Edward ‘Bear’ Grylls is the presenter of the TV series ‘Born Survivor’. He is also a writer, climber, and adventurer known particularly for his survival skills.
‘Born Survivor’ is made by Channel 4 in the UK and is broadcast in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and the U.S.A. as ‘Man Versus Wild’. It is also broadcast as ‘Ultimate Survival’ on the Discovery Channel in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
In the series Bear is dropped into some of the planet’s most inhospitable places so that he can show how survival skills can work almost anywhere. He is seen climbing cliffs, parachuting from helicopters and balloons, paragliding, ice climbing, running through a blazing forest, wading through rapids, climbing waterfalls and even eating snakes!
Bear grew up on the Isle of Wight in the UK and was educated at Eton College and the University of London. From a young age he learned to climb and sail with his father. After leaving school, he joined the Territorial Army (UK Army Reserves) and served with 21 Regiment for three years. It was after that in 1998 that he decided to climb Mount Everest. His first book, Facing Up, describes his expedition and achievements climbing to the summit of Mount Everest. At 23, he was certainly among the youngest people to have achieved this feat, but it was disputed whether he was technically the youngest Briton because an Australian climber with dual British citizenship had previously reached the summit in 1995.
Along with the double amputee Al Hodgson and the Scotsman Freddy MacDonald, Bear Grylls set a Guinness world record in 2008 for the longest continuous indoor freefall (in a vertical wind tunnel) in just over 1 hour 36 seconds.
Bear is also a very committed Christian. He says that he has believed in and trusted God since he was a child.
“As a really young kid, I never questioned God. I just knew God existed and it felt like He was my friend.”
He calls his Christian faith the ‘backbone’ of his life.
“I remember praying a simple prayer up a tree one evening and saying, ‘God, if you’re like I knew you as a kid, would you be that friend again?’ And it was no more complicated than that. And actually the amazing thing is that all God asks is that we sort of open the door and He’ll do the rest. So often we kinda hide behind our yearning for love and acceptance with loads of complicated theological questions, and actually once that’s stripped away what we really are is just somebody who wants to have that relationship with your Father.”
Bear has a very practical approach to his faith.
“[Faith] is about finding life and joy and peace. I am not at church a lot because I’m away a lot, so I kind of cling to the simple things, like, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ and ‘I’m holding you by your right hand.’ The simple things is what I try to keep my faith like. Jesus is unchanging and we are forgiven.”
He is a keen supporter of the Alpha Course, a 10-week course designed to give spiritual seekers an opportunity to explore the meaning of life and ask questions about God.
“I have seen Alpha touch so many people’s lives. I have seen many people find a simple faith through it and I want to encourage it because it’s helped me a load.”
Bear says Alpha answers some of those basic questions about God,
“Like do you exist? And if you do exist, are you nice? Do you really care, or are you this big religious person who just wants us to have a nightmare life?…
Christianity is not about religion, It’s about faith. It’s about being held, about being forgiven. It’s about finding joy and finding home. We all want that, but nobody wants religion!”
Story by Ralph Burden
photo: Bear Grylls. Photo attribution: share alike 2.0