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I would like to introduce to you Stefan from Germany, a former Christian music artist, and author of the Christian children’s book, The Adventures of Clara and Anton. This allegorical chapter book gives such a beautiful picture of who we are in Christ and learning to walk in our true identity as children of God.
Tell us a little about yourself, Stefan.
I grew up in a small village with a church in the south of Germany. There in the heart of the Black Forest, I spent a lot of my childhood running across meadows, climbing trees, and being on my uncle’s farm.
In the middle of Grömbach (that’s what the village is called) there was a Lutheran church and although many people were religious, God was not the center of our hearts or lives. When I was 18, I met a friend who said that Jesus was his Best Friend, the Bible was an exciting book, and God could be experienced. And he lived it.
So, I went in search of a real relationship. Despite my sheltered childhood, I was broken at 18. So I said in prayer, “God, if you can do something with a loser like me, then you are really good”.
What happened next was amazing. Our village is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. We started making music and within a few years we were touring all over Europe. As Christians, we were on the biggest German TV shows and performed at the biggest Christian festivals in Europe with many artists who were well known at the time like Rebecca St. James, Third Day, Delirious, and many more. We were on the charts and could talk about Jesus everywhere. In our “More of God” youth ministry, many teenagers got to know Jesus. That was an incredible adventure. Then we had the impression to let the band work rest, and I decided to become a teacher, married my wife Rebecca, and we now have 3 children.
I enjoyed reading The Adventures of Clara and Anton with my children and really enjoyed the allegorical themes you brought out. Tell us a little about the book and what inspired you to write it?
At the beginning of the book, you will find a quote:
“The world is a school and life a teacher. But what if the school is wicked and the teacher is a liar?”
We grow up in a fallen world. How often we are shown that we are not enough. It almost seems as if, since our early childhood, Satan does everything he can to prevent us from discovering that for which Jesus has redeemed us. God has set us holy, spotless, and blameless before Him. (Colossians 1:22)
If we believe that we are sinners, then we will always struggle against sin. When we realize that this is not our redeemed value and identity in Jesus, we will bear the fruit of an empowered and holy life. We can love and live in freedom and not in condemnation. The fact is, this happens to us according to our faith. There are things that are true whether you believe them or not, but if you believe, you will conquer the giants in your life. That is the core content of my book.
With the story, I wanted to package many spiritual truths in a way that my children would understand. You are valuable, significant, and powerful no matter what life throws at you.
My children could not get enough of the story. So my wife said that I could bless many more children and families with this story. That was the reason we put a lot of money into the story. We probably won’t see that money again any time soon. But that’s not the point. We have illustrated the book and had it translated in faith into many languages. The English version has now won two book prizes: the International Impact Book Award and the Pencraft Award. This is a great honor and also somewhat unexpected.
Surprisingly, the book has not really reached the main target group, “Christian families” (which is a little insider tip). Neverthelesss, you can confidently give the book to non-Christian families and children as well. Fathers who read the book to their children said they had tears in their eyes themselves. Of course, we are happy that this story is making an impact and going around the world, and let’s see if maybe it will be made into a movie one day. Whatever happens, we will let God surprise us and continue to live our lives as normal in the Black Forest.
What is the ideal age group for your book?
The book is mainly for children from 6 to 12 years of age. It may be a little too exciting for younger children.
Share with us a little about the process of writing this book and your illustrations.
Because I have told the story so often to our children, it was no problem to bring the story on paper. Since we moved and I renovated a house, my friend Gerrit helped me. I told him the story as a voice message, he wrote it down, and I corrected it on the computer in the evening. Ana, an illustrator from Serbia, drew an illustration for each chapter. We were often very moved. Gerrit said that it was somehow his story that he was writing down. Ana wrote in between that she had the impression of working on a storyboard for a big blockbuster movie, and my brother, who was allowed to test read the book with his children, cried while reading it. It was all a very emotional process.
What do you want children to glean from this book?
It´s not just about children. The message is: You are valuable, incredibly powerful, and significant no matter what life throws at you. It’s true whether you believe it or not, but if you believe it, you will conquer giants.
How have you seen your book impact children and families thus far?
I am always approached by children who were very touched. I also notice with my children that they understand the Bible and what Jesus has done for us much better because Clara and Anton have laid a good foundation. This may sound a little harsh to some, but I think there are stories that simply bring things closer on a spiritual level. I do not want to compare my book in any way to the Bible.
Do you have any other books you are working on or planning to write after this book?
Yes, Clara and Anton will be followed by 3 more volumes.
I have another children’s book for younger children to help families deal with the topic of death. It’s called Home in Heaven.
Where can our readers find The Adventures of Clara and Anton to purchase?
You can find it on Amazon, and as an audiobook, you can listen to The Adventures of Clara and Anton for free on Spotify.
Thank you for sharing this heart-felt book with us! I know God has already used this story in powerful ways and will continue to help his children (young and old) understand better their true identity in Him!