Guns into garden tools
Modern swords-to-plowshares project symbolizes myth of redemptive violenceBy Kelli Yoder Mennonite World Review
Mike Martin is learning to turn swords into plowshares — or rather, forge garden tools from AK-47s.
“The goal is to teach nonviolence and expose what redemptive violence is — a myth,” Martin said of the nonprofit he’s building, RAWtools Inc. His wife, Hannah, came up with the name, turning “war” around.
When the gun-repurposing project launches full-force next spring, it will incorporate classes, demonstrations and community involvement.
“If we just take a pile of guns and make tools out of them, I don’t know that we’re doing very much besides creating a vacuum for guns,” said Martin, of Colorado Springs, Colo. “If we’re able to educate people, there will be no need for that vacuum; the vacuum will just close.”
Martin envisions working toward a day when, as the less-quoted part of Isaiah 2:4 says, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Four years after first having the idea, Martin is thrilled to see the project take off so quickly — both in Colorado Springs and in Philadelphia, where a second location is now in planning stages.
Community of support
Martin began dreaming of RAWtools after the 2009 Mennonite Church USA convention in Columbus, Ohio.
“[Anabaptist writer] Greg Boyd was challenging MC USA to be a little more vocal about what Mennonites have to offer,” Martin said, which made him consider his own witness. He shared the garden tool idea with the Colorado Springs’ Beth-El Mennonite Church youth group he was pastoring at the time.
Then last year’s movie theater shooting in Aurora made him consider it more seriously.
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