Bear Grylls shares his heart-breaking story that led to his faith in Jesus Christ.
Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls was born 7 June 1974 and is a British adventurer, writer and television presenter from Northern Ireland. He is widely known for his television series Man vs. Wild (2006—2011), originally titled Born Survivor: Bear Grylls in the United Kingdom.
Bear Grylls may be known for his wild ways and impressive survival skills, but there’s a side to him that many haven’t seen.
Grylls is also involved in a number of wilderness survival television series in the UK and US and in 2009 was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout in the UK at age 35, but there’s a side to him that many haven’t seen.
Bear Grylls is a born again Christian and if you happen to meet him in person, you’ll quickly learn that he’s unashamed to tell you so. Whilst Bear Grylls doesn’t claim to be a perfect Christian, it was his deepest struggles in life which caused him to give his life to Jesus Christ.
When he was 4-years-old, Grylls’ family shifted to Bembridge village on the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight. From an early age, the adventurous little tyke learned to climb and sail with his father, who was a member of the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron. But his curious ways and tendency to run towards danger made him a handful.
Grylls said, “I behaved badly at school, perhaps in part because Dad was working very hard, and often late. My mum, as his assistant, worked beside him. I remember once biting a boy so hard that I drew blood, and then watching as the teachers rang my father to say they didn’t know what to do with me. My father said he knew what to do, and came to the school at once. With a chair placed in the middle of the gym, and all the other children sitting cross-legged on the floor around him, he whacked me until my backside was black and blue.”
Bear became a Cub Scout at the age of eight, earning a dan black belt in Shotokan Karate when he was eleven. He learned to skydive as a young teen, and also was one of the youngest in the world to scale Mount Everest at the age of 23, but all the while, he clung to his Faith in Jesus Christ.
“I had a very natural faith as a kid,” Grylls told Relevant Magazine. “As a really young kid, I never questioned God. I just knew God existed and it felt like He was my friend.”
Young Grylls’ adventurous spirit and wild heart didn’t make it easy on his parents – and he has an endless amount of escape stories to prove it. Unfortunately in high school, Grylls came across several ‘believers’ that distorted his view of Christianity, and over time, Bear abandoned his Faith.
“When I got to school it [Christianity] became a lot more religious and I thought, ‘I don’t like this,’” he told CBN. “It was all about church-going and people telling you not to smoke behind the bike shed. I thought, ‘If this is God, maybe I’ve got the whole deal wrong.’ So I kind of ditched my faith.”
With stories like miraculously surviving a sinking mud-pit, and getting dismissed from prep school for kissing the headmaster’s daughter; Grylls’ teenage years make even the wildest teenagers appear to be god saints.
Reflecting back on his rebellious ways, Bear said, “I would explore all the forbidden areas of the school and grounds, and I knew I was faster and more agile than any of the security guards. One night, I attempted an ascent of the 120ft-high school library dome. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a pupil before me, had conquered it by improvising a stepladder. I used the lightning conductor.”
At the age 16, Grylls lost his godfather who had been like a second father. Overtaken with grief and not knowing where else to turn, Bear found a refuge in God.
“I remember wanting to pray, but not knowing how to,” he recalled to CBN. Grylls climbed up in a tree and poured his heart out to God. “Will you be that friend to me that you were at five or six when it felt natural?” he asked.
Bear told Relevant Magazine, “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.”
With a renewed spirit and faith in Christ, Grylls joined the ‘Territorial Army’ (Army Reserve UK) after high school and worked at the Special Air Service unit of the army for three years. During a SAS skydive in 1996, Grylls survived a horrifying parachuting accident in Zambia. His parachute ripped at 16,000 ft, partially opening, causing him to free-fall and land on his back, but by the grace of God, Bear survived.
On 16 May 1998 just 18 months after his horrific accident, Grylls achieved his childhood dream of climbing Mount Everest in Nepal and was later recognised in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ as the youngest Briton to climb Ama Dablam, a peak described by Sir Edmund Hillary as “unclimbable”.
Bear met his wife, Shara, after he had finally recovered from his parachute accident. It was love at first sight. And from that moment forward, the two wild-hearted adventurers were inseparable.
Grylls revealed, “I pulled out the ring from my butt cheeks,’ the TV personality explained during an episode of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories with a grin on his face. Despite the bizarre proposal, Shara said ‘Yes’.”
Grylls explained, “We figured that if [marriage] was the most important thing we were ever going to do, we should do everything we could to stop it breaking in the first place. At our wedding, we asked our guests for their best marriage advice. We got some gems of replies but the best came from a couple who had been married for 50 years. It was also the simplest: ‘Never stop holding hands.’ That’s what Shara and I have always tried to do, both physically and metaphorically.”
But within a year of their wedding, Grylls’ father — the most inspirational figure in his life — passed away at the age of 66.
“Losing my dad when we had just got married was a really tough one,” he admitted in an interview with The Telegraph. “Suddenly it was like, ‘Bang! OK. How are we going to pay the electricity bill? How are we going to look after our mothers?’ I felt totally thrown in the deep end. It always felt too early. We had to lean on each other, and that was when our marriage really started.”
Despite all of his accomplishments, Bear Grylls considers his Faith and family his greatest joys. He explained that activities don’t have to be “expensive or fancy” – it’s more about spending quality time together. “Togetherness is what it’s all about,” he added.
Bear and Shara have three sons, Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry – the last of whom was born on their Thames River houseboat.
“We’ve been married almost 10 years, and that’s been a great glue to our family, actually. I look back now and I think it’d be really hard without that faith together – that sustained us.”
Grylls’ hosted eleven successful television shows, authored several books, and accomplished dozens of personal goals such as hiking Mount Everest, becoming the youngest Chief Scout ever (at the age of 34-years-old), wrestling an alligator, and holding the world record for the “Highest Open-Air Formal Dinner Party” – held in a hot-air balloon at 7,600m.
But despite his many achievements, Bear Grylls remains a humble family man who honors his wife and trusts in his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Christianity is not about religion, it’s about faith, about being held, about being forgiven. It’s about finding joy and finding home… I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to be forgiven or held or find peace or joy in their life.
“The simple things is what I try to keep my faith like: Jesus is unchanging and we are forgiven… I for one, do not want to reach the end of my life in a perfectly preserved body. I want to come flying in sideways, covered in scars, beaten up and screaming: ‘Yahoo! What a ride!’” — Bear Grylls
Featuring in our January edition of Men Talk.