In Germany, a new classroom lesson plan translates roughly as "The Buzz About Jesus." All public-school students must take religion classes, yet teachers often struggle to find good materials, especially in elementary school. So Cru in Germany adapted The Story of Jesus for Children DVD into a school curriculum.
When Pastor Joachim Hipfel saw the material, he began using it in his third-grade religion classes. He teaches at Eisgrub School near Mainz, where children come from difficult social backgrounds and have had little exposure to religion.
One girl, Svenia, made it clear she didn't believe in God. But after seeing the Crucifixion, she was in tears, and walked to the teacher's desk to ask a question her classmates had been discussing.
"Did Jesus go to the cross of His own free will?" she asked.
"Yes," Pastor Hipfel told her.
Svenia turned to the class and shouted out, "See! I told you He went to the cross voluntarily!" There was clearly a buzz about Jesus among the students.
Then Svenia turned back to the teacher and asked, "But why would He do that?"
Pastor Hipfel then had the opportunity to further explain God's love and forgiveness to the class. "These kids process things more through an emotional relationship than through intellectual understanding," says Pastor Hipfel, "and the curriculum connected with them emotionally."
Andreas Bartels, director of the JESUS film ministry in Germany, hopes such stories will be replicated across the country in the coming years. "We use colorful materials with at least five multimedia elements in each class session," he says. "This material is attractive to teachers, and shows children that Christianity is of high value."
Teachers like Pastor Hipfel also like the personal touch. "I especially like the part where children write a letter to Jesus," he says. "They are so sweet and honest -- they even ask questions like, 'Will our soccer team win?'"
Since the course was completed, more than 200 packages have been sold and used throughout Germany. "Many teachers have told me they really need this," says Andreas. "They say that such professional, high-quality multimedia materials are not available anywhere else."