Larry Spann didn’t know federal prison would be the place where God would get his attention again.
“As my Grandma Ruby would say, ‘If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to jerk a knot in your tail.’ That’s what God did to me,” said Spann, a Southeast Christian Church member at the Indiana Campus.
Nearly 20 years ago, Spann ran an excavation company with revenue of $40 million. In 2001, a client asked him for a kickback on a large project when he wanted to add a water truck to a job.
“I told him on a Sunday evening it would be another 15 cents per cubic yard to add a water truck,” Spann added. “My phone just went silent for seven to eight seconds. On a phone call that’s a long time. He said, ‘Can you add a nickel for me?’ That’s how it got started.”
That compromise, a nickel per cubic yard, didn’t come back to haunt Spann for almost a decade.
In late 2010, Spann was the subject of an investigation, and he eventually pled guilty to wire fraud.
“It happened 10 years ago, and I had forgotten about it,” he said. “It was embarrassing. It was humiliating, especially being from a small town. Everybody knows everything.”
Spann received a 21-month prison sentence that he started serving in January 2012.
“I’ve made every mistake going,” Spann said. “I did 13 months at the federal prison camp in Ashland, Kentucky. I thought that was the absolute worst time in my life. God actually sent me there to get my attention. During that time, I walked six to eight miles every day and was able to attend a Bible study every day. I had a long time to read.”
Spann finished his sentence at a halfway house in Louisville, where he listened to Southeast sermons on WHAS radio.
After his release, Spann and his wife, Kathy, decided to drive almost an hour from their home in Madison, Indiana, to attend services at Southeast’s Indiana Campus.
Spann, who was baptized as a boy, was re-baptized in 2016—this time for the right reasons—and he has since found areas to serve in the church.
Paying it forward
While God grabbed Spann’s attention when his wealth was at an all-time high, he got Ashly Furnish’s attention when her income was cut in half.
Furnish, a single mother with three sons ranging from 2 to 13, worked at a restaurant in Madison. After asking off to deal with a couple of major illnesses, she was demoted from her manager position and had her pay cut.
She was sitting in $800 of monthly debt—including a car loan with a high interest rate.
“I felt like I was literally drowning, and I was trying to fix it on my own, and I’m just like, ‘I’m not getting to where I need to be,’” Furnish said. “This was my first experience with ever reaching out to anyone.”
Looking for extra income, Furnish contacted the Spanns, who were regulars at the restaurant where she worked.
“We tried to help her out with bigger tips and a little something at Christmas,” Spann said. “She called us and wanted to know if we had any extra work for her to do. We knew from that she was struggling. We’ve given her money on several occasions. We knew that wasn’t solving the problem, so I asked her if she wanted me to take a look at her finances.”
Last September, Spann helped Furnish create a budget and file for bankruptcy to get rid of her car.
“A single mom with three boys, and you don’t hardly get time to think about what the problem is,” Spann said. “I’ve been there. I knew what she was going through, and I knew she needed some help. The help I could give her was from mistakes I’ve made. It was the voice of experience talking I suppose. I’m a good/bad example, kind of like Paul in the Bible. I’ve done everything except persecuting Christians.”
Furnish has since moved to New Albany and got a higher paying job at a restaurant in downtown Louisville. She now is about $400 in the black each month.
“I am glad and honored He allowed me to help her,” Spann said.
Furnish brings her boys to the Indiana Campus for church and sits with the Spanns.
“He tells me all the time, ‘It starts with God. God guided you to me. We met for a reason,’” Furnish added.