Joe, born in New York and raised in Tampa, attended a catholic church and later the church of Christ. He joined the Navy when he was 17, and after a year, while stationed in Millington, Tennesee, God used his roommate to invite him one Sunday to the First Baptist Church of Millington Tennessee, where he understood the Gospel and received Christ as his personal Savior. After a year, he was transferred to Jacksonville, Florida, where he became a member of Trinity Baptist Church. Joe became involved in the Deaf Ministry at Trinity in 1985, where he met his future wife, Lisa.
Lisa was born in Australia while her father was serving in the U.S. Air Force. After moving around quite a bit, her father retired and the family settled in Belleville, IL.
At age 16 Lisa trusted Christ as her Saviour at the Faith Baptist Church in Belleville, and at 17 went to Trinity Baptist College. While there, Lisa developed a burden for deaf people and became involved in the deaf ministry at Trinity in 1985.
In the Summer of 1987, she took a short term mission trip to Lima, Peru to work with Vernon and Velma Miller at Efata. Lisa graduated from Trinity in May of 1988.
Joe and Lisa were married on May 20th, 1988. That November, Joe completed his six year enlistment in the Navy, and the new family moved to Belleville, IL, where he helped establish a deaf ministry at Faith Baptist Church under Pastor Scott Baker. After a year, Joe & family decided to move back to Jacksonville for further training in the Deaf Ministry. There he served in the Deaf Ministry at Trinity Baptist Church while attending the Police Academy.
In 1991, Joe graduated Valedictorian from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office/FCCJ Police academy, and in February of 1992 he was hired by the Lee County Sheriff’s office in Ft. Myers, FL as a Deputy. In Ft. Myers, Joe and Lisa became active members of Emmanuel Baptist Church. In April of 1994 during a mission’s conference, Joe surrendered to the call to full-time ministry. His pastor, Richard Riley, brought him on as assistant pastor where he worked for over two years. Then Joe served as assistant pastor at Labelle Baptist Temple in Labelle, Florida. While there, Joe & Lisa went on a vacation to visit the deaf missionaries Vernon and Velma Miller in Lima, Peru. During that time, God called Joe to become a missionary to the Deaf in Peru, South America. In November of 1998, Joe resigned as assistant Pastor, resigned his position with the Sheriff’s Office, and went on full time deputation.
On December 2, 1999, the Kotvas family moved to Peru, South America where they are serving today.
Joe – 11/13
Lisa – 3/9
Anniversary – 5/20
Joel – 1/28
Jessica – 2/4
Jennifer – 7/22