Prayers and letters: Prison ministry during Covid

Although the pandemic has kept me from going into the jail, my ministry is still going strong. I am putting as much into writing to prisoners as when I was going into the jail 3 or 4 days a week. Please join me in prayer for these men. Pray that the Lord will use my letters to bless them and help them to grow.                        

Please pray for “P.” He came to America from Thailand when he was only 9 years old. He began a long prison term when he was still a teenager. He finished his sentence  on September 8th. At that point, as expected, he was handed over to ICE for deportation to Thailand. He is looking forward to starting over. However, he has been trapped in a very crowded for profit ICE detention center in Jena, Louisiana for the last 60 days with no end in sight. He is living in a room with 80 men all packed to the hilt and though his handlers insist it isn’t prison, it is in fact the worst prison he has been in. “P” spent several years in solitary confinement in Maine State Prison. At this writing, he has spent an entire month in the polar opposite of solitary confinement, but in an environment just as cruel. He is packed into a room with eighty ICE detainees – most from Central America, where the noise is unbearable and the blazing lights are kept on 24/7. He is sleep deprived and suffering terribly. His deportation, which should have taken a matter of days, has now surpassed 60 days From his point of view, ICE means “Isn’t Coming Ever”. He deserves far better than this but he is grateful for the prayers of many friends who have reached out to him. His faith has helped him to endure.

Please pray for all those being held in these inhumane conditions, awaiting deportation. Please pray for “M,” an undocumented immigrant who had been here In America for ten years. “M” walked many hard miles with his brother when he was 10 years old. They were fleeing gang violence in Honduras, and hoping to find a better life in America “M” was arrested for a minor offence in Manchester, but Immigration officials were notified, and he was quickly deported. “M’ had made a commitment to the Lord, and he had hoped to stay here and be a good father to his newborn baby, but he is gone. He returns to the same gang violence  he left ten years ago. The gangs are sure to try to recruit him, and threaten him and his family if he resists. Please pray that the Lord  keeps him safe, and he can find Christians in Honduras to help him grow strong in his new faith.                                              

Please pray for “J’” I mentioned him in my last newsletter: “I heard he was back in jail. His parole would probably be revoked, and he would be back in the prison where he had already spent more than twenty years. (He also spent much of his time in Segregation.) Please pray for him not to be bitter, angry, or resentful.  Pray for “J” to pray, and seek a stronger, deeper relationship with God.” When I heard about his arrest, I wrote him and. he got right back to me, writing, “I greatly appreciate the Bible, the scripture, and the letter of concern…I’m better than I was. I was a mess for a while. I was jaundiced at the start of the month…I’m blessed with a great deal love and support, and I humbly ask the Lord to restore my body, and save my soul…Thank you for caring for me all these years, even when I didn’t care for myself.”

I’ve known “J” for 20 years, but now he was asking the Lord to save his soul, in a way he had not before. So I wrote to him, “You can’t just dabble in following Jesus. You have to jump in with both feet. Jesus warned us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Jesus says following him is a lot like taking up a cross. Back then the cross was where criminals were executed. And something in us has to die, if we really want to follow Jesus. He challenges us to put to death what is “criminal” or sinful, in us. I’m sending you some books about it. I’ll be praying for you”.

Sometimes men who knew the Lord in jail, seem to lose their way when they got out. When they come back to jail, they feel a lot of shame and condemnation. I reassure them that God can forgive, heal, and restore them. But they must humbly and honestly confess, showing true regret for their sins:                                                                            

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

And they must repent: change their hearts and minds so that it shows in their changed behavior:

Jesus said “ Unless you repent, you will all perish” Luke !5:3 “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” Luke 15:10 ‘”This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.You are witnesses of this”.   Luke 24:46-48

Please pray for “M”. I baptized “M” in the chapel in Maine State Prison in 1998. He seemed serious about following the Lord. But now The World, The Flesh, and The Devil have taken their toll, and he is back in prison. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand”  Pray for “M” to listen to the Shepherd’s voice again. He wrote to me; “I have been hounded by the Holy Spirit these last 6 months about truly committing my life to God and his will. As you know I struggle with lots of addictions both with drugs, pride, anger, and things of this world. So, I would strongly plead with you to pray for help with all of this.”

I wrote back, “‘There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.’ I’m praying for you to see yourself the way God sees you. Father God created you, and he doesn’t make junk. Jesus paid a great price on the cross to redeem you. You are precious in his sight. And the Holy Spirit has come to live within you.  In Christ, you can be a saint! The State may think of you as a felon. Your own family may think you’re a failure and a loser. You may even think of yourself as a hopeless addict. But God sees you as an overcomer, called, equipped, and gifted to serve.” 

Please pray for “T,” I wrote about him in an earlier newsletter, “I’m afraid he will get bullied. Or maybe he’s just depressed, or mad at God. We used to have great conversations in the County Jail. He became a Christian and was reading the Bible avidly. But since he went to the prison I haven’t heard from him”

“T” finally wrote to me. He is struggling. But at least we’re in touch now. He wrote, “I’ve been going through a lot here. I have seen Segregation, and it’s not fun. I’m not in for long, but still not doing the best. I’m having lots of trouble fitting in here, not made for prison life. I’m feeling so lost and sad! I definitely could use support and prayer. I received the books and papers. They were awesome!”

I wrote to T, “I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time. I sent you some more books after I got your letter, hoping they would encourage you, make you feel better, or at least distract you. In your letter, you write “I’m having lots of trouble fitting in here. I’m not made for prison life.” Well, maybe you should be glad you don’t fit in. Please hang on to the conviction that you’re not a felon, you’re not a criminal.”     

I’ve known men in prison who tried to fit in, but they lost track of who they really were. A lot of my ministry, in Maine State Prison for 18 years and Rockingham County Jail for the last 10, has been helping men to find their true identity as children of God, followers of Jesus, temples of the Holy Spirit.

Please pray for “A.” Five years ago, I reached out to him while he was in the County Jail awaiting sentencing. He wrote, ”My time in Brentwood (Rockingham County Jail) with you helped me prepare for sentencing. I remember looking back at you and I knew you were there for me just like Our Father and I knew I would be okay. You were there in Brentwood for me. I miss your powerful prayers, The word of God is written on my heart. I will keep you in prayer till the last day, Amen. Love you and I will never forget you. Thanks for everything.”

