This past weekend was a significant time of celebrating great achievements in women’s sports, both past and present. The past was at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Ohio, where every year a great golfer of the past is honored. This year’s honoree was one of the truly great women’s golfers of all time, Nancy Lopez. Lopez was not only a winner, however, she was a truly great champion, and her mark is still felt on the landscape of the LPGA today. The present, however, came from the world of tennis where, at the French Open, Chinese professional Li Na won the women’s title over Italian Francesca Schiavone, the defending French Open champ. It was the first time ever for a Chinese player (male or female) to win a grand slam title—marking a new day in women’s tennis. In both cases, this weekend was an opportunity to honor and recognize the achievements of great women athletes, and with scandal riddling so many other areas of sports, it was a breath of fresh air. It was also a welcome word when Paul, writing to the Romans, made a point of honoring and applauding the work and service of a woman who was a fellow-servant of Christ—Phoebe. He said:

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. (Romans 16:1-2)

Not only does he commend her, however, Paul challenged the church at Rome to receive her with honor and assist her in her service of Christ. Paul’s appreciation of Phoebe, whose name means “radiant,” was not only as a sister in Christ, but because of her apparently tireless work in being a help to others—including himself. We could learn from Paul’s example, for we would do well to take note of those women of Christ who give of themselves in service to Christ and others, and celebrate their marvelous contributions to kingdom work.   Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain