work with both the hearing and Deaf. We continue to send preachers every week praying for God to raise up a permanent pastor/missionary.

Family News

Lisa and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on the 20th of May. What an honor to serve the Lord together for these many years. We look forward to many more years together Lord willing.

Thank you for your continued prayers, for our family and the ministry. It is our honor to be co-laborers together with you in here in Lima, Peru.

Blessings,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica & Jennifer