Something I often hear Alarice say when she shares her story, is that she never knew she could sing. She never thought she could lead the people of God into worship. Well, let me tell you: This girl can sing.
You might already know Alarice Hong as the unofficial face of Awaken Generation, the woman behind the worship mentorship school that sprung up almost out of nowhere in 2015. Today, they’ve had almost 190 students from over 45 different Churches come through the doors for training, shaping and mentoring.
I remember when I joined AG last year and my cohort attended our very first Convergence – a monthly gathering of all the different AG streams – where Alarice led us in worship. As I’d never heard her sing live, I was immediately struck by the power of her voice and the authority she carried when she declared her praises to God.
And that’s the spirit of AG itself, really – our gifts are nothing without the anointing that flows from a heart that’s connected to Heaven.
Sure, she’s got a quality voice, but it was as if Alarice carried a song inside her. I was listening to a song birthed from the overflow of her deep relationship with God. If you were there, you’d know the song was coming out of that wellspring.
When Alarice sings, you can hear her heart for Jesus and the nations. And it’s this heart she carries into AG’s curriculum and how the school – and its students – serves the body of Christ.
Alarice, a self-professed “rojak” Singaporean, spent most of her life growing up in seven different countries before relocating to Singapore in 2010. Her husband Calvin, who pioneered AG with her, is no different – he spent almost 20 years in New Zealand before moving to Singapore sometime in 2011 in response to God’s call on his life.
Despite their personal background, or what might seem as “loose ties” to the country in the eyes of man, it is abundantly clear that Alarice and Calvin have opened their hearts to God and the nation of Singapore, to carry His heart for His people and to serve Him in this place.
In fact, Alarice once shared this in an interview with Selah: “Ever since I was a little girl, the Lord had tied my heart to this nation; I remember listening to a few National Day songs and weeping.”
And at her tender age, she’d already started on her music journey in Australia, where her dad was based for work, having been talent-spotted by her teacher in school. Little did she know, but her voice and her unexplainable heart for a country she’d never stayed in would one day be divinely woven together.
It’s hard to imagine how a natural performer like Alarice could ever feel insecure or uncertain about her talents. Even before AG, she was already professionally writing and recording music as a singer-songwriter.
Yet, I learnt through our friendship over the years that she’s had her own journey in learning how to take ownership of her God-given gifts and wield them for His Kingdom purposes.
The struggle with self-consciousness and doubt, uncertainties and fears, the desire for affirmation and the joy of being championed by a godly community are just some aspects of her story of stepping into her destiny as a worship leader and musician. It is certainly one that many on the same path can identify with.
Alarice would tell you herself that she would not be who or where she is today had it not been for the precious individuals in her life who were faithful to identify and call out her gifts.
People seldom take active steps to affirm those who have a God-given gift for something, because they do it so well that one assumes they already knew they were gifted at it and didn’t need to be told again. Serving in ministry, I’ve often been left to wonder if I completed my assignment excellently or not, because there was simply no response – positive or otherwise – from the people I was serving with.
But Alarice and the AG team are different, they don’t make those kind of assumptions with the people they meet. It is both their culture of honour – a huge thing in AG – as well as Alarice’s heart to affirm and champion others.
One of my favourite memories in our songwriting class was when each of us presented the original songs we had written for a mid-year assignment. Though it took time, Alarice and Ian (our other songwriting mentor) made an intentional effort at the end of each presentation, to affirm every individual and pray over each of us.
I recall one moment in particular where Alarice stopped one of the students after his presentation and said: “Doesn’t he have a great voice, guys? You have a great voice. Now, say it, ‘I have a great voice!’”
Alarice, Calvin, and the AG team never meet and mentor people for the sake of it. They’ve always been after something bigger than themselves. Thus it is not uncommon to hear words like “nations” or “generations” in their conversations.
The desire to disciple one generation for the sake of another yet unborn (Psalm 102:18) is so essential to the call of the school, that their syllabus includes a teaching titled “Thinking Generationally”. The heart and vision of this team is great, because they have caught of glimpse of the greatness of God’s own heart.
As John Piper puts it: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
Apart from the obvious work of running a school that cultivates a generation of true worshippers, Alarice and Calvin have also been intentional to involve AG in mission work throughout the year, fulfilling the missional call to disciple nations into becoming worshippers.
The couple believes that each nation carries an inimitable sound of worship – a heart cry unique to each people group – and they have set their hearts on unlocking every nation’s unique offering of praise to their King.
“Your name, and Your renown, O God, is the desire of our hearts.” (Isa 26:8)
AG desires to empower the children of God in the ministry of worship so that true worshippers may better execute His will wherever He plants them. In this season, God has stirred them to steward their skills and resources towards unlocking the sound of worship in the heart of this nation.
From the simple prayer of: “God, we will disciple an entire generation in this nation with You – for You – if that is what is on Your heart for us”, God has worked through AG to touch so many lives.
It is all God. The hallelujahs raised by AG have indeed been multiplied by a simple act of laying down their five loaves and two fishes (John 6:1-14). By their example, I am compelled to look beyond myself, and allow God to use my life for His greater purposes.
AG are my family, because they truly live as children of God and the Kingdom. And in worship with them – I am constantly reminded that I must do the same.
AG’s latest single, “Hallelujah (For the Broken)”
Awaken Generation 2018 Applications are now open. Early bird applications close November 19, 2017. All applications close December 17, 2017. Their streams include: Vocals, Keys/Guitar, Bass, Songwriting and Dance.