Cast member Matt Elrod is proving that redemption comes from God, not works, as he survives elimination from the CBS reality show "Survivor: Redemption Island."
The television competition that upholds the objectives outwit, outplay and outlast as virtues is getting a lesson in faith as the camera footage shows the 22-year-old pre-med student Elrod praying for strength and endurance.
While waiting on Redemption Island to compete for a spot among the finalists, Elrod repeatedly cries out to God for solace from the isolation and the endurance to do His will. Though he says he feels like calling it quits, Elrod prays, "I'm putting my trust and my faith in you Lord Jesus." He continues, "I want nothing to do with it Lord, but if you want me to stay in it, God, I will."
In the 22nd season of the show, "Survivor" has taken on a new twist with the theme of "redemption."
Castaways, who have been eliminated from the game in a remote location in Nicaragua, for the first time, have an opportunity to seek redemption and return for a chance to win the million-dollar prize.
Each week at Tribal Council when a castaway is voted off, he or she is sent to Redemption Island, where that player will live alone in exile until the next person eliminated at Tribal Council is sent to the island. To stay on the new island, the castaways must compete in duels where the winner earns the right to continue fighting for an opportunity to eventually return to the game and the chance to compete for the title of Sole Survivor. The loser is sent home.
The duel allows players to work for their salvation in the game. However, Elrod has, from the start, sought God's help.
In the second episode, Elrod revealed that he had been praying that God would place him in an alliance. However, his attempt to align himself with Andrea Boehlke was broken up by his Ometepe tribe leader, veteran "Boston" Rob Mariano, when Elrod was eliminated early in the game.
On Redemption Island, he found a friend in Krista Klumpp, a former Miss Alabama contestant. The two connected over their faith in God. Unfortunately, the two were forced to face off against each other and Elrod emerged as the victor.
Elrod tried a second time to align with his Ometepe teammates in Episode 8. Mariano, desperate to win this competition, his third, schemed against Elrod and sent him back to the island.
After his second Tribal Council elimination, Elrod prayed, "Lord, I trust you that this is your will: You using my stupidity for your glory. So, thank you Lord for this opportunity and blessed be your name."
Elrod won the following duel despite Mariano’s efforts to send Zapatera members David Murphy, a defense attorney, and Mike Chiesl, an Iraq War veteran, to the island to eliminate him. Elrod has survived seven straight duels, all of which he attributes to God's strength.
In Wednesday night's episode, Elrod will continue to delve deeper into his faith. A clip of the upcoming episode shows Elrod crying at the realization that "God has literally been carrying me."
Correction: Monday, May 2, 2011:
An article on Wednesday, April 27, 2011, about the experiences of Matt Elrod, a Christian, on the reality TV show "Survivor," incorrectly reported the names and occupations of two other cast members. David Murphy is a defense attorney and Mike Chiesl is an Iraq War veteran.