“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
– Philippians 1:6
I apologize for the tardiness of this letter. I pray all is well in your place of service and God is moving and working in this new COVID reality. As the verse above states, God will perform His good work in us until Jesus comes. Nothing is going to delay or change His expected return on His timetable. We may very well go through difficult times ahead, but this always works to refine his church, not hinder it.
It has been an incredible seven months of doctors’ appointments, surgeries, procedures, and recoveries for me. As we have been in the States for all of this, I have also filled pulpits for weeks for different pastors in churches in the Fort Myers area. In August I flew to Peru for a few days, and after that, took our daughter Joy to Bible College. Now we are home! We returned to Peru on October 13th, and we are excited to get back to work.
My surgical fusion for my lower spine, therapy for my cervical spine and procedures for upper arm pain in both arms all successful. I am still recovering from the spinal surgery, but I am doing well.
Joy is now several weeks into college and is adjusting well. She also just turned 21 and is quite a young lady. We are so proud of her and thankful to the Lord that she had the honor of growing up on the mission field.
As we return to Peru with our four youngest children–John, Joel, Jessica and Jennifer–we look forward to all that the Lord has for us here.
Peru is still dealing with COVID and the political uncertainties that lie ahead. We pray for the new president as he makes changes in Peru regarding immigration, vaccinations, and more. We pray that this will not have any negative effects for us. It will, however, affect visitors. The government plans to require vaccinations for all who come into the country. They still require double masks outside. The economy is still struggling, and inflation is on the rise.
We ask you to pray for wisdom, open doors and fruit as we continue to work towards an expanded Bible Institute for the Deaf to replace our school ministry that was shut down. Through a circuit riding ministry for Deaf throughout Peru, our desire is to see more Deaf saved and discipled and to find hearing who will learn sign language and even surrender to work with the Deaf. We pray we will find Deaf who would themselves surrender to the Lord’s work and be willing to be trained.
I also hope to do more in international work with the Deaf as the Lord gives opportunity. Our first international conference live stream was well viewed and received, and we hope to do that more.
Please pray that God will give me and our Peruvian leadership team wisdom and discernment as we move forward.
There are other ministries that we hope to re-establish or renew as restrictions lift from COVID.
In September, our missionary friends of Team Peru from Hammond, Indiana hosted a Pastor’s school, and we were honored to partner with them again this year by providing logistical support and space. Hundreds came and attended the preaching and classes. Many were saved, and others surrendered to full-time service for the Lord.
This month, Joseph organized a special day for the Deaf and we had over 60 Deaf come that Sunday. That was the most Deaf we have seen come to church since COVID shut everything down. We feel like we are making progress to the normalization of our services again. The hearing side of our ministry is doing very well. Our attendance has returned to near pre-COVID numbers with many new converts and attendees. Praise God!
Thank you all once again for your continued support and care for our family and the work with the Deaf and hearing in Lima, Peru and beyond.
Bro. Joe & Lisa, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer
The simple song above is one of Lisa’s favorites. With all that we are experiencing today, it just resounds the greatness of our LORD and His worthiness of our praise. The past two months have been a marvel of the Lord’s greatness and goodness.
As you know, I had back surgery on April 13th to fuse L4 & L5 after removing a ruptured disc. The healing process is slow and stable. Two weeks ago, I went to the doctor, and he released me from all restrictions with a warning to be careful and to remember full healing will not come for another 4 to 10 months. I can say I understand.
I have been preaching every Sunday here in Fort Myers. In June, I flew to the DBFA (Deaf Baptist Fellowship of America) and preached. A few days later, Lisa and I flew to Chicago for a Spanish “Fires of Evangelism” conference at First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN. Both conferences were wonderful, with great preaching and fellowship. However, the trips took a bit of a toll on my back, thus I will need to be more careful and patient.
As of this writing, our church in Peru has been able to have services most Sundays and Wednesdays. There were several weeks when they were forced to shut down for elections and holidays as the government did not allow in-person services due to COVID. Peru has been hit hard, and we lost another wonderful Pastor friend in Arequipa, Mauro Huaman, to COVID. He worked at EFATA when younger and single.
Peru is still extremely strict and keeps going back and forth with the shutdowns due to the unstable COVID situation.
We still do not know who is going to be the next president of Peru. The country is in political and economic turmoil at this time. There is much insecurity for the people. We pray that God with work in their hearts to make them more tender to receive the Word of God.
