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Ministering from the outside in
Local pastor honored for his 30 years in the prison ministry
Heart Outreach Ministries choir member Lisa Young joins other in applauding Nathaniel Montgomery during a special Sunday afternoon program honoring him for his 30 years of work in the prison ministries.
Heart Outreach Ministries
Address: 177 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville
Contact: E-mail or 770-905-2999

The Rev. Nathaniel Montgomery has spent the last 30 years of his life spreading God’s word behind the walls of prisons and jail cells.

He has ministered to inmates at the Hall County Correctional Institution, Phillips State Prison in Atlanta, Arrendale State Prison in Alto and Georgia State Prison in Jackson on a regular basis and has brought thousands to Christ.  

“I got started in 1980; I was invited to a full-gospel businessmen fellowship breakfast and I had been incarcerated and had been on the other side of the law (before 1980),” Montgomery said. “So a lot of my bad-boy days had led up to me getting saved and going into the house of the Lord.

“From there, I got a card to come to this breakfast and when I went, I was able to give my testimony and I told them about my life.”

After that breakfast 30 years ago, nine men joined together and began visiting nearby jails.

“It has been a rewarding thing for me because it has helped me to not only see my mistakes but show others their mistakes,” Montgomery said. “A lot of times, just because the individual gets in trouble, he might do something drastic but the thing about it is, what led up to that? That is what God has led me to share.”

Montgomery’s family and church family celebrated his achievement — and his 63rd birthday — this past Sunday at Heart Outreach Ministries on Atlanta Highway in Gainesville.

The service, where the guest speaker was the Rev. Charles Dickey, was attended by many old friends, family, former inmates to whom he had ministered and Montgomery’s son, Nathaniel S. Montgomery

It was also a celebration of many years of hard work.

His wife Linda Montgomery, who has been married to Nathaniel for nearly 44 years, said even while her husband was going through trying times with the law she just stuck with him and loved him.

“I loved him, No. 1, and knowing that Christ first loved us it helped me impart that into him,” she said.

What made the event even more special was that Montgomery had a kidney transplant in December. This was his first time to fellowship with friends since the surgery.

“God has been so good to me; he really has truly blessed me,” he said. “You are looking at a miracle. I have been shot in the head, both my legs have been operated on, both shoulders, my stomach ... and now a kidney transplant.”

Montgomery had been on dialysis for three and a half years until he got a call from Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. The hospital called on a Monday afternoon and Montgomery had a new kidney by 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“God has been good to me, I never would have thought I would be in it this long,” he said.

Nathaniel S. Montgomery, who is the senior pastor at Heart Outreach Ministries, said his father inspired many parts of his life over the years, not just his spiritual life.

“He taught me about being a man and how to dress and how to treat a person,” he said. “In ministry, what I did take from my dad, when you are in the ministry you do it if you are paid or not.”

Nathaniel said his father taught the entire family about the power of prayer during his sickness.

“He left that as another testimony ... there is no denying that there is a God,” Nathaniel said. “When most people would give up, he has held on.”

Now, since Montgomery is on the road to recovery, he said he plans to start up his prison ministry again next week.

“A lot of the time I go by myself and just see the change that has taken place in men’s lives and the phone calls I get saying they appreciate what I have done,” he said. “I’ve always said if God wants me to help somebody I guess that’s what God wants me to do.”