Would you gift someone with a song and a word in season this Christmas?
Salt&Light // December 22, 2021, 12:41 am
Ryan Kong's HeartDriven music label has produced postcards that encourage us to experience what "God with us" truly means this Christmas. All photos courtesy of Ryan Kong.
“The birth account of Jesus all sounds so romantic, giving birth under the starlit sky, a silent night, surrounded by animals. But after experiencing childbirth, I see through a completely different lens,” says mother of two, Amie Kong, 33.
“In our day and age, not having access to medical care and a well-equipped facility when you’re about to give birth is unthinkable! But, yet, that is precisely the setting that God intentionally chose to introduce the Messiah to the world.”
The sacrifice and simplicity of that first Christmas inspired Amie and her musician husband, Ryan, 35, to design a gift of song and scripture to bring the focus back to God’s gift of Jesus this Christmas.
A set of eight hand-illustrated scripture postcards entitled Fig Tree | Victory are meditations on the songs in Ryan’s music album of the same name, released under the label HeartDriven Music.
The album, born of the “fig tree moments” described in Habakkuk 3:17-19 where “we may not yet see victory and breakthroughs through answered prayers” during life’s low points, was released in 2020 at the height of global panic over the looming Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2018, God had impressed on Ryan a specific date for the album release: April 2020.
The timing was something the Kongs did not understand when God had spoken to Ryan in 2018. They understand it now.
“‘Fig tree moments’ are those in-between moments when you are not healed; when there is a global crisis but you are still trusting.”
April 2020 was when the Circuit Breaker was announced – a drastic measure undertaken by the Singapore Government to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“It finally hit home. The message of this album is about waiting while not knowing what is going to happen,” said Ryan in an interview with Salt&Light when the album was released last year.
“‘Fig tree moments’ are those in-between moments when you are not healed; when there is a global crisis but you are still trusting.
“They are the autumn and winter seasons of life when there is a deepening thirst and a greater aching for more of God, not because the circumstances have changed, but because there is an awakening in your heart,” he told Salt&Light.
This Christmas, the Kongs enlisted the help of Ryan’s cousin, Arunee, who is also the videographer for their music videos, to illustrate a postcard collection of verses as a meditative accompaniment to the songs in the album. A QR code at the bottom of each postcard leads to the testimony behind each song.
Ryan, Amie and Arunee share with Salt&Light their vision for this unusual gift of song and scripture.
How did you arrive on the idea of this Fig Tree | Victory postcard collection?
Ryan: We recognise that God can speak to people in different ways – the idea was that God’s message can be shared in a multidimensional form to engage the audience more deeply and meaningfully.
The essence behind our Fig Tree | Victory album is the message of hope amidst a time of crisis; a resolve to rejoice in the Lord regardless of how difficult life’s circumstances may be.
We did not want the message of each song in the album to be lost, because this is God’s Word in season.
Each song in the album has an anchor Bible verse. We wanted listeners to be able to connect the song with the Word and felt that the best way to do so would be visually.
Amie: Each song also has a testimony behind how it was written. We wanted to give a glimpse into the songwriter’s own journey such that listeners could better relate and find encouragement, especially if they might be going through similar challenges in their lives.
We thought of this idea to print postcards that feature the anchor verse (visual) on the front; at the back we have the QR code which links to the music video of the song (audio and visual) and the accompanying song story. Essentially this allows the song to be presented/gifted in a tangible manner for outreach or encouragement.
Arunee: The testimony, the song, the verse, and the typographic art all come together to convey a message of hope and encouragement – something that you would want to gift or share with a loved one or keep as a timely reminder.
You may be surprised at how the same verse/message can speak to you at very different seasons of your life and may resonate differently with each person.
Why is this project especially relevant this Christmas?
Ryan & Amie: The past two years have seen many people go through losses of health, loved ones, livelihoods, social connections. There is a sense of weariness, helplessness and despair as many of these circumstances are beyond one’s control.
People may also feel more isolated and disconnected as gatherings are curtailed and festivities cannot be celebrated as they used to be. Family traditions and creating such shared experiences now need to take on a different form.
“The story of Jesus tells of a personal God who is willing to step into our world, to go through the same struggles which we face.”
On the flip side, this season has also forced us to become more intentional in our interactions with one another.
It has bought to the forefront a deliberate need to distill what really matters in life.
This Christmas season is a signpost for us to make time for thanksgiving. It is easy to be engulfed by the barrage of bad news daily of things that are “not as it should be”. We need to be mindful to fix our minds on things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise”. (Philippians 4:8)
Christmas 2021 is so special because we are living in such a unique time in history where lives and world systems have been disrupted so drastically. The message and reality of hope in Christ’s birth are needed all the more.
The story of Jesus tells of a personal God who is willing to step into our world, to go through the same struggles which we face, even to the point of death, that our relationship with God may be redeemed and restored.
The picture of Christ being born in the unsanitary conditions of a stable because there was no room for Him tells us that this is a God who is able to identify with many in this world, against the backdrop of the pandemic, who have no access to hospital beds or healthcare.
Arunee: Christmas is not just about the nativity scene. It’s about God’s desire to restore that relationship with humankind from the very beginning (Genesis) till Jesus ultimately fulfilled that restoration on the cross.
God chose to do this in the most personal way possible by entering our world.
What message do you hope to deliver?
Ryan: People are going through very real struggles and searching for hope and meaning during this prolonged season of uncertainty.
Our wish is that people will be able to truly experience what “God with us” means, and experience the victory that they have in Christ in the midst of their struggles. God Himself suffers with us and understands our pain.
“God with us” is a message that endures beyond the Christmas season.
Find out more about the postcards here.
Purchase the postcard collection (Set of 8 postcards with envelopes at $20) online here, or in person from now till Dec 26, 2021, at:
Christmas [email protected] Singapore,
Basement 1, Art D’Vent booth,
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