In this new series, City News goes backstage to chat with some of CityWorship’s new faces. We chat with Germaine Chua about her journey to becoming a worship leader.
1 Timothy 4:12 reads, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Germaine Chua is one of the youngest song leaders in CityWorship, City Harvest Church’s worship ministry. Leading thousands in a congregation to enter into the presence of God may be a Herculean task to most, but 22-year-old Germaine does a stellar job.
When she’s not volunteering with CityWorship, Germaine is studying for a degree in psychology at the Singapore Institute of Management. She also works at an early childhood intervention centre where she helps young children with special needs to adapt to mainstream schools.
Germaine first came to CHC when she was 13 and gave her heart to Jesus during Easter a year later. She has made it a habit to say yes to Jesus, and that had led her on an adventurous journey that culminated in serving in CityWorship.
CN: In CHC, every member is a minister. Can you share with us your journey?
Germaine: In 2012, I encountered God in my zone camp and realised that I have a desire to teach people about Him. I told someone about that desire, and that person encouraged to become a connect group coordinator or CGC. CGCs are the hands of the cell group leader, gathering the people, making new friends feel welcome and ushering them into their new Christian lifestyle.
I ran with the vision of being a CGC and worked for it. In about two years, I became a CGC and am still serving as one today. Together with the cell group leaders, we plan events and outreach for new friends and help out in zone camps.
Not long after I become a CGC, I started serving in the praise and worship team in my cell group, which meant that I led praise and worship for monthly zone meetings.
Another thing that is close to my heart is people with special needs, so I tried to make time to serve in JAMs Service (CHC’s ministry for people with special needs). However, I was also involved in Emerge (CHC’s youth ministry) so I didn’t have much time for JAMs, but I enjoyed my short stint in JAMs Service. Now looking back, my time spent serving there was what led me to my current job where I work with young kids with special needs.
My first step into the Emerge Worship team was when Emerge held an audition for new singers. I gave it a shot, without expecting much. To my surprise, I got in!
A few years later, I started serving as a backup vocalist in the main service, and that was when I was added to the CityWorship singers’ WhatsApp group chat. That was actually how I discovered that I was now part of CityWorship! (laughs) In 2021, I started leading praise and worship at the main service.
Looking back, it was clear how God was present with me in every step I took. He put my willingness and my love to sing to good use for His Kingdom. Over the years, He led me to lead praise and worship in progressively larger and larger settings, and that helped with my nerves when the time came for me to serve in the main service.
What a wonderful example of radical obedience. Was it all smooth-sailing? Did you encounter any challenges?
I feel that serving God as a singer is my calling. God has given me a gift, so I should really steward and multiply it, instead of burying it in the ground. For this reason, I invested in my gift by attending external singing lessons.
I didn’t start out with proper singing techniques. I would literally just open my mouth and sing. It was during singing practice that I realised I had so much to learn in terms of technique. On top of coping with school, work, the cell group and worship ministry, singing practice was tough because it takes up a lot of energy and brainpower.
Hearing feedback about my technique also caused me to be a little worried in the beginning. But I came to realise that worship doesn’t have to be perfect.
Serving on stage also meant that you became a prominent figure in the church. Was that a problem for you?
When I first realised that people had started recognising me because I was a song leader, I was pressured because I felt that I had a responsibility to be a role model to them, to be like Jesus. I would overthink and it became very tiring mentally. But now, I’m convinced that I should be like Jesus not for others, but because of Who He is.
You have a lot on your plate. What are some Scriptures that you hold on to when the going gets tough?
One is Matthew 6:4 which reads, “that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly”. I’m reminded that I don’t have to be pressured to do good deeds for others to see, I can do it in private for God’s eyes only. God knows the intentions of my heart and that is enough for me.
Another verse is Colossians 3:23. It reminds me that in whatever I do, I work at it like I am working for the Lord, not for man.
What do you think is the most important quality in leading worship?
I think we must be real and authentic. When I am on stage, I am the same person that I am before God during my quiet time. I know that I don’t have to be flawless—I can be anxious, filled with worries, or stressed but I can still be used by God. Being real allows me to be more relatable to people around me. I can love and care for them, as God does for the imperfect me.
When I enter worship, I surrender all my thoughts to God. I would tell Him, “God, I leave everything to You. I pray for You to come and use me, speak through me, and do what You need to do.” And I would just sing.
Do you have any advice for those who lead worship?
Don’t be afraid to listen to feedback. Do what you can to work on your singing technique, without being stressed. The presence of God will come because we are willing to lay aside our fears and step out of our comfort zone to be used by Him. God will use you; He will move in and through you. Have faith!
One thing we are curious about is how worship leaders worship in their own quiet time. What is your private worship time like?
In my worship time alone with God, I would sing while playing simple chords on my piano. I would start with a worship song, and at times, new lyrics will come forth and it becomes a new song. The song then becomes a revelation for me in that particular season of my life.
Just a few months ago, I felt like Jesus was far away from me and that my cries went unheard. As I played on my piano, I sang out to Him. And as I sang, it dawned upon me that He is still with me and that He still sees me. It felt as though the lyrics were deposited by God into my heart. I ended the song by confessing that I would keep running back to Jesus, regardless of my situation, that His grace is sufficient for me.
It’s like I wrote my own psalm, like the ones David wrote to the Lord. The word of God is the source of my inspiration.
You are one bold Christian! How is it that you are so courageous?
With the encouragement of friends at church, I have become used to the feeling of getting out of my comfort zone. Being out of my comfort zone is my new comfort zone!