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.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows…
What an interesting time we live in. I have never seen such a unity of end-times events in my life–pestilences such as locusts in Asia, exponentially more dangerous natural disasters (fires raging, hurricanes, tornados, forty-mile-wide land storms such as “Derecho” in Iowa, earthquakes in unusual places, volcanic eruptions) pandemics, wars and rumors of wars, many false Christs and prophets (just peruse YouTube), right turned to wrong and wrong turned to right, children against their parents, irresponsible parents, love waxing cold, etc. All these are converging at this point in history.
Just remember the words above, “be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” We do not know when Jesus is coming, so all I can say as I look forward to the “Blessed Hope” is, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Until then, we will be busy about our Master’s business.
We will not let the circumstances of life around us discourage us. Persecution, already present in a large part of the world, is coming our way. This too must come to pass. Regardless, we have this promise from our Savior:
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Not much has changed here since our last prayer letter regarding the restrictions on gatherings. There was some relief, but then the government clamped down again when the number of new cases of COVID-19 began to rise. They have imposed martial law restrictions again on Sundays, when no one can be out except with special permission. International travel continues to be restricted by the government, and public services are limited. Several pastors have died because of the pandemic. One, Luis Navarro, was only forty-two years old. He was a friend. Several members of our church have experienced losses of loved ones.
We continue to minister through social media for all our services, Sunday school meetings, and programs for teens and children. We also continue to distribute food to many in need. We are seeing souls saved despite all the restrictions. Pray for these new Christians as they grow.
No in-person meetings will be permitted this year. Schools will continue to teach online until next year as well. This is a horrible situation for students and especially for the Deaf and children with special needs. Our teachers continue to work hard to teach those who have access to the internet.
As you know from our last letter, several of us tested positive for COVID. Lisa was the hardest affected, with headaches, breathing issues, pain, and discomfort in her chest. The rest of us appear to have been asymptomatic if our tests were accurate, although I have my doubts about that. The blessing is that all of us are well now. Lisa is doing great, and none of us have any residual issues or side effects. The same goes for our son Joseph, who works with us here.
Joseph and Zulema are expecting their third child. Because theirs is a high-risk pregnancy, they have a C-section scheduled for September 8th. We are looking forward to their little addition to the family. Please pray for them that everything will go smoothly. Also be in prayer for Julianne, our daughter who lives in Florida, who is expecting her fifth child in late September or early October. When these two children are born, Lisa and I will have ten grandchildren. What a joy!
James and Ann and their two little ones are doing well. God was very gracious to them with His presence during this time of trials. A complicated pregnancy with extended hospitalization ended in little Jimmy’s premature birth, requiring him to be hospitalized for about two months. Some churches canceled as well due to COVID restrictions. Please pray for God to fill their schedule again and for God’s continued protection, provision, and guidance for their precious family on the deputation road.
Our Marine, Judson, was recently promoted. He is now a corporal, having just completed Embassy Security training, and is waiting for his first deployment overseas. Jared is doing great in the Air Force in Florida.
Prayers and Thanks
We have enjoyed hearing from many of you as you have written and called to inquire about our well-being and the well-being of the ministry here in Peru during these crazy months. Thank you to all of you who remember us in your prayers and who support us in our work.
Bro. Joe & Lisa Joy, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer