GIFHORN, Germany -- A church-run program is helping high school students cope with the stress of exams and school life.
Every day, Christian mentors find ways to bring emotional and spiritual health of fellow students.
Ruben Krenzke, 17, is an average student. But when the bell rings, he begins the work that he really enjoys.
He's promoting a church service he and his friends organized for young people. Ruben is a member of "School Motivators," a network of Christian students who help their peers find purpose in life.
"Glad you're all here and that so many have come today. Today's reading is from Psalm 139. It says, 'you have looked deep into my heart, Lord, and you know all about me,'" he said.
For the past couple of years, Ruben has led the recess Bible study. Here students can relax for a moment and escape the stress of studies and exams.
"We discuss different topics. It brings a ray of hope in the daily grind, talking about the Bible and such. About our faith. There are always new things to think about, that then become important to me," student Daniela Eisner said.
Students often talk with Ruben about their worries and hardships, whether they're believers or not. Ruben listens and tries to help where he can, and he prays:
"For the students in the Bible study group. But also for our peers who are not doing well. For the teachers, who are not so kind to the students. For the teachers who do things that aren't necessarily good for the students. Yeah, for them, too," Ruben said.
Bible study members are interested in the lives of other students, including how they're doing in their studies. And teachers see the value of their initiative.
"And maybe, reflection on values and norms in our society can be rekindled somewhat. Because it is unfortunate to see a certain loss of values among the students," one teacher said.
"I think religion is important. But for me, it is personally not an option, because I have problems identifying with it. But I can understand that others may see it as a good path to happiness and living peacefully with others," one student said.
After school, Ruben goes online to share with other members of the nation-wide School Motivators network. Here, more experienced members can help him as he shares God's love with his peers.
"Every member of School Motivators should treat people in a loving manner. That is one of the most important responsibilities. To show them that they are valuable, that we can relate to them," Ruben said.
*Originally published October 23, 2009