A Changed Life.

You might not know this, but I attended a very, very, very tiny Baptist school for most of my life (grades K-10) before my parents transferred us to a slightly larger, yet still quite small, other Baptist school for my Junior and Senior years of high school.

I’ll probably be sharing some of my thoughts on this topic in future posts, but for today I’d like to share one interesting tidbit about attending a small Baptist school.

If you attend a small Baptist school and if you are a female…it is almost guaranteed that you have taken piano lessons at some point in your life. Our school made it very easy for this to happen…the piano teacher was also the high school choir teacher and she would give piano lessons all throughout the day. It was actually a pretty cool event for me ~ I was given permission to slip out on one of my classes, one time per week. Woo-hoo! It was wonderful!

(I am convinced that Baptist schools push piano so much because they know that they need to make sure that their churches will always have at least one piano player for the rest of time.)

Luckily for me, playing the piano was something that touched my heart and soul, even as a little 2nd Grader sitting down for my first lesson. While I didn’t enjoy practicing classical music all that much…I did love to sit down at the piano, plunking around to my heart’s content and making sure I did my best to torture my family with the same tune over and over and over again. And, when I became “good” enough to begin playing for my church in 7th grade, that is when I really began to love piano. Piano finally had a purpose…there was actually a reason why I was learning all this music stuff. I loved it.

I have played the piano for many churches over the years and, believe me when I say, it has always blessed me more than it would ever bless anyone else that had to listen to me. I honestly feel closer in my relationship with Christ when I am playing the piano than at any other time. It truly does touch my heart in a way that no other form of worship ever has.

And, out of all the music ministries that I have been involved in for over 22 years of playing for churches, none has blessed me more than the Prison Ministry that I became involved with this past year.

Yesterday was the day that our Praise Team made another visit to “our” prison in Marion where we spent our afternoon worshipping with the inmates while they led their portion of the music program. And then worshipping with them some more when we led our portion of the music program. Like most other people I know, I have always had very little sympathy for prisoners. They did the crime! Now they can pay the time! And I still feel this way in a sense…I do feel that people need to acknowledge that they have done a huge wrong and, if the state says that they must pay for their wrongs by going to prison…I believe that they need to do just that.

But I now feel that way with a lot more compassion and sympathy in my heart…not only for the prisoners who have been touched by the love of Christ and who truly are trying to change their lives…but also for their loved ones, parents, children, spouses and all the other innocent people who have been hurt by their actions.

And the main reason that my heart has changed is because of one man…Larry Skrant. A member of our church and the director of Changed Lives Ministries. He is also a former three-time prisoner in the state of Ohio’s prison system.
I think it would be best if I repeated a small portion of his testimony in his own words…

“My Name Is . . . Larry Skrant. I am a member of the First Baptist Church of Spencer, Ohio. I am the Director of Changed Lives Ministries. Before that, I was 230-915, 282-320, and 324-342. Those are prison numbers.To the state of Ohio, I was a three-time loser. To society, I was beyond salvage. To me, I was beyond hope. I was so convinced of that hopelessness, that with my third number I made the decision to cut off all communication with my family. One year later, I would receive a letter written in a little girl’s hand in block letters with crayon. The letter simply read, “Dear Dad, my name is Stephanie. Do you remember me?”A little girl should not have to write such a letter to her father. The Lord would use that letter to convict me of my sins. In my prison cell, I would fall to my knees and call on His name. That moment I would be saved and spiritually set free.”

You can read the rest of his testimony here: Changed Lives Ministries

But that first part of his testimony? It brings tears to my eyes every single time he shares it. And I have heard him share his testimony many times. Larry is one of the greatest examples I have ever seen of how a life can completely change after a person meets Christ. He has now completely dedicated his life to his Savior and shares the gospel in hundreds of prisons each year. And to see him share the gospel with men who realize that Larry used to be in the exact same situation as them, is a completely amazing thing to experience.
Who would have thought that the countless dollars that my parents spent on piano lessons, and the countless hours that I spent practicing the piano throughout the years, and the countless hours that my parent’s ears had to listen to me practicing the piano would lead to one of the most fulfilling ministries that I have ever been involved in? It would be too simple to say that I will never be able to thank my parents enough for this “treasure” that they gave to me when I was just a small child.