Jesus began his earthly ministry in his hometown, as described by Luke:
“He went to Nazareth, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“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 freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)
Jesus was reading from Isaiah 61. If he had continued further, he would have read:
“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 ,to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion: to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of joy ,instead of mourning, and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. ” Isaiah 61:1-3
Jesus is our “Anointed One,” our Messiah. So I call my work “Isaiah 61 Ministries.” Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 at the start of his earthly ministry. Then, near the end, he said this:
“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… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:35-40
This passage also has been important to me in prison ministry for the last 35 years. I try to always see Jesus in the prisoners, and even to be Jesus to them. Apostle John says, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 1 John 4:17 To be like Jesus is a challenge. But, as Apostle Paul puts it:
“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: I press on toward the goal in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:10-14
Currently I am somewhat disabled by “Inclusion Body Myositis,” a rare neuromuscular disease that has weakened my legs considerably. But by the grace of God, my mind is still somewhat intact. I still can lead Bible studies, worship services, and one-on-one “Clergy Visits” in Rockingham County Jail.
I give special thanks to the Bible Society of New Hampshire, who have generously offered to reimburse me for every Bible and Christian book I send in to inmates. I still stay in touch with ex-offenders and those who are still incarcerated, from Maine State Prison, New Hampshire State Prison, and Rockingham County Jail.
To be able to send them Bibles and books is a blessing. With heroin addiction filling the prisons and jails, God has provided many good books on “The 12 steps for Christians.” Men who are “clean and sober” in jail often start to think about how they might really change. If they accept Jesus as their “Higher Power” and “turn their will and lives over” to him (Step 3) they will be healed.
God has provided us with a handicapped accessible apartment, a motorized wheelchair, and a wheelchair van. Folks from my church drive me to the jail. I thank Tracey, Kelley, Ann and David for this blessing. And special thanks to Dan, who has helped me with Bible studies at the jail for years now.
Another kind of support has come from churches and individuals who donate to Isaiah 61 Ministries. Chris takes care of me full-time. Our resources are limited. We collect Social Security, but without your support, we would fall short every month.
Sometimes I get down. It’s hard to be confined to a wheelchair. But whenever I go into the jail, the Lord reminds me that he’s not finished with me yet. “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) I thank you all for your support, especially your prayers:
“On him we have set our hope, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11
“Keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”Eph. 6:18
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
I 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are tax deductible.