By Annie Grandell
It was 2016, and I was leading a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. It was my fifth World Youth Day. If you’ve ever been to a World Youth Day, you know that one is good, and five is the equivalent of 500 years in purgatory.
Our group was incredibly blessed to have two Dominican sisters with us, one of who was a dear friend of mine, Sr. Mary Juliana. Sr. Mary Juliana is one of those people who can simply be described as magnetic. And because she loves Jesus, she uses that draw to witness to her faith in Jesus. She’ll make you laugh until it hurts one minute, then drop a truth bomb on you the next. She and I always loved to talk about how to better engage the culture with the gospel. Heck, it was she who introduced me to Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.
In Poland for World Youth Day with Sr. Mary Juliana
One day in Krakow, she came running to me with a silicone wristband in her hand and a twinkle in her eyes.
She explained that her sister was in Krakow as well, working with a Canadian group using these symbols to do street evangelism.
THE FOUR Wristband
It was the gospel in 4 steps:
- God loves me.
- I live divided from that love.
- Jesus bridges that divide.
- If this is true, how will I respond?
I was stunned, stunned at its simplicity and incisiveness. And I was stunned by my own ignorance. I had a degree in theology and over a decade of ministry experience, and could never have articulated the gospel so clearly.
I had to get my hands on these wristbands, and I was driven to talk with the people who developed it.
When I got back to the States, I called the Canadian Catholic group who quickly and humbly admitted that this was not their tool, but that they got it from the evangelical organization Campus Crusade in Switzerland.
It was there that I had the joy of meeting Raphael Marti, who developed these symbols known as THE FOUR. He explained that they intended to make sharing the basic gospel message simple and memorable and wanted to present it to attract people to ask about it. I’ve had this experience myself, wearing the wristband on an airplane and having the person sitting next to me ask, “What does that mean?” THE FOUR opens the door to share the gospel.
Marti also explained that the secondary purpose is to help combat “moralistic therapeutic deism,” a distorted view of Christianity that is dominant in our culture and has left many Christians unable to articulate basic truths of the faith. But if these truths are conveyed in a visual tool like THE FOUR, a young person can easily remember and then internalize them.
While this tool is not specifically Catholic, the truth of it could not be more orthodox. The gospel is foundational. And that question mark, that response, is where everything else comes in. How do I respond? The life of prayer is my response. The sacramental life is my response. Rumor had it that when some people were evangelizing with THE FOUR at WYD, they had priests waiting to hear people’s confessions!
At YDisciple, we are dedicated to helping people make young disciples. And disciples evangelize; they make more disciples. A tool like THE FOUR can help new disciples remember the heart of the message.
Marti and his team in Switzerland were so encouraged to have Catholics using THE FOUR that they generously shared their “Training Manual” with YDisciple and gave us permission to adapt it for a Catholic context–the language, Bible translation, even additional supporting quotes from saints and popes!
Now this adapted resource is available to you for free. No strings attached.
This could be great content for you to use in your ministry with Catholic teenagers.
Here are just a few ideas:
- The content in this e-book directly correlates to the YDisciple series, The Invitation. Use this in your small group in the weeks after completing The Invitation before moving on to another video series.
- Confirmation empowers us to spread and defend the Catholic faith. Have confirmation students go through it as a “capstone” course.
- Have small groups go through a chapter a week, then finish with a service project where they use THE FOUR in real life.
- Use it as a tool for one-on-one discipleship with young people who are on fire to share their faith.
- Make it a Bible study! Discuss the scripture verses in the e-book in depth.
- Get wristbands for your small group and regularly ask them if they can articulate the gospel.
And all because one vibrant, joyful, faith-filled Dominican found a bracelet in Poland.