Healer at Heart: The remarkable transformation of Reverend Noreen Siu Richards from party-goer to passionate preacher

By Joseff Musa
Jul 03, 2024

Noreen Siu Richards steps out of her airy apartment in Tai Tam Reservoir Road, a short drive from steep, sun-scorched trails filled with hikers, to offer thirst-quenchers to our production team. A 2 pm interview and shoot in the blazing Hong Kong heat is a difficult place to be glamorous, but she accepts the challenge. Back indoors, her powder is set, her cheekbones are lifted and her eyeliner is definitely not creasing as she power walks down the hall.

“Let me show you this red Valentino. Beautiful, isn’t it? This isn’t from the latest collection, but I’d still wear it,” she shares excitedly as she frolics among the rack of designer clothes. Her inexhaustible effervescence in full flow, she then turns to a very different line-up of personal treasures: “And right here is my library – a collection of my thesis and inspirational books. The bible if you may.”

This is a relatively new terrain for her. In a remarkable transformation, Siu Richards has traded in her former life of fashion and frivolity for a calling to help the sick and impoverished through her Hong Kong-based ministry, New Wine Ministries. The second daughter of the late philanthropist tycoon Siu Ming and Julie Siu, who still heads the Women’s Welfare Club (Western District), was once a fixture on the social circuit, spending her evenings at glitzy balls and her afternoons lunching with the city’s elite. But a profound spiritual awakening while she and her architect husband, David Richards, were living in Monaco in the 1990s set her on a disparate path.

After settling in London, she discovered Kensington Temple London City Church in 2002, which later in 2008 inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Christian Ministry at the Ecclesia Theological Seminary in Tuen Mun. Though she describes it as the “hardest thing she has ever done”, the five-year degree course was completed in an impressive three years, igniting her passion to establish New Wine Ministries Hong Kong in 2011. ‘Reverend Noreen’, as she is now known, works with cancer patients and asylum seekers and refugees, promoting inner healing and community fellowship.

“It’s a complete 180 from my former life,” she admits. “This is the last profession I would expect myself to be in, but I’ve never been more fulfilled. Applying my ‘passion for compassion’ to helping those in physical and mental anguish is my true calling.”

From Fashion to Passion

Siu Richards is a woman of many talents and passions. After earning her MBA in Business Finance and Accounting from the University of British Columbia, she embarked on a career in banking. However, her teenage dream was to become a high-fashion boutique owner, which she went on to fulfil.

“As a teenager, I took a special interest in fashion, and in my career-goal essay at pre-university level, I wrote that I would like to become a high-fashion boutique owner in womenswear and travel to high-fashion centres in Italy and France,” she says with a smile.

True to her word, she would open two maternity-fashion boutiques in Hong Kong called Lady Madonna, then the Primadonna women’s high-fashion boutiques, as well as a franchised boutique, Alma, in the mid-1980s. Years later, witnessing the physical and emotional pain of her brother, who died of cancer, gave her pause to rethink her career and life choices. “My brother’s battle with cancer in itself was enough to motivate me to help others,” she stresses.

Forgiveness and Faith

Her name has now become synonymous with compassion, resilience and an unwavering commitment to helping those in need. She is a firm believer in the power of inner healing – the healing of damaged emotions or memories through unlocking the hurt in the innermost part of our lives and forgiving ourselves and those who have wounded us. She recounts the story of one man with diabetes who went from being in constant pain, requiring four insulin injections per day and losing his sight, to experiencing significantly less pain and needing far less medication after undergoing inner-healing sessions.

The process of forgiveness has been instrumental in her own life and the lives of those she serves. “The strategy is to try to repeat the forgiveness process as many times as needed in order to get rid of our negative emotions,” she explains. “The perpetrators could be those close to us, so the situation will recur, and we need to be able to aggregate our pain and escalate our emotions once again.”

She continues: “The Bible says, ‘Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’. We are encouraged to forgive as many times and as soon as possible, even daily.” During challenging times, she encourages individuals to stay focused on positive emotions, seek God’s guidance and stay humble by reading God’s word and remaining obedient.

Forgiveness can be a truly transformative power. One woman with cancer whom she helped had long struggled with extreme anger and bitterness towards her husband and mother-in-law. “She would hold on to her grudges, and her emotions were inflamed with anger, hatred and bitterness. She didn’t want any way out, thinking she was avenging the person who had hurt her,” she recalls.

After several sessions, Reverend Noreen was able to guide the woman through the forgiveness process. “She came back the next week looking like a different person. Her face was clearer, and she had a bit of a glow. She had better relationships with her family, friends and colleauges. After a few more sessions, her life was transforming greatly. I worked with her until she was healed and restored. She was converted and came back often for fellowship gatherings. What a miracle in her life!”

Guidance and Freewill

Yet, Siu Richards is aware that her preachings and the Bible are not the sole answers to every problem, especially when addressing mental health issues. “Of course, one has to know that whatever comes from the Bible and from my mouth are mere guidance to a happy life. We all still have our free will. We should always make use of it to do what is right, and we still have to consult with medical experts.”

She remains optimistic about the future, with plans to reach out to more people through social media and expand the scope of her ministry’s work. Her dedication to her religious beliefs is matched only by her commitment to her family. As a wife and mother, she has learned to balance her responsibilities with grace and efficiency. “I value every God-given moment of time to be productive, even time to relax and rest,” she says. “I thank the Lord for giving me energy and strength.”

Ending with an utterance of “God Bless!” as we wrap up, her close and intense way of speaking takes our conversation beyond mere Q&A to the level of intimacy required for sharing relationship stories. Her ability to make a friend of you in a few hours – four hours in the case of our shoot – is legendary. It’s hard not to surrender to her gravitational pull, and her story is a shining example of how one person can make a profound difference in the world.

Ultimately, Reverend Noreen Siu Richards has wholeheartedly embraced her new role as a shepherd for the sick and downtrodden – and it’s as clear as this brilliant summer’s day that she wouldn’t have it any other way.