I wrote back to A, “Thank you for your letter.! I was really blessed to read about your memories of the talks we used to have in the Jail. We had good fellowship because the Lord was with us. He was pouring out the Holy Spirit on us. In the Bible, they used the anointing oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit poured out on believers.                            

Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is  when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,  running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,  which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore
.

Then Moses poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. Lev.8:12                                                         

Jesus said, ”The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”                                             

 And he said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Luke 4:17-21

In Christ,
Matt

*****

I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Isaiah 61 Ministries Prayer Warrior Newsletter July 28th

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
~Isaiah 61:1

It’s been almost four months since the Rockingham County Jail was temporarily closed to volunteers like myself due to the Covid-19 virus. I miss my “clergy visits” and Bible studies, but I’ve been keeping busy writing letters to my incarcerated brothers. And they have written back with news of answered prayers that thrilled me.

You may recall that I sent along the following prayer request in this newsletter back in January:

“Please pray for a group of five men who find themselves living together in adjoining cells in Rockingham County Jail. They have decided to study the Bible together. I am sending them Bible study materials and meeting with each one individually. Please pray that the Lord will bless them with good fellowship and give them guidance and wisdom as they meet together. These men are held in “Protective Custody,” which means they are not allowed to come out to our regular Bible studies. But they have taken the initiative to study the Bible together, despite the restraints put on them by the authorities. Please pray that they would be blessed, encouraged and edified by the scriptures they study together. Pray also that they would  discover the joy of Christian fellowship and learn to see each other as brothers in Christ, rather than prisoners and criminals.”

Months later, I have heard from several of these men. The Lord has answered our prayers on their behalf. They still meet often for Bible study. One of them writes, “Thank you for the Large Print MacArthur Study Bible.  I read it a lot.”

Another man in this group writes, “You are in my thoughts and prayers. I look forward to meeting with you individually again. Last time I saw you, you gave me a book, ‘One Day at a Time, Discovering the Freedom of 12-Step Spirituality.’ It helps a lot.” This man is one of those I wrote about in a previous newsletter. He is facing murder charges. But in my meetings with him, he has been pleasant, friendly, and eager to hear the scriptures I share with him. He will be held in the jail until he is sentenced, at which time he will be sent to the state prison, probably for the rest of his life. I was glad to hear he was reading this book. It is one of several that make clear how similar in approach the 12 steps of AA are to the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.

A third man in this Bible study group is ”T’”  I asked for prayer for him in a previous newsletter:

“Please pray for “T. He is only 21, but he is already expecting to serve his second sentence in New Hampshire State prison, 3-5 years for probation violation. Some men facing sentences like this are moved quickly from the County Jail to the State Prison, and sometimes they are held in the County Jail for several months. (either way, they will get credit for “time served” for every day they are incarcerated.) Please pray for “T” to be kept in the County Jail for a while, so we can continue to talk together when I can get in again.

When I first met with “T” we talked about these scriptures:

Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

John 10:27-29: Jesus said,  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.“

I asked “T” if he thought Jesus was calling him to take his yoke and learn from him, and find rest for his soul. He said, “Yes.” Then I asked if he was listening to Jesus’ voice, and hearing Jesus calling him to come follow. He said “Yes, but I don’t know how to follow him.” I showed him some scriptures. We prayed a “sinner’s prayer” together. I said I’d see him again soon. But the next few times I asked to see him, I was told he “refused.” Had I offended him somehow?

But when I finally got to see him, he said he was stronger in his faith than ever. He wasn’t allowed to see me, because he had been in “the hole,” in segregation. But he said he had spent hours and hours there reading his MacArthur Study Bible and praying. Since then, we have had a lot more good conversations, He is sure of his salvation now. He is reading his Bible and praying. I can’t wait to get back in the jail and talk to him again.

A couple of weeks ago “T” wrote “I keep getting closer to God, reading the Bible daily.”

“J” is another man who used to be in the same Bible Study group, but he was sentenced to ten years in prison, and sent to the State Prison to serve his time. I was afraid he would be discouraged, and lose his faith. (II’s not uncommon for men starting long sentences.) But our prayers for him have been answered.

He writes, “I have started the healing process in Christ and have grown so much. I am even leading  a Christian Bible study twice a week and bringing others who are being called by God to Christ. My prayer life is fantastic and I pray for all my family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ. I am blessed to be in a prison where there is so much fellowship and love for Christ. It feels like I am in a Christian  camp. They have shut down all the programs due to the virus, but we meet every day about 15% of us in the unit through on-on-ones, groups, and Sunday Church Services held by the inmates.”

While many prisons and jails have been deeply affected  by the Covid-19 virus, not a single case has been reported in Maine State Prison, New Hampshire State Prison, Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin, or Rockingham County Jail in Brentwood. I’ve been in prayer for the men I know in these facilities, and all the inmates. I’m sure many others have been praying for them as well. Staff must be doing an excellent job keeping the virus away in these facilities. And God has answered our prayers.

And yet there is so much more to pray for. Please pray for inmates and staff exposed to Covid-19 inside prisons and jails around our nation. Pray for those who are working on a Covid-19 vaccine .May the Lord give them skill and wisdom.

Please pray for the prisons and jails right across the  border in Massachusetts that radio station WBUR mentioned: “Five Massachusetts correctional institutions appear to be among the hardest hit by coronavirus infections among inmates and staff thus far at the roughly 4,900 jails and prisons in the United States.”

Those include the Shirley, Framingham and Bridgewater state prisons, as well as the Essex and Middlesex county jails, according to data compiled by WBUR from local, state and federal government websites and media reports.

Thank you for all your prayers. ”The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

In His Service, Matt K.

I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Isaiah 61 Ministries Prayer Warriors Newsletter July 6th

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
~Isaiah 61:1

The County Jail has been closed to volunteers since March, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  But some of the men are still meeting and discussing scripture together. I know of two such groups, but there may be others “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133) Please pray for these men, that they may see the “good work” God is doing in them. As Paul told the Philippians, “I am persuaded that he who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:6) And he said, “God is able to do far more for us than all we ask or imagine, by his power at work within us,” (Eph. 3:20) May he bless them by his healing power and his good work within them.  

