Young Life Lite

Last year, more than 200 leaders from Oklahoma and Kansas played Duck Duck Goose and Twister in a giant bubble during their regional leadership meeting. Jay Robinson, the Tulsa, Okla., metro director, constructed it after his friend and co-planner, Scott Hennigan, said “Junior High Games Night” would be a lot more fun if it was held in a giant plastic bubble.

Robinson, a mechanical engineer by education, spent days researching, designing and obtaining materials to create the transparent cocoon. Inspired by cold air balloons, he decided he could sew together sheets of heavy-gauge plastic, and then inflate the structure with two super-sized fans.

The Wednesday before the weekend event, he set up shop borrowing his wife’s sewing machine. It took him three hours to sew one 60-foot seam. Panicked, Robinson called his friend and said, “We’ve got to go with a smaller bubble.” Hennigan was undeterred. “We really need the bigger bubble,” he said. So Robinson recalibrated and moved his operation to a friend’s warehouse where he anchored his sewing machine to a skateboard and, literally, let it roll. He finished the bubble with only hours to spare.

“Later, we unrolled the plastic and hooked it up to the fans. I had no idea if it was going to work or not. Slowly, the bubble began to grow, and grow, and grow. Twenty minutes later it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen!” Robinson said.

The bubble that began as fun and games ultimately became a life-changing faith lesson for leaders in the Tulsa area.

A month after the bubble games, the area accepted a camp scholarship grant through Young Life’s missionwide “Fill the Bus” program. They committed to take an additional 30 kids to camp for a total of 83 spots, accepting a $15,000 obligation if they failed to fill the seats.

Volunteer leader Cheryl Chalker said, “It was a huge challenge and one that really spoke to me on a personal level. Being a part of something that took so much faith I knew was going to rock me!”

The challenge rocked Robinson also when, well into camp sign-ups, the metro area only had 13 kids on the list. “I really wanted to cut our camp numbers and reduce them to a number that I knew we could hit. One morning in my quiet time, the Lord hit me with a revelation. My bubble was too small. I felt the Lord telling me, ‘Trust me and expand your bubble.’”

In faith, Robinson, Chalker and the other leaders began to pray. Chalker said, “I was praying for the kids I knew and praying for the kids I didn’t know, but knew the Lord wanted at camp.” And, in particular, she prayed for Abra, a senior Chalker had been praying for since Abra was in eighth-grade.

Years earlier, Tulsa leaders were challenged to focus their prayers on one student. “Abra was my one,” said Chalker. But after four years of prayer, Abra was no closer to the Lord. They lost touch for a time until the spring of Abra’s senior year when she began communicating with Chalker by text messages. Soon, Chalker began talking with her about camp.

When buses from the Tulsa area left for camp last summer, there were 88 kids on board, including Abra and her little sister, Erin.

"I was in awe that this girl who had been on my heart for five years ended up signing up for camp and signing up her little sister with her. She had the best week of her life and accepted Christ as her Savior,” said Chalker. “What a faithful God we have. He knew the right timing for her was five years after I met her. God expanded my bubble in every way possible. He is the God of the big and small things."