We have had several developments in ministry here at Efata. In March we started Sunday School again with our new small group format. We held several training sessions to prepare our teachers for this new program. Since the pandemic, we had been doing Sunday School online, but everything is now in-person. We also have gone back to our original preaching service schedules as well. This has been a great blessing, and our attendance is up and averaging better than before the pandemic.
The new Sunday School has been received with excitement and enthusiasm. It is wonderful to see the group leaders being developed and more of the membership involved. We have had many new visitors, and several have been saved and baptized during these wonderful months.
The Deaf had a wonderful picnic fellowship and we had a wonderful church-wide family day during the Easter holidays. Joseph and a team of our Deaf missionary leaders went to Iquitos to help a church there with their new Deaf ministry. This is the beginning of our new “Circuit riding” ministry to train and establish new deaf works throughout Peru.
Our Bible College, hearing Bible Institute and new Deaf Bible Institute all have begun the new academic year. The Deaf Institute has been expanded to help compensate for the lack of deaf education. We are blessed by these young adults who want to be here to learn God’s work and improve their language and reading skills. We also are teaching trades to help them for their future. We pray a new generation of Deaf pastors, missionaries, leaders, and workers will be trained for ministry through this new institute. The fruit will take years to realize but the labor and investment is greatly worth it.
There is a need for support for the young adults to help pay for their room board and education. If you would like to invest in the lives of these young people by helping support them, please let us know and it can be done through our Mission or local church as the Lord leads.
Lisa and I were in the States for the month of April to help John get settled and for several medical appointments. We returned to Peru on April 28th. All is well and I have had good results. My back has improved as have my shoulders. Unfortunately, I had a hard fall two weeks ago and really hurt my right rotator cuff. I had to go to the ER. Fortunately, nothing was broken, but I might have a slight tear in my rotator. I still have less strength in the arm. It seems to be healing well, but I was unable to have it looked at by an Orthopedic surgeon. I had another doctor look at it, and he advised just to be careful. I am trying.
John is now out on his own. He turned 18 in December of last year and moved back to the US. He is staying at our home church’s mission apartment for one more month while he works and saves up to get his own place. He has a long way to go, so please pray for him. He is looking at several options for college as well. This leaves three children still at home with us in Peru.
Joy is finishing her first year of Bible College. It was a very busy year for her, and she was able to participate in drama presentations for Christmas and Easter, sing in the Choral group and take classes on piano and clarinet. Thank you for your continued prayers for her. Jessica and Jennifer have been doing great in their piano lessons with Miss Rebecca, and the Lord provided a friend to teach them intensive violin lessons. They have been able to play in the services on Sunday accompanying the piano. This was a wonderful blessing and answer to prayer.
Thank you all again for your care and support for us. We are truly grateful that God has chosen all of you to be our partners together to spread the Gospel in Peru and Beyond.
With a new year comes new challenges and opportunities. If there ever was a time when the “days are evil,” it is now. There is a lot of uncertainty all around. I am glad that God challenges us to “redeem the time.” He is in complete control; thus, we can commit our ways to Him and press on redeeming the time!
We are opening up services back to pre-COVID schedules and rhythms. We are ending virtual Sunday school and beginning our new in-person small group Sunday School program. We are extremely excited about this. We are also going back to our three services on Sunday morning plus Sunday School (One for Deaf, one for hearing and one combined). Our Tablada mission has found a place to meet on Sundays. Praise the Lord for this.
Due to our growth, we no longer hold our main service in our church auditorium. It is just not big enough. Since November of 2020, we have been meeting in our covered soccer court. We are in the process of transforming it into our auditorium. We are building a mezzanine for extra seating, especially for conferences. We will continue to transform the space, by God’s grace and provision, little by little. Regarding this, our current need is to redo the floor, transforming it from a soccer court to an auditorium floor. The gaps in the floor are too large for an auditorium (especially for the ladies with heels), and it has sunk and needs repair in areas. It will cost us about $18,000 to make the floor safe and serviceable for an auditorium. We are saving up funds for this project.
If you trust that the Lord would have you support this special project, you may do so by sending your support to Macedonia or our home church Emmanuel Baptist, designated for the “Efata floor project.”
