Written & Designed by Masha N.

“Creativity is the very creation of God. He created everything. And we are created to create.” - these were some insightful words that Edwin, the Founder of TCCO shared once in an interview with ‘Thir.st’. Being a designer and musician in Church and outside of Church, the arts have always been my tool to inspire.

I have always been thankful for the giftings in the arts that God has blessed me with, and as I journey through my internship with TCCO, the words of how creativity is the very creation of God has never been a stronger motivator. Thus when I was struck with a call for new ideas, I felt so strongly to start something that reflected just how true that was, by bringing the art forms I loved - music and design, together to inspire others to pick up their creative tools, and just praise or worship Him through the arts.

So “Yours, Sincerely” began, but what did it mean? Well, have you ever just sat down in those quiet moments and had a conversation with God? As creatives, I feel this is how our works are - letters, conversations to God where we express our heart to the Lord and lay it all down in front of Him. It is where we say “I am Yours Lord, Sincerely”. And that is the beauty in being ourselves, and at the same time being God’s, which is that our conversations and letters hold different stories, but still we draw to the same conclusion that we live for His glory. This is what “Yours, Sincerely” meant.

Now as we collaborate with Awaken Generation, and four other Featured Musicians to bring you a collection of T-shirts and keychains, join us to hear each one of their stories as Christian Musicians, and see these designs come to light.
You may read the other articles here.

Awaken Generation
In this first edition with Awaken Generation (AG) , I got to meet up and chat with Delphne Tan, a Songwriting Mentor, as well as Faith Pang, the Resident Mandarin Songwriting Mentor and Songwriter of the song that inspired this first design, 仰望 (Yang Wang, Look to You).

Christian Music merch by Awaken Generation x The Commandment Co
T-Shirt and Keychain designs by TCCO for “仰望”

Awaken Generation is a worship and missions organisation here in Singapore that as Delphne words “our heart is to see a generation impacted, raising worshippers who will minister to God and to people. Worshippers who really understand the real meaning of worship - that it is more than just music, it is a lifestyle”.

As a worship school that equips anyone wanting to pick up or further a creative skill, releasing new music every year, and outreach missions to churches locally and abroad through worship nights and training - the work that Awaken Generation does is truly inspiring to see being done.

“We believe so strongly in unlocking the sound of worship, here in Singapore. We often sing songs from other countries, but when it’s local singers, writers, coming together writing about what’s on God’s heart for the nation and region, I think there is an anointing there.”

Asking them how it all began for them at Awaken Generation, Delphne began to share that for herself, she started off as an English teacher for 7 years before she heard the Lord ask her at a conference - “Will you leave your job for me?” She knew she would say yes regardless of the outcome. She then began her time in AG as a songwriting student and in June 2021, she joined full time.

Faith was in the Events & Advertising industry for a whole 10 years, before she began to question her purpose and calling. In God’s timely manner as she explored a new path, Calvin & Alarice, Senior Leaders of AG, would approach her to equip the Chinese churches in Singapore, and join the team to start up the Chinese streams.

Christian music session at Awaken Generation Singapore

“Especially for Chinese worship music there may be only that one or two bands that are established and popular because they may not have as strong exposure, especially in Singapore where most people speak English.”

Inspiring other Christians through Music at Awaken Generation

Music was an activity both of them grew up with, each in their own journey. I think many of us can relate to this, growing up surrounded by music in some form. “Music creates emotional responses from people - because that’s what music does, Christian music or not. But in that way it’s precisely how beautiful music is as a gift to mankind.” Delphne expresses about the power of music. As Faith continues, “Music has the power to help people express their most vulnerable and authentic selves to God.”

I often agree and express how I love how universal music is, that it may be able to speak to anyone. To “reach the unreached” as Faith puts it, is what music can do with God’s helping hand, and it interested me even more to discover the heart behind 仰望.

仰望 music mtv by Awaken Generation

Inspiration for the song and the album it resides in (同在) came to Faith after hearing Senior Leader Calvin speak about Servanthood - the laying down of our lives to God. It is a topic she realised she had not explored in her songs prior.

