taking the words of Jesus seriously

It doesn’t get much cooler than beating an AK47 into a shovel. We are starting to make a habit of it.

Our first weapon-conversion was on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. A welder buddy of mine took an AK 47 and transformed it LIVE, into a shovel and a rake, as part of our “Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream Event”. It was so much fun we couldn’t stop. I even finagled a free welding lesson from my pal, thinking we might keep the sparks flying. And we have.

A year or so later we heard about a group of blacksmiths who had also started melting down donated guns to make tools, after being troubled by the fact that some of the metal from the Twin Towers was used to make a battleship.  Inspired by the prophets’ vision of “beating swords into plows”, these Mennonite metal-workers started turning guns into garden tools.  They call themselves RAW tools (turning “war” around and forging peace).

Before long we had all teamed up… with the prophetic juices flowing, dreaming of what we could do with the next donated handgun or semi-automatic.  Folks started sending in their own creations from around the world – weapons disarmed and turned into art, or tools, or guitars.  And there is something special about seeing the transformation happen before your eyes, and hearing the sound of the forge and the pounding of the metal, something therapeutic about taking a hammer to the barrel of a gun.  A few months back, we did another LIVE weapon-conversion, turning a fully operative AK47 into three hand trowels in front of thousands of folks at the Justice Conference.

Now we use one of the hand trowels from that AK47 in our garden here in Philadelphia… where we tragically see nearly one gun death per day.

Also by Shane: What if Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

It just feels good for the soul each time we beat a gun into oblivion… it feels like the world is a better place with one less semi-automatic.

I am excited to say that we are not done.  In fact, it looks like we are just getting started.  It’s time to announce the next LIVE weapon-conversion.  It will happen here in Philly on Saturday September 14 – the whole event will be FREE and open to the public.  And there will be a bonus welding and blacksmithing workshop in the morning (before the main event at 5pm) for folks who are interested in learning the art of metal crafting (register here for the workshop).

Finally, we are thrilled to release for the first time this 4 minute video inspired by the vision of beating swords into plows… and turning guns into garden tools. Keep the sparks flying.

About The Author


Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist,
 sought-after speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books, 
including "The Irresistible Revolution," "Jesus for President," "Executing Grace," "Beating Guns," and his newest book, "Rethinking Life (released in Feb 2023)." He is the visionary leader of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and co-director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

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