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Mary Kassian’s ministry to women: from Bible to Internet

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (BP)–As a writer, an internationally known speaker, president of Alabaster Flask Ministries, a wife and mother of three teenage boys, it’s easy to think Mary Kassian wouldn’t have time for ministry.

“Our home has always had a revolving door,” Kassian said. “We’re always having Bible studies and ministering to people. And when you’re homeschooling three children, sometimes ministry takes on a different form.”

But Kassian and her husband, Brent, believe ministry happens “where you’re at.” Even when their three boys were young, she and her husband both felt their lives as ministers shouldn’t stop.

“Sometimes ministry would happen when I was sitting at the hockey rink watching one of my sons play,” Kassian said. “People would call me and need advice or to just talk, and I’d say, ‘OK, you’ll need to come with me to my kid’s sporting event’ or ‘Come work out with me.’ The key is to keep a God focus all the time.”

Early on, Kassian spent much of her time talking, listening and ministering to young women through a local Bible study. From her conversations and experiences with this group of women, she became frustrated by the shortage of material written for women about their personal relationships with God.

“In the early ’80s, there was a philosophical bent toward feminism” in the culture, she said. “Many of the women I was discipling were from the local university and questioning whether God loved them or not. So we started studying Scripture together, focusing on what God said to women.”

Although Kassian never aspired to be an author, her husband encouraged her to write a book out of the notes and research she had prepared for the group. She did and, much to her surprise, her first book, “Women, Creation and the Fall,” was published in 1990.

“The idea of a girl from Nowhereville, Alberta, getting published had to be the Lord,” she said. “It certainly wasn’t me because that manuscript came back with more red on it than black!”

But God continued to use her passion for Scripture and for ministry to women. Her desire to reach out to other women spurred Kassian to begin Alabaster Flask Ministries in 1999. (The name for the ministry is drawn from the New Testament account of the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume from an alabaster jar.)

Kassian now has three resources published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: “Vertically Inclined: Climbing Higher with God,” “Conversation Peace” and “In My Father’s House: Women Relating to God as Father.” Each speaks to women about living in a fulfilling, passionate relationship with God.

Her dream is to use technology — the Internet, e-mentoring, chat rooms, online studies and multimedia — to help women discover the joy of loving Jesus. LifeWay and Campus Crusade for Christ’s “Christian Women Today” have worked with Kassian to complete a pilot small-group, chat room-based mentorship study using her “Conversation Peace” Bible study.

Kassian sees this as a step toward further expanding the use of the Internet for ministering to women — where they are. She hopes her message will encourage even young mothers to look for the door God is opening and to be willing to walk through it.

“We have to be willing to take smart risks,” Kassian said. “If we want to climb higher with God, we need to let go of our safe, secure handhold and reach out for what God has in store for us next. If we stop reaching, we’ll stop moving and stop growing. I would much rather risk failure than risk stagnation physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Her message to women, however, isn’t to “do more.”

“Women already feel guilty enough,” she said. “If they were to hear me or anyone else telling them to do even more, they’d be like, ‘Yeah, right, find me the time.'”

Kassian knows that some women — single moms in particular — may feel it’s impossible for them to risk anything, but she’s adamant that anyone can be a smart risk-taker.

Saying that risks seem riskier when a woman is without a supportive husband, she added, “I would advise [a woman in this situation] to turn to God and to the family of God to enable her to be a risk-taker. This means praying for opportunities and seizing the opportunities God provides. This, in and of itself, is risky.

“God always has new and unexpected things for us. But we must reach for them. Look for where God is reaching down to you. And God will pull you toward a safe risk — but it’s only safe because you’re holding on to Him.”
Matthew Turner is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tenn. This article is adapted from LifeWay’s HomeLife magazine, which can be ordered by going to lifeway.com or calling 1-800-458-2772. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GEARED UP and TRYING THE WEB.

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  • Matthew Turner