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Exchanging AK-47s for Farm Tools

When the South African country of Mozambique was decolonized, a civil war broke out that lasted 15 years until 1992. Over a million people were abused and murdered in horrible ways. An Anglican pastor named Dinis Sengulane spearheaded an effort among churches that helped lay the foundation for a 1992 peace-treaty. But they didn’t stop there because there were still more than seven million guns hidden all over Mozambique that could lead to another civil war.

To prevent further violence the government of Mozambique initiated several disarmament projects aimed at weeding out the hidden weapons. One of these initiatives was the Christian-backed “Tools for Arms” project, otherwise known as “Swords into Plowshares.” The project got its name from Isaiah 2:4, which predicts a time of peace when warring nations will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” and they will not “learn war anymore.”

In order to draw out the weapons from the bush, people were given an instrument of agriculture in exchange for every weapon turned in. A shovel for a rifle, a plow for a machine gun. One village turned in a whole cache of weapons and received a tractor in return.

They then took many of these weapons used for war and bloodshed and turned them into beautiful pieces of art designed for peace. Their most important art piece from this project is called the “Tree of Life.” It’s 11.5 feet tall, weighs half a ton, and is made from guns welded together. It celebrates the peace this movement has helped create. To date over 600,000 weapons were turned in as part of this program led by Christian churches.

Preston Sprinkle, Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence, (David C. Cook, 2013), pages 19-20

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