Until we know who will be the next president and what type of government we will have, there will not be much we can do about our school’s situation. Understanding all of this, we rejoice in knowing that the Lord is in control and the opportunities for ministry are endless. We will continue to preach, see souls saved and baptized and make “full proof of our ministry!”
In May we had a family retreat and enjoyed having our children and grandchildren all together for the first time together in many years.
Judson got engaged to Valeria Balcazar, a wonderful young lady from Peru who is a pastor’s daughter studying at PCC. We have known her and her family for years, and they are close friends of ours. What a blessing.
We look forward to going back to Peru, Lord willing, in October. I am going to try to go down prior to that for a week to prepare for the family’s arrival and attend a Pastor’s Conference that we will be hosting at EFATA in September.
Until then, as I try to be careful and let my body heal, I will continue to preach as God gives me opportunity and serve Him here in the States.
Pray for Joy as she prepares for college at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, WI at Falls Baptist Church.
John, Joel, Jessica and Jennifer had the opportunity to go to Bible camp this year here in the States, and it was a great encouragement to them.
Once again, thank you for all you do and for your prayers and support for our ministry and family.
Bro. Joe & Lisa, Joy, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Together, Joe and I have marveled as we watch God work in our lives and strengthen us. The verses above have been a great encouragement and we have seen again and again the goodness of our Saviour. We are truly blessed to see how He has protected and cared for us.
Joe had surgery the 13th of April in Fort Myers, Florida. The doctors did a fusion and replaced a disk. We are thankful that he has begun to heal, and that God provided a place for us to stay. Our home church Emmanuel Baptist Church has graciously allowed us to stay during this time. Joe cannot bend or twist or lift anything over 5 pounds for 6 weeks. Full recovery will take six months to a year. Our son James (with his sweet wife Ann and their littles) was down in this area preaching and they were a big help. We have enjoyed the time being close to them and Julianne and her husband and young ones. I think the grandchildren are part of “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
In Peru there are five times as many deaths each day right now as there were two years ago. COVID-19 is seemingly at a peak as the Brazilian strain is prevalent in Peru and many people at Efata have had it this month. We are thankful that they are recuperating but we ask your prayers for them. Many have lost family members. Those who are not sick right now continue to minister sharing what they have in their cupboards, in their pockets and even risking their own health to help those who are desperate.
We praise the Lord for the love and sacrifice that they have shown. Souls have been saved through their bold loving witness. We thank God for those of you who have given to help as well. This is not an easy time. Peru held presidential elections this month and the election between eighteen candidates/parties was reduced to the two candidates with the most votes. They plan to have a second election the 6th of June. One runner is a strong socialist promising far left reforms in the Chavez vein, and the second candidate is a woman whose father, a former president himself, is serving time. Everyone says they will have to vote for the least damaging. Please pray that God will use this time in Peru of death and discouragement for the dear Peruvian people to look to Christ to save them. Pray for the Christians in Peru to be a bright, bright light in this darkness.
Our school has been suspended. As of this writing, schools across Peru are not allowed to physically meet. The church is meeting through online services and online Sunday School that is interactive through Zoom meetings. Our ladies have been memorizing verses and singing and sharing with each other as well. Our youth meeting is also over Zoom. It is hard for many who are hurting financially, but they respond with joy as they see God provide for their needs.
Jared and Judson are doing well in the military. Joy is getting ready to go to Bible college this fall. John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer are homeschooling. Please keep them in your prayers as we juggle things with these adjustments. They have been a blessing.
Joseph and Zulema and their littles are traveling in Texas in conferences, and we look forward to them traveling to Florida next week. They have been struggling with health issues while traveling, and appreciate your prayers.
James and Ann are headed to north Florida and continue on the deputation trail, presenting the ministry in Peru that God has placed on their heart. Please pray for God’s protection for their health and provision for their needs.
There are still six deaf children and young people who call Efata home. Pray for God’s provision, healing and comfort. Please pray for our staff – especially those currently recovering from COVID.
Thank you all for your wonderful love and care for our ministry in Peru and beyond.
Bro. Joe & Lisa, Joy, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer
COVID strikes again. As I write this letter, our area of Peru – Villa El Salvador, Lima is on extreme alert as the cases of COVID have sharply risen. Efata is in total lockdown again. That means that one person per family can go out for only one hour a day between the hours of 6am to 6pm. No use of personal vehicles is allowed without special permission and again, no services other than virtual.
