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  • Alicia Tan

Come for the sound, stay for the church

Updated: Apr 8

by Mabel Leong

Assignment time in Berklee. (Credit: Mabel Leong)

When I was asked to contribute an article about myself, I realised it was my chance to share a simple message with all the eyeballs looking at this:

Come for the sound, stay for the church! The church’s livestream will serve a sermon to wherever you are and on whatever device you use to access it, and those who need this service will have it one way or another. For everyone else, I implore thee to return to your seats in the church. As a church sound operator who’s been involved in music and audio for years, I can assure you this: the feelings of the worship music and the sermon’s words immersing and encompassing you are the extra sauce that makes your church experience richer. The congregation is part of the sound that I don’t engineer but will immerse you in God’s Sunday message. Now if only I can make every phone go into Silent Mode at the press of a button. How did I become a Christian?

I was baptised at Barker Road Methodist Church under Pastor Malcolm Tan, Rev Noel Goh, and the benevolent eyes of my parents. My grandfather picked my ‘Christian’ baptism name, which is the name I now use everywhere: Mabel. The arduous work of my Sunday School teachers, notably Ms Wendy Lim, kept me coming back. They had the laughter, attention, and a love for sharing Christ’s love as fervent as my yearning for their Yakult treats after Sunday School. Growing up, I was drawn to the Sanctuary instead of the youth service: The intriguing organ, the hymnals in the pews, and the Holy Communion elements were more appealing than girls and boys circling in cliques. Most of all, it was just way better than the droll Bible reading and worksheets. How did I get here?

Music is and forever will be my passion. I’m sure my parents knew music would never be a ‘proper’ job, but they supported me all the way. They didn’t flinch when I asked if I could take my polytechnic Diploma in Music and Audio Technology further overseas, at Berklee College of Music. Those five years in America remain some of my life’s best years, and I’m thankful to them for the golden opportunity.

I glowed in L.A. and never ironed my shirts. (Credit: Mabel Leong)

I was in a godless mode throughout my time away from home. I didn’t feel any need to go to church or do anything ‘holy’. Even amid the painful breakup with my first boyfriend, I did not turn my eyes to Him or seek solace in Him. Such was the spiritual desert I was in, and I thought I was able to stand on my own two feet. I didn’t step foot into the church either when I returned to Singapore. I had no plans with God. Yet God had a plan for me. Out of the blue, Aunty Wendy called me for my PA and piano assistance for the Mandarin service. My ex-Sunday School teacher was now a worship leader. I never thought a church would require aid with its throng of worshippers, but the Mandarin Ministry lacks the digital natives (meaning the young and digitally savvy) to help a worship service function. It’s safe to say I would not have returned to the faith if I hadn’t heard the call. I started in the Music Room when Rev Daniel Terence began preaching at CCMC and moved to the chapel after COVID measures relaxed. I was happy to work again on the vintage analogue board in stained glass windows.

Credit: Raymond of Reimondo Seafood Porridge (Facebook)

I was formerly at a media company that gained infamy in 2021-22 for all the wrong reasons #iykyk (If you know, you know). Media production was my career for many years, but that was affected when COVID took jobs away. I joined the aforementioned company to keep my paycheck and keep despair at bay. I never foresaw the tumultuous events that were to come and was stuck. I didn’t know any feasible way out of unspeakable distress and unwanted drama. That was when CCMC’s position of AV executive popped up in my job search, and I was shocked to see it was at this same church I worshipped at! The JD said “strong audio skills are a must” and I went “Hey, that’s me!” If this isn’t a sign from God to come back to His house and settle down after the harrowing year, I didn’t know what else it could’ve been. Praise God that I was accepted for the role and am now in a well-rounded office filled with His grace.


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