God gives new lifestyle for ex gang guy
About four years ago, Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on a Black Power member's door at a bad point in his life, and he invited them in.
It started a life-changing journey for Anthony Witehera-Stewart, and today brings the next step - baptism.
The Whangarei man, who now lives in Whakatane, will join around 40 others to be baptised at Claudelands Event Centre, during a central North Island Jehovah's Witness convention.
"It means everything, I could say. I got married about a year ago, and this is right up there," says Mr Witehera-Stewart.
The father of four speaks quietly about his past life in the gang.
"It was just a typical, alcohol-fuelled, drug life."
When Jehovah's Witnesses came to Mr Witehera-Stewart's door, he seized a chance to change.
"I invited them in because I was looking for something, or for an out. Out of the lifestyle, out of the gang, out of all that.
"And then the brothers turned up and it was like the light. That gave me a goal, something to look forward to."
He does not see much of his old associates from up north, but he says they respect his lifestyle change.
And now the man who used to hate work loves providing for his family with his job at the Whakatane Mill.
He is thankful, and says one piece of scripture sums it up.
"'You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.' I've heard that scripture heaps of times over the years but didn't really understand it until I realised what truth really is - God's truth - and it set me free from a lot of things."