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The way of Jesus

How non-violent action can transform conflicts


Illustration of a woman helping and elderly woman
In Burundi, a smiling man stands in the middle of a group of seated women who are dressed in colourful clothes

From: Peace and reconciliation - Footsteps 121

Actions we can take to help build peace and foster reconciliation in our homes and communities

As the violent conflict continues in one of the countries where Tearfund works, many people feel that there are only three possible responses: submit, run or fight with violence.

However, Jesus showed that there is a fourth, non-violent way to stand up against injustice and oppression. He explained to his disciples that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43–44). And even when he knew his own death was rapidly approaching, he refused to meet violence with violence (Luke 22:47–53). 

In the country where Tearfund is working, this has formed the basis of a peacebuilding movement called Jesus’ 4th Way. We are using four steps to build the movement, recognising that when a large number of people take peaceful action together it can bring significant change.

These four steps form a virtuous circle (see below). Each non-violent action sows seeds of interest in new people. And after learning more about the movement, eventually they participate in actions themselves, and so on. 

‘When a large number of people take peaceful action together it can bring significant change.’

Love and compassion

As the movement grows and demonstrates effectiveness, we hope that even people and groups already committed to ways of violence will recognise the positive and necessary contribution of non-violent campaigns.

One participant said, ‘Many people are facing difficulties and feeling stuck. In these times, how can we support each other? By showing love and compassion.’

Another added, ‘Each person’s fourth way will be different. First of all, we have to change our own life, and then we have to change the world around us.’

Illustration of the four steps involved in building a movement of peace

The four steps of the Jesus' 4th Way peacebuilding movement: sow seeds, gather people, develop strategy, take action

Building a movement for peace

  1. Sow seeds

    Many people in conflict situations dismiss the value of non-violent tactics and are initially unwilling to discuss them, particularly if they are experiencing trauma, grief and suffering. There is often an immediate, natural tendency to seek revenge or retribution for what has happened. 

    While helping people to work through their trauma, we talk about the importance of taking responsibility for harm, the power of forgiveness and how peace can come through dialogue, reconciliation and grace.

  2. Gather people

    We invite people who want to know more about peacebuilding and non-violent action to take part in regular discussion groups.

  3. Develop strategy

    As there are high risks associated with any form of activism in the country, it is essential for us to have a leadership team of wise advisors.

    These advisors study previous examples of non-violent resistance and plan practical and safe activities to launch or support.

  4. Take action

    We invite everyone in the network to participate in non-violent activities to share messages of peace. These include singing competitions, drama and acts of kindness in the community.

    The leadership team – which includes people from media organisations, Christian leaders and other public figures – publicises the activities, raises awareness and invites participation.

Conflict transformation

The phrase ‘conflict transformation’ is used to describe the various processes through which people and nations seek to establish constructive, positive relationships and institutions in their communities, in place of the destruction of war. 

Conflict transformation includes confronting wrongdoing in a non-violent way, establishing justice, negotiating agreements, peacebuilding and reconciliation. 

Jesus calls his followers to be involved in positively transforming conflict (Matthew 5:9). Such people show themselves to be God’s children, demonstrating the same care and compassion for people suffering in conflict as God has demonstrated through Christ (Colossians 1:20).


From Bible study manual on conflict transformation by Daniel Buttry. Visit for this and other resources in multiple languages

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