Stepping into a “jam packed” jail cell, Georgie Ngaau closed the cell door behind him. He’d phoned “all the right people” on the outside to inform them of his decision – now he wanted to tell those in the crowded space. Intentionally calling them together, his simple message was immensely profound.
With all eyes on him, he outwardly expressed in just 10 words an inward decision Jesus had been calling him to for some time. “I’m leaving the gangs – I’ve given my heart to God.”
In that moment in 2015, Georgie was almost nine years into a 12-year prison sentence – the statement, spoken to those in prison with him, represented him leaving behind a lifestyle he was born into and had always known. He ultimately spent all his 20s, from 2006 through 2017, in prison – being released almost two years after he came to Jesus.
He’d be lying too, he says, if he told me there wasn’t at least one occasion when – in the early days after having made that statement – its stark reality broke his heart. “I remember meeting my mum and a case manager to tell them I’d left the gangs. All I could see in that moment were my brothers, those I’d walked with who were – and are – still on that path. Tears rolled down my face. Truthfully, those I’d left behind were my family. I loved them. I still do.
“But I was absolutely serious about committing my life to Christ. I can’t approach anything half-heartedly. When I was living the street life, I was 100 percent in – live or die. When I made up my mind to leave the gangs and follow Jesus I decided, again 100 percent, that a life in the gangs was no longer for me.
“Although some people didn’t fully understand my decision to come to Christ, the ‘real ones’ – those who’ve loved me for who I am – always respected and supported it. Many of them still reach out and talk to me. And I use my testimony now to point them to Christ. I don’t want them to be fake around me, or think that just because I’ve come to God they can’t talk to me. I want them to be real with me. I use those conversations to glorify the Father.”
James 4:8 comes to mind. “…draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (NKJV). Because, as soon as Georgie took a step towards God, it’s as though the Lord ran to him.
“The Lord wasn’t mucking around,” Georgie smiles. “I began to close doors I felt He was leading me to close and straight away things began shifting in my life.”
Only a short time after leaving the gangs, Georgie found himself in the prison chapel, up the front proclaiming that God was at work. With the powerful symbolism of laying down his old life and picking up his new life in Christ at play, it was the first time he ever shared his testimony.
Fast forward nearly seven years, and I sit chatting with Georgie and his wife of almost four years – Arnia – on Zoom. They say they never could have imagined then how God would use their testimony to reach others with the Gospel as they’ve since surrendered to Him.
It’s both a collective and an individual decision to continually place their lives in His hands – allowing God to use their story, and a gifting God’s clearly given Georgie, to point others to the Lord.
That gifting is music. With the intentionally-chosen stage name ‘BLSD One’ – standing for Blessed, Loved, Saved and Delivered – and the ‘One’ pertaining to being one in Christ – Georgie writes tracks which are raw and real – every word intended to “hit its mark” and display Jesus.
“Most of my stuff simply reflects the journey the Lord has brought us on,” he says of his approach to writing songs.
“I talk about my real life experiences. In a way, the process of writing my songs is made up of intimate moments with Him as I simply thank God for what He has done.
“I’ve loved music since I was a young kid. It used to be kind of a lifestyle thing – something the boys and I would hang out and do. We used to love to rap, freestyle and sing. When I was in prison, I wrote heaps of music and came out with lots of tracks that weren’t Christ-centered. As the Lord began to change the way I thought, I started seeing my music as a tool He’s given me that I can use to speak a language to those walking where I once was. And, in a way I know they relate to.”
Where Georgie was once unwaveringly passionate about the streets, he’s now even more passionate about testifying of God’s grace and how the Lord has saved and changed him.
“I want my music to display hope so those who hear it know that Christ delivered me – and He can deliver them too. When I listen back to some of my tracks, I can’t deny it was the Holy Spirit who led me as I wrote them. My prayer is, “…Lord, I’m willing to be used by You…” – and I’m always amazed by the ways He does that.”
It becomes clear as we chat that Georgie and Arnia are a team – and the Lord is at work in both of their lives through their respective, powerful, stories.
