Conversation: Patty Byrd Keating
Patty Byrd Keating serves as Women's Ministries-Unlimited! coordinator for Manassas Assembly of God, Bristow, Va. Women's Ministries at Manassas has seen incredible growth spiritually and numerically. Keating recently talked with Women's Ministries Managing Editor Darla Knoth about leading women and following God's lead.
tpe: How did you begin leading Women's Ministries at your church?
KEATING: I had been on the Women's Ministries leadership team for less than a year. The woman who served as coordinator for many years resigned. For weeks I prayed for whoever the new coordinator would be that she would have courage to obey the Lord's call to lead. I didn't know I was praying for myself!
tpe: You can relate to a lot of challenges women face.
KEATING: My husband, Doug, was an officer in the U.S. Army. We were stationed in several places during our 11-year tour, including five years in Germany. Doug was deployed twice to Bosnia, so we were separated for up to a year at a time. I became pregnant with our first child while learning a new culture and language and living an ocean away from my own family in a house with people who didn't speak English.
In that high-stress environment, I was introduced to the joy of weekly Bible study and the power of living out Titus 2, through the Army-sponsored Protestant Women of the Chapel. It became an absolute anchor in my life. Those women were from all walks of life, from all over the United States and from many different denominations, but they were my sisters, aunts and mothers in the Lord.
tpe: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of leading women in your church?
KEATING: Seeing key friendships women are building, and watching God change women's lives. Watching the Lord change women's lives is the reason I lead.
If I am called by God, the best thing I can do is to literally lie prostrate before Him and tell Him verbally, physically and with all my heart, ÒI can't do this ministry except by the wisdom and power You give me. This ministry is Yours. Help me to hear You when You speak so I can obey and lead women where You want them to go.Ó
tpe: How would you describe your ministry philosophy?
KEATING: Hundreds of great ideas for ministry to women surface constantly. The challenge is to determine which ideas fit how the Lord is leading us. Then the ministry opportunities themselves become what help the women to grow spiritually. The Bible studies we offer, the missions tea, the fellowship groups are God's ideas. They become His tools for shaping women's lives.
Recent historical research revealed that my great-grandmother was the first guest evangelist at Manassas Assembly. In 1938, Malva Jane Gower came to the Manassas Assembly of God's new building at Maple and Quarry Streets.
My grandmother's strength and determination to follow Christ is an absolute inspiration to me. By the grace of God, I am continuing in the godly heritage she faithfully laid out.
tpe: Are you seeing different types of leadership skills coming out in women as you lead?
KEATING: Absolutely. Women will come to me and say, ÒThis is what I'm thinking,Ó or, ÒI have this idea.Ó I listen to them, and allow them to use their gifts. It won't always be a Bible study. As many venues for ministry exist as there are people.
God has blessed me with an amazing team of leaders. For instance, we have a CPA leading Women's Ministries finances, a professional planner leading our event planning, and a professional writer leading our communications. As the coordinator, my role is to allow people to minister; to let them do what God has gifted them to do.
Women's Ministries at Manassas Assembly Web site: www.magwomensconnection.org.
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