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Germantown Man Honored for His Work with Prisoners

When people think of prisoners and convicts, there is often the feeling of judgment and negativity. It is the last place that anyone thinks they would find hope, let alone people yearning for it. But Minister Russell Isler has used prisons as a mission field, answering the call.

Russell Isler has been a minister for close to 30 years and most of that time has been spent helping in jails in Montgomery County. Originally from Western New York, he started volunteering, as a teen, at a local prison after someone needed help with a religion class there. The way prisoners would respond to the Gospel sparked Isler’s interest. “I would see classmates and friends end up there which kind of became the icing on the cake,” said Isler. He started doing training and took some classes and became an affiliated chaplain at Good News Jail and Prison Ministry — the largest independent supplier of chaplains for jails and prisons worldwide. Isler then became the first chaplain at the Niagara County Jail, where he worked until 1987.

Because of Isler’s breakthrough and ministry while he was leading in New York, in 1989 he and his family moved down to Montgomery County, to take on a different position at a new jail. “Everything was working well in New York,” said Isler, who has lived in Germantown since 1999. “I fulfilled my mandate. I needed a new challenge; a greater responsibility.” And a greater responsibility he got.