The beginning of No More Violence – A Message from God
The No More Violence Ministry began in May of 1997. To date, it has touched the lives of millions of people throughout Argentina, South America, and countries in Europe and the Middle East. This has been possible through the communication of the message that peace is only found in God through His Son Jesus Christ, which is what the Bible, the Word of God, says.
The work began when leaders of the Argentine Baptist Youth understood they were children of the God of Peace, and, therefore, could stand still no longer; something had to be done! People were suffering all kinds of violence, and even dieing at pro-soccer games. Nothing was being done by the church to share a message that addressed this problem in society.
Colossians 1:20 states that, “The blood of Christ shed on the cross put the peace of God at everyone’s reach.” Though this is a central truth to the Gospel, as a people of God we had not spoken about peace in a way that lost people could receive it without disqualifying it as a religious or mystical message. A simple message was prepared: “No More Violence, a Message from God.” It was placed on flyers and distributed in as many places as possible. The message, though simple, has been shared in some of the most difficult situations because of the way it is presented.
Having distributed aggressive evangelistic gospel tracts, we found that the rejection meant that our strategy needed some adjustment, not that the “fish were unable to be caught”. A more effective method to reach the lost with the message of peace needed to be found. So, if God was the Creator, then, we realized, all of His creativity was at our disposal. We began to search for a way to develop a “hook and bait” that would be attractive to all, never giving up the desire or the goal to reach each person with the Gospel. The barriers between the Gospel and the people were observed, those raised by the lost and those unknowingly raised by us. Slowly, we began to tear them down. None of us wanted to have to answer the question from Jesus, “Why did you cause people to reject me?” In no way, at any time, did we feel that the other fishing methods were mistaken. However, in order to catch the fish in these particular waters, a different method needed to be established.
People began to receive the message and be affected by it. The flyers not only have a written message, but also picture. The picture is of two boys embracing each other wearing the jerseys of the two main pro-soccer teams. What makes this effective is the degree of violent rivalry that exists between teams, especially the ones pictured. To illustrate, one game ended 2-0. The fans of the winning team, to show their victory, painted on the walls “River 2, Boca 0.” The Boca fans, in response, killed two River fans and painted the walls with “River 2, Boca 2.” The picture is our way of putting into practice the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” except that in this case, the picture is worth several Bible truths.
To date, at a rate of one million a year, over six million flyers have been distributed. This is in a country with a national population of 36 million. The flyers have been distributed by Baptist young people at pro-soccer stadiums, schools, and city and community events.
God has been leading each step of the work. Once the work at the stadiums was accepted by churches and continued, it was felt that the message had to be placed in an area where churches could be make a more personal contact. Other than the continual presence of people in stadiums, schools are the other venue where there are people at least five days a week. The public schools seemed to be where God was leading us. This resulted in the development of material that communicates Christian values and principles in a parable form. The material addresses four main issues:
Violence Towards Myself
Violence Against Others
Becoming an Agent of Change
The material is presented during regular school hours, and is taught by youth, only a few years older than the students, once a week for eight weeks. The strategy is one of building bridges by allowing the church to adopt the school. Hopefully, through the course of time spent there, the church will be able to influence, not only the students, but the teachers, principal, parents, and the community. This effect takes place as God’s principles and values begin to affect the life of the school and community. It is through the relationships that we build there that the message of salvation is presented to each person that is seeking a new way to live.
Due to the changes witnessed in the behavior of the students and the overall difference that is felt in the schools, the work has met with the approval of the Ministry of Education of six provinces. Through them, God has allowed several doors to open to the heart of the future of the next generation for the transformation of the Nation.
Churches are being trained to enter the public schools to build relationships that become a wider open door to the community each week. This allows the church to have a direct affect on the life of the school. However, the idea is not to enter, share Christ, and leave; but since the classes are conducted in each grade once a week for eight weeks, by the time each of the grades have heard the message, the volunteers have been in the school perhaps the whole school year. This provides the opportunity to present Jesus in a direct and practical way through the relationships cultivated by the Baptist youth in the classrooms. In many cases, the students are joining the youth activities of the local churches and accepting Christ as the agent of change that the world needs today. The Christian youth are challenged by this work to be walking what they are talking. As they begin to see the changes in the lives of students, no one can argue with them what they have seen with their own eyes. The way God has transformed people and places, as schools have been radically changed from a violent environment to a place where teachers can teach and student learn not only their ABC’s, but how to live, has impacted the lives of the volunteers as well.