BOOK CORNER: Ex-South L.A. minister writes book about Simon of Cyrene

By Marissa Wells

Contributing Writer

“Simon of Cyrene: The Crossbearer of Jesus Who Was the Only African Eyewitness to the Crucifixion,” by Henry L. Masters, is a moving tale of Simon of Cyrene that demonstrates the power of example and offers a theology of encouragement.

Inside the book, Masters shares the story of Simon and his powerful account of the crucifixion. He gives Simon a voice to tell his own story and includes an imaginative dialogue between Jesus and Simon while carrying the cross.

“Simon of Cyrene” was inspired by Master’s discovery of Simon during his time in seminary as he pursued his doctorate of ministry degree.

“In my research, I discovered more about Simon,” Master said. “I had heard the name throughout my life, but I really didn’t know much about the story or about Simon. 

“Once I did, it occurred to me that Simon’s story is a powerful ‘thank you’ in my life because I had no idea that the person who helped Jesus to carry his cross in fact looked like me.”

That realization lit a fire within Masters to not only learn everything he could about Simon, but to share it with others.

“The Simon story resonates with our lives in so many ways because he was asked to do something that he didn’t want to do,” Masters said. “In my estimation and many others, he was kicked out of that crowd because of who he was and I wanted more and more people, particularly Black people, to know his story.”

Readers can doubt relate to the story as they reflect on the unpleasant situations, trials and tribulations they must endure.

“Reading this story, I hope will help people to get encouraged by the fact that sometimes things that happen to you may not be just accidental or coincidental, they may be providential,” Masters said.

In addition to being an author, Masters is a retired elder in the United Methodist Church. He was pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in South Los Angeles for 11 years. 

He also is the publisher of By Faith Magazine, a bi-monthly publication that serves as a communication vehicle for the Black churches in the United Methodist Church. For more information about the author and his work, visit

“Simon of Cyrene: The Crossbearer of Jesus Who Was the Only African Eyewitness to the Crucifixion” is available for $10 via the author directly through email