Features, Highlights

Living in a ‘selfie’ world?

The taking of ‘selfies’, and the subsequent display of our beaming faces on social media, has taken the world by storm in recent years. We unabashedly pose, often with cheerful smiles, even if we do not feel cheerful at the moment. When reviewing the photos taken, we invariably focus first on how we look, sometimes requesting a ‘retake’ if we are dissatisfied with how we are portrayed.

There is nothing wrong with taking selfies, but when our focus is on our outer presentation, we may develop a dangerous habit of self-promotion, and adopt an attitude of self-fulfillment rather than self-denial. Living in a ‘selfie’ world is not confined only to taking photographs, but refers also to living with the attitude that we are ‘number one’ – an attitude which started way back with Man’s Fall in the Garden of Eden. Generations of believers find it challenging to practise self-denial, and often succumb to rationalising our ‘wants’ as our needs.

In this season of Lent, let us remember Christ’s exhortation in Luke 9:23 to follow Him as His disciples, and deny ourselves to the point of losing our lives.

The concept of self-denial has been an annual practice for Methodist women of the Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) since 1887. The Week of Prayer and Self-Denial (PSD) calls them to spiritual growth, awareness, and action. Through it, women are challenged to engage in prayer and to reflect on stewardship, as they respond to others’ needs in the home, church, community, and the world beyond.

The WSCS has 37 chapters across the three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore. During PSD Week, we reflect in prayer and meditation using devotional booklets prepared by fellow WSCS members. In addition, we deny ourselves of luxuries or time usually spent on ourselves, redirecting such resources sacrificially to ministry work in mission fields. Through such activities, WSCS has continued to intentionally encourage women to know Christ deeply, and to support one another to grow in Christ and make Him known.

Many erroneously think PSD Week is a fund-raising exercise. Rather, the practice of self-denial involves putting aside what we normally spend on ourselves for the good of others.

For example, some make time to cook for food sales, while others switch to lower cost supermarket deals, or sacrifice holidays and costly dinners. Women in Holland Village Methodist Church have included their families in the exercise by designating a recycled glass jar per family to collect the money saved (pic below, and bottom right). Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church’s WSCS distributed drawstring pouches with information on the reasons for observing PSD Week.

These simple acts are practical reminders of how we can do more for others. The focus is not on frugality, but on thinking beyond ourselves to give our funds as well as our time and talents.

Funds collected are consolidated at the Annual Conference levels, and subsequently distributed to the causes approved by the Finance and the Executive Committees at the respective Conference levels (see box on right).

These small steps spark awareness of the need for self-denial. While we may not yet be ready to die for others, we are moving away from a stance of self-fulfillment as a priority, towards self-denial and loving others in a prayerful and sacrificial way. We are learning to proclaim Christ through acts of giving and blessing beyond ourselves. If you ever catch us taking a selfie in the mission field, it is not for you to see us, but so that all will see the great needs to be met in the field.

Dr Lee Li Bee and Eunice Yeo
are the President and the Discipleship & Nurture Coordinator respectively of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service.

Blessing beyond ourselves

At the level of the General Conference (GC) WSCS, funds collected are channelled to Tana River Life Foundation Education Bursary Fund (pic bottom left), VisionTrust Asia Ltd, SIM East Asia Ltd, and the Methodist Missions Society.

One recipient is a missionary from SIM. Describing the poverty of the people where she is based, she wrote: “God is at work in South Sudan even though the situation seems more difficult especially in security aspects… We need someone to walk with because it is not safe anymore so it’s kind of difficult.”

“But God never leaves us in the lurch. He protects and sustains us to keep us moving forward, and we need to put our trust in Him. He is also doing some amazing things among His people here. Churches continue to unite together in prayer and fasting for peace and reconciliation. It fills us with so much joy and praise to see more believers in the refugee camp baptised and joining the church.”

Both GC WSCS and Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) WSCS have given generously to causes that benefit children such as Oikos Helping Hand, a non-governmental organisation incorporated in the Philippines 11 years ago. They minister to the poorest of the poor, many of whom are young children scrambling to make a living in the infamous ‘Smoky Mountain’ rubbish dump (now relocated to ‘Aroma’ dump), scavenging for recyclables and earning as little as S$5 a day for 10 hours of work.

TRAC WSCS organises regular mission trips to visit Oikos and follow up on the use of funds. They are not only challenged by poverty but also diseases, illiteracy, and damage from natural disasters such as typhoons. Donations have been used to repair office buildings, replace water pipes, and improve the scant school facilities they have.

Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) WSCS donates to churches and schools in India and Medan, and water supply projects. They have also made regular mission trips. In 2017, they were able to minister to war widows and their children in Sri Lanka (pic far left facing).

The Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) WSCS ladies have channelled donations to the Taiwan Earthquake Relief Fund, and the Overseas Emergency Relief Fund.

General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service
Website: wscs.methodist.org.sg
Email: wscs@methodist.org.sg
Phone: 6478-4760 / 6478-4822

Photos courtesy of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service