Absolutely we are,” Georgie says. “I couldn’t do this journey without her – I wouldn’t want to either.”
It’s a joint calling of God. So, before we go further, I ask how they met and how they both came to know Christ.
“I suppose in a way, we were bound to meet,” Arnia smiles. She and Georgie have known each other since they were teenagers, growing up in Whangarei in the same circle of friends – the “troubled crowd”.
It was in around 2016 that the Lord drew Georgie and Arnia together as a couple, Georgie was released from prison in 2017, and after they were married in 2018 they began the ministry of BLSD One together.
Georgie and Arnia have no doubt the Lord brought them together purposefully – their ultimate desire is that, above everything, every aspect of their lives would be Christ-focussed. I ask what they most love about each other.
“That’s clear to me,” Georgie replies. “Arnia always puts others first – she’d lay down her life for her family. I love her – and I love that she loves the Lord. I love that she’s open and willing to grow in the areas we’re weak in and I love that we work together on improving our marriage, the way that we manage and balance life and as we look to grow in every area we can – because that not only betters our relationship with one another, but also encourages us both to seek Jesus.”
“Honestly, Georgie is my biggest supporter, in everything I do. He’s got my back and is always encouraging me to move forward – even when I can’t see how that’s possible. He’s always walking alongside me. I remember the first time I shared my testimony, I was a mess and in tears. But then, and every time since, he’s been right there supporting me. That support gives me the confidence to speak about what the Lord had done for me. Georgie absolutely helps me grow in the areas where I’m lacking and he leads us so well.
“That, and he most definitely brings the humour to the table,” she smiles.
As we talk, a Māori proverb – ka mua ka muri – or, “looking back in order to move forward”, comes to mind. It expresses a great truth around simple imagery – a person walking backwards into the future. So it is with Georgie and Arnia’s story – as they walk in the BLSD One chapter the Lord has for them now, they do so acutely aware of, and grateful for, where He has already led them.
To understand more of how they each reached the point of surrendering their lives to Christ is to hear more of their story growing up. So, we take a look back.
As far as Georgie can remember, his mum’s always been walking with the Lord. His dad though was – and still is – an active gang member.
“Growing up, Dad was in and out of prison, so I was raised – more often than not – by mum. Dad did support the fact mum had a faith though, and he encouraged me to go to church and listen to and honour her,” he says. “At intermediate age, I transferred from a public primary school to a Christian school and, as a little kid, I grew up in church and youth group.
“As well as music, I loved sports and was involved in lots of athletics-related stuff. I was a Northland 110-metre hurdle champion for three years. Honestly though, a combination of my surroundings and some of the poor decisions I made back then ultimately determined the path I went down at that age. Although a Godly influence was there from mum, I started looking towards the life my dad was living and being drawn to the other influence that was around me – the gang lifestyle.”
As a teenager, walking in that direction felt like a “natural transition”, he says.
“It wasn’t something I even had to work towards really. I felt that in some ways my mind was already conditioned and almost trained in that life. I can say now that, as I got more and more committed to that lifestyle, I felt like all the potential I had at the time was drifting away. I was directing my positive energy towards negative things and changing my core beliefs.”
A series of “bad choices” became a lifestyle he adopted in the gangs. Not only was violence normal, it became what he turned to to solve problems.
But God. Georgie, now in his 30s, lived the gang lifestyle all the way through until 2015, when a dramatic encounter with the Lord changed his trajectory. Arnia also came to the Lord not long after.
Both agree that a major positive influence towards their respective decisions was the combination of continued prayer – and a faithful outward example – of Georgie’s mother over many years.
“From my point of view,” Arnia begins, “his mum is one person who’s been there through everything, always pointing us to the Lord. She had an open door policy when we were younger – I always felt welcome any time. You could just turn up and she would love on you. Even since before Georgie and I were together, she’s been like a second mum – always there no matter what. I know there were times when I even turned up to her house drunk, yet, without judgement, she would just say to me, ‘…come on, let’s pray – I want to tell you about Jesus.’ I knew little bits about God, but she was always the one planting those seeds.”
