The Covenant at Life Below Zero

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I don’t recall any docu/reality show in recent history that has thrown me into a must watch binge fest as National Geographic’s series Life Below Zero. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more fitting for the channel or the National Geographic brand.

Remember the days of opening up the National Geographic magazines, looking at fantastic photography of God’s creation. Everything from animals, to humans. The magazine was fascinating because it brought you to parts of the world, most people would never see. I remember when National Geographic Specials meant something. I was allowed to stat up and watch them, because my parents we’re allowed to stay up and watch them as a child as well.

Life Below Zero, a Docu/Reality style television series on National Geographic is everything NG is and was. Fantastic videography, use of GoPro’s and story telling really makes this show incredible. National Geographic nails it.

From under the ice shots of ice fishing, to beautiful time lapses of the Alaskan sky at night. The artwork of the camera crew really goes to show the beauty that is this barren wilderness.

Imagine living alone, 350 miles from your nearest neighbor. Hunting anything that moves, with one purpose, to find food to survive. Constantly fighting just to stay warm and feed your family. Always on the lookout for starving predators, who just want a tasty meal like yourself.

Sounds like something you would find in Africa, or in the midst of the jungles of South America? But no, it’s within the United States. In the most remote locations in Alaska.

Past the arctic circle wealth is based on how much caribou meat you have. Food is currency. No parts of an animal goes to waste.

These arctic circle citizens fascinate me like no other. Take Sue Aikens, who lives in Kavik, AK, About as far north as humanly possible. She lives all by herself at a hunting/wildlife camp that she owns. Her days are filled with hunting for food, alone. Killing predators, alone and removing snow off the buildings to prevent cave ins, over and over again.


350 miles from the closest human. 500 miles from the closet hospital. Her address is nothing more than a GPS point. A landing strip provides her only way on or off the property, and provides her with routine shipments of fuel, milk, food but only when she pays $600 an hour for a rental plane.

The main point of the series is Freedom. Here are some paraphrases of some memorable lines from the show:

“I wake up when I want, sleep when I’m tired, and do what I want to do”

“I don’t have anyone tell me when I can hunt, when I can get wood, or tell me to get insurance. If I get sick, I get sick, if I break something I fix it. I take care of things myself, I’ll never move to the lower 48 again.”

“If Quality of life is measured in the amount of free time one has, I have a great quality of life.”

To be honest, its hard not to see this stuff and pack my bags, by a gun, and move on out there. I wouldn’t mind the hermit lifestyle at all. It wouldn’t be that bad, even Sue Aikens, who lives at the end of the Earth has internet access via satellite (so much for things  getting worse huh?).

With all the tyranny of living in the lower 48, with Obamacare, with needing insurance for your car. An ever increasing cost of living, and lack of available jobs. Who wouldn’t want to just run away from it all and hunt bears and caribou all your life?

But then I thought of something, with all the luxuries of life given to those who work hard in the middle of nowhere, the copious amounts of free time, the lack of need for financial wealth, they are missing one thing that makes moving there an impossibility.

A local body of believers. Church fellowship. A Covenant.

A Church cannot function with one member. There needs to be a plurality of elders, a Presbytery for oversight, deacons, families and children. When the closest neighbor is hundreds of miles away, there is no hope of a Church being planted down the road. There is an impossibility of communion, baptisms, discipline, and all the other benefits of Covenant.

This is not to say that one should not share the Gospel with these people or that we should abandon them to the wilderness. Or even that Christian’s shouldn’t pursue rural ministry. The great commission requires sharing the Gospel to the farthest most remote areas on earth.

However, this quote comes to mind “If you don’t have a good church in your area, move.”

The Bible says it’s not good for man to be alone and it means it. This is more than just a statement of man’s need for wife. It’s speaking of the need for fellowship, for community, for Church, for Covenant. For friendships and gatherings. Even if it’s just to watch a ball game with other believers from time to time.

If the point of Life Below Zero is to demonstrate how humanity lives in the most inhospitable areas of the planet, it fails to show that life cannot and they should not live in such solitary conditions.

These people are removed from Covenant. That’s far worse than living in -40 degree weather, or constantly hunting starving bears. They have no pastor. They have no elders. No faith community. No preaching of the Word, communion or corporate worship.

and that’s the real danger of living Life Below Zero.

The sad thing is that this lack of Covenant is not just in the midst of vast wilderness. At least when your town is population one, and your it there is an excuse for lack of community. But sadly, there is a tremendous lack of Covenant community within our own cities. Sure, there are Churches where they have the preaching of the Word, sound doctrine, communion, and baptism but many of these Churches, just like Kavik Alaska lack community.

Covenant is not about simply meeting once on Sunday and saying hello to those people who sort of look familiar, but the name escapes you, week after week. It’s about being a part of something. About helping others out. Knowing each other, praying together, and living life and furthering the Kingdom together. It’s about an intimate community, like we see pictured in Acts where the body sold their possessions and gave to those who had need.

Churches who lack intimacy, are nothing more than cold, barren inhospitable wildernesses. Even if they got their theological jot’s and tittles right. This is why community groups are so vital to the Covenant. They turn a prayer request in the bulletin into a face with laughter, and personality. Knowing an individual, produces more passionate prayers for an individual. It produces a more dedicated Church, and even makes Church discipline more painful, as it should be.

