Ben Leung began studying a Master of Counselling at Morling College in 2012. It was the realisation of a 30-year dream from his time in Hong Kong where he was involved in social work with the elderly and at a mental health hospital. This story shares Ben’s journey as a social worker and counsellor from his childhood years growing up in Hong Kong.
“I had an empty hole in my heart, which Jesus filled when I came to faith in 1979.”
Ben attended school in Hong Kong, but it was not until a friend invited him to church in his final year of high school that he realised what was missing in his life. “I had an empty hole in my heart, which Jesus filled when I came to faith in 1979,” said Ben. Ben worked for three years in social work raising money to attend university. It was during this time that he met his future wife Irene. Ben tried to open every conceivable door to study social work in Hong Kong, however not a single door opened for him. In the end he had no option but to travel to China to attend University, where he decided to study electronic engineering. Ben’s first year was challenging due to the language barrier and the fact that he was away from Irene and his Christian support base. With mail being the only means of communication, Ben’s friends armed him with several tapes of sermons, which he listened to repeatedly. In time he learned Mandarin and developed an appreciation for his Chinese roots and the people of China. He moved to new student accommodation where the family responsible for the students were Christians. It was here that a lifelong friendship and support network was established. Everything began falling into place. He met lecturers who were Christians and Irene moved to the same university to study IT.
After completing his degree, Ben returned to Hong Kong followed not long afterwards by Irene, on completion of her studies. The couple were married in 1990 and God opened up opportunities for them to grow in their faith together and as individuals in Hong Kong.
“If it was not for my wife supporting my dream, encouraging me to study and making the sacrifice to support us financially I could never have done it.”
Ben and Irene moved to Australia in 2000 where Ben quickly found work, and they found a church where they both served for the next seven years. By 2011 however, the demands of Ben’s job and the travel away from Irene had begun to take their toll. What’s more, the 30-year dream that had not yet been realised had resurfaced. But how could he possibly afford to make the change? It was Irene who paved the way forward. “If it was not for my wife supporting my dream, encouraging me to study and making the sacrifice to support us financially I could never have done it,” said Ben. After researching a number of colleges, Ben decided to study at Morling. “For the first six months at Morling I opened my heart and ears to learn. It was challenging at times, especially with English as my second language, but I was at peace knowing Morling was the place to be and put my faith in God for a positive outcome.”
“I started to find wisdom, and learn how to engage with people - not in a logical process-driven manner, but in a way that truly connects with them.”
Another challenge for Ben was coming to grips with a totally different approach to learning. “Unlike the study of engineering, where my focus was very process driven, the study of counselling is more emotionally driven,” said Ben. “I found I needed to learn to enjoy the process, rather than control it. I started to find wisdom and learn how to engage with people - not in a logical process-driven manner, but in a way that truly connects with them.”
Today Ben and Irene serve at the Chinese Australian Baptist Church at Thornleigh. Going forward, Ben’s dream is to remain at Morling until the day he can no longer work. “I love this place. The people here have helped me rediscover my dream and care for others through their programs. I now see how God used my journey in China all those years ago, as 70% of my clients today are Chinese. My ultimate goal is to work with couples, as I believe marriage is the foundation of society.
On a final note, I would like to once again express my deep gratitude to my wife Irene. I am living my dream because of her sacrifice all those years ago.”