Reminiscing about the songwriting retreat where she first shared this song with others, she recalls how the bridge was the highlight that reached even the 90% of people on the retreat who didn’t understand Chinese well.

“I intentionally wrote many words, and made it rhythmic because I wanted people to remember all those truths and let them sink in. So when I saw the response, I was really happy because that is what I wanted to do.”

A line in the pre-chorus that resonated with Faith was “You bring me out of the lonely cave, you lead me into the light of life”. This is aligned to the prophecies she’s received where she’s “holding the torchlight to lead people out of darkness” doing so through her songs.

Faith shared that oftentimes, like many of us, we put up a front with people to feel accepted and to impress. Which is why as she shared about the line in the chorus which says, “I take off my mask and surrender all to you” I was moved as I had written about a similar theme in the first ever song I wrote.

Summarising nicely, Faith mentions how this was about God's challenge to her to let go and surrender no matter her current circumstance, asking God to take her, clean her, and fill her, letting His words overflow onto her life.

She hopes that through this song, people will have the words to pray or worship, and process their feelings and emotions. She hopes it would remind them that we are all children of God as we recall what God would want us to do in our lives. As Delphne closes, it truly is that song of beholding and looking up to God.

Creative ways to serve as a Christian at Awaken Generation

Being Christian Creatives
Hearing this, it was amazing for me to reflect on the design process for this song’s products. I was in awe of how God aligned what I interpreted so closely to what Faith felt about the different parts of the song without us meeting prior. As we began to discuss what it meant for us to be Christians in the creative arts, Faith and Delphne both shared some interesting perspectives.
“I think God wired us differently” Faith began, “God has given us different gifts to fulfil His purpose and call, and it’s through these platforms that He can speak to us.” With music especially, she expressed how it was important for us as Christians to discern the content we receive, and ensure we do not get consumed or overwhelmed by lyrics that may be contrary to kingdom values - “Music is very powerful”.

Giving us a broader view on the matter, Delphne shared “many people are impacted by arts, whether they like it or not…I think the beauty of creative arts is that God is the Creator, and through creative arts, we get to partner with God and create.” Relating to an earlier point, Delphne continued to share how she felt the arts express emotion on a different level to anything else. “Emotions are such a big part of God, and emotions are also a big part of mankind. Without the arts, how do you express, convey or receive emotions? It’s almost like there would be a gaping hole.”

In my own journey as Christian creative, this resonated with me as I’ve always felt that the arts could express so much more than we can comprehend. Similar to Faith as she started her career journey, it’s why I chose my diploma - because I wanted to use my artistic expressions to convey something that couldn’t be expressed otherwise. As Christian creatives however, Delphne leaves us with an apt reminder:

“If we just use our works for self expression, we are just conveying ourselves and what we think. But if we can really understand that we are the vessel, like a paintbrush in which God uses to give His messages, then we will see the gravity of the creative arts”.

As our discussion came to a close, the words authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty came to mind as we neared the end of our conversation - creativity residing not only in the arts but in our everyday life. If there is one thing 仰望 and this chat has taught me, is that we as Christian creatives should look up to God always in all we do. As Delphne puts it, as Christian creatives, we will always be caught between doing what the world wants us to do, and what is right by God’s will. Echoing her, Faith mentions to remember that it is not about us as we work - for the greatest commandments to love God before anyone else, and to love our neighbours, never revolve around us. So as we grow in our talents and gifts, let us remember, to always seek the Lord first and ask Him how we can steward them well.

Applications for the Awaken Generation Worship Mentorship School

Applications for the Awaken Generation Worship Mentorship School are open! If you would like to find out more, do check out https://www.awakengeneration.sg/school-eng. They also conduct public electives & worship nights, which are open to anyone. Follow them at @awakensg on social media platforms for latest updates, and if you’d like to further support them, you may do so  through streaming their music, monetary donations through the Gifting page on their website, and of course, by supporting the sales of the T-shirts and Keychains sold as a part of this collection.
Reflection Time
    1. What is creativity to me? How can I steward it in my life
    2. How can I partner with God to be a living vessel?
    3. What is my hope for my generation? (Pray about it)
      September 09, 2022 — Edwin Lim