 I have kept busy writing letters to men in prison Please pray for “P’, who wrote “I recently started judiciously studying the Bible.” This was my response.

”In an attempt to be “judicious,” impartial, cautious, and rational when studying the Bible, you may miss the whole point .  The Lord says,” You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”.(Jeremiah 29:13.) This calls for a complete commitment, and we seek him, not with our mind, but with our hearts.. What God offers us through the Bible is not primarily an intellectual experience, but a spiritual experience. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 2:12-13: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words..

 John 14:25-26: Jesus said, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John 16:13-15: Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…  He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.”

Please  pray for “J.”, finally out of prison after 20 years. I recently sent him  a special version of John, with notes and commentary. He responded“We are reading the Gospel of John. It is truly amazing what Jesus was doing at that time. It’s all written down and it’s all true. It’s a shame that people forgot or don’t understand if the path is already there and that he already perform the miracles people want to see to believe in God.’

Please pray for “T.”’ We have written back and forth many times over the years. In my last letter to him, I sent him my Bible Study Outline, “Spiritual Disciplines,” and asked him what he thought of it. He replied, “I read the enclosed material on “Spiritual Disciplines” and I must say, Matt, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m pretty good at the discipline of service, but need some work on Bible study, fellowship and prayer. Thanks for sharing this with me. I do read all the info you provide and pass it on to others so they can read it as well.

Pray that the books I give the men, like the Study Bibles, and books by R.C. Sproul, Billy Graham, John MacArthur, and C.S. Lewis, would give them hope and show them how to find the Lord.. Pray that books like The Twelve Steps for Christians and The Life Recovery Bible would show them how to find healing from addiction, working the 12 Steps with Jesus as their “Higher Power.”

A young husband and wife died together recently. Their death was sudden and unexpected. It was not, as might be expected, from the Covid-19 Pandemic, but rather from another pandemic infecting the land: The disease of addiction. Please pray for the families of this young man and woman. Much prayer had already gone up to the Lord on behalf of this couple and they seemed to be doing better. They had been involved in their church.

But now they were gone. So many had prayed so hard for them, for so long: Please pray that they will not fall into despair. We wouldn’t blame them for being angry with God. But whatever way they experience their grief and pain at this tragic loss, please pray that there will be friends to support them and understand them, without judgment or criticism.

What the church might call “backsliding,” the Recovery community calls “relapsing.” This sounds a lot less judgmental. Pray that everyone who hears about this couple will understand that this was not a moral failure on their part, but just a fatal disease that finally did them in. Pray that the things Jesus said like “Take the log out of your own eye” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” would really hit home.

Pray for parents who may just be finding out that a son or daughter has a problem with addiction. This may be a frightening revelation. Parents may be angry, hurt, and disappointed. Pray for pastors counselors and Christian friends to be there to offer support and encouragement. Other parents might have been aware of their children’s struggle with addiction for years. They may still love them, and want desperately to help, but they don’t know how.

Pray for the children of addicts, who just can’t understand why Mom and Dad have changed so much. It hurts so much that their parents don’t want to play with them or talk to them any more. And pray for parents full of guilt and shame, because they know they aren’t giving their children the love and attention they deserve.

Pray for wives who got married to wonderful husbands, only to find that addiction was ruining the man they had fallen in love with. Pray for women who find themselves doing things they never imagined they would do, just to support their habit .Pray for those who resort to prostitution.

Pray for everyone struggling with addiction to find healing, deliverance and peace. Pray for the AA and NA communities and for everyone working the 12 steps, that they would look to Jesus to be the “Power greater than themselves who can restore them to sanity.” (Step Two.) Pray for them to not only be restored to sanity, but forgiven and healed by accepting Jesus as their Savior. And when they “Turn their will and lives over to God,”(Step Three,) pray for them to truly let Jesus be Lord of their lives. When they pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” pray that they will truly let him have complete authority over their feelings, their thoughts, and their actions.

Many of us in prison ministry, substance abuse treatment, and the criminal Justice system have become convinced that addiction should be considered an illness, rather than a crime. Please pray that those who are charged with minor offenses like simple possession would be placed in treatment programs rather than jail. And pray for many more programs to open, so there would be a place available for everyone who needs one.

I would like to thank all those who continue to provide faithful, generous, ongoing support for our Ministry. They have helped us survive these troubled economic times secure and in peace, and we are very grateful.

In Christ, Matt K.

***

Chris and I with my electric wheelchair

I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Isaiah 61 Ministries Prayer Warriors Newsletter July 2nd

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
~Isaiah 61:1

*Note to subscribers: We are catching up with Matt’s last few newsletters, so please forgive the multiple notices.

Dear Friends,

Please pray for the men in Rockingham County Jail. Because of the Covid-19 Virus, volunteers like me have not been allowed in the jail since March 13, I’m longing to get back in, for Bible Studies and Clergy Visits. But I hear that some of the men in the jail have organized their own Bible Study groups Please pray for them, for mutual encouragement and edification. May they grow stronger in their faith and go deeper in the word together,

Please pray for men in Maine State Prison and New Hampshire State Prison that I’ve been corresponding with Although the Jail is closed for a while, I have kept busy writing letters. The letters I receive from these men are remarkable. A man I used to visit five or six years ago in the County Jail wrote me from the Prison,

 “You are an amazing man of God. My time in the County with you helped me prepare for sentencing. I remember looking back at you, and I knew you were there for me just like Our Father. I knew I would be ok. I miss your powerful prayers. The word of God is written on my heart. I will keep you in prayer until the last day. Love you and I will never forget you. Thanks for everything.”

Another man writes, “I want to thank you for the booklets and for the Romans Road Study for its been a big help. I’ve been talking to people and they’ve been wanting to learn more so I spend sometime with them. All the studies I’ve been doing plus the studies you’ve sent me have been a big help. May God bless you and keep you safe. Thank you again for the material. Its been a big help to me. You are in my thoughts and prayers.”