We continue to see people saved, baptized, and married, babies dedicated, and home-goings as well.
Joseph, with some of our Deaf pastors and leaders are planning our first circuit ministry destination this May to Iquitos, a jungle city in northern Peru. There, we will work with a church who has asked us to help them with their new Deaf ministry. This will be our first location as we develop our national circuit ministry here of Deaf ministry and church planting in Peru.
Lisa and I will be returning to the States for the month of April to continue with medical appointments. Our son John has decided to move to the States to finish his High School and begin his adult life, so we are going to help get him set up. He is looking into colleges and finding work. Please pray for him both for these needs in his life and for his spiritual growth and care as well.
Joy is doing well at Bible College, and Jared and Judson continue to serve their country. Jessica and Jennifer have been blessed with intensive violin lessons these three months.
Julianne, Lord willing, will be giving birth to grandchild #12 toward the end of March or beginning of April (another nice blessing for the time we are in the States).
We continue to watch for God’s leading and working in this new and interesting year. You are our heroes, the ones who make it possible for us to serve on the foreign mission field. Thank you once again for your prayers, friendship, and financial support.
This year has been a year of victory, challenges, discouragements, and blessings. Our faith in God and His sovereign will enables us to continue forward as victors in this journey of faith that we are on. It is that faith as the verse above teaches that brings us the daily victories that overcome the world and its system.
The ministry here in Peru continues to thrive in the midst of all of the COVID issues and political difficulties.
Since my return from my seven-month medical furlough in October, we have seen people saved and I have baptized every week Deaf and hearing converts.
In November our leadership team met to plan the year ahead. We have some great things ahead and ask you to pray for God’s continued care and help as we enter 2022 with much uncertainty. We will not let the political or health issues of COVID deter us from moving forward with wisdom and discernment.
Our services are doing well. Our attendance is greater than pre-COVID times for us and for our Tablada mission work. Pray for Tablada as they continue to search for a new place to meet. It is very difficult right now.
We were able to host a very special Christmas dinner for our Venezuelan members and friends to encourage them in the Lord, and each family was able to invite another to come. We had great Venezuelan Christmas specialty foods, Bible preaching and a wonderful gift giving time for the children who came.
We hosted a small group of ex-students of Efata who wanted to have a special Christmas celebration here at Efata and that went very well.
Another Deaf activity had to be postponed due to COVID precautions. The government also came out with some stricter guidelines and now one cannot go anywhere or do any business if they are not fully vaccinated – no banks, restaurants, shopping or government business.
Before we left for Peru, my family and I made the decision to get vaccinated because we knew this was coming. If we had not, we would not have been able to continue in Peru as missionaries until such a time as these restrictions would be lifted. We did not wish to be vaccinated for various reasons; however, our personal preferences were trumped by God’s calling and care in our lives.
John turned 18 on the 30th of December. We are praying much for him as he works to finish school and prepare for his life. Please be in prayer for him as well.
Joy has completed her first semester at Bible College and is doing well and looking forward to the new semester.
Joel, Jessica and Jennifer are doing well and growing. Jared and Judson are still at their respective duty stations serving our country.
Lisa and I participated in a wedding for one of our young ladies from Peru who is in Bible College at Baptist College of Ministry. We were able to see Joy, James and Ann and our grandkids that live there. (It was a special blessing getting to meet Heidi Beth, our newest grandbaby.) Then we flew down to Fort Myers and spent a couple of days with Julianne and Frank and the grandkids. Jared, Lisa’s mom and my dad were able to come to Julianne’s place near Fort Myers for a nice Christmas dinner. Lisa and I then packed up and flew home to Peru on Christmas Eve, arriving Christmas morning to be with our children here. Please pray for Labelle Baptist Temple as they continue to carefully search for a new pastor. I enjoyed preaching for them while there.
A special thanks to all of you who have sent special offerings for Christmas to our family and for Christmas projects for our church here at Efata. We look forward to this new year with you all through prayers, friendship and financial support. Together, because of HIM, “We are more than Conquerors!” Thank you all.
Bro. Joe & Lisa, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer
“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