“I agree. She’s an absolutely amazing, Godly woman,” Georgie adds. I ask him about the moment He surrendered to Christ.
“That’s a big question,” he says. “I guess a lot of dark people entered our lives. Even though I was raised in an environment where violence and that type of stuff was normal, this was a whole other level of things which were revealed to me. We weren’t intentionally seeking it either, it just came to us.
“That darkness led to many moments – not just one – which caused me to look towards Christ. If there was one particular instance though, and I’ll be honest, it was when Arnia was stabbed. That absolutely made me go back to what I’d known as a child. I was in prison, vulnerable and helpless and I couldn’t do anything to help her. I had nowhere to go except to what, back then, was my last resort. Prayer.
“I knew to return to the foundation mum laid – and the example she set – when I was growing up. There I am, an active gang member, down on my knees in prison, simply beginning to pray and call out to Jesus. And the Lord answered my prayer and began to reveal to me that He was real. So, as I said, straight away I was out of the gangs.”
We mention Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (KJV).
“No matter what, wherever you find yourself, Jesus is there waiting when you call out to Him,” Arnia adds.
As they’ve since walked with God, Georgie and Arnia say they’re incredibly grateful to have been “mentored well” by Godly people in their lives – including several key people like their Pastor, James Anson, who leads their church community – Auckland’s FaithPointe Church West Harbour. Many of the talented musicians, producers and people Georgie surrounds himself with in the music sphere are also Goldy influences.
“Lots of the boys have awesome stories of where they’ve come from and what the Lord has done in their lives,” Georgie says. “When it comes to the people the Lord places around you, they’re a huge blessing – they help sharpen your faith and your desire to move towards God.”
“Yes, we are so blessed to have a lot of people around us like that,” Arnia says.
On that note, I ask, “…how important is it to have Godly influences who point you to Christ? And what would you say to encourage those who either desire to walk the authentic Christian life, or who are seeking Jesus?”
“I would say one of the biggest things the Lord’s been teaching me is that He always prompts me to lead by example,” Georgie ponders. “By that I mean, in my relationship with Him it has never been about just talking the talk. Those the Lord places around me want to see that I walk the walk.
“We all know the saying, “…actions speak louder than words…” When I think about the life I used to walk, as I began to profess something new, there were some who didn’t believe it straight away – they wanted to see me walking out what I was professing. I get that.
“In prison, when I first came to the Lord, it almost didn’t matter what I said or did, because those around me wanted to see if I was for real. It’s almost like they were testing me to see if I would react naturally, out of my old ways, or out of the new mind of Christ in me.
“In my experience, given where I was walking, you can almost expect people to be unsure at times. That shouldn’t be a surprise if it’s part of your experience to – they only knew the ‘old’ you. Arnia and I are walking a journey over time to display Him and the new creation we are ‘in Christ’, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it.”
Georgie mentions Romans 12:2. “All the glory goes to Him. I know it’s Christ who transforms us through the renewing of our minds as we submit to Him.”
Georgie wants people to know, wherever they’re at, there’s hope – and it’s found in Jesus.
“Thinking back, I’m stunned when I reflect on the fact that even through all the violence, the crime and everything else I’d done, God still had a plan for me. Jesus was always standing there knocking. May my story be a living testimony that there’s hope for people who have walked in the same shoes as me, who have the same mindset and beliefs as I once did, or to those looking for Jesus. As we seek Him, it’s God who has given me His strength to not only change, but also the strength to pursue and walk in that change.
“Come to God as you are, just to start somewhere. No matter what we’ve done in life, when we come to the Father, we are made worthy though His Son, Jesus. He loves you. I always say my first steps might be baby steps, but in my world they were giant. It might be the same for you now, but step towards the Father – that little step might be all you have to offer – but it’s all He needs.
“It’s the Lord who has renewed my mind. Honestly, given where I came from, I’ve felt at times that the process of the Lord renewing me has been slow and steady. But it’s been the most rewarding walk. For anyone else in my old shoes, I’d encourage them to be open to surrounding themselves with positive people – surrounding yourself with familiar mindsets makes it hard to think differently and change.”
