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Turning guns into garden tools in the DRC

How melting guns into garden tools has created a much-needed message of peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rachael Adams | 24 Jun 2022

Church leader using a hammer to hit a piece of metal on an anvil

A church leader joins in melting a gun to create a garden tool at Tearfund’s public peace rally in the Democratic Republic of Congo | Image Credit: Arlette Bashizi/Tearfund

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the hardest places to live on Earth. Decades of war and violence have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of people from their homes. But the Congolese people are rallying together to promote another message – one of peace – and they are appealing for more churches and the government to get involved.

As part of this, a few weeks ago Tearfund hosted a peace rally in north Kivu in eastern DRC. Former child soldiers, survivors of conflict and church leaders came together to share their testimonies and to ask local leaders to support peacebuilding and rehabilitation programmes in the country.

In 2021 alone, more than 3,300 children were rescued from armed groups. It’s hard to estimate how many remain in these groups, but it’s thought to be in the tens of thousands.

‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’
Isaiah 2:4

Guns to garden tools

At the heart of the event was a prophetic demonstration of death to life. Metal from decommissioned guns was melted down into garden tools in order to promote a much-needed message of peace. The garden tools will be used in an agricultural programme run by our local partner, Peace Lives Centre, where young people who were involved in violence are rehabilitated.

The inspiration for the demonstration came from the following Bible verse from the book of Isaiah: ‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:4)

‘The event was a wonderful harmony of joy and solemnity; of people from all walks of life coming together to prophetically declare peace for the nation of the DRC,’ shares Poppy Anguandia, Tearfund’s Deputy Country Director for the DRC.

‘We heard powerful testimonies from child soldiers who have escaped the violence of armed groups. Everyone had an opportunity to beat decommissioned guns, and then to plant a tree using the garden tool made from the gun, in order to prophesy new life.’

Top: Church leaders, former child soldiers and survivors of conflict joined in turning guns into garden tools at the peace rally | Image credit: Arlette Bashizi/Tearfund Bottom: The garden tool was then used by them to prepare the soil for new plants in order to prophesy new life | Image credit:Arlette Bashizi/Tearfund

At the event, there was also a whiteboard that people could sign messages of peace on. At the end of the rally, this was full of declarations of commitment to work for peace in the DRC.

‘I pray that this date is marked in the history of our province as a date on which we all commit to contribute to peace and reconciliation,’ says Bishop Willy Ngumbi, the Bishop of Goma, who attended the event.

Standing together for peace

‘Despite the divisions and conflict within the country, the church is building unity and reconciliation,’ shares Hebdavi Kyeya, who leads Tearfund’s work in the DRC. ‘Congolese people refuse to give up on the pursuit of peace. This peace rally was a public demonstration of this commitment to work towards that.

‘We will continue to stand with and support the church in this goal. Currently, we’re working with 300 faith leaders in the east of the country to equip them to be further agents of peace in their communities.

‘We are also building a peace hut in North Kivu, which will provide them with a dedicated space to hold peace talks. This will be a neutral space to bring people together and will be an exciting step towards peace.

‘We believe peace is possible and we would love you to support us in prayer as we work towards this.’

Pray with us

The following prayer is by St. Francis of Assisi – a 12th century Italian Friar. This prayer continues to be read aloud at Anglican and Catholic churches across North Kivu on every Sunday that Tearfund’s peace project is running. We’d love you to join us, and use it as a guide to pray for the church in the DRC.

As you read through the prayer, think about how church leaders in the DRC can demonstrate these qualities and ask God to bring them wisdom, courage, protection and boldness as they do so. And pray that even more churches, the military government and local authorities will be re-envisioned and committed to work for peace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

  Rachael Adams


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