Monks hummed in perfect unison. Gongs echoed throughout the still air. Golden Buddha statues adorned the walls. Intoxicating incense mixed with thick humidity hung heavily in the air.
This was Leslie Nease's newfound reality. She was a contestant on season 15 of Survivor: China.
A fan since the show's beginning, Nease admits, "I felt called to be on the show, but, at first, it didn't make sense. Why would God want me to be on a reality television show that is often very un-Christian? I mean, most of the time people are stabbing each other in the back, lying, and cheating. But as I prayed about it, he opened my eyes to Scriptures confirming God's call to go with a spirit of love and integrity as his witness."
Her first audition was in January 2002. Sending in her written application and video tape, which connected mothering four children to being a successful Survivor, Nease was only at the beginning of a journey that would prove not only to be about Survivor but also about passionate personal faith.
Survivor is a reality show game where 16 Americans from every walk of life are stranded in the middle of nowhere and are left to fend for themselves. They're divided into two tribes of eight, and every three days they battle it out through an Immunity Challenge. The losing tribe goes to Tribal Council where they vote out one of their members. When only 10 Survivors remain in the game, they form a jury as they are voted out. This means they're officially out of the game, but they return to witness Tribal Councils and, in the end, they vote for the winner of the game's million dollar prize.1