Easter came alive for us this year thanks to the opportunity we were given to review the Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” by Drive Thru History® . This series covers the extraordinary life of Jesus of Nazareth.
I am nearly speechless as I sit here and write about our experience with this product. Emotions well up from deep within me as I believe this may have been the single most important product that we have had the privilege of owning. I do not know where to start and I do not want to miss anything; I still get goosebumps when I think about these last few weeks.
I knew that I could expect a quality product from Drive Thru History® with Dave Stotts as we own the Drive Thru History America: Foundations of Character and we have also seen portions of East Meets West and Rome if You Want To. Dave Stotts has a great presence and he brings history to life as he unfolds a historical narrative while taking you on a drive through significant historical locations. He is welcoming, funny and makes you feel like you are an old friend along for the ride.
My expectations of the product quality itself were exceeded from the moment I opened the package. To start, there is a full-colored sleeve surrounding a beautifully bound hard back book. Three discs are tucked nicely away on the inside of the covers, two in the front and one in the back and in between are just over 100 high quality, full-colored full-bleed pages of chapter summaries and discussion questions upon gorgeous photography. The packaging is absolutely fabulous and gives the impression that this is important. As a matter of fact, it feels like it should be on display like a coffee table art book, not something that should be tucked away on a shelf among the rest of your movie collection.
It was a Monday evening, near dinner time when we opened the package. Everyone was home and it was the perfect opportunity for us to watch the first episode together. I assumed, at the time, that we would continue to watch the episodes during our normal school day and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for Handsome to get a glimpse of our current studies. It was quickly decided and within minutes the trusty tv trays were set up and episode one began. The room grew strangely quiet and as I looked around the room, not a single person was distracted. Everyone was on the edge of their seat as the initial episode unfolded.
Stunned. The ambiance of the room was nothing short of stunned. It was as if we all just witnessed a meteor fall from the sky and land right in front of us. I can not put my finger on what happened in our living room that night, all I know is we were silent. We were somber. We were in awe. Our awe was not necessarily of the fantastic episode, it was realizing the value of this story, the story of the single most significant person to have ever lived. The Boy (6) was the first to break the silence, “let’s watch the next one!” And that we did.
We did the same thing the following night and again a few nights later. We often watched two episodes, sometimes only one. When family visited us for a weekend, we watched two together and then our guests continued watching the entire first disc – six episodes!
On our way to church on Palm Sunday, Handsome and I were talking about how different the Easter season seemed this year. We had just finished the twelfth episode the night before which was A Final Trip to Jerusalem. It dawned on us in that moment that the next episode would be about Jesus’ triumphal entry, Palm Sunday, that same day nearly 2,000 years ago. We were moved to tears as we overcame our goosebumps. We were ready to start the final disc, the last six episodes, covering the last days of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We were literally going to be watching these episodes perfectly coinciding with the days that we traditionally celebrate the events themselves.
Both Handsome and I have read the gospels in their entirety. I have read the entire bible from cover to cover. Our children have read the gospels. We all know the story of Jesus. We know most of the details. We speak about them often. Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”, however, made it possible for us to live the gospels for those few weeks. We watched Jesus’ life unfold before us and we went with him on His journey throughout His ministry. Nothing, except being in the Holy Lands could have illuminated the life of Jesus the way that Drive Thru History® did.
We did finish the last disc during Holy Week. We were with Jesus at the Last Supper on Thursday. We listened to the crowd crying, “Crucify Him!” as He stood before them, as well as when He carried His cross, was nailed to it, and took His final breath, all on Friday. And then on Sunday, we were there with the women as they walked to the empty tomb. It didn’t matter that we already knew the story, it was a completely different experience to be part of the story; to be there firsthand.
We watched the entire 18 episodes during the review period, as a family. It literally transformed our understanding of the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It colored in the pictures of our black and white mental pictures of the events of His life. It filled in gaps on things that we did not fully understand the magnitude of, such as the narcissistic King Herod and the Herodium. And again when Dave told us about the significance of the Samaritan woman at the well and why the Samaritans were considered less than. We were taught the meanings of many customs like the wedding customs of the day. We got to see the pools of Bethesda.
I apologize for being so wordy about our experience with the Gospels. I feel that I can not possibly convey the utter significance of this series as it brings to life the greatest story already told.
The accompanying book, or study guide, included full-bleed pages of stunning photography of the location of the particular events as background for every page. There are summaries to be read either before or after the episode, and even later for further reflection. Scriptures are listed of where the individual episode is drawn from through the four gospel books. There are also discussion questions provided to deepen ones thoughts or share within a group, such as:
Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” is appropriate for all ages and a fabulous family-friendly series. It can also serve as a homeschool curriculum, a small group study or even a Sunday School class. The accompanying scriptures can be assigned to be read prior to the episode or even read aloud together. It is created with the utmost flexibility, allowing it to be a perfectly tailored fit to ones particular needs. Although it is appropriate for all ages (parents might want to preview episode #16 – The Crucifixion of Jesus prior to showing young children), in regards to a classroom or homeschool setting it was developed for middle school ages and above. We had fully expected to use it as such with Bookworm Beauty but ended up enjoying it as a family instead.