Gang member turned pastor

A faith leader in Walthamstow is helping young people stay away from the life he once lived

By Marco Marcelline

Pastor Onyeka Power Credit: Minister Inge and Louisianna

“I’m trying to bring light to Walthamstow.” That’s the mission of a pastor who turned a previous life of gang violence into service and who has just launched a ministry in Walthamstow dedicated to supporting disadvantaged and troubled young people.

Onyeka grew up in Brixton, and at the age of 14 he began getting involved in a gang with friends in his area. Gang life quickly escalated and at age 15 he witnessed his friend get stabbed through the heart.

This fatal act of violence led him on an even more dangerous path of vengeance and retribution, and he stayed as a gang member until he was 18.

When working with young people stuck in difficult situations, the mantra he tries to relay is that if he can change, so can they. Through his work and telling his story, Onyeka says he’s been able to change the lives of many young people involved in gang violence.

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Now 27, Onyeka strives to be the positive mentor for troubled youths that he lacked when he was growing up.

Reflecting on the importance of faith on his life trajectory, Onyeka says: “You don’t have to be religious but when I found God that’s when I started to live a better life.”

Through the ministry, his “main goal is to lead people to the right path, and make sure we provide mentorship, career advice, CV creation, job search help, health and wellbeing, food and clothes banks” as well as voluntary and community projects that help young people involved in gang violence.

Onyeka adds that he’s been able to help young footballers embark on a professional career and get signed by clubs, as well as assist youth battling severe mental health problems that have caused them to self-harm.

Previously based in Newham, his church, Eternal Life Ministries, holds weekly Sunday and Friday services. Young people of any faith and none are welcome to attend his youth ministry services and workshops.

Eternal Life Ministries is at 43 Sutherland House, Walthamstow, E17 6BU

Email [email protected]

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