Pastors’ Pearls


Recently, a few ladies from Word of Life Christian Center had a beautiful tea party with pastors’ wives Gayla Bagwell, DeLana Rutherford from Atlanta, Georgia, and Miriam Phillips from Jacksonville, North Carolina.

This very special tea was hosted by SHINE Magazine’s entertainment contributor Robyn Geypens and was presented in the very relaxing Fireside Room at Word of Life. The ladies were served a variety of small tea sandwiches, along with scones and Devonshire cream. The table had an exquisite arrangement of flowers and fruit and the most stunning china with pink flowers painted on every piece! It was truly breathtaking! The sound of china clanking, the music in the background, and the chatter of the ladies’ voices made this a day to treasure. We were all so thankful to our Lord who brought us together to set the atmosphere for our very first interview of our new section in SHINE Magazine – “Pastors’ Pearls”!

“Pastors’ Pearls” are wives of pastors around the country. It is our desire to showcase these gifted, called, and anointed women of God in each edition of SHINE Magazine. These ladies that have been chosen by God to work in fulltime ministry along with their husbands are strong and faithful servants to the Body of Christ. Many have served with faithful dedication for years, while others are only beginning. Yet, all of these amazing women are uniquely chosen and formed, like the pearl, to serve the Body of Christ in a multiplicity of ways. Through adversity and resistance to their holy calling, these strong, beautiful, and shining “pearls” have been given by God to the Body of Christ as role models and leaders. Let us appreciate and begin to know them better through each interview in SHINE Magazine.

Our very first exciting interview is with Miriam Phillips from Jacksonville, North Carolina. She and her husband Chris Phillips are senior pastors of River of Life Church in that area. Miriam is very pretty in the natural, and yet there is strength of character that shows through her beauty. She captures you immediately with her dark, hazelnut brown eyes. Not only are they lovely to look at, but they are intense with a deep and knowing compassion that only a fulltime service of many years to the needs of hundreds can produce. When Miriam speaks, you sense a certain dignity, as though you are talking to royalty. Yet, she is so calm and comfortable to be around that you feel as though you are chatting with your best friend! As we sat across from her in the Fireside Room, she sat casually on the tan leather sofa, willing to answer all of our questions. She looked so stylish in her cool jeans that no one would have thought she was a “pastor’s wife”! Thank you, Miriam, for being yourself and for not being set into the typical stereotype of a “pastor’s wife”!

We refilled our teacups with blackberry tea and a few sugar cubes as we began to ask this cool, sophisticated, chosen, and appointed pastor’s wife a few (ok…a lot of!) questions. Join myself, Gayla, with Michelle Marthaler and Joy Moore in discovering more about Pastors’ Pearl #1.

As we chatted and laughed, our first question had to be the most important “girl” question there is:

SHINE: How did you meet your husband Chris?

MP: Wow! That’s a complicated question. When I met my husband, I was actually engaged to somebody else. We were in college. Chris was a voice major, and I was a piano major. He needed someone to accompany him for a special event, and he was desperate. He heard me playing in the music halls, so he knocked on the door and asked me to accompany him. After that, we started doing some things together, and I realized that it wasn’t going to work out with the guy that I was engaged to. My planned wedding was only two months away, so it was just in the nick of time! God is good; He gave my ex-fiancé a wonderful wife who is perfectly suited for him as well.

SHINE: Thank goodness – God showed up “just in time”! So, when did you actually get married, and how many years have you been married?

MP: Chris and I will be married 28 years on June 27th.

SHINE: We thank God for a marriage that has stood the test of time! Your parents were missionaries. Can you tell us about that and what it was like to grow up on the mission field?

MP: We went to the mission field for the first time when I was eight years old, so I grew up half of the time in Brazil and half in the States. I really loved Brazil. The Lord did so many things for me personally while I was there. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and after a revival period and some of the things I saw and experienced, I just never questioned the fact that God was real. Then, later, my husband and I went back to the mission field as a couple and were there for four years. Our oldest daughter Elise was born there.

SHINE: So was it difficult living in Brazil, as well as the United States, and kind of transitioning back and forth?

MP: I was always the new girl. Until I went to college, I was never in the same school system for two complete years. But even in that, I see how God was preparing me, because we now live in a military community where everybody transitions in and out after three years. I can somewhat relate to that lifestyle.

(We enjoyed this question so much that we asked Miriam if she speaks Portuguese. She was kind enough to speak to us in this great language for a few minutes!)

SHINE: You are so petite and trim that it is quite a wonder that you have three children! Can you please tell us about them?

MP: Yes! Our oldest, Elise, will be 23 this year, and she just graduated from ECU (East Carolina University). She’s a communications major. She was the editor of her school paper and is very creative. Our middle one is Evan, our only boy. He’s turning 20 in June and is at Hillsong Bible School. And then our youngest, Erianna, will be 19 in October and just went to Hillsong as well. She wants to be a counselor.

SHINE: Is it difficult having your kids in Australia?

MP: It’s hard being an empty-nester. For 22 years, every decision I’ve made – every plan – has really been based on what’s good for the kids. It’s definitely a transition, and I’m asking the Lord, “What now?” I’ve always been busy, but I just want to make sure that I step into the things He has for me now instead of just loading up my life with more “stuff.”

We look forward to presenting the second part of this interview with Miriam Phillips next week, April 11, 2017, so please come back and finish reading the final part of this interesting interview!

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