Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA)! What an apt description of the past 18 months, during which COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. Amidst this chaos, the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) organised a women’s conference entitled “Power in the VUCA World”. It reflects what many of us desire—namely, to live in God’s power in these uncertain times.
Started in 2017, the annual VUCA conference was scheduled to take place in April 2020. As many have experienced during this pandemic, our human plans were overruled. God had a better idea.
After a delay of more than a year, the conference was held online on 24 July 2021, with 516 participants, including some from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and even as far afield as England and Australia. God’s Word was heard by more people than could have been possible in a physical conference.
The speakers were appointed and anointed by God, with messages that reinforced the theme of the conference. In the weeks leading up to the conference, many prayer sessions were held. We committed the speakers to our Heavenly Father and prayed that He would take control of every aspect of the proceedings, including good Internet connectivity and smooth running of the online event.
VUCA 2021 began with an introduction and opening prayer by Neo Lay Tin, TRAC WSCS President. A worship team from Bedok Methodist Church led us in worship to prepare our hearts for the opening sermon by TRAC President Rev Stanley Chua. He spoke on “Not by Might nor by Power, but by My Spirit” (Zech 4:6).
How appropriate it was that the Rev Chua set the scene with a reminder that what is not possible by human effort alone becomes possible by the power of God’s Spirit. When we rely only on our own resources, we are weak and helpless. With examples from the Bible and Methodist history, the Rev Chua highlighted that those who depend on God for His power will accomplish the impossible. Ordinary people are turned into extraordinary ones when we fully trust in Him.
One such “ordinary” person was our first speaker, Lucy Lim. Despite a poor prognosis for her health, she continues to fulfil God’s calling in her life, intentionally living with joy and for the glory of God. She has written two books on her journey, the second of which was also the title of her talk: “When It’s Beyond Me”. She shared about her initial difficulty of “letting go” of family. Faced with recurring cancer and still undergoing treatment, she learnt to have a high view of God. She leant to dance with the Lord, who leads and guides. God could have healed her, but instead led her to a deepened faith, allowing her to live each day seeking to accomplish His plans for her. She epitomises the meaning of “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).
Another battle-scarred speaker was Julie Ong. She revealed her life experiences in her talk “Light Beyond a Difficult Journey”. In her testimony, she recounted one anguish after another. She endured broken relationships and abandonment. Last year, she was one of the early cases of COVID-19 and in the week of the conference, she fell and sustained a hairline fracture on her cheekbone. It was heart-breaking to listen to her struggling to articulate the pain she had experienced. Julie came to trust God through her trials and learnt to forgive. Through all these ongoing ordeals, she testified of the reality of God’s love and the peace He gives.
Neither Lucy nor Julie concluded with a miraculous resolution of their difficult circumstances. Instead, they exemplified what God means when He says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
After a short lunch break and a game of deciphering emoji, the conference continued at 1pm. Rev Jenni Ho-Huan, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, spoke on “The God-shaped W.I.F.E.” Once again, we were reminded that if we rely on our own abilities, or are too fearful and complacent, we shut out God’s power. We need to let go of trying to rule our own hearts. Instead, choose to trust God and the Prince of Peace will rule in our hearts.
Connecting to the conference from New Zealand where she serves as a missionary, Bunty Bunce spoke on “Is There Somebody Out There?” Her message from Romans 15:13 encouraged us to have hope even though the pandemic may have shaken our faith. These uncertain circumstances should not take away our hope. God is bigger than our circumstances! From His vantage point, He sees and knows all. He is in control. She challenged us with the questions: When did you last let God comfort you? Have you shared your anxiety with Him? God is waiting to use each of us to comfort others.
The last speaker was Ashley Low, who shared her testimony of her long journey with her cancer-stricken husband. She joined the conference from her hotel in Melbourne where she was quarantined after arrival from Singapore. Ashley described the desperate ways in which she had tried to help her husband, including trying to get him struck by lightning as recommended by a medium. In spite of acts of ignorance, God mercifully preserved her husband. Through repeated recurrences of the disease, God revealed Himself to them. Dancing with God through these storms of life, both Ashley and her husband found blessing and mercy through suffering.
Even though the ladies had been online for more than four hours, some stayed back to be ministered to in breakout rooms by each of the speakers. What better way to end than in an extended period of prayer to our God of power and might?
We are thankful for the encouraging feedback received. More than a hundred comments affirmed God’s faithfulness, peace and power as their main “take-aways”. Indeed, that was our objective—always to put God in the spotlight. It is our prayer that the conference inspired participants to place all their trust in God alone in navigating the VUCA world. Arising from many requests after the conference, portions of the conference will be presented again in a Christmas event later this year. Details will be made available in October.
The organising committee of VUCA 2021 is thankful to the Lord for the unity and wisdom He gave to us and for the smooth running of the online event. To Him be all the glory.
Text and photos courtesy of TRAC WSCS