And another: ”How are you, my brother in Christ? First and foremost, I want to thank you and your ministry for those great books that I received. Thank you also for the notes on: Sanctification, The New Covenant, and The Holy Spirit. It is a great blessing to know and receive love from brothers on the outside…God has helped me forgive all those who have hurt me and he now has me leading a Bible Study 7 days a week with 8-12 men. Jesus is Lord of my life, and I live with love, joy, and peace as I rest in him.”

Some prayer requests I’ve made before are worth repeating:

 Please  pray for “J.”, finally out of prison after 20 years. I recently sent him  a special version of John, with notes and commentary. He responded“We are reading the Gospel of John. It is truly amazing what Jesus was doing at that time. It’s all written down and it’s all true. It’s a shame that people forgot or don’t understand if the path is already there and that he already performed the miracles people want to see in order to believe in God.’

Please pray for “T.”’ We have written back and forth many times over the years. I sent him my Bible Study Outline, “Spiritual Disciplines,” and asked him what he thought of it. He replied, “I  must say, Matt, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m pretty good at the discipline of service, but need some work on Bible study, fellowship and prayer. Thanks  for sharing this with me. I do read all the info you provide and pass it on to others so they can read it as well.”

Please pray for a group of five men who find themselves living together in adjoining cells in Rockingham County Jail. They have decided to study the Bible together. Please pray that the Lord will bless them with good fellowship and give them guidance and wisdom as they meet together. These men are held in “Protective Custody,” which means they are not allowed to come out to our regular Bible studies. But they have taken the initiative to study the Bible together, despite the restraints put on them by the authorities. Please pray that they would be blessed, encouraged and edified by the scriptures they study together. Pray also that they would  discover the joy of Christian fellowship and learn to see each other as brothers in Christ, rather than prisoners and criminals.

Please pray for “T,” seeking commutation of a seventy year sentence. I first met him more than thirty years ago, when he first came to prison as a twenty year old.  I was serving as Protestant Chaplain in the prison at the time. I left there several years ago, but we have stayed in touch.

In an effort to encourage him over the years, I have been sending him books about finding forgiveness and healing from the Lord, and growing spiritually. Prison can be a difficult place to pursue healing and spiritual growth, but “T” has been working hard at these things.

‘T‘ has been a model inmate. He worked for years in the prison education department, where he helped other inmates with their studies, and took many classes himself. More recently he has served as a counsel substitute, representing other inmates in disciplinary hearings to ensure they get a fair hearing. and he participates in the K-9 Corrections program training dogs.

 But what impresses me the most is his involvement in the Prison Hospice program. He sits by the bed of his inmate brothers who are dying, doing all he can to ease their passage, just to be there, so they won’t have to die alone. It is hard, stressful, sad work, but “T” is more than willing to do it. This is the kind of man he is, asking for a commutation of his sentence after thirty years.

Please pray for “S,” who has been in and out of prison for the last year or so. Like many others, “S” can be a very nice man when he’s “clean and sober,” but he becomes a different person when he’s using. He went through rehab recently, but apparently relapsed afterwards, leading to a difficult encounter with his family. I used to talk with him about the Lord, and he seemed excited about following Jesus. But now he needs a strong deliverance, a healing from addiction,

Please pray for this man’s family as well, and all the parents, spouses, siblings and friends of these lost souls. How often they think that this time the one they love is going to turn his life around. Maybe their prayers for him are finally answered…Only to feel devastated, disappointed and  betrayed. Even so, pray they will not lose hope:

Psam103:2-5: Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Acts 10:38: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

In Christ,
Matt

***

mattchrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Who is my neighbor in a pandemic?

Please pray for inmates being released early because of the Corona Virus, especially the “elderly, chronically ill, terminally ill, and the most vulnerable.” Men and women who already suffer from low self-esteem are being told that they are too old or too sick, even for prison. Casting them out because they are likely to be carriers reminds me of how they were treated in Jesus ’day: “Unclean.”.

Because these men and women are the most likely to be infected by the Corona Virus, an early release is considered the best way to protect the other prisoners, and the corrections officers that work with them. But I wonder, where will they go, what will they do, how will they survive on “the street?” Have they had time to make plans? Most of these inmates have been incarcerated for many years. Do they still have family and friends who can take them in, feed them, and care for them? For the chronically or critically ill, where will they get the treatment they need, with the hospitals crowded with Corona Virus patients? I fear that many will end up homeless, living on the street, sleeping in crowded shelters, and feeling they were better off in jail. At least they had a roof over their head, three meals a day, and a place to sleep

From USA Today; Fearing that the coronavirus could wreak havoc once inside densely packed jails, local officials across the country quietly began releasing some of their most vulnerable, including the elderly and chronically ill. The goal, said National Sheriffs’ Association president Sheriff Daron Hall, was to reduce the risk both to prisoners and officers, while freeing up space to quarantine other inmates who may become infected. Dozens set free  early this month have now become hundreds, as state and local governments have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks to guard prisoners and  staff, against the spread of the deadly virus.

7In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the group of senators led by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., urged the government to move the elderly and terminally ill from the 175,000 in custody.

“Conditions in prison do not afford the opportunity for protection, and prisons often create the ideal environment for contagion.,” the senators wrote. “It is important that consistent with the law and taking into account public safety and health concerns, that the most vulnerable inmates are released or transferred to home confinement..”

