February – March 2024

Dear Friends and Family,

We are constantly amazed at God’s goodness and care for our mission work and ministry in Peru and our family. The beginning of this year has been wonderful.

Ministry News

In February, I was in the States for a mission conference and to attend my yearly medical appointments at the VA and eye doctor.  I returned to Peru, and we had a wonderful Fires of Evangelism conference where several young people made decisions and several were saved.

The day after the conference, the entire family flew to the States to begin the short furlough that I mentioned in my previous prayer letter.

One of our goals for this short furlough is to raise funds to build a church two hours north of us at one of our mission works.  Our national pastor there was advised by his landlord that he would be losing the use of half of his small building in a couple of weeks and may lose the other half as well. We purchased property to build the church and are now raising funds to construct the initial church building for them nearby where they have been renting.

So far, we have raised $12,000 – to God be the glory! We are looking for an initial $20,000 to build a 200-seat auditorium and another $5000 to equip it with water, sewer and furniture. Later we will raise funds to build Sunday School and multiuse rooms as well as a pastor’s home. We plan to begin right away as funds come in.

Please make this a matter of prayer. If you can help with this project for the initial building or for the future classroom and home space, that would be a blessing. Please send the support to Macedonia World Baptist Missions designated “Efata Building Project – Chancay.”

We are planning another evangelism explosion for the second and third largest cities in Peru – Arequipa and Piura – around the middle of the year. We are praying for a soul harvest in both locations. We and the Peruvian churches that are partnering with us will be printing the tracts, and Pastor Mark Smith From Tacoma, Washington and partnering churches in the States will be printing and sending us two containers of Bibles and New Testaments to distribute in these two cities.

The school is moving forward with more Deaf students this year. Our goal is to be able to accept high school students again. We are working with the legal department of the Ministry of Education on this. Please pray that we will be successful. The Deaf need this, and we need to have this influence on the future generation for the Lord.

Family News

Julianne and Frank are having a new baby boy, to be born any day now! This will be their seventh child and our fourteenth grandchild. Then in May, our son Judson and he wife Valeria are expecting their first child.  Joy will also be graduating from College in May. We are grateful we could be in the States for these few months to share in these wonderful milestones and report to several of our supporting churches and present our ministry to a couple of new churches.

We return to Peru the first week of June and immediately have our Mission Conference. Fabio Betancourth, Spanish Pastor from Bible Baptist Church in Bradenton, FL, will be our special speaker. We are thrilled that he is coming.

As I mentioned before, we will do a longer, more robust furlough of reporting in 2026 or 2027, the Lord willing. Joseph, our son who works with us, will be going on Furlough for 2025. Thanks you to all of you and we are sorry if we did not get by to see you. There just was not enough time.  We will see you next time around, and, as always, you are more than welcome to come and visit us.

Blessings,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica, Jennifer

November – December 2023

Dear Friends and Family,

The new year is upon us. We look forward to what 2024 will bring. In spite of the political challenges that the entire world is facing, the wars, the persecutions and the lawlessness of the day, our hope is in the Lord. The Psalmist encourages us to this hope in Psalm 42:5.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Ministry News

We ended 2023 with some amazing events. First, we had a wonderful Christmas meal for those who live at Efata who wished to participate and for those of the church who did not have a family to celebrate with. We were able to give gifts to all the children that were present and had a wonderful time. We also had several events for children and their families at Efata and at some of our mission works. Many trusted Christ.

In addition, we were able to help a few families in need through the generous donations of you, our supporters.

One dear elderly member was given a new wheelchair which she desperately needed, and she is so excited coming to church in it. Another young girl was given a nice keyboard so she could learn to play the piano, which was one of her dreams.

We baptized six people in the last two weeks of 2023. Lord willing we have three baptisms this first week of January as well.

We know it is the Lord who gives the increase as our church is going and telling. We praise Him for the increase of souls saved and baptisms. Many souls have come to know Christ throughout 2023.

Family News

In March of this year our family will be coming to the States for a short three-month furlough. Though it will not be long enough to visit everyone, we have too much going on to be gone longer.

In March our daughter Julianne is expecting her seventh child. In April, Valeria, Judson’s wife, is expecting their first child, and in May, Joy will be graduating from Bible College. We have coordinated our visit around these events.

We will probably do a longer, more robust furlough of reporting in 2026 or 2027, the Lord willing, as Joseph, our son who works with us, is planning his furlough for 2025.

Blessings,

Joe Kotvas Signature

Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica, Jennifer

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

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

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

January – March 2023

Dear Friends and Family,

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”   – Matthew 9:35-36

 We have been very busy with this new year. So much has happened. As the verse above states, we need to continue to lift up our eyes from what we are doing right in front of us as Jesus did and take the time to see the broader ministry and needs that lie beyond that God has for us to do.

Ministry News

2023 Deaf Retreat

January through March have been filled with camps, conferences and retreats. Our teens went to youth camp and many made life-changing decisions. Jessica surrendered her life to the Lord during teen camp.  After that, we hosted a Deaf retreat in the city of Chosica, about two hours from us. That was such a blessing, especially since it was the first one we have been able to have in a couple of years. The last week of February we had a youth conference in Efata together with several other churches of like faith, with many teens making decisions for Christ.

Our mission church in Tablada was able to find a new place to meet. They have refurbished a property with a new roof and concrete floor to have permanent services again.  Pastor Victor Ocampo is doing a great job in that ministry. 

2023 Deaf Retreat

Another of our mission works, in Chancay, is doing well. Pastor Henry Vasquez had a great VBS and is doing a great job reaching this area with the Gospel.

We continue to see souls saved and baptized. We are looking forward to a city-wide mass evangelism project that we are preparing for here in Lima. Pastor Mark Smith, is coming with twenty or so members from Faith Baptist church in Tacoma, WA, to work with several churches here in Lima to distribute one million gospel tracts, 75,000 new testaments and 25,000 whole Bibles. They are sending three twenty-foot containers of material.  We are hosting them and coordinating the logistics for this project and look forward to participating in it. Please pray that the containers will arrive with no hassles from customs and receiving.  We will also attempt to gain access to political, military and police officials to witness to them. This may be complicated given the political instability that has consumed Peru.  Peru is on their seventh president in five years and there is still strong unrest and protests all over the country.

The Lord has opened the door for us to reopen our school for the Deaf although in a limited capacity. We will start this year with kindergarten and work up as the Lord provides finances, new teachers, and opportunities.  We have been suspended for two years and thought we were going to have to permanently close.  Please pray for wisdom in this and that God will provide so we can hire and train new teachers and staff. 

Family News

Lisa and I flew to the States for a few weeks for medical appointments that I had.  I decided not to have the other shoulder surgery for now. I can manage the discomfort for now until a proper furlough so I would not be away from the work for another three months of recovery and therapy.  While in the States we were able to see all of our children and grandchildren.

Joel, Jessica and Jennifer are doing well and happy to have us home.  

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.

Joe Kotvas Signature

Blessings, Joe & Lisa
Joel, Jessica & Jennifer