Rev. Matt Kantrowitz –Isaiah 61 Ministries LLC – Matt was raised in an upper-middle class home, in an affluent Connecticut suburb. His parents were Jewish, but this meant more to them as an ethnic identity than a religion. The strongest values in his home growing up were not religious, but achievement oriented. His father was a graduate of Brown University, and Harvard Law School, and his mother graduated from Smith College. Their academic and professional achievements were a source of great pride to them, and they strongly taught their children their need to excel. The grinding poverty of the Great Depression and the horror of the Holocaust were the two most significant events that shaped their worldview as young adults. They became fiercely determined, as Jews in a hostile Gentile world, to beat the Gentiles at their own game. Material success became everything to them.
Matt attended synagogue and Hebrew school as a child, but he found it an empty, oppressive experience. There was no joy or excitement there, no sense of the power, or authority of the God of Abraham. So he went off to college totally empty spiritually. It was the height of the sixties, and before long, he was quite addicted to drugs. A dismal series of petty arrests, hospitalizations, rehab programs, and drug binges followed. Often, during these years, he would talk to people who stood on street corners passing out Christian tracts. He admired their courage, and in his loneliness, appreciated their willingness to talk to him. And so he began to hear the Gospel. Finally, the Lord led him to a Christian program called “His Mansion.” It was there he gave his life to Jesus. It was April 11, 1973.
The Lord has blessed Matt with a beautiful Christian family. In 1996, his wife Chris graduated from Gordon-Conwell Seminary with a Masters Degree in Counseling. She served with him at His Mansion as Women’s Counseling Supervisor. His daughter Jessica graduated from the same school in 1998 with a Master of Divinity Degree and their son David is a Gordon College graduate.
Matt began doing prison ministry in 1982 serving as Assistant Chaplain at Walpole State Prison in MA. He attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he was ordained by Chestnut St. Baptist Church in Camden, Maine. He was Chaplain at Maine State Prison, Thomaston, Maine, from 1987 to 2006, then as Pastor of South Main Street Church in Manchester NH from 2006 to 2010. Later, he served with his wife on staff at His Mansion, a Christian recovery program for addicts from 2011-13.
After that, Matt returned to his first love, prison ministry. He formed Isaiah 61 Ministries as a “Limited Liability Corporation.” Currently, Matt is involved in ministry in two county jails in New Hampshire: Rockingham County Jail in Brentwood, and Merrimack County Jail in Boscawen. He goes into each facility several times a week, leading Bible studies for both men and women, leading worship services, and visiting inmates one-on-one for pastoral counseling. Matt’s ministry is non-denominational, but he describes himself as Evangelical, Conservative, and Baptist.
Hear from Chaplain Matt Kantrowitz: A heartfelt description of what I do and why”