The senators suggested “home confinement” for these released inmates. Whose homes did they have in mind? Having been incarcerated, they have no homes of their own, no family or friends to welcome them in There will be many with no place to go. Who would take them in? Already stigmatized as ”criminals,” now they are suspected of carrying the virus as well. If they have been incarcerated for many years, they may have become “institutionalized,” ill equipped to cope with the world outside the prison And if they are old and sick, that will make it even harder for them to cope. Is there anything we can do as Christians to help these people? Can we be “neighbors” to them? I admit it is hard to think of what we could do. “Social distancing” and avoiding infection takes priority. But still…

 A man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In  reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, “When I return, I will pay for any extra expense you may have. ’Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Luke 10:28-37

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

*****

matt-and-chrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Isaiah 61 Ministries Prayer Warrior Newsletter

Please pray for “R.” He was the only man at our Bible study last Wednesday night. We talked for a while, and Dan and I did our best to tell him about Jesus, and the salvation and healing that Jesus offers him. He said he was going to be released the next day, so. I asked him where he would be going. He said he had no idea. He was homeless, and he was in jail for stealing food, because he was hungry. I mentioned some Christian programs that might help him, but although he knew these programs, he seemed reluctant to consider them. I suspect he might have ”burned his bridges behind him” in some of these programs. My heart went out to him, but there really wasn’t much I could do for him. But at least he got to hear the Gospel for one short hour in our Bible study. As The Lord says in Isaiah:

My word be that goes forth from My mouth; shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Please pray for “I.” He is only 19 years old, and he looks even younger. He has been sentenced to New Hampshire State Prison, a much darker place than the County Jail. Please pray for him. He is short of stature, a little chubby, and I fear he will draw the attention of the worst kind of predators. Please pray that he will call on the Lord. I had some good talks with him when he was in the County Jail, but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to turn his life over, and give up things like smoking pot with his friends. Please pray that he will call on the Lord for protection.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

Please pray for “M”. I baptized “M” in the chapel in Maine State Prison in 1998 (I served as Chaplain there, 1987-2006.) “M’ was a bright, likeable young man. He seemed serious about following the Lord. But after he was released from prison,, it seemed that “The World, The Flesh and The Devil” had distracted “M,” and led him down some dark paths. Heroin, alcohol and anger have taken their toll. Now he is facing three more years in prison. I wrote to him reminding him of this verse: Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand”. John 10:27-28 

Satan can get us to “backslide” He knows our weaknesses, our addictions, our anger, and our dishonesty with ourselves and with others. When we step outside of the Lord’s protection, Satan attacks. He gets us to sin, we end up in jail, and then he really goes to town. He is The Accuser (Revelation 12:10) He says, ”Look what you’ve done! You’re not a Christian! Just give up on that!” But Jesus says, no one can snatch you out of his hands.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of men who knew the Lord in jail, but somehow lost their way when they got out. When they come back to jail, they feel a lot of shame and condemnation. My duty to such men, as a minister of the Gospel, is to reassure them that there is a way back to God, that he will forgive, heal and restore them if only they will turn to him with their whole heart. Please pray for men like this to come back the Lord with a deeper and stronger commitment than ever before. As the Lord said in Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Please pray for men who have never read the Bible or prayed before, but seem drawn to the Lord in jail. I once asked a man, “Have you ever read the Bible?” “Yeah,” he said. “I’ve been in jail before.” Please pray for “K.” He is very interested in scripture, but it all seems so strange and new to him I had to show him how Thomas put his hands in Jesus’ open wounds to convince “K” that Jesus really did rise from the dead. ”K” will be released soon. He asked me to send her a copy of the same Study Bible I gave him. I also sent her a list of churches I recommended in her area. Now “K” tells me they are both excited about finding a church and getting involved.

Please pray for our Wednesday night Bible study in the jail. Attendance has been very low. I’ve been leading this class for more than 5 years now. We would usually get 9 or 10 men, but lately we’ve been getting only one or two, and sometimes no one at all. Because of my disability, I need someone to drive me to the jail on Wednesday nights. Drivers are not always available. Because of this, I have to miss some Wednesday nights completely. Maybe if we showed up more consistently, attendance would be better. Please pray for people to volunteer to drive Wednesdays.

And please pray for more people to drive on weekday afternoons. This is when I do “Clergy Visits,” meeting with men individually. Much of the good work the Lord is doing in the hearts and minds of these men takes place in these meetings. They need to talk about their struggles, their anger, and their shame. But these visits also provide me with a chance to share a lot of scripture with them.

One of the men I’ve been seeing on a regular basis is facing a life sentence. We both know what he’s been charged with, but so far we haven’t discussed it directly. But I’ve been able to talk to him about the value of confession, and show him scriptures like Psalm 32, about the great relief it is to finally “come clean” and humbly and honestly admit how desperately we need the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross. Please pray for him. Let’s call him “Q”

Please pray for the men I talk to be saved. Pray for them to understand that their sins can be forgiven if they put their faith in what Jesus has done for them on the cross.  But, I tell them, being forgiven is just the beginning. There is a further work God wants to do in them, Jesus said  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” I want to teach them how to remain in Jesus and bear good fruit.

The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “ I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. “(Phil. 1:6) And he told the Corinthians,” The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God..”

Men in jail often have a hard time believing that God has the power to wash, cleanse and purify them of all their sin. And sadly, they see themselves as such losers, failures, and sinners that they don’t deserve to be saved or sanctified.  The Lord offers these men deep inner healing, as well as forgiveness.  Addiction, broken relationships, and betrayal by loved ones have left them “brokenhearted.” The Lord knows. He cares. And so when these men come to him he binds up their wounds with his healing touch. He redeems their lives from the “pit” of shame and despair

Psalm 103:2-5 Praise the Lord, my soul  and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins  and heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the pit  and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things,  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 34:17-18: The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted   and saves those who are crushed in spirit                        .

 Psalm 147:1-3:The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel
 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,                                                                                                                to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.

Please pray for the ten men in state prisons who are writing me now. They confide in me about their struggles with sin  Pray that the letters I write back will speak to their hearts about God’s love . These are the “brokenhearted” scripture speaks of. And when they draw near to God, he really does bind their wounds and heal their broken heart.

Please pray for me. I have Inclusion Body Myositis. We’ve been told there is “no treatment and no cure” My arms my hands and my legs grow progressively weaker. But I can still teach Bible studies and visit men in the jail In fact, my disability is a lot harder on my wife .For 3 years  she has been my full-time caretaker. The work is very tiring and stressful. She does it out of love. Her courage, tenacity and perseverance in the face of my physical deterioration has been a blessing to me. Please pray for the Lord to comfort, encourage, and strengthen her.

95E2C844-C8E2-4126-ADD5-39E6B3C74C2C

My daughter Jessica’s picture shows how Chris transfers me from my wheelchair to my bed. Life is harder for us now, but we still love and enjoy each other despite everything. That shows here too. Thank you, Chris, for your patience and dedication.

