I enjoy interviewing other leaders. I learn so much from them each time I spend a little time asking them question after question.
In reflecting on the people that I interviewed last year, it was easy for me to choose the one person I enjoyed chatting with most: Leslie Nease.
Leslie is most well known for her stint on the long running reality show, Survivor. She was a contestant on Survivor: China. And boy, was she memorable. In the premiere episode of that season the contestants were asked to march right up to a Buddhist temple for a "ceremony." Jeff Probst, the show's host, told the contestants that they would be participating in a ceremony and then tried to reassure contestants (especially those with different beliefs) that it was not "a worship service." The contestants walked into the temple and were asked to bow before Buddha.
What happened next was remarkable. Leslie walked out of the ceremony [video here]. She was later confronted on camera by Probst as to why she walked out and she stated "I'm sorry, it felt like worship to me... and the only person I will put my face to the floor for is Jesus Christ." WOW!
This past summer I felt led to speak from the book of Daniel, particularly on how you can maintain your faith in a culture filled with sin. When prepping for the message I felt God bringing to my mind this episode of Survivor... and Leslie's example. Within a few hours I was talking with Leslie about her experience and would later include her story in my talk.
I was amazed at Leslie's story as she shared with me. One of the things she shared was how much she wanted to be on the show. In fact, she tried out 11 times! Upon finally getting the attention of producers and being accepted as a contestant, she (along with the other castaways) were informed that they were not to jeopardize CBS' presence in the country. It was difficult for the show to get the opportunity to tape in China and if anyone jeopardized that relationship they would immediately be sent home! So when Leslie walked out of the Buddhist ceremony it was a HUGE deal for her. She just knew she would be sent packing. However, the producers continued to roll tape and include it in the show.
Since being voted off the show, Nease has established a ministry where she travels around the country to share her faith with others. She is one of the most inspiring people I have met in a while and was a huge encouragement to me this past year through my own Daniel experience.
This is why I have named her my favorite interviewee of 2010.
I highly encourage you to use Leslie's story when you are speaking about faith or courage to your audience -- or even book her to speak to your audience for you!
Thank you, Leslie, for your incredible example of faith.Editors Note: By the way, Leslie & I found out during our chat together that our worlds weren't too far apart after all. We both worked for sister radio stations a few years ago (small world!).