Matt went to be with the Lord on December 8, 2021. This was the last newsletter he sent out to his supporters, on October 1, 2020
You can visit Matt’s memorial website: Remembering Matt Kantrowitz.
Isaiah 61 Ministries Prayer Warriors Newsletter
I have decided not to continue my ministry in Rockingham County Jail any longer It was hard to admit, but my illness had weakened me to the point that the long afternoons at the jail were taking a toll on me. The jail has been closed to volunteers, due to Covid-19, anyway, which made the decision a little easier.
The Lord has opened up new areas of ministry for me. I’m still able to teach Bible studies, although now my efforts are directed toward our neighbors in our “55 plus” apartments, rather than to men in prison or in jail. We meet once a week, and the classes are going well. We use a meeting room right down the hall from our apartment, which is a lot easier than driving back and forth to Rockingham County Jail, where I held Bible studies before. The jail was almost an hour each way.
And while I can’t meet with men in jail face to face any more. I can write letters to them, praying that the Lord will use my letters to comfort, instruct and encourage them. I’m 72 years old now, and like a lot of folks my age, I have trouble remembering names or finding just the right words for things. But as I write these letters, I find I can still recall Bible verses, and apply them to the needs and concerns these men share with me. I am physically weak now, but as long as I can stay strong spiritually, I am content.
Please pray for these letters to help the men I send them to. Pray that they will really understand what it means, to be, not just Christians, but disciples. All the men I write to are Christians. They are “born again” in the way we use the term these days. But when he talked to Nicodemus about being born again, Jesus may have implied more than just “accepting Christ” or saying a “sinners prayer. ” He said in John 3:7-8,
“No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.”
I don’t believe the phrase “born of water” refers to baptism. The water Jesus mentions here is the amniotic fluid in a mother’s womb. When the water bursts, it’s time for the baby to be born. It’s an interesting analogy. Childbirth is not easy, and it can take a while. Being born again can be a struggle as well. But as Jesus describes it, the Spirit is in charge of the process, not us.
As I write these men, I hope to help them see how the Spirit can help them grow stronger. As one man wrote, “I find myself struggling while here to feel the Holy Spirit. I’m surrounded by so much sin and darkness.”
I wrote back, saying “You can get in touch with Jesus, ‘The light of the world,’ in prayer. That way you can be moreaware of his light within you, than the darkness around you. About light and darkness, I mentioned:
John 1:5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 8:12: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
2 Corinthians 4:6: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
I told him, “It can be hard to feel the Holy Spirit in your heart when you’re surrounded by sin and darkness. But whether we feel him or not, he’s with us.” And I shared scriptures like these with him:
2 Corinthians 1:22-23:And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
1 John 4:4 :You have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Please pray for “T’, the man who wrote the letter about struggling to feel the Spirit in a place of sin and darkness. He loves the Lord and I believe he is growing in the faith. In a more recent letter, he sounded much happier and healthier. but he still needs a lot of healing. The sin and darkness in the prison has been brought home to him by some devastating and traumatic personal experiences.
Please pray for ‘S.” Like a lot of men in prison, he has harbored anger and resentment toward his own family for years. But “S” is a Christian. He has been very open and honest about these feelings in his letters to me. I felt I had to try show him how important it was for him to forgive them. I wrote,
I want to share with you again some very serious warnings Jesus gives us about forgiveness. Basically, if we don’t forgive those who trespass against us, God will not forgive us. I believe that if we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive others, Jesus sees that we really don’t understand forgiveness. The forgiveness Jesus offers us cost him 9 hours of agony on the cross. Forgiving others would cost us little, if anything. But somehow, in our bitterness and resentment, we don’t want to give it away. But isn’t holding onto our hurt feelings and pain hurting ourselves a lot more than it could ever hurt them? Wouldn’t letting go of these grudges be a tremendous relief? Forgiving others who have hurt us benefits us more than them. “But,” you might say, “They just don’t deserve it.” Did you and I deserve what Jesus has done for us?
Matthew 5:14-16: Jesus said “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Please pray for “C.” He is waiting for his case to be resolved. He has not gone to court yet, and he has no idea when he will go. He says, “It could be next week or next year.” In any case, he expects to be sentenced to many years in Federal Prison. He is not a young man. The prospect of growing old in prison would be frightening and depressing to anyone. He has written, “I was hoping I would get one last opportunity to hug and kiss my kids before I’m locked up for a bit. We’ve had two visits so far, but my ex couldn’t make it to either.” And he says, “I am hoping to be out of prison in time to see my kids graduate from high school.”
“C” is a Christian. And his imprisonment on these charges has caused him to take his faith a lot more seriously. He has been placed in a cell with another Christian, the same man I was talking about just now, “S.” Even a Christian might not like sharing his cell with another man. The complete lack of privacy, even having to share a toilet, could be a challenge.
But “S” has written to me about his decision to treat “C” like a brother in Christ. “C’ says that when ”S” reached out to him as a brother, it “saved his life.” Please keep this friendship in prayer. Pray for them to continue to respect each other, and help each other grow in Christ:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Please pray for men in prison who read their Bibles, pray, go to chapel services, Bible studies and even Kairos when it is available. It really seems that the Lord is doing a good work in them. But when they are released, they go right back to the addictions and behaviors that got them in trouble before.
Pray for Christian programs that hope to help these men, keep them “clean and sober”, and following Jesus. Pray for Christian Aftercare Program in New Hampshire, and the Transformation Project in Maine.
Please pray for inmates and staff at Rikers Island jail, in New York City: “A letter to President Biden from Rep. Ritchie Torres and other congressmen said that the situation at Rikers Island, where 11 people who were being held in custody have died this year, was a humanitarian crisis for the more than 5,000 people being housed there. Mr. Torres, said that mismanagement during Covid-19 had led to a crisis of absenteeism. Nearly 2,000 uniformed officers call in sick daily, leaving inmates without urgent medical or mental health care, and delaying the delivery of basic necessities like food and water.” New York Times, 9/ 24/ 2021
Sometimes we hear of such bad situations that we wonder if our prayers do any good, But as James said, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:15) And we are never alone as we pray. The Spirit intercedes for us, (Romans 8:26-27) and Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. (Romans 8:34) Our prayers go before the Lord in Heaven like “golden bowls of incense.”(Rev.5:8)
Thank you for your prayers!
In Christ, Matt K.