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.

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