 

The words of the prophet

PrayingwithMatt
Praying before a church service in which I preached.

Dear Friends,

About two weeks ago I had a minor accident. No serious injuries, but it shook me up a bit. Most of you know that I’m confined to a wheelchair these days, due to a neuromuscular disorder, “Inclusion Body Myositis.” Well, I have a motorized wheelchair, and it can go pretty fast. I failed to negotiate a steep, sudden upgrade right by our apartment building. I was thrown out of the wheelchair, landing face first on the pavement. An ambulance came. I was taken to the emergency room.and I was checked out thoroughly. I had a concussion, and some big scabs on my face, but nothing serious. But it made me think, and pray. My accident was the day before my 69th birthday, I’m much better now, and I plan to get back to my ministry at the Rockingham County Jail this week, But I’ve had a little time now to think things over, and to pray. Please pray with me, that I may be able to continue this ministry I love so much for years to come.

My gifts, my calling, my  training, my 36 years of experience, and even my struggles with addiction before I found Christ, have all prepared me for this very focused ministry: To teach evangelistic Bible studies to men in the jail, to counsel them from scripture, to pray with them and  to keep praying for them, to make sure they have good Study Bibles and Christian books suited to their particular spiritual needs, to stay in touch with them and encourage them when they leave the jail, and just to “make a friend, be a friend, and lead a friend to Christ.” As I tell them, I’m just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

But I’m 69 years old, and I’m disabled. My mind is not affected. I still can teach and counsel. About 8 years ago, The Lord showed me something in scripture. I had been pastoring a local church at the time, but after four years i had reached the conclusion that I wasn’t very good at it. I was 61 or 62 at the time, unsure of what to do next, afraid that my days in ministry might be over, I prayed, and I found this story in Isaiah:

Isaiah 38:1-6: In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”  Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah:  “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.  I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.”

Now God has not promised me that he will answer my prayers in exactly the way he did for Hezekiah. But I believe the principle revealed here is that God is able to keep us going, and even prolong the work he has given us in this world. God answered Hezekiah’s prayers, not just for the King himself, but for the people he ruled.The royal city of Jerusalem was spared. My prayer is that I would be able to continue my work in the jail and that men there would be spared and delivered, and that they would inherit the Kingdom of God. Please join me in these prayers

Please pray for some of the men I got to know, as their Pastor and Chaplain, in Maine State Prison, 1987-2006. Some have already passed on, but I know I will see them in Heaven.

In the eyes of the world, these men were criminals. The State saw fit to punish them by locking them in prison, some for the rest of their lives.. But I was privileged to see them as miracles of God’s grace.As Paul writes,,”Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor bigots  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor hypocrites, nor liars, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.“(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Some of them have passed on. Some are still in prison. Some have been released, having served 20, 30 years or more. Those who have been released are doing fairly well.They have found good churches, AA or NA meetings that they are comfortable with, and other support groups. The volunteers from Kairos do a wonderful work, helping these men. But they need our prayers. Locked up at the age of 20 or 25, released as they turn 50, many of them have had no chance to develop “social skills” that most of us take for granted. Drugs and alcohol are always a temptation.But many of them that I know just isolate themselves in city apartments, maybe working part time washing dishes. Some seem to feel their lives are already over. Too late to marry, too late to raise a family. Please pray for such men. If they could find a good church, with friendly people that can put them at ease, the Lord could change things for them. I suspect that they feel “everybody knows” sometimes, that it’s written on their forehead that they just got out of prison.

On the other hand, there are those who get out and go quickly back to their old “lifestyle.” It breaks my heart when I see young men who seemed “on fire” for the Lord when I talked to them in jail revert so quickly to the very things that got them in trouble in the first place. (I’m talking more about the young men I see in the county jail now.) Please pray for these men as well.Please pray for the men who come to our Bible Studies (Every Wednesday, 7-8 pm) Pray that the scriptures we teach on will really hit home to them, to the point that they want to look them up and read them again when they get back to their cells afterward. Lord, make them hungry and thirsty for righteousness.Please join me in praying for these men, the same way St. Paul prayed for the Saints in Ephesus:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for those who believe,”(Ephesians 1:14-19)

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-20.)

Please keep “C” and “D” in your prayers. Both men are regulars in our Wednesday night Bible Study in the jail. Both have come to see me in Clergy visits many times. Both seem bright, reasonable young men. But both are “hold outs,” somehow not ready to accept Jesus as their Savior.

Please pray for “J’.” I have gotten to know him pretty well, as this is the second time he has been through the system. He has a stronger commitment to God now, and when he is released in January, he might go to His Mansion Christian Recovery Center. I think this would be great for him. Please pray that he follows through with his application.

“A”, from Maine State Prison and ” R” from Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin, NH have both written me this week requesting Study Bibles. I was able to send them both good study Bibles and some other books to help them grow in Christ. The New Hampshire Bible Society reimburses me for any Bibles or Christian books that I send to men in prison. What a blessing that has been! Please pray that these two men, and all the men I have sent such Bibles to, would “Study to show themselves approved before God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”

Thank you for your prayers.
In Christ,
Matt
***

matt-and-chris
I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Prayer Warriors newsletter, chapter 3

Please pray for J.G. He told me Thursday, (Jan 18) that he thinks he will be released Friday, Jan.26. He has no plans, and nowhere to go. He says he will go to Manchester, although he doesn’t know anyone there, and he has no place to live there.I sent him some information about Christian programs in Manchester that might take him in until he gets on his feet. J. B. and I have had several long talks. I’ve shared a lot of scripture with him and I believe he has faith, but there’s still so much he doesn’t understand. Please keep him in your prayers.

Please pray for S.C. I mentioned him in an earlier Prayer Warriors Newsletter.He recently began serving 6-10 year sentence at New Hampshire State Prison. He was held at Rockingham County Jail while he was awaiting sentencing.  S.C. and I had many good talks while he was at the jail. I believe he has made a genuine commitment to the Lord. But the State Prison is a much harder place than the County Jail. It is easy for men to get discouraged there.I’ve written S.C,and sent him a Study Bible and some good Christian books. but I have not heard back from him yet.

