For the past several years Jeff Polen Music has provided Sound & Lighting at the Changed Lives Ministry Banquet at the Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot, OH. Changed Lives Ministry is primarily a prison and recovery ministry that is under the leadership of Larry Skrant.
Larry was an inmate himself, convicted and sentenced to prison several times before putting his own faith in Jesus and experiencing a radical life change.
Larry tells the story of being a tough guy behind the prison walls. He didn’t care about anyone or anything. Then one day a prison guard tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a letter from the outside. That letter written in red crayon changed everything. It began with the words, “My name is Stephanie. Do you remember me?”
Stephanie was the name of one of Larry’s young daughters. He had cut off all communication with his family before going to prison as a three-time felon. He decided that his family did not deserve him as a father because of all the pain he had caused them by constantly going in and out of their lives. He didn’t think he was worthy of their love, and yet he was holding handwritten proof that his daughter still desired a relationship with him. In the same way, he did not believe that he deserved love from God, but the Bible served as proof that God still desired a relationship with him, as well.
The night that Larry received that letter was the night that he fell to his knees and cried out to God. He got up from his knees a changed man.
He was able to rebuild his relationship with his family and with God, and when he got out of prison, he began going back into prisons—but this time to help others experience a changed life in Christ, as well.
I have been blessed to know Larry for several years, and it has been amazing to see God work through him. He really is an anointed minister of the gospel, with a passion to bring the light of Christ into some extremely dark places.
I was introduced to Larry through a mutual friend, John Schmid. Larry is the guy who introduced me to the Swihart family (2 Harts Surrendered), who are amazing people who have become lifelong friends, and who have recorded several records in Taylor’s Playground Recording Studio.
Suffice it to say that when Larry asked us to provide Sound & Lighting for his banquet several years ago, we were happy to do it! And we have been doing it every year since.
Last year Larry asked me to play a few songs of worship before and after the meal, and I was happy to do it. In fact, I invited my daughter to join me on keyboard. It was a blast.
This year Larry asked me to lead a few songs of worship before and after the meal again, so I went ahead and expanded the band. Piper played piano again, Abigail joined me on vocals and ukulele, and Eden sang and played the shaker.
After we led a few songs of worship, ate delicious amish food, gained a few pounds, and then led a few more songs of worship, John Schmid took the stage and entertained the crowd like only John can. Several people shared testimonies, and Larry gave an update on the state of the ministry.
It was an amazing night of music and powerful testimonies. As always, it was a pleasure to be at the Changed Lives Ministry Banquet, to be able to lead awesome people in worship, and to be able to provide Sound & Lighting for the event.