AN INTERVIEW WITH ESTHER LO
What is life like for you in Singapore?
Esther Lo: Life is pretty simple. I go to school, work on school assignments, work part-time, meet people, go to church, lead cell group and lead worship - living the dream!
How did you feel when you found out you had won the best new worship song throughout all of Asia?
I couldn’t believe it… There are so many talented songwriters in Singapore and I honestly didn’t think my song would stand a chance so I didn’t have any expectations. Although I don’t actually think it’s the best worship song in Asia, now that I’ve won I’m just so blown away, so grateful for and so encouraged by this opportunity. This is crazy!
How did you write ‘Perfected’ and why?
In 2016 I was a songwriting student at Awaken Generation, a part time worship mentorship school with the amazing Calvin and Alarice Hong. We were assigned to write about either one of the themes - ‘renewal’ or ‘unchanging God’. I went with the former. I remembered the prophetic words spoken over my life about my songs being able to minister healing to others. Then, I thought about the people in my life who went through depression and/or who were simply bound by fear (including myself). The main inspiration for this song came from 1 John 4:18,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
The heart behind this song is to minister healing and to restore identity.
God wants love to be perfected in us.
Perhaps our healing really takes place when we let the loving nature of God rule our hearts, when God is truly Lord over our lives.
God is a Perfect Father, who created us for that perfect love. We were created to abide in his perfect love for us, not strive to be perfect. We’re not singing the song of the perfected and flawless, we are singing the song of the redeemed. He loves us perfectly no matter what! If we come into terms with that, that it was while we were yet sinners Christ loved us and will continue to do so despite our failings. Maybe then, life wouldn’t be so scary, lonely, filled with strife and misery. Maybe then, we can be free.
The story of your church is pretty mind blowing, can you tell us about the journey of faith that Cornerstone Church has been on?
The name of my church is Cornerstone Community Church, Singapore. It started way back in 1989. Pastor Yang and his wife, Pastor Daphne felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to start a new congregation, so they did by faith.
When they found a location for the church, it was nothing like anyone expected it to be. It was a nightclub, with cages on the stage for strippers and pole dancers. Pastor Yang felt an urgency and leading from God to buy it - so he did. It was financially straining as they didn’t have much those days. Pastor Yang, his wife and a small group of other people sowed into the vision of buying the place for the church by selling their cars, downgrading their houses, gave offerings to buy the auditorium. Then, slowly but surely they started to buy one unit at a time in the building, and it’s become what is it today.
I’m so thankful for my senior pastor, Pastor Yang and I want to honour him for labouring and pioneering in faith, the foundations of what we have become as a church today. I cannot imagine being established anywhere else than Cornerstone, and I’m so thankful for this church and the leadership God has raised up in this house.
I’d also like to thank and honour Pastor Andrew Yeo, my worship pastor for believing in me and guiding me in my journey with God and in worship leading. I’m so thankful to be under his leading, I couldn’t ask for more.
Singapore is known for it’s awesome food, what is your favourite food and why?
Oh no, this is a really tough one. I literally crave for very different things everyday. For now, I would say Fried Kway Teow which is a Chinese dish. I’m so blessed to live in a country where there’s a variety of cultures, races and amazing food! If you haven’t, you MUST try Chicken Rice - be sure to give Singapore a visit!
Your voice is incredible, does singing just come naturally to you, or is it something you’ve had to work on?
I’ve always loved to sing from what I remember (even though personally I wouldn’t say that I was good at it though, I never really believed in myself). But even as a kid i had many open doors and affirmations of my singing, nonetheless. Both before and after I was saved at 12.
Because of those affirmations, i was encouraged to sing more and i started leading worship in cell group when I was 13. I wanted to improve so i would search for lessons online, consult people whom i know sings well, even till today. I’m constantly open and hungry to hone my skills.
I think it's amazing how God affirms us through people. I wondered, how did they see greatness in me? How did they call it out? It was as if they knew i was going to be who i am today. I guess that is the beauty of affirmation. It’s not just compliment but its prophetically seeing the gem in someone and calling it out into being. I’m so grateful for the people who believed in me and walked with me in this journey. I wouldn’t be here today because of their love and support.
And if I could just add one more thing…
I’d just like to encourage those reading this to be generous with affirmation. Let’s not hold back the good thoughts we think toward others, instead be free to express them to encourage them. Prophecy is encouragement! You never know what God will do in another person’s life through your affirmation.
So I think singing for me is both natural and something i had to work on. I think it’s so important that we continuously better our skills, with the heart of wanting to give God our best offering. Not for anything or anyone else.
I feel that we must learn to submit our gifts to the Father. Our gifts thrive the most only when we’re in submission to God. Peter’s boldness was havoc without Jesus, but under Jesus it was his greatest asset.
I love singing, but i love seeing people encounter Jesus more. People don’t have to come and hear me sing, but if they do come to me they must encounter Jesus. Let our lives and our gifts point to the One who gave us those gifts. May our lives bring praises to our Father.
What was working with Luke Munns as a producer like?
It was fascinating! I mean, I think many of us recognise him originally from the ‘One Way Jesus’ Hillsong era, and now as a successful Worship Artist and Music Producer in his own right. I couldn’t believe I had the chance to work on my music with Luke. It was a really pleasant time working together and I learnt so much in the process.
I’m thankful that he understands the musical direction that I had in my heart for Perfected. Even though I didn’t necessarily have the words to communicate it, I’m glad he had the same thoughts about the song. The recording process was really efficient as well, I remembered that we even had some extra time left. And overall Luke and his team are just really fun-loving people and a joy to be around. That makes it so much more awesome working with them.
Did you receive any significant encouragement in the mentoring breakfast session?
I was encouraged to pursue my call in God and realised that people can have really different approaches when it comes to songwriting/producing. It fascinated me to be exposed to such different, but great methods.
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
I think it has to be chilling, talking about life, music and ministry while we had breakfast together. I like to get to know and connect deeper with the people who’re in my life. So I feel like we did manage to know each other better while we hung out.
What do you dream of doing with the gifts God has given you in the future?
It’s my dream to be an artist who “fills the earth” with His glory and goodness through music. I also want to lead worship and write songs for as long as possible. I’d like to see people encounter God through my music and for the songs bring comfort, strength and revelation to those who listen to them. I also have a heart to mentor and give (I love to share!), to see others rise up to their call and destiny in God.
Some encouragement would be:
Stay in family, don’t be stingy when it comes to praise/affirmation, be patient toward God and the call He has upon your life, be brave about your dreams and be bold to pursue them, learn to celebrate the success of others, and its people over process, relationship over opportunity. :)