Young Life Lite

What can turn off a lamp, silence an alarm clock, purée a muskmelon and make a pair of unicycles from a bicycle with the swing of an arm? Why, the Hatchet-All can. The Hatchet-All can because — the Hatchet-All does it all.

At least that's how lumberjack brothers, Hank and Tank, pitched their cutting-edge tool to middle school kids attending Timber Wolf Lake's WyldLife camp. Hank and Tank were forced into salesmanship to save Timber Wolf Lake from bankruptcy. Their father, Pa, willed the family property to them, but having exhausted both their managerial and financial resources, the brothers were desperate. First National Bank and Mistrust of Lake City, Mich., was poised to repossess the camp.

The Hatchet-All was more than a moneymaker for Hank and Tank; it was also the tool that program staff Mark "Hank" Brown and Anthony "Tank" Taylor used to illustrate the camp speaker's weeklong Gospel presentation.

"As we created our run-on skits we wanted to communicate redemption and God's deep love for us so it synced with Justin Davis' message," said Brown. "We recognized that some kids are cerebral and understand the message they hear, others are visual learners, and there are others who are more entertainment-oriented. We saw this as an opportunity to create another level of understanding of the Gospel."

Kellye Poage, Young Life leader and youth minister at St. John Bosco Parish in Mattawan, Mich., was at Timber Wolf that August week with 18 middle school kids, including one named Charlie. All week Poage, Charlie and his friends watched Hank and Tank's drama unfold, while daily, and on a seemingly unrelated path, Davis retold and unpacked the story of Jesus.

In club, the day after Davis recounted the price that Jesus paid on the cross for us, Hank and Tank bemoaned their plight. A million-dollar mortgage? It was a debt they could not pay.

Poage knew where this was going. But she delighted in watching the kids' reactions as these stories intersected and became real, as so often happens at Young Life camp. As a youth minister at a Catholic church she appreciates the way Young Life and churches can partner to reach kids with the Gospel.

"Here we say that the church provides the education about God and Young Life can provide a new experience of Him." Poage continued, "As children, many of our kids learn about God as Father and Lord, but Young Life camp is the perfect opportunity for them to meet Jesus as personal savior. All this knowledge of God becomes so intimate, they just say ‘wow' when it becomes their own."

Meanwhile, back at the camp, the Hatchet-All had done everything but raise cash. The brothers and Timber Wolf were doomed — until they discovered the rope trailing from Pa's final resting place. When camp speaker Davis encouraged Hank and Tank to give that rope a yank, they unearthed the check Pa had written to them before his death. It was a check inscribed for a million dollars, "in case of bankruptcy." He bequeathed a sum to satisfy their debt. Their father had paid it all.

Hank said, "Tank, isn't it amazing how our father loved us so much that he gave everything he had to save us?" Just then, in a moment of startling clarity, a wide-eyed Charlie turned to Poage and said, "No — Way."

Yup, Charlie. Way.

In fact, the Way, the Truth and the Life — made clearer and more personal for another WyldLife camper.