RiverLife Worship’s latest album Behold is the fruit of two years waiting on God and growing as a community of worshipers who have learnt to behold the Lord. City Radio’s Mervyn Lim
On July 3 this year, our friends at RiverLife Worship released their brand-new album, Behold, an album that reflects the heart of Riverlife Church. The team was met with many disruptions and uncertainties with the pandemic going on, but what has held true were the two words that God spoke to them: “Nothing’s changed.”
Penang-born Josh Yeoh, 37, a song leader at RiverLife Worship and one of the main producers of the album shares with us the team’s journey in creating the album.
CityRadio: How did the idea to record an album come about?
Josh Yeoh: RiverLife (Church) vision now is “to make disciples who behold Christ and reveal Him.” And so we have been on that journey of what it means to behold Jesus. So Lam Zhengxin and I, who lead the worship ministry together, felt that it was time to gather the RiverLife Worship community together to learn what it means to behold Christ.
When I first moved to Singapore, there was a visiting speaker who came and released a prophetic word over my life. He said, ”The Lord sent you to this church to bring forth a harvest of songs.” In my conversations with the Lord, I began to ask Him, “What does it look like to not just have a harvest of songs, but a harvest of songwriters?” I thought it would be a very powerful thing to see a community of songwriters that would write songs from the church and for the church.
And that was what we did: we gathered a group of song leaders from the main adult and youth congregations and held our first songwriting retreat. In that whole group, probably only one other person had written songs before. The point wasn’t to produce an album or to write songs, but to learn how to behold Jesus together.
But I was surprised because at that very first retreat, the Lord gave us three songs. For people who had never written songs before, this was amazing. We held another two songwriting retreats and that’s where the momentum started to build: we started encountering God together and we went deeper in the Word, in prayer and in worship. Most of the songs in the album were birthed forth from those retreats. But I think it all really started as a community learning to behold Jesus together.
CR: What is the meaning behind the naming of the album, Behold?
JY: First, the worship ministry is coming in line with where the Church is headed, that is we’re learning to behold Jesus and to reveal Him. The Scripture that really arrested our hearts was what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where he says that “as we behold Him, we are transformed from glory to glory.” So, for us the foundational thought is that if the goal of discipleship is to become more like Christ, and when we behold Him, we become more like Him, then we as a church really need to learn to behold Him together. So, I felt in this two-year journey, it was kind of a natural progression to calling the album Behold.
CR: Wow, two years! Yes, we understand that the album was initially supposed to be released in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. What was going through your mind at that time? How do you feel now when you look back at the past two years?
JY: I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long to produce an album. All the stuff I’ve done in the past took like two months. But this time round, just when we were ramping up rehearsals to record this last year in May or June, that’s when government introduced the Circuit Breaker. In the midst of all that, I was praying and asking The Lord, “What do you want us to do? Do You want us to stop or do we continue?” And He just gave me two words: “Nothing’s changed.”
So I took it that nothing had changed, so we pressed on towards the initial recording date. I told the team “I felt the Lord say, ‘Nothing’s changed.’ So let’s just do the album.” But everything changed! Everything got shut down!
To be honest, it was a few months of feeling a bit disoriented and wondered if I heard God wrong. By that point, we weren’t even thinking of the album anymore; we were trying to figure out a way to disciple the church and engage the people through all this shaking (not being able to gather in church on weekends, and pastors not being able to preach to their congregation in person).
When the album recording was finally revived, I asked God, “What did you mean by ‘nothing’s changed’? Everything has changed.”
But looking back on this journey, I realise He was doing a few things. One was when the album was finally released, the fruit of this journey was not so much that we finally had an album, but that the RiverLife Worship community was birthed and matured through this process. It hit me that if the Lord’s desire wasn’t for RiverLife to have an album, but for a community of worshippers to behold Him together, to awaken to the reality of His coming, then God was right. Nothing’s changed.
You can take two months to produce an album. But it takes more than that to produce a community. Through it all, we also saw how God miraculously provided for us. We finished our album on April 30 this year, a date God put in our hearts. On May 1, the government introduced new restrictions. So in a way, it was an encouragement to us that we were moving in the timing of the Lord.
When I felt that everything had changed, I was very discouraged. But after these two years, I’m recognising that the desire of The Lord was actually to have a people—not a product, not a project. What He wanted was a people who would actually embody what it means to behold Him. The journey was worth it.
CR: One of our favourite songs in the album is “After You”. Could you share with us the story behind the song?
JY: “After You” is a song written by Wilbert Tang and me. Wilbert is someone that I’ve been mentoring and journeying with for the past year and a half. He was actually supposed to go up to Penang for an internship. But a week before it was supposed to begin, his father suddenly passed away from a heart attack.
In the wake of the situation, Wilbert was trying to sort through a lot of what he was feeling and processing what was going on. We ended up having a conversation about the journey that he was on and what God was speaking to him. A lot of the song was based on that discussion that we had.
Being a university student and being in the “rat race” of Singapore, the Lord was actually telling him to slow down in the midst of all the shaking that is happening in his life, to come and rediscover who He is and to sit at His feet—this is what inspired the lyric in the chorus “Oh ,just to sit at Your feet, Oh, just to drink from the cup in Your hands”.
This song also ties in with Matthew 24 where it says that “the love of many will grow cold” and that “many will be offended” (Mt 24: 10-12).
There are many things, like the death of a loved one and all the suffering and trials that we go through that can cause our heart to feel offended at God. So one part of the song says, “Even in my questioning, even in my suffering, even when things don’t make sense, when I’ve come right to the end, find my heart without offence.” I feel that is a power prayer to pray to the Lord, that at the end of the day, it’s not about how “blessed” our life is, but how much we love Him and how much we know Him.
CR: You sang together with your wife, Shalom, in the song, “Purify”. And we understand that she was in her first trimester of her pregnancy at the time. What was the experience like for the both of you?
JY: Oh my gosh, it was havoc! At the time, we had just found out we were pregnant and obviously we weren’t quite sharing it with anyone yet. The first trimester was quite hard for Shalom, and we told a small group of friends to pray for us because we were quite concerned at the start. Her nausea —people call it morning sickness, but hers was day and night sickness. The week of the recording, was when it started to peak—she was feeling nauseated every single day.
We prayed about it, also because my wife was in charge of the set design. She had to oversee the entire set up but she was feeling so sick the whole time. And she had to sing this song but she couldn’t even talk without wanting to throw up. So we asked God, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ I felt then in my heart that God said that she was meant to sing this song.
In the few weeks leading up to the recording, there were only two days that she didn’t experience nausea: the day that we did the setup of the set, and the day she had to sing “Purify”. Of course, as her husband, it was very significant for me that we got to sing this together.
CR: What is the message that you would like everyone who listens to the album to receive?
JY: The one message is really what King David wrote in Psalm 27:4 :” One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”
I feel that that is an invitation from God—instead of looking at every other thing, instead of getting caught up with the shaking, the uncertainties and the troubles of living in a global pandemic—to slow down and to behold Him. And I think in doing that, He will purify us, He will make us worthy and He will cause us to walk in His ways.
We can’t behold God on the run. I think sometimes that’s what we do with our relationship with God, we spend time with Him for 15 minutes on the MRT and that’s it. Imagine building a marriage where you only talk to each other in transit. It doesn’t work that way. I pray that when you listen to the album from “Dawn” to “Dusk” (the first and last tracks of the album), the journey will lead you into that place of beholding Him for who He is.
Behold is available on all digital platforms. You can also catch the songs from the album on CityRadio.