When E.P. Hammond arrived by ship in England, at the invitation of D.L. Moody more than 100 years ago, a new emphasis began on the winning and training of children. Decades before, also burdened to reach children and the unchurched, Robert Raikes began what became the modern Sunday School movement.
Moody, the American evangelist, preaching decades later, was in the middle of his most productive evangelistic ministry. People from every social strata were coming to Christ. Many of these new converts could not read. And of these, thousands were children and teens who lacked any schooling. Hammond, like Moody, was a layman. He was a gifted worker with children. Moody had sent for him to design a simple gospel witnessing plan, so those won could share their new faith with others. Hammond loved the challenge. He thought, “Those who can't read can remember colors, and the meaning attached to each color.” Hammond then devised a small booklet of colored pages. The idea worked. A DARK page would identify sin, for “men loved darkness, rather than light.” A RED page stood for the blood Jesus shed on the cross. A WHITE page indicated cleansing and forgiveness through Christ. Also, the white expressed the nature of Jesus, God's sinless Son, who arose from the dead. GREEN represented growth, all who receive Jesus need to “grow in grace.”
E.P. Hammond's original idea has been copied by many people and organizations through the years. It is still one of the fastest ways to get across biblical truth about the Gospel to children, adults, and any who cannot read.
Let us go through the illustration of the colored pages, the Wordless Book, in more detail. Here is a little book, without words, that tells the most wonderful story. Each page has a different color, and a story all its own. This book without words can tell us how God loves us, and what He has done to make a home for us to live with Him forever more some day. Wouldn't you like to hear the story?
The Wordless Book
The Wordless Book has five pages — gold, dark, red, white and green. Perhaps you would like to make your own Wordless Book using materials you may have on hand. Construction paper, pieces of felt or computer paper that has been colored by a color printer can all be used to make a Wordless Book. You may desire to sew some ordinary cloth — the correct colors of course — to make small finger gloves, to cover each finger and a thumb. Each finger could be held up to reveal a color as you relate the Wordless Book to someone else. Thus, the finger gloves would represent the five pages of a Wordless Book. Your imagination may have other ideas for making a Wordless Book. Size isn't that important; getting the idea across is.
First we turn to the GOLD page:
THE GOLD PAGE — Represents Heaven, a real place. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared person. The most beautiful place of all anywhere. The streets there are paved with gold! When the Lord Jesus left this earth He said that He was going to get a place ready for us, where we can be with Him forever (John 14:2, 3). He has been preparing this place — heaven — for a long time. Here are some wonderful things about heaven mentioned in the Bible.
- There will be no sun or moon there. The light from the face of Jesus will brighten heaven (Revelation 21:23). We shall never need to rest, or go to bed. There will be endless day, no night there (Revelation 22:5).
- There will be no tears, sadness, sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4). There will be no death there. We shall live forever, freed from earthly trials. We shall have a body like Jesus (1 John 3:2, 3); we can jump, fly, travel, powered by the energy source, God. Just as Jesus was no longer limited, after He arose from the dead, so shall we be like Him.
- There shall be no sin there (Revelation 21:27). One sin, getting into heaven, would ultimately destroy it, just as earth is being destroyed now, by sin.
- God is there (Revelation 22:3). He loves us and made heaven for us. He wants us to be in this wonderful and beautiful place. There will be thousands of angels (Revelation 5:11), to be our servants.
- Heaven and its streets are pure gold, but like glass. Heaven is a gigantic golden cube — about 1,400 miles high, and about 1,400 miles wide and about 1,400 miles long (Revelation 21:16, 19-21).
- We shall see the Lord Jesus there. We shall talk with Him, worship and praise Him, and see His nail-pierced hands and feet.
We do not get to heaven because we are “good.” Only one kind of person goes to heaven; saved, forgiven people — those who have given their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. Unforgiven sin keeps us out of heaven.
Note: When speaking of the “heart” with children, it is good to remember they are very literal in their thinking. We are teaching about the person we are inside, the real you, not what is beating in our chest.
We speak then of a sinful heart, rather than a DARK heart.
Next, we turn to the DARK page.
THE DARK PAGE — represents SIN. What is sin? It is sin that makes us do wrong things. Sin is falling short of anything which is God's will. All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). Rely on the Holy Spirit to convict each pereson of sin. For example, “Is telling a lie a sin? Have you ever gotten a spanking from your parents? Why? That is sin, isn't it?” Look for the conviction of the Spirit working in their hearts, to show on their face. Sometimes I share something I've done wrong, to illustsrate sin. God knew that we would sin, so He provided an answer for the sin in our hearts.
Next, we turn to the RED page.
THE RED PAGE — the blood of Jesus. (Remember, you are to share the Gospel in its parts: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Now you are ready to present Christ to the child. The red page stands for the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus from Heaven to die for you. All His suffering was for us. Sin is so bad that only Jesus could take our sins away.
Make it clear that Jesus on the cross did all that was needed to take away our sins. Jesus saves, and He alone (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8, 9) saves. Show that Christ substituted for our sins, dying in our place. He became SIN FOR US (Put the dark page over on top of the white page). It is the sin of unbelief in Christ Jesus that keeps a person from heaven.
Next, we turn to the WHITE page.
THE WHITE PAGE — Stress the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) and cleansing. The white page reminds us of cleansing and forgiveness, as we invite Jesus to live in us as Lord and Saviour. As led, the parent or teacher then shares that each person must invite Jesus into their lives as Lord and Saviour, to be forgiven. Deal with each child individually. Children respond to public invitations wrongly to: please a parent or friend, because some other family member went forward publicly, because they were challenged or dared to go by a peer, etc. The only right reason is because the Spirit has so convicted them of their need of Christ they have already trusted Him, and want others to know, or because they want information about being a Christian. NEVEER ask a child a question they can answer with a “yes” or “no” in counseling. Draw out the child with “Why have you come forward? What has Jesus done on the cross for you? Why do you want to be baptised, etc.?”
Finally, we turn to the GREEN page.
THE GREEN PAGE — When trees and other plants turn green after the winter, we know they are growing. After Jesus comes into our hearts as Saviour, we are born again, just as a new baby, and we need to grow. The baby has to learn to eat, talk, walk, and share. Getting the child of God into God's supermarket, the Bible, helps them grow. We must teach the child to talk to God in prayer, to walk in obedience under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to walk in fellowship in a local church, and to share their faith with others. The parent must read the Bible to the pre-school child, pray and encourage their growth in believing prayer. The parent is the most vital link in effective follow-up with the child who has been saved. The church is eseential, but it was never designed with a few hours of group teaching per week, to make up for a lack of teaching, modeling, and training at home. The church supplements. The responsibility for follow-up is the parents. * Many assurance problems which pop-up in young teens is the result of not having good counseling when they professed Christ, and a lack of teaching “instant confession” of sin (1 John 1:9). The “joy of our salvation” (Psalm 51:11, 12) is a blessing from God given to those who walk in forgiveness and holiness.
Copies of the Wordless Book or Gospel Glove ideas, are available in most Christian bookstores from many companies, if you decide not to make your own. Child Evangelism Fellowship seems to have the most extensive children's growth Bible story materials in flannelgraph flocked backing available. Their web site is here.