Zann Foo has spent many years serving God in various capacities, now as a worship leader. She shares how God used a difficult time in her life to guide her into His purpose.
She has a pure voice that leads the City Harvest Church congregation into the presence of God, but for Zann Foo, the purity of one’s heart is the most important thing.
As a young girl, she took singing lessons at a music school. It was her music teacher who first brought her to church when she was 14. “Initially I joined church because of my friends,” she admits. “But during my first youth camp, I encountered God.”
She adds, “From that moment, I really wanted to know God more and serve Him in any way I could.” She began as a connect group coordinator, doing supporting duties for her cell group from printing song sheets to being the birthday in-charge, to leading praise and worship during cell group meetings. When she was 19, she began leading a youth cell group.
Zann first led worship in a service-style setting during School of Theology in 2016. “I thought it was time to serve God in other ways beyond cell group, so I auditioned for the SOT band,” she recalls. “And after SOT, I auditioned for BV (backup vocals) and I started serving as worship leader for Emerge meetings.” Emerge is CHC’s youth movement.
Today, Zann has “graduated” to leading worship on the stage during the main CHC service, but she is quick to say that she is still learning. “I really grew from the guidance of more experienced song leaders, especially Annabel Soh and Brother Poh (Teo Poh Heng),” she says. “From them I learned about the importance of growing both in skill and in the spiritual aspect. Until today, I am still trying to learn as much as I can from more experienced worship leaders and I would ask them how I can improve.”
Being a worship leader comes with challenges, although most make it look so effortless. Zann says, “At the start, it was a real challenge trying to sing on pitch as well because during my quiet time, it’s mostly freestyle and singing off-key since it’s between me and God,” she laughs. “I also wanted to learn to play the guitar while singing, but it was really difficult so I asked the help of the Holy Spirit, as well as my friends, to teach me.”
THROUGH CHALLENGES, SHE EXPERIENCED GOD
Renowned Christian songwriter Chris Tomlin once said, “The worship leader God is after is the one whose heart is captured by Him.”
For Zann, this captured heart came about through two events in her life. She shares how, in Secondary Three, the students in her class were asked to create a vision board for their future careers. It was then that seeds of ambition were beginning to sprout in her—the need to excel and achieve above and beyond all that she planned for in life.
When she sat for her O Levels, Zann had every confidence that she would enter junior college, particularly because she had done very well in her preliminary exams. However, her world came crashing down when she did not get the results she expected. Upset with the situation, she questioned God as to why it all happened.
“I feel that God was dealing with my pride and ambitions right from the start, though it did take me awhile to realise that. Pride was my greatest weakness,” she admits. “But it was also through this situation—after many prayers—that I was firm that psychology was what God wanted me to pursue. Ultimately, God was still so good to me despite my circumstances.”
As it turned out, her results allowed her to enroll in Temasek Polytechic’s Diploma in Psychology Studies. “After that, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from NTU, and I am currently awaiting admission to a Master programme.”
Zann lights up when she talks about her career. The 26-year-old is an associate psychologist with a non-profit organization, looking after clients with or suspected of having mental health conditions, as well as their caregivers and family members. It brings her joy to help others going through difficult emotional and mental challenges.
It was an incident in 2019 that confirmed God’s call for her to enter this career. A friend whom Zann never knew struggled with mental and emotional issues took her own life. Zann had spoken to her friend the night before, and in the morning, discovered her friend’s suicide.
This plunged Zann into a dark season filled with regret. Her insurmountable emotions threatened to engulf her daily. “I felt like I was wrestling God in prayer because I was so overwhelmed with emotion and regret that I should have done more for my friend. I asked God why this happened to me and why I had to go through the whole ordeal? The pain was too difficult to bear.”
One day, when she was watching videos of a female pastor from the US moving powerfully in prayer, casting out demons, spirits of depression and other sicknesses. She went to the bathroom, broke down before God and asked Him to help heal her inside out.
“I really felt God was trying to reach out to me,” Zann shares. “I began repenting for all the thoughts I should not have had in the first place, words I uttered in grief and pain. I also renounced the demonic hold that tied me down with all the unwanted thoughts that prolonged my grief and pain.”
Slowly but surely the breakthrough, the breakthrough came. She began to heal: the pain eased and she began shifting her mind and thoughts toward the things of God. Zann recalls having to surrender to God daily as she allowed Him to do His work in her heart. It was through this experience that she was convicted and reassured that her purpose was to help others through her work.
“It was when I was at my most broken state, when I wasn’t my best self, when I was hurting, during my darkest, rawest moments that God had met me. The more time I spent with Him, the more healing and restoration began to take place in my life,” she said. “It was such a blessing to know so firmly that Jesus is enough for me.” As she leaned on God, she began to feel God revealing more of Himself to her and His presence was tangible when she was most vulnerable. She knew that having God by her side, she could conquer anything.
WORSHIP FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
Zann describes her relationship with God as one of father-daughter and friends. In her quiet time, she allows herself to be completely vulnerable. Other times, she belts out worship songs at the top of her lungs and utter prayers out loud whilst driving to work.
“You don’t need any bombastic words to speak to Him,” she says. “It’s always the simplest and sincerest of prayers, that’s how I talk to God and I know he hears me.”
Being a worship leader can put a Christian in a difficult position. “A lot of time, in any worship ministry, people tend measure their success through compliments on how well one engages the crowd or how well they sing, how many hands were lifted,” she describes. “To me, all that is vanity.”
Zann admits that initially, she was focused on all those things. Now she makes a conscious effort to prepare herself before she goes on stage by spending time with God in prayer. In doing so, she has experienced a shift in her mindset and how she views serving the Lord with her gifts.
She says she loves to watch God do His work through her as she sings for Him during service. “It’s a privilege when I see how God sets people free, heals the broken-hearted, stirs up hope and faith in the hearts of His people, and when people respond to God and draw near to Him,” she adds.
“Being able to witness many responding to accept Jesus while serving on stage is a reminder for me to never take the opportunity to serve God for granted,” she shares. “The hard work preparing the songs, practising the parts, attending music practice—it’s all worth it to see people come into the kingdom of God!
“At the end of the day, I’m only but a vessel to serve God and someday when I meet him, I just hope God will let me know I’ve done well, his good and faithful servant. Jesus is enough for me.”