Praising God with song

Ervin TanFeature

Christopher Simm (middle) and the New Wineskin community during a Praise & Worship session.
Photo: Christopher Simm.

Praising God with song

Christopher Simm praises God with his voice through his role as the ministry coordinator for the youth worship ministry, New Wineskins.

My parents, who are both converts, formed my faith life. In particular, my father shared that he grew up as a Methodist and had mixed feelings about where the Lord was leading him. My grandmother once told him, “Food can feed our human bodies, but what feeds our spiritual bodies can only be found out there.”

He recalled this as he was walking around and chanced upon the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels where he was prompted to enter. There, he met a priest who invited him for Mass despite knowing that he was not a Catholic. This experience gave him a desire to know God even more and he subsequently was received into the Catholic Church in 2005.

My father’s conversion story is something I hold dearly in my heart and is often my source of hope in my faith journey. It also sparked a greater desire for me to seek God and serve Him.

Service through music

My ministry began when I was asked to sing at an event organised by my parish, the Church of St Mary of the Angels, which allowed me to experience the joy of serving the Lord through praise and worship. Thereafter, I joined the newly formed youth worship ministry, New Wineskins, which serves at church retreats and events.

I subsequently accepted the invitation to take on the role of ministry coordinator for the community. Worshipping the Lord with like-minded people in one voice was a truly heartening experience, and I am encouraged by the words of Saint Augustine, “He who sings well, prays twice.” I am responsible for organising ministry meetings, practices, and formation sessions for the youth to deepen their faith. Although many youths are not quite comfortable with serving through praise and worship, I am still hopeful that we will stir their hearts and encourage more to join our ministry.

I remember a session at one of our parish’s youth retreats where I could truly feel the Lord’s presence moving in the hearts of both the service team and the participants. It was just a 15-minute session, yet the Lord led us to lay down our pride and worship Him freely with open arms.

God’s guidance

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Lord continued to move the hearts of the youth. Though live music was disallowed then, we did not stop worshipping Him.

Instead, we switched to virtual platforms that allowed us to continue singing and praising Him. It was through this ordeal that I grew to learn that God truly works in wondrous ways. Even though worship felt different, I somehow experienced God’s presence through those times of worship. God still wanted to move in the hearts of the people who listened to our music, and through the hearts of us who sang praise to His glory.

Once safe distancing measures were eased, we were invited to lead worship once again in an online seminar organised by our parish’s youth office.

Apart from the gift of music, the Lord has also blessed our ministry with the gift of hospitality, enabling us to build relationships within our ministry and with the people we serve alongside. I am affirmed and moved by the people who have joined us for every worship session.

Growing in service

My own relationship with the Lord has grown deeper, and I often see my time of worship as an offering of personal prayer to the Lord. With each session, I am heartened to feel the Lord touching the hearts of everyone present. Ultimately, I am reminded of how the Lord is worthy of our praise and how we are all called to praise Him.

St Francis of Assisi said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” Therefore, as we desire to grow in our own faith, there is only so much we can do by ourselves if we do not put what we have learnt into service for God and His Church. He calls us to share the graces and blessings that we have received with others.

No gift is too small in the eyes of the Lord and every little act of service can help the Church to grow. The Lord invites each and every one of us to share His glory, and praise Him in everything that we do.

Let us remember what St Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: “Work hard and willingly, but do it for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of men” (Ephesians 6:7). Let us joyfully go and serve the Lord in ways He has called us to. 

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