Bethany Hamilton, one of the top female surfers in the world despite having only one arm, proclaims in a new video that God can change tragic events into opportunities to glorify Himself.
In an "I Am Second" video released Tuesday, Hamilton recalls how she climbed back on her surf board after only a month following her near fatal collision with a shark that bit off her left arm. By her third try, the then 13-year-old was able to ride the wave all the way back to the beach.
And just two years later, the one-armed Hamilton took first place at the NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) National Championship in 2005.
"From what seems like such a horrible thing, God has just brought glory to Himself," shares Hamilton, now 21, in the video. "I have been able to be just a good light to people and just share His love. I wake up every day and [try to] honor God in everything that I do and I may fall short sometimes, but all I want to do is love Him."
Within a "split second" around Halloween of 2003, a shark attack left the young Hamilton without her left arm. She had lost about 60 percent of her blood after the freak accident and recalls a paramedic on the way to the hospital whispering in her ear, "God will never leave you nor forsake you."
"I didn't have time to think much," she recalls in the video. "Right away, I knew I had to get to the beach to survive this.
"I just laid there and prayed the whole way in, asking God for help."
But with a smile on her face, she recalls that she had a "sense of peace and calmness" despite missing her left arm and losing more than half her blood because she was "able to turn to Jesus during this crazy moment in my life."
"I think that is the one thing that just kept me alive," Hamilton states.
Now after eight years, Hamilton competes full-time in the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Qualifying Series.
"Being out there in the ocean, God's creation, it's like a gift He has given us to enjoy," she describes the surfing experience.
Hamilton's story has been made into a Hollywood movie called "Soul Surfer" starring Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, country music star Carrie Underwood, and Golden Globe nominated actor Dennis Quaid. The movie, which stars AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton, opens in theaters nationwide on April 8.
The I Am Second movement, founded by e3 Partners ministry, seeks to connect those seeking answers to life's questions with real-life testimonies of people who have found answers in Jesus Christ. People who share their stories through the videos talk candidly about various struggles, ranging from substance abuse to selfishness, and how they found a full life in Christ.
Celebrities that have shared their stories in an I Am Second video include baseball star Josh Hamilton; Grammy Award winner Michael W. Smith; football star Bradie James; and former Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch.
Correction: Wednesday, March 23, 2011:
An article on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, about surfer Bethany Hamilton incorrectly reported that she won the NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) World Championship in 2005. I Am Second incorrectly reported that she had won the NSSA World Championship when it was the 2005 National Championship that Hamilton won first place in.