So what’s the temperature of your church? Is it warm an inviting? Or could it be used as a story arc for Life Below Zero?

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5 Responses to "The Covenant at Life Below Zero"

  1. edward hailstone says:

    You REALLY need to do some resaerch before spewing LIES.

    Inupiaq eskimo, by the thousands have lived here for thousands of years, just like the Good Inupiat Folks that live NORTH of Sue, also for thousands of Years. Agnes and I LIVE in a community, there is a Chruch here, and the customes and culture here is older than the US and was in full swing when Christ walked the earth. It saddens me that you LIE about the lack of what we have here, and try and put some christian bend on it all. I suggest you do some research, prehaps have a discussion with those of us on LBZ. prehaps you should look into the fact that eskimo PEOPLE live here and North of here, and they they are deeply religious and not in the “cold”

    the Real danger of Life Below Zero is the idiots who spew such garbage and invoke the name of the Lord while doing it. You have No culture, No community and No God when your words are decietfull lies.

    • edward hailstone says:

      I’ll tell you what; The post you made angers me because you make false claims against me, my family and my community. You wouldnt belive how something just the same has nearly devesated my family and our way of life. I do not like what you wrote, but I invite you to Noorvik, and to the friends Church here, if that is all that stops you. there are visiting Baptists, if that helps. With the truth at hand, prehaps you could writte better about people you do not know. While outsiders can move here, what you cannot move into is how close and family related the villages are. That takes years, work and commitment, Folks here have the time and patience to see people come and go often…in some way, we are all related here , by blood or in my case, marriage an dthe hunting/fishing/gathering culture of the folks here endures us physicly, spirtually and as family, we all think of each other and so we think as one, as a community, a church and in education, search and rescue and all things community wide, and no different than 100 years ago.

      Sue is a hell of a woman, in my eyes to live alone where she does, and Im sure some faith , even without a church , carries her through, but I wont speak for Sue.

      If you want to use the show to highlight some point, get your facts right. Come to Noorvik and stay here, in my home and see.


      • Lucas says:

        Hey Chip, the author wasn’t lying. To lie is to know the truth, and still say something false. It is not lying to say something to the best of your knowledge, and yet have faulty knowledge.

        As for community, he did not misrepresent that. You may live in a community, but you live with more than one person. Sue lives alone, which means she can have no fellowship.

      • Hello Chip,

        First let me say that I really appreciate you responding to my post. I never thought any of you guys would ever see it.

        Second, I appreciate your desire to protect your family and the heritage of your people.

        You guys are my favorite cast members. I love everything your segments speak to in regards to strong families. I can tell you guys love each other. I’m a huge fan of family.

        I want to be very clear that I was in no way speaking about the Hailstones at all. I know that in Noorvick there is a community there. Which is why in the article I brought up about trading meat. I love the idea of that. I wish we could do it here in Georgia, but you know…. Tyranny. But we do have Craigslist though… But, well you know… Craigslist.

        I was specifically referring to Sue Aikens, Erik and Glenn who appear to live very solitary lives in remote areas that makes a Church community impossible.

        I meant no offense at all, in fact the overall theme was to speak on cold lifeless churches in major cities and was not at all an attack on you or your people.

        Yes, I am passionate about my faith. I believe it impacts everything, even where I might live and work.

        You might disagree and that’s fine. It’s not a personal attack at all. I have many friends in whom I have strong theological differences, we often get into fights about theology and politics all the while kicking back some good craft beer and enjoying our friendships.

        And I work in Television as well, I’ve directed my own series, so I completely understand if I’m not getting the whole picture, in fact I’m certain I’m not. Trust me.

        But ultimately my reviews are on the show themselves. Which means I’m going by the characters I see on screen and not the real life Hailstones. It’s impossible for me to do otherwise. I can only judge a series based on what the director places before me as a viewer. I say this just to emphasize that I in no way meant a personal attack on your family, though I can see how you would find it a lot harder to separate the family from the Character on television.

        As far as heading up to Noorvik and chopping it up with you guys. Would love to. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do so. But as of now running a small production company doesn’t allow me the funds to do so. But I’d go tomorrow if I could.

        Again, I pray for your forgiveness if I have legitimately wronged you and appreciate your willingness to correct me of any error.

        Grace and Peace,

  2. edward hailstone says:

    No, it was a blanket statement.

    “If the point of Life Below Zero is to demonstrate how humanity lives in the most inhospitable areas of the planet, it fails to show that life cannot and they should not live in such solitary conditions.

    These people are removed from Covenant. That’s far worse than living in -40 degree weather, or constantly hunting starving bears. They have no pastor. They have no elders. No faith community. No preaching of the Word, communion or corporate worship.”

    and that’s the real danger of living Life Below Zero.
    Ive been down that road before where those that do not know me brand me or want me to prove, in front of them , my spirtuality, and its not something I put out for others interetations, or judgement.

    Eric can drive his truck to a church, Glenn can join in when in in FBX, and Sue can commune with the Lord when ever she feels.

    yes, I disagree, and it maddend me, but apon relection I invite you to Noorvik, and to fellowship here. My forgiveness is in my invitation

    around here, talking about something or someone and not knowing the facts is consitterd lying; not telling the truth; , and its not acceptable here, but prehaps you look at that differently, or understand it a different way.

    hopefully we will meet in Noorvik someday.
    have a good day