Two families on the Efata compound recently contracted COVID-19 but have recovered well. I have been in the States for medical reasons which I will explain further below.
The tax issue with the city is ongoing but there has been very good progress as I mentioned in my previous letter. As of right now, we have paid down approximately $6,000.00 of the $20,000 bill. We have had several churches help with this and our own church in Peru, Efata Baptist Church was able to raise over $1000 for the initial payment. We continue to solicit the city to unfreeze our bank account. Pray that this happens soon. Please pray that we can raise the final $14,000 to pay this off. Once that is done, we will be able to maintain the new regular monthly payments with the provision of the Lord.
Until we were shut down again, we were still seeing people saved and baptized, having weddings, and baby dedications, and receiving new members into the church. Currently, my staff of National pastors and leaders are preaching, discipling and having Sunday School via Zoom or live stream.
Joel and Jessica had birthdays recently, with Joel turning fifteen and Jessica thirteen. It so wonderful to see our children grow. Joy has completed her High School and has applied to Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to begin classes this fall. We are so proud of the wonderful young lady she has become. Jared is now in the Space Force and Judson is still overseas with the Marines. Joseph and James and their families are currently on deputation and Julianne and family are doing well in LaBelle, Florida. The kids at home—Joy, John, Joel, Jessica and Jennifer—are doing well.
I have been in the States for a few weeks being attended by the VA for some upper and lower back issues. After consultation with my Primary Care doctor, the VA has referred me to Community Care where I am currently being attended by a local surgeon. He has ordered five weeks of intense therapy, a lower back MRI and has referred me to another doctor for my shoulder pain. Due to this, I have decided to bring my family back to Fort Myers so Lisa can help me with this and the family can be together.
I will not be able to travel far from Fort Myers during this time as I will be in physical therapy two to three days a week. After the therapy, the surgeon will determine if I need surgery.
While I am here, I will be in constant contact working with my national leaders via Zoom meetings. I will also be filling in for the Pastor at LaBelle Baptist Temple for a few weeks as he has just undergone hip replacement surgery and will be out of the pulpit for several weeks. What a blessing to be able to return to the church where I was the assistant pastor before being called to missions and serve them in this way. I will also be filling in for another pastor in March for a week and visiting local supporters and reporting.
Bro. Joe & Lisa, Joy, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer
Like most of you, we are still dealing with the effects of the COVID issues here in Peru. It has changed so much of our lives and ministries. However, one thing that cannot change is God’s perfect plan for the ages, which we are witnessing unfold before our very eyes.
It is vital for us to be thankful to the Lord for His care over us and recognize that He truly is in control no matter what is happening. This strengthens us spiritually. We should be thankful despite politics or pandemics of the day. As the verse above teaches, we must be thankful for God’s enduring mercies and goodness.
School is out now. We did not have any high school graduates from our Deaf school this year, but several hearing students in our English home school group graduated. This included three of our children. Joy graduated from high school, and Jessica and Joel from middle school.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, issues with the Peruvian Ministry of Education, and the reduction of students and teachers, we are suspending our deaf school after 50 years of service here in Peru. We are suspending in the hopes of reopening again within two years. This is not a given. First, we must wait for the elections this year and see if we can get a meeting with the new Minister of Education and convince him or her to allow us to reopen under a special pilot program that will allow us to continue to successfully teach deaf children.
Peru changed to an inclusion program that mixes the Deaf in with the hearing but without the qualified interpreters and teachers necessary for success. Thus, they closed our high school and have been moving to close our primary grades as well. They are creating a new generation of Deaf students with a tragically low literacy rate all in the name of inclusion and self-esteem – a one-size-fits-all education system that has failed the Deaf. Pray that we can be successful in advocating for our methodology and school. This school has been the gateway for the Gospel for thousands of Deaf here in Peru. The government also closed our orphanage/home program, forbidding us to take in new children. We still have six deaf children and young adults for whom we are caring.
Regarding the battle with the city over our tax situation, we have exhausted all avenues of appeal. Fortunately, the new person in charge of this area has been extremely helpful. The final determination is that we need to pay about $20,000 in back taxes (down from $65,000) for the school and church property. We began to pay this down this month and were able to pay about $3800.00, so we now owe about $16,200.00. Our people in the church are giving what they can, and we are thankful that they are stepping up, but this is not in their power to pay off. We would be grateful for any assistance in this need.
