Songwriter Caroline Tjen is a creative with a no-holds barred approach to how God may use her talents for His glory. She shares how the Lord led her to create a line of fashion merchandise.
Many churchgoers all over the world have worshiped the Lord with the memorable and powerful modern day classic “Come Holy Spirit”. The creator of that song is Caroline Tjen, a singer-songwriter from CityWorship who continues to use her musical talent and voice to bless Christians with heartfelt songs such as “Till the End of Time” and her latest release, “Walking on Water (Trusting You Again)”.
Though she is best known for writing songs that resonate with worshippers, late last year, for the first time, Caroline released a limited-edition collection of vibrant sweaters and tumblers that carry a message.
“It all started with a playful conversation with God,” says the cheerful Indonesian in a Zoom interview. “God planted this idea in my head: to do something new, to make a statement through merchandise. In one of our cheeky prayer-conversations which I enjoy so much, He challenged me with this project.”
Caroline is full of the joy of the Lord, smiling and laughing as she talks about the work she has done. However, things have not always been smooth-sailing for her. She fell into depression after losing her mother a decade ago—she realised at that point that life does not always happen the way she desires.
“God delivered me from the depression in August 2019. After that encounter, I became determined to live courageously and to be a messenger of hope, faith and love to others. It is all by His grace and all for His glory,” she says. Step by step, she came out from the shadows of depression and returned to her calling of songwriting, singing and to telling the story behind the songs.
SHARING A MESSAGE OF HOPE
Venturing into merchandising was something she never thought she would do, and by saying yes to God’s challenge, Caroline found herself exercising the courage she promised herself she would have.
The product of choice was rhema-led too. Once, when she was in prayer, God spoke to her from Isaiah 61:3, “I lifted you from depression, I gave you a garment of praise in exchange of the heaviness you felt.” That gave Caroline the idea to create “garments of praise”.
She shared the idea creating a collection with her best friend, Gabrielle Chong, a fashion entrepreneur. “I told her, ‘This is something I never done before. Tell me it’s crazy. But if you’re interested, I would love to collaborate with you – teach me something. This is totally new to me’,” Caroline recounts.
“To my surprise, she exclaimed that she loved the idea of creating something usable with a short statement on it, to remind people of a message. And just like that, our collaboration began and we decided to make it a reality.”
The collaborators chose three statements to place on the merchandise: “Walking on Water”, “Sisterhood” and “Be Strong Be Courageous”.
“‘Sisterhood’ is something I strongly believe in,” explains Caroline. “Life is better when we are together. When we journey with each other, there is great strength. We will find that it is not such a lonely journey after all. It is not just about women helping other women – this support applies to men too! Let’s celebrate each other’s uniqueness and the progress we each make in life.”
“Walking on Water” is the title of a song that Caroline released in 2021. “It is about trusting God in the unknown and uncertainties,” she says. “When the storm comes, are we going to look at the natural circumstances around us, or to focus and fix our eyes on Jesus? Only when we do the latter, we can experience the supernatural, the presence of peace, and miracles.”
The third phrase is the title of her upcoming song “Be Strong and Be Courageous”, a song that Caroline hopes will strengthen the hearts of the discouraged when they listen to it.
“This phrase is something I preach to myself a lot,” she admits. “I tell myself, ‘God is with me, He will never forsake me. I have no fear because You are here.’ When I sing the song, I am really preaching to myself. I hope to release the song on the one month anniversary of my dad’s passing.”
Caroline’s father went to be with the Lord early in January this year.
PUT ON A GARMENT OF PRAISE
The Caroline Tjen Merchandise line comprises a range of sweaters bearing the words, either in embroidery or rose-gold foil. There is also a line of tumblers printed with the same phrases.
The best-selling item in the collection is the Sisterhood sweater. Women bought them as gifts for their friends for Christmas, and some even took photos together in the matching sweaters. “Girls agree with the Sisterhood slogan,” laughs Caroline. “They are not embarrassed to admit that they need one another.”
“One customer gifted a ‘Be Strong Be Courageous’ tumbler to someone going through a rough patch. She posted a picture of the tumbler with a comment that this was the very message that she really needed at that moment in time,” she recalls. “What’s most amazing is that she is a non-believer, and the message still spoke to her.”
Through this latest step of faith that Caroline has taken, she is experiencing God’s call on her life in a new way. “My life is all about being transformed daily, to be more like Him,” she shares. “In this season, I want to practice being courageous and to position myself to do new things, which currently means bringing His message through merchandise. So through the collection, I pray that both Christians and non-Christians will see, remember and be encouraged by the statements on them.”
It has been an eye-opening experience for Caroline, going through the process of developing her own merchandise right down to the packaging and the seals. “I also learned to pack the parcels by hand,” she says, adding, “But for now, I have not covered my business costs, so please support me! Haha!” You can still purchase her tumblers, as well as limited pieces of the “Sisterhood” sweater in dusty pink and the “Walking on Water” sweater in teal.
Despite the risks she has taken obeying God’s call to create this line of merchandise, Caroline readily encourages others to step out in faith if they receive a similar call. “Stay open and courageous, and as colourful as you can! Never be afraid to try new things.”
Speaking of new things, Caroline is gearing up for the release of two new singles. The first is”Be Strong Be Courageous” on 18 February, which she wrote “to commemorate my Dad’s one-month anniversary of being ‘promoted to heaven’,” she says.
After that, on 13 March, Caroline and her sister Natalie will release another single “The Battle Is The Lord’s”. “This song commemorates our Mom’s 10th anniversary of being promoted to Heaven.”
The limited-edition Caroline Tjen Merchandise is available for sale via Caroline’s Instagram and Facebook pages. You can still purchase her tumblers, as well as very limited numbers of the Sisterhood sweater in dusty pink, the Walking On Water sweater in teal and the Be Strong, Be Courageous sweater in black.