Musically, the major door the Lord opened for Georgie with BLSD One came during last year’s New Zealand Music Month, when he won a listener-voted competition Life Fm ran to find an artist who’d never had their music professionally recorded.
Arnia says with a smile that the Lord works in mysterious ways. By that she means it was her who initially heard about the competition and told Georgie she was entering him.
Georgie though, initially at least, was a bit unsure.
With hindsight, he’s grateful for Arnia’s encouragement and can see how the Lord’s been working through that avenue.
“When I won, I felt as though God was making a statement over my life and clearing a pathway for me to use my gifts in music for His glory. The journey astounds me,” he says.
“I entered him the day before the competition closed and we got a call the next day,” Arnia laughs. She submitted Georgie’s track Brothers in the Pen.
The song is essentially a prayer for and a letter to those Georgie knows who are still in prison.
“I get people I knew in my old lifestyle asking me how I’ve changed. They know me, and they know what I was like. So many of them absolutely want to change, but they don’t know how to. They’ve tried to change in their own strength but can’t.
“Brothers in The Pen came out of hearing their desperate need and hope for God. I wrote it as a way to reach out and pray for my brothers who want to change to tell them that the answer is Jesus. Many of those who reach out have been in prison for many years, some will never be released.”
To reach them, Georgie and Arnia have since also produced a certain number of Brothers in The Pen CDs – the idea being to get the song and its message into the hands of those in prisons through official channels.
“When they hear Brothers in the Pen, they’ll hear the Gospel message, and the hope we have in Christ. The things God is doing amaze me – it’s a blessing and a privilege to be a vessel He can use,” Georgie says.
When he won, Brothers in The Pen was put on rotation on Life Fm, and he also got the chance to record an EP – aptly named New Creation. That subsequent radio play has also seen many more people reach out.
“I loved the process of recording New Creation,” Georgie says – adding that he was intentional about allowing God to guide the process.
“The Lord placed awesome people around me and together we followed His leading as to how the EP took shape. I honestly feel like the Lord gave me a revelation of what He wanted to say through it and I see now that the finished product painted the perfect picture of the message the Lord wanted me to share, not what I thought was best.”
New Creation is filled with powerful tracks like Come on And Ride – which expresses Georgie’s desire to no longer glorify the streets, but God – and I Am Not Ashamed, in which Georgie boldly professes Jesus.
And then there’s his latest song Gotta Have That Peace, released in November. A collaboration with band mate Daniel Leaupepe, Georgie says it’s another example of the Lord’s perfect timing.
“Maybe it relates even more now, given the times we’re living in, but in life we all go through storms. Not only when things are hard either, but sometimes even when we feel life is going well, we struggle.
“I want people to know the Lord offers us His peace which passes understanding – and His strength and joy to walk in. As I reflect on some of the lyrics, I’m simply saying thank you to God that, in every season, He’s faithful.”
BLSD One was booked to play at Festival One 2022 – scheduled to be held at the end of January at a brand new venue, Hartford, Karapiro.
They debuted at Festival last year and Georgie was set to join forces with his ‘brothers’ in his band this year too – Daniel, AJ, Manutaii and Manuele Leaupepe – who are the lead guitarist, bass guitarist, vocalist and the drummer respectively. The rap element was to be present in Tony Faifai, and keyboardist Regan Reti was due to be there too.
While we’re talking specifically about music, looking further ahead into 2022, Georgie and Arnia are excited. Georgie confirms new tracks are coming this year. They’re also working on some new designs for their BLSD One clothing line. In a big faith step too, they’re establishing a trust for their BLSD One ministry called Rhythm of Life.
The words of Proverbs 16:9 almost sum up Georgie and Arnia’s story perfectly.
Even as they make plans, it’s ultimately God who is directing their steps. And, so far, both agree it’s been a ‘BLSD’ journey.
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About the author
Jeremy Smith is editor of, and one of the writers for, Authentic Magazine.
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