“…For She Has Been a Benefactor to Me…”
How many people would you count as being a “Benefactor” to you? Who are the people you can turn your back on and you will be confident that they will not hurt, harm or endanger you? Who are the people you can count on who will follow through on what they commit to do? How many people can you lean to for sound advice and counsel?
As I led our concluding Bible Discussion Thursday evening on Romans 16, it struck me that the Apostle Paul begins the chapter with a commendation to Phoebe as a letter of introduction to the church at Rome. Some people suspect that Phoebe may have been the person who physically carried Paul’s letter from wherever he was to the church at Rome.
In any case, it was interesting that both my current associate minister, Georgia Hill and my first associate minister, Pamela June Anderson were in attendance at the Bible Study. I hired Pamela 31 years ago, the same year I was called to be the pastor and senior minister of the church. Pamela worked with me for five years and since has pastored three churches and worked on the national level for the United Church of Christ. Georgia was my chief of staff when I was first elected to the Detroit City Council. I really wanted her to work with me because she was a graduate of Harvard University and Howard Law School. I wanted the smartest persons I could find to help me process the work of being a local legislator. Somewhere along the way Georgia expressed to me a call to the ministry. I asked her if she would like a raise. I told her I knew a lot of ministers and her going into the ministry would not necessarily impress me. She insisted that her calling was real so we worked out a plan where she would work with me at the City Council on a part time basis, travel to McCormick Theological Seminary for two or three days a week to get her Master of Divinity Degree. Smart person that she is, she completed the degree in three years and was ranked number two in her class! After graduating from divinity school I asked her to work with me at the church as my associate minister. Since working with me at the church she obtained a Doctorate of Ministry Degree.
The three of us took a photo and it dawned on each of us that this is the first photo we have taken together.
When I think about Phoebe and the support the Apostle Paul felt that she gave to him, I began to think about how fortunate I have been in my ministry. Both associate ministers have exhibited strengths, each in their own unique manner. However, I have been blessed to have others who also have given me tremendous support.
Henrietta Carson helps me as not only the accountant at the church, but is also my executive administrative assistant. Singlehandedly, she has assumed many of the day to day administrative and managerial duties which has freed me to think, vision, write, move the church and minister in a creative direction.
Regina Yopp, the secretary brings enthusiasm, vitality and energy and a sense of cheerfulness that is often contagious. In her own unique way, Regina is starting to take a load off of my shoulders and is very helpful.
Latasha Washington worked with me at the Detroit City Council. Her energy, enthusiasm and excitement for the Lord comes through in everything she does. When I went back to working full time at the church, Tasha came with me and is the assistant secretary and event coordinator for the church.
Renee Baker began as my secretary when I served on the City Council. Her intellect, loyalty, and fierce protectiveness of my schedule and my politics was like Phoebe, “a great benefactor to me.”
So, as I think of Phoebe, I think of all of the persons who have helped me in my ministry. I have only named a few in this piece, but there are many others. As you read this post, I would encourage you to make a list of all of the persons who have helped you to succeed in life.
Romans 16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, 2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. 
Questions for Reflection:
- Who are the people you would count as a “Benefactor to you”?
- Why would to you think Paul speaks so highly of Phoebe?
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for those individuals who have helped me on any level. I thank you for those who have helped me with the large and small tasks of life. I thank you that I do not have to do everything by myself. I thank you for the wisdom and physical assistance of others. Bless me now, Lord, to be a blessing unto others. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Clifford Rockefeller
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 16:1–2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.