When we made our first payment, they saw that as a good faith effort and exonerated the 2012-2014 taxes which lowered the debt by about $1300.00. What a blessing and help from the Lord! Once the tax debt is cleared, we will keep things current as we had been doing until they wildly increased the taxes without proper notification or consideration.
In November, we hosted the first International Baptist Deaf video conference. It was a great blessing, Deaf from all over the world tuned in and there were several good results from the meeting. Around twenty Deaf and hearing leaders in Deaf ministry preached from four different countries.
Services opened up again in November. Although some who are at higher risk are still staying home, our outdoor services have been full. We are so blessed to have new Christians being discipled. We had a tremendous Christmas service the 27th with the Lord’s Supper as well as a live nativity scene. We had 299 present.
Thank you to those who have sent offerings for food provisions. This has been a great ministry help and hundreds were comforted and helped. We are still seeing fruit from this in new visitors, salvation decisions and baptisms.
The family is well. As I mentioned before, Joy graduated from high school and is preparing for college in the Fall.
I will be returning to the States in January for physical therapy for my lower back and further care and analysis for my upper spine issue, as well as my normal yearly check-up at the VA. Please pray the doctors have wisdom and I can get the help I need right away in order to get back as soon as possible to Peru.
Prayers and Thanks
Thank you so much to all the churches and friends who sent Christmas blessings! We are so thankful for all of you and your support during this unforgettable year.
A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: 4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. 5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.
These have been interesting times for all of us, especially here in Peru. COVID-19 has brought a multitude of challenges, and political turmoil has run rampant not only in the U.S. but also here in Peru, where this month the congress impeached the president, pressured the resignation of the following president after 5 days, and selected a new caretaker president until next year’s election.
All of this has had a direct impact on Peru. However, there is some wonderful news for us, as we can now have services at church, albeit with strict protection protocols in force.
On Sunday, November 15, we rejoiced and worshipped God together in person for the first time in over 8 months, and we enjoyed the same joy as David did those thousands of years ago: We were glad when they said unto us, let us go into the house of the LORD! We had three services, one for our mission church in Tablada that is without a building, one for our Deaf, and one for our hearing and Deaf.
Altogether, we ministered to over 200 who came out to the services, in addition to those who could not be there in person and instead joined us online.
One of the blessings is that JJ, my grandson, was baptized as well on this wonderful day.
We also continue to distribute food supplies to those in need as we are able. Thank you to our supporting churches and friends who have helped in this vital ministry during this time.
I was just back in the U.S. for care from the VA Clinic, which I will share below. However, while there, I had the blessed opportunity to report to several of our supporting churches and preach a Mission Conference for the Deaf Department of Falls Baptist Church in WI. What a great blessing and encouragement that was.
At Efata, we are still battling the city over the taxes. Continue to pray that God will give us wisdom in so many decisions that will impact our overall ministry here in Peru as a result of the many changes we are facing here with the school, home, and overall ministry. We have some really exciting plans and are looking for clear leading from the Lord.
We rejoice that souls have been saved and several baptized during these past few months. We even celebrated a wedding for a couple in the church.
At the end of November, our church will be hosting the first-ever International Independent Baptist Deaf Preachers Conference online. We have well over 20 deaf pastors, hearing pastors to the Deaf, and missionaries from around the world who will be preaching and encouraging one another. Pray that God will use this conference in a mighty way to strengthen and encourage those who work with the Deaf as well as the Deaf themselves.
Our family is in good health and those of us who had COVID have fully recovered.
Regarding my VA appointments for my back and other needs, I had X-rays and an MRI for pain in my lower back and upper body with tingling and pain with numbness in my arms. I will need to return in January for physical therapy for my lower back and further care and analysis for my upper issues as well as my normal yearly check-up. Apart from that, all is well.
While in the States, our 10th grandchild was born to Julianne and Frank. Her name is Katlyn Joy. I was also able to see my 8th grandchild, Jimmy, born to James and Ann. That makes ten grandchildren so far, three of whom were born this year.
Jared and Judson are well in their respective duty stations and services. Joy is practically finished with high school and is now preparing for Bible college for next year.
Prayers and Thanks
Again, thank you all for your prayers, support, and care for our family and ministry during this unique time. We are honored to partner with all of you in missions as we continue to serve the Lord.