I will never forget the phone call I received back in 2014 – on Christmas Day – and finding out that I was going to be part of Awaken Generation’s pioneer cohort.
On the other end of the line was Alarice Hong, who, with husband Calvin, started Awaken Generation (AG), a worship mentorship school and production house that not only grooms musicians in their craft but also in ministry and leadership.
The AG collective serves to “unlock the sound of worship” in our nation through original and locally written worship songs.
I started leading worship in my church at a young age. I always loved to sing, so soon after receiving Christ at 16, I joined the music ministry in my church.
During my schooling years at Singapore Polytechnic, I got involved in Campus Crusade, where I strongly felt called to full-time ministry. Not knowing what exactly to do about that calling and facing parental pressure to further my studies and pursue a “normal” career path after National Service, I put that thought aside for many years.
The thought stayed dormant until one day – four years into my first job out of college – when I came across an online video of Alarice sharing about Awaken Generation, announcing that registrations for its inaugural classes were open. This meant a part-time, year-long programme that emphasised kingdom principles and character building beyond the technical.
I was sold.
One audition turned into a life-changing year, and by 2016 I found myself back in AG for a second run, this time undergoing songwriting lessons – an interest I’d previously abandoned.
Two big things happened that year: I co-wrote the song Rend the Heavens as a class assignment and left my job to join the AG team – finally fulfilling my full-time calling.
Rend the Heavens was the cry of my own heart, both for myself and our generation. Personally, I had been struggling with my corporate job for years, the desire to serve the Kingdom still burning deep inside me.
I also had a great desire to see young people reach their fullest potential as they walked into their God-given destinies. I wanted to see God’s overwhelming presence in my life and the lives of those I led and served.
Rend the Heavens derives its title from Isaiah 64:1, the cry of the prophet Isaiah for his nation. It’s about renewed hearts of flesh and no longer of stone (Ezekiel 36:26), hearts renewed by the power of God falling upon us from heaven.
The verse also reminds us that while we desire for God to rend the heavens and come down to us, we too have to rend our hearts and turn to Him. This is where revival happens.
Rend the heavens and come down
Make your glory known
Overwhelm us with your presence
Weight of heaven’s call
As we rend our hearts
Let your Kingdom come
Alarice challenged me to rewrite the song midway as a corporate prayer song – replacing “I” with “we”. She felt that it was more than just the cry of an individual heart, but a song for the whole Body of Christ – a revival song that calls for a generation to arise and welcome Heaven to Earth.
Rend the Heavens was later selected to be produced as AG’s National Day 2017 release, part of a series of singles AG is releasing throughout the year.
After my first songwriting semester, I also took up Calvin and Alarice’s offer to join AG as their head of media development and missions. It was a long-awaited affirmation of my longing to serve God in full-time ministry – my own experience of Thy Kingdom Come in my life.
He knew. Even as I waited, He was preparing a new thing to be done in my life. And in His perfect timing, He renewed my dreams and revived my heart’s desires.
So we turn our hearts to God above
And we fix our gaze on the One we love