I”ve also asked for prayer for M.B. before. He was in Maine State Prison when I was Chaplain there. He was a regular part of all our Bible studies, fellowship groups, and worship services. Since his release, He has slipped back into heroin addiction M.B. and his girlfriend told me they had applied to His Mansion, the Christian Recovery Program where my wife and I served on staff  But when I called the program, they said they had not seen their applications.They have left another Christian program in Maine. I don’t know where they are now, or what they are doing, but I fear the worst. Please pray for the Lord’s protection over them.

Please pray for J .F. We had some great talks in the County Jail. He was reading the Bible diligently, and he enjoyed our Bible Studies He told me he was being sentenced, and he was expecting to be spending the next year or two in the State Prison. He reminded me that I had promised to order a Life Application Study Bible and have it sent to him there. Please pray that I will be able to get that Bible to him soon, along with other Christian Books. Pray that the Holy Spirit will be with him in his new surroundings,despite the negative environment.Pray that he will continue to search the scriptures, going deeper and getting stronger in his faith.

Please pray for M. G. He seems very interested in the gospel, but he has a lot of questions. He knows about the 12 Steps of AA, but he thinks it would be too hard  to “turn his will and his life over to God.”(Step 3) He feels he would have to be perfect. I showed him.1 John 1:8-2:2: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Honestly, humbly confessing our sins in prayer is a far cry from trying to be perfect.Please pray for M.G. to turn his will and his life over to Jesus, fully understanding that he will forgive us and purify us because of all he has already done for us on the cross.

Almost all the men I see in the County Jail are addicts. Mostly Heroin, but Meth, Crack, and Alcohol as well. They really want to get “clean and sober,” but the pull of their addictions is also very strong. In jail, without access to drugs and alcohol, many men start reading the Bible, attending chapel services, and participating in Bible studies. Like the Prodigal Son, they “come to their senses.” This is our chance! They are really paying attention now! Please pray for all the Chaplains and Christian volunteers in all our prisons and jails, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach and teach the gospel in such a way that men will hear it and let Jesus come and turn their lives around.

Many of the men in the jail are familiar with The Twelve Steps. In my opinion, they are a thinly veiled paraphrase of traditional Christian teaching about redemption, salvation, and sanctification as a process. And there are wonderful books available to us about working the Twelve Steps with Jesus as your higher power. Here are just a few. Please pray that men in jail can get “clean and sober” with Jesus as their “higher power.” And may that just be the beginning of a whole new life, abundant life, for them all.

***
mattchrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Prayer warrior newsletter

I once asked a man in the Rockingham County Jail if he had ever read the Bible. _Yeah,_ he said. _I've been in jail before._(1)Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am hoping to form a group of Prayer Warriors through e-mail to pray for the men I am working with in Rockingham County Jail, as well as those I correspond with in Maine State Prison and New Hampshire State Prison, and those who have been released that I still stay in touch with.If you would like to keep these men in your prayers, as well as supporting and encouraging me in my ministry by praying for them, please let me know at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. I will send you an e-mail each week with several prayer requests. Not too lengthy, but giving some specific requests. For example:

“S” spent 13 years in Maine State Prison, where he worked with me as a Chaplain’s Clerk. He has a strong faith, but he is struggling. His fiance, “H”, is a believer, but she feels God is angry with her, and she has “Lost her salvation.” She is profoundly deaf. I was able to find a church near them with sign language interpreters, but they have been unable to go yet. Please pray for them to get involved with this church, for “H” to find sisters in Christ that she can converse with in sign language, and for them to grow in Christ.

“M” also served a long sentence in Maine State Prison, where he was baptized and was a regular part of all our Bible studies, fellowship groups, and worship services. Since his release, “M” has slipped back into heroin addiction. He is “clean and sober ” now, I believe, and is living and working at a Christian homeless shelter in Maine. It’s a good place for him right now, but probably not a permanent placement. He says he is back on track with his walk with the Lord. Please pray for complete healing and deliverance from his addiction, and a deeper, stronger relationship with God.

“E” served 20 years in Maine State Prison. Like M and S, E was active in all our Christian Programs. He was particularly  fond of Kairos Ministry. When he was released, E went to stay with his brother. But they didn’t get along, and this family connection that E had counted on was a great disappointment to him. E has moved to another town in Maine, where one of the Kairos Ministry volunteers has befriended him. He has found a good church, but I worry about him. He is a friendly, outgoing man, and he needs friends he can talk to and fellowship with. Please pray that he can find many strong Christian friends at his new church.

“A” has just started a 6-10 year sentence at New Hampshire State Prison. He was held at Rockingham County Jail while he was awaiting sentencing. (I often see men at the jail who are headed to the prison. They are held in the jail until) they are sentenced.) A and I had many good talks while he was at the jail. I believe he has made a genuine commitment to the Lord. But the State Prison is a much harder place than the County Jail. It is easy for men to get discouraged, depressed, and angry there. Men sometimes feel that God has abandoned them there. Please pray for A to keep his faith, or even grow stronger. Pray that my letters to him, and the Study Bible and Christian Books I have sent him will give him hope and encouragement.

“J” also was sent to the prison from the jail, but he says he is being released in January. I have put him in touch with His Mansion, the Christian Rehab where my wife and I worked. J has applied there, but we don’t know if they will accept him, because he still may have a case pending in the courts. When he was in the jail, we had many good talks, and he was expressing a strong faith, but since he went to prison in August, I fear he has lost some of his “first love.” Please pray he will be accepted to His Mansion, and that the program there can rekindle his faith.

All these men, and many others, have received Study Bibles and Christian books, thanks to a wonderful open grant I have with the New Hampshire Bible Society. They have agreed to reimburse me for all the expenses from ordering these books from Christian Book Distributors and having them sent in to the men. Please pray that they will “read and heed” their books and Bibles.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!

Please let me know if you would like to pray for people like these!

