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
C/O The Church at Prison, Inc.
Box 8318, Essex Junction, VT 05452

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible.

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)

Where to find bread

I made this video for the New Hampshire Bible Society about two years ago. Some of the details have changed: I now minister in only one county jail in New Hampshire, but I spend a good amount of time there, teaching Bible studies and visiting inmates one-on-one. I still give out a lot of Life Recovery Bibles and other Christian literature. What a blessing it is to get to know these men, to hear their stories, to relate to them as someone who cares and understands, and to share with them good news of the hope and healing they can find in Christ.

*****

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

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
C/O The Church at Prison, Inc.
Box 8318, Essex Junction, VT 05452

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible.

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