An Evangelistic Cube
In the year 2000, God gave an idea to e3 Partners Ministry of using a cube (an idea taken from the world of advertising) to share the gospel. No one at e3 Partners had any idea of the impact this simple tool would have. Frankly, most of us had been sharing our faith for decades and were not looking for another tool.
Nine years later, Christians throughout the world are employing this very simple pictorial cube, called the EvangeCube, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. (EvangeCube: www.simplysharejesus.com, Instruction sheet: www.e3resources.org/Download/E_CubeInsert.pdf)
We have been astounded at the effectiveness of this simple Rubiks Cube-sized device. Since it has no words, it can be used in any culture, especially oral cultures.
We have seen thousands of people make professions of faith and thousands of churches planted as volunteers share their faith one-on-one or in small groups using this little puzzle. These wonderful results are then multiplied many times over by new believers who take it to their own friends and countrymen.
Manasseh Wandera, a Rwandan leader, recently emailed: “EvangeCube is the simplest and yet most effective tool to share the gospel of Jesus Christ I have ever seen. Its pictorial appearance and coherent, clear message of salvation is too attractive, capturing, appealing, and powerful to be ignored. We had three thousand confessions of faith in Nyabihu and eight new churches in June 2008 in just five days by use of this anointed cube. We had over two thousand people accepting Christ in Gahini and ten new churches in May 2008.”
It has taken some people awhile to warm up to the idea. My friend Brad Catron says, “As I have worked with many pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya, some are a bit skeptical of the EvangeCube upon their initial encounter. They say, ‘Here we do crusades; that is what works for us.’ Yet once they learn how to use the EvangeCube and do witnessing with it, they change their tune and say, ‘By far, the EvangeCube is the best way to do evangelism. It is personal!’”
The “cube,” as it is sometimes nicknamed, has proven to be an unthreatening door-opener, especially to Muslim audiences. Paul Buhwahwaha, a Tanzanian coordinator, explains, “The EvangeCube attracts Muslims that are scattered by the sight of a Bible!” He also says that not only were pastors impressed with attracted Muslim audiences, they were also emboldened to share with Muslims, solely because they believed the Lord had given them the EvangeCube.
Brian Helstrom, executive director of JESUS Film Harvest Partners, has seen people empowered: “There are people who would never have shared their faith before using the EvangeCube. It gives them a very user-friendly, non-threatening evangelistic tool to reach the lost in their communities.”
Just as the story of the gospel unfolds as the EvangeCube is opened, turned, and folded, God had yet another surprise in store for us as he turned it one more time to show us a new way. The cube was about to become a new and powerful weapon in the war against HIV/AIDS.
The Cube for HIV/AIDS Prevention
With the incredible effectiveness of the EvangeCube in communicating truth to oral cultures, many people asked e3 Partners to create a cube for other purposes: personal hygiene, malaria, HIV/AIDS, clean water, etc. Since e3 Partners’ primary mission is to plant churches, not to promote public health, we demurred. Then one of our factories in India asked if they might use the factory to make an AIDS Cube. They made a simple cube with clip-art diagrams to show us. It sat on our shelf for a couple of years until I went to a 2006 Saddleback Global Summit on HIV/AIDS at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, USA.
At that conference, God broke my heart for HIV/AIDS victims and I/we determined to do something. I met Bob Blees and John Barnshaw from Serving In Mission (SIM) at the conference, and after showing them the EvangeCube, they immediately saw the opportunity. Together we produced a new cube to use in explaining the key points for people to protect themselves and their families from HIV/AIDS. Within ten and a half months the cube was produced and field-tested by e3 Partners in Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.
Like the EvangeCube, the HIV Hope Cube uses no written words, so it can be shared in many cultures, even where there is no tradition of written language.
Former Harvard University Dean Zege Tsiege spent some time field training health care professionals in Ethiopia and was pleased at the results. One health care professional said, “We have notebooks of complicated AIDS training. This tool boils most of what we have learned down into a very simple, transferable method that we can immediately share.”
To date, there have been over twenty thousand cubes placed in the hands of medical professionals. But the doctors and nurses are most excited about the fact that the cube allows ordinary people to teach proper information about preventing HIV/AIDS. Blees and I shared the vision for this tool to a group of HIV/AIDS advocates at Saddleback Church in November 2007 during which we heard, “This cube gives ordinary people the tool to share the facts about AIDS. Now imagine one million ordinary people being equipped to share about AIDS!”
After more than a year of prototyping, testing, reworking, and getting advice from leading HIV/AIDS professionals, it was very gratifying to hear from so many that we had a medically-correct, effective tool to help stop this terrible disease. By God’s grace, the Church will help lead the way.
The Local Church and the Cube
The HIV Hope Cube has raised the status of the local church in people’s eyes. Not only does it give a message of how to prevent HIV, but it gives hope to those with HIV and can be an easy conduit to the gospel. During and after the HIV presentation, listeners are found to be thinking about life and death.
One Rwandan pastor says the HIV Hope Cube has helped the local church deal with this terrible epidemic:
We didn’t know how to address HIV for fear of talking about condoms. You have given us a tool to share with our people the methods of presenting HIV without violating our faith. We can present it as a familial problem without the solution being a license for immorality. A lot of emphasis has been put on the ABCs of HIV/AIDS by the government. They say A=Abstinence, B=Be Faithful to your Spouse, C=Condom. We agree on the A and the B, but the C has to be Christ.
Whether they find themselves before a secular, Muslim, or Hindu audience, workers can move from the disease prevention presentation to showing the EvangeCube. Workers find a natural tie-in by describing how HIV and all disease come from the fall of humanity and real hope comes in a personal relationship with Jesus. One Indian pastor likens it to John the Baptist: “It’s not the gospel, but is a bridge to the gospel.”
I shared Christ with a Muslim mom and her son in a public hospital in Uganda where two hundred people heard the life-saving message of the HIV Hope Cube and also heard about eternal life found in Jesus. Both the mom and her HIV-positive son professed faith in Jesus.
Saddleback pastor Rick Warren spoke excitedly about the Cube at the Saddleback conference a year ago, calling it “an incredible teaching tool! … Pick up some of these and use them when you take your mission teams on the road and when you’re [doing] ministry in your local area.” (Warren on the HIV Hope Cube: www.e3resources.org/hiv_aids.aspx, Hope Cube Instruction sheet: www.e3resources.org/Download/HIV_AIDS_insert.pdf)
Yoseph Mena, an Ethiopian church planter, perhaps summed it up best as he held an HIV Hope Cube in his hand and said with a twinkle in his eye, “I believe this is a key that will unlock closed villages for the gospel all over the world.”
The Lausanne Strategy
It is interesting to see how the features of the cubes mesh with the three of the focuses set out by the 2007 Lausanne Movement Strategy Working Group meeting in Budapest:
- oral learners
The HIV Hope Cube, especially when paired with the EvangeCube—touches all three areas. A simple tool like this—like one of the simple stones David used to slay Goliath—in the hands of caring Christian workers all across Africa and Asia can give the hope that leads to life. Both cubes lead to life, one to save someone’s life on earth and another to offer him or her eternal life.
The impact of both cubes has continued to be significant, immediate, and surprising. Recently, on a mission trip to Uganda, doors that had been closed to gospel presentations were opened to this new cube. A Ugandan pastor said, “In my town they would never let us share the gospel with six hundred school kids, but with the HIV Hope message we not only were able to share about physical life found in the knowledge of HIV and AIDS, but we were able to share eternal life in Christ.”
For more information about the EvangeCube and the HIV Hope Cube contact e3 Partners at: www.e3resources.org.