How should women today live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world?
That was the focus of the “Women in this VUCA World” conference, held at Toa Payoh Methodist Church on Saturday 22 Apr 2017 and organised by the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS). About 600 participants attended the conference, which highlighted that women today can lead a life that glorifies God in a VUCA world: through Christ, through our calling, and through community together.
The first segment of the conference was by Mr Lim Kim Pong, titled “Confidently Strong, Courageously Vulnerable”. He shared his experiences in learning to let go and trust God, and how he learnt to be both confidently strong and courageously vulnerable. He explained that these two do not contradict; one example of this juxtaposition can be found in 2 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul wrote: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Drawing from his life lessons, Kim Pong shared that the key to living in a VUCA world is not to focus on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, but instead to keep our focus on God amidst these changing circumstances. It is only through Christ and because of Christ that we can be victorious, unshaken, complete and assured in such an environment.
This truth was further brought out by the second speaker, Ms Norma Sit, who elaborated that VUCA change happens on both a global and personal level, and that only our faith in Christ can be a strong enough anchor to keep us stable through it all. In a very personal and emotional session aptly titled “The Walk Back Home”, she openly shared about her life growing up and how she eventually came back to God.
Ms Susan Chee and Ms Imelda Ayu Triana, who together with Norma were on the panel in the “In Conversation” segment, also shared their stories of how God sustained them through difficult seasons and how they have been restored through His love and grace.
Their testimonies were a moving reminder that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The Rev Dr Maggie Low, who gave the afternoon sermon titled “Resting in the Source of Strength”, described two levels of calling: the first to live life as a child of God, and the second to take on a particular vocation. She explained that these are not separate as there is no divide between the secular and the sacred, and it is especially important to approach any vocation with prayer and the proper perspective, because a job is about what God will do in and through each of his children for His glory and not solely about what each person wants for herself.
Dr Low’s sermon was about four women living in a VUCA world. She began with the history of Hagar as recorded in Genesis 16, where Hagar the slave of Sarah was fleeing from her mistress. Hagar is significant because she saw God in her VUCA circumstances, and she was the first woman recorded in the Bible to give God a name. That name was El-roi (the God who sees me), because even though Hagar had nowhere to go and no one else saw her, God saw her. The Rev Dr Low explained that our God is a God of seeing – He sees each one of us where we are and will find us, even if we ourselves feel unaccepted.
The second woman was the widow of Nain, whose story is recorded in Luke 7:11-17. As a widow who had lost her only son, she would have been destitute and unable to work or own property, not to mention her grief and emotional pain. Yet Jesus saw her even in the midst of the large crowd, and He had compassion on her. Dr Low explained that the Greek word for that compassion, splangchnizomai, conveys the deepest possible emotion which Jesus could feel and did feel for the grieving widow – our God not only sees us where we are, but also understands and feels our hurts.
And He did more than just empathise with her; in an amazing miracle, Jesus raised the dead man and gave him back to his mother, showing that He was truly the Son of God who had power to conquer the grave.
The third woman was the Samaritan woman at the well, whose story is recorded in John 4. Even though she had been living in sin, Jesus crossed both the social boundaries of race and gender to reach out to her and offer her the gift of living water, of eternal life. Dr Low explained that eternal life is more than just never-ending duration, and refers to the fullness of life which we can only experience when in a right relationship with God.
And she said that the fourth woman living in a VUCA world, whose life has the potential to be changed and used by God, whose story will be a testimony to God’s glory – that fourth woman could be any one of us whose story is still being written. That story begins with faith and trust in Christ, repentance and obedience to His lordship, and love that arises from a right relationship with God.
As Ms Sarah Cheng De-Winne shared at the conference, both the positive and negative aspects of our lives are our testimony of faith to non-believers.
God has blessed each and every woman with His gifts, and it was inspiring to see how many women used those gifts in a beautiful way at the conference for His glory. The worship team used their talents across two worship sessions to lead everyone in praising God and responding to His goodness. Ms Samantha Ho and Sarah each presented a beautiful gift of music using their amazing talents in singing choral and contemporary music respectively. Many women were cheerful volunteers in ushering, serving food at the lunch and tea breaks, and contributing in their own way towards the smooth running of the event.
The conference was an opportunity for believers from many different churches and walks of life to get to know each other. It was heart-warming to see them praying for each other, sharing their stories and advice with each other, and being quick to help each other, even if they had just met that day. It was a reminder of how important community is to the Christian faith – when we face a VUCA world we should not do so alone but instead with the support of others in Christ.
Only through Christ, through calling, and through community together can women face a VUCA world and be a different VUCA – Victorious, Unshaken, Complete and Assured.
Chye Shu Yi –
is a member of Methodist Church of the Incarnation.