In Christ,
Matt

Second prayer letter:

In my last newsletter, I asked for prayer for “M”.  He served a long sentence in Maine State Prison, where he was baptized and was a regular part of all our Bible studies, fellowship groups, and worship services. As sometimes happens, he fell back into addiction upon release. I wrote that “He is “clean and sober ” now, and is living and working at a Christian homeless shelter in Maine.” But now news has come that M has left the shelter, angry at the staff there. He really has nowhere to go. It’s awful cold in Northern Maine these days. Please pray for M to “come to his senses,” like the Prodigal Son, and return to the place God has provided for him, where he can be safe and warm and hear daily encouragement in the word. Pray for him to stay away from the drugs out there. And pray for his girlfriend who is worried sick about him.

 

In Rockingham County Jail, I’ve been talking to “A” who is searching. He wants to know more about Islam, as well as Christianity. I was able to find him some good literature from a Christian perspective, comparing the two religions.I also sent a good book, “Who is Jesus?’ in for him. I told him that the most important difference between the two religions was our faith in Jesus as God Incarnate, the Word made flesh. Please pray that he will make the right choice.

Another man in the jail, “U”, confided in me that he had been sexually abused as a child. I was able to pray with him for healing from the damage done to him and the trauma and shame he still lives with, I sent him some good books on men finding healing from the Lord for this kind of thing, as well as some literature on giving his life to Jesus. Please pray for U to understand that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.”

“I’m allergic to alcohol; I break out in handcuffs!”

I also talked to “K” who told me, “I’m allergic to alcohol; I break out in handcuffs!” It’s a funny line, but the sad truth behind it is that men in jail have done things drunk, or on drugs, that they never would have done sober. And now they are paying the price for it K, like other alcoholics I’ve talked to, was convinced he was “not as bad” as those using Heroin, Crack Cocaine, or Meth. I offered to send him in some literature about working the 12 Steps of AA with Jesus as your “Higher Power.” He said, “Yeah, okay,” but without much enthusiasm. Please pray for K to read the book about the 12 steps and the Bible I sent in to him, as well as a couple of books about prayer. Pray for him to see he really has an addiction, even if it’s “only” alcohol. And pray for him to see that he can be healed, delivered, and transformed If he gives his life to the Lord.

I am so very grateful to the New Hampshire Bible Society. They have offered to reimburse me for all the Study Bibles and Christian books I send into the men I see at the Bible Studies and “Clergy Visits” in the Jail. I’m also in touch with men in the New Hampshire State Prison and the Maine State Prison, and the Bible Society helps me to send Bibles and Christian books to those men, as well.Reading the Bible is an accepted part of prison life. I once asked a man in the Rockingham County Jail if he had ever read the Bible. “Yeah,” he said. “I’ve been in jail before.” Please pray that men reading the Bible in our prisons and jails may receive it as the true word of God, that may accomplish in them all that the Lord intends, as he has promised:


“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:9-11

 

Please pray that all the men in our prisons and jails would not just browse through the Bible, but read it in a serious, disciplined manner, expecting God to speak to them through the scriptures.Pray for the Holy Spirit to give then understanding,

“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant them to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:15-19

In Christ,
Matt

***

mattchrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Christmas newsletter

 

Matt preaching“…To preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to  proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Is. 61:1 

Dear Friends, 

 In this Advent season, watching and waiting for our Savior’s birth, but also for his return, we are reminded once again  of how many Old Testament Prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. To be sure, there are still quite a few that will not be completely fulfilled until he returns. But remembering each Christmas all he has already done for us gives us hope that the best is yet to come.

 

“To us a child is born, to us a son is given,  and the government will be on his shoulders.               

And he will be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.         

The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 

Isaiah 7:14: The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (“God is with us.”) 

 Isaiah 40:9-11; You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 42:1-7; “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

 Isaiah 49:5,6; And now the Lord says—  he who formed me in the womb to be his servant—
“It is too small a thing for you to  to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the men of Israel.   

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, so my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 

 Isaiah 55:3-5: Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor
. 

Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and to comfort all who mourn .    

These prophecies of the coming Messiah make us grateful that he has already come:  But  the prophecies also remind us that Jesus is coming back in Power and Glory. The Christ Child in the manger grew up to be “Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows,  familiar with suffering.”(Isaiah 53:3)   

Isaiah 53:4-6:Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He humbled himself, and laid down his life for us. He came as our Suffering Servant, to atone for our sins. But when he returns, he will be our Conquering King:  Revelation 19:11_16:  I saw heaven standing open and  I saw a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. On his robe is written: king of kings and lord of lords.

Luke tells us how John the Baptist ” “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Mary, newly pregnant, walked in. Filled with the Spirit, John knew he was in the presence of the Lord. When we come to Jesus, he  give us the Spirit within us. We, too, know  Jesus is with us. He said, ” I will be with you always.” Please pray for the men in the jail that I work with to come to Jesus and receive the Spirit within them. And pray that  they too will “leap for joy” as the Spirit reveals to them that Jesus is always with them.

Luke 1:13-15:The angel said:”Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you He will be great in the sight of the Lord He will be filled with The Holy Spirit even before he is born.”

Luke 1:30-37:The angel said, ” Mary; you have found favor with God. You will  give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be called the Son of God. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign forever; his kingdom will never end.”                                                        

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”                                                             

The angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”                                                                                                        

Luke 1:39-44: At that time, Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!   As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

The  Bible studies and “Clergy Visits” (Individual Biblical Counseling) I do at the Rockingham County Jail   are my greatest  joy and blessing . The men who come to our Bible studies seem to be genuinely searching for something. Maybe, I tell them, what they are searching for  is Jesus. When we seek him, we find that he in turn, is seeking us. Jesus said he came” To seek and save the lost.”(Luke 19:10) I love to teach about salvation, about how to grow as a Christian, what Jesus offers in a covenant relationship with him, and how he can change them, transform them, heal them, and sanctify them. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”( 2 Corinthians 5:17) Almost all the men I see are Heroin addicts. They all want to get “clean and sober.” But Jesus offers so much more. They have tried to fill that empty place inside with drugs..But maybe that craving is really a “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Please pray for them to give their lives to Jesus, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to leap for joy whenever they are in his presence.

In Christ,
Matt

***

I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
PO Box 461
Goffstown, NH 03045

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com.

Kantrowitz Pinkham
Christmas greetings from my family to yours! (From left: My son, David, my daughter, Jessica, me, my wife, Chris, and David’s girlfriend, Tina)