Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Brent Kassian, Mary’s husband. (If you’re new around here, Mary Kassian is a name you’ll soon come to love.) I picked Brent’s brains about his job, their marriage, and more. As promised, here’s the inside scoop.
Meet Brent Kassian
Dark, spiked hair; black rimmed glasses; you can call him “Chappy,” the nickname the professional sports team members gave him. It’s not surprising Brent is currently the chaplain for the Edmonton Eskimos (a team in the Canadian Football League). He grew up with pro athletes—his dad was a gold medalist hockey player. As a chaplain, Brent hangs around before, during, and after practices. “I’m kinda like an uncle to the guys,” he told me. The main thing these guys want to talk about is . . . girls. So, Brent gets practical with them by telling them things like,
“There’s a difference between finding a girl and a wife. If you want to find a wife, here’s the track to go down. The kind of wife you’re going to find depends on the man you’re going to be.”
“Football and hockey are like unreached people groups,” he told me. His work with the team has led to some pretty amazing opportunities—on the field, and in the sports world in general. In his hometown, he’s often invited on the secular sports talk shows where the deejays will ask hard questions about God, sin, and hypocrisy. “The Lord’s been so good to me,” Brent mused. “The first time I did it I knew it went well, ’cause the host said, ‘Do you think talk shows could have a chaplain?’”
So What About Mary?
“That’s all nice, Paula,” I can hear you saying, “but what about Brent’s relationship with Mary?” Okay, okay. Let’s start with how they met.
They really couldn’t have come from more different family backgrounds. Mary was from a conservative Baptist family; Brent had a Russian Orthodox dad and a Ukrainian Catholic mom. He and Mary met at university, when a mutual friend asked Brent to join their evangelistic outreach band. He played the electric guitar; Mary was a keyboardist and singer. They shared Christ together with bikers, on crowded beaches, etc. for about a year and a half before any sparks began to fly.
Still, Mary had to think about it. She had been dating a pastor, whom Brent describes as “such a nice guy.” He went on, “Tall, handsome, blond hair, blue eyes . . . they were both German. It was one of those things where on paper everything looked great, but it just didn’t quite work out.”
“I liked to live on the edge and do crazy things for Christ, and I think Mary liked that.” Once they got together, they built their relationship around sharing Christ and discipling others. “I think maybe we went on two formal dates,” Brent said.
But it seems to have worked for them. Brent adores Mary. Not that they don’t have to work on their relationship . . . “One of the challenges is she’s traveling with ministry, and I’m doing local stuff, and you want to keep your relationship,” Brent said. So, together, they take couples through a marriage curriculum called “Prepare-Enrich.” When they’re not praying together or doing ministry together, they like to go scuba diving, snorkeling, and mountain biking. “Mary’s like a ballerina on top of the Rocky Mountains,” Brent bragged. “She’s not afraid of heights.”
Another thing Brent loves about Mary is that she’s “a smart girl.” They’ll talk theology often, and sometimes Mary will wake Brent up in the middle of the night to deal with open theism or whatever it is she’s working on at the time. In fact, she can get so focused while working on a project that Brent will get after her about going to her exercise class.
Brent summed up their relationship by saying, “Like any marriage, it’s not perfect and it’s not a fairy tale, but it sure seems like it’s perfect, and it sure seems like it’s a fairy tale. We’re coming up on 29 years of being married, and it’s so good. I think I was in love before, but I think finally I’m in love now.”