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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.