“Soul Surfer” has given rise to a wave of Christian resources geared toward inspiring young people to form a personal relationship with Jesus.
The resources, including books and websites, were intentionally launched to coincide with the release of the film “Soul Surfer,” which came in fourth at the box office last weekend.
Global Media Outreach, formerly the media arm of Campus Crusade for Christ, announced Tuesday that it has partnered with several national youth ministries to develop a website to share the spiritual story behind Bethany Hamilton’s inspiring life. The online ministry hopes that Hamilton’s story and personal testimony will engage youths into thinking about their own faith life.
“When people ask me what my faith in God means to me, I usually answer in just one word: ‘everything!’” says a quote from Hamilton on the Soul Surfer website managed by GMO.
When Hamilton was 13 years old, a 15-foot tiger shark attacked her while she was surfing at night off the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii. The shark bit off her left arm and she lost about 60 percent of her blood during the ordeal.
Surprisingly, she recalls that she had a “sense of peace and calmness” during the rush to the hospital, according to her testimony in a recent “I Am Second” video. Her faith in God pulled her through the tragedy and just two years later, Hamilton, with one arm, won first place at the NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) National Championship.
Besides GMO, publisher Zondervan has also used the movie as a platform to release two Soul Surfer titles by Bethany Hamilton targeting young girls. In Rise Above: A 90-Day Devotional, Hamilton shares with teen girls her passion for God and urges them to face life with strong faith. And in the other book, FAQ: Surfing, Faith & Friends, the surfing star replies to real questions and comments that she has received over the years.
In the section on friends and family, one fan asked Hamilton: What’s your family like?
She responded: “My family is great. We are all very close. We all love the Lord, and we love surfing …. We are not always perfect and can get tired and grumpy with each other. But the Holy Spirit helps us to stay on track … Our family motto is ‘The family that surfs and prays together stays together.’ Amen!”
Her family’s priorities – faith and surfing – are preserved and illustrated in the Hollywood film. Hamilton, 21, told MovieGuide that “two of the most important things we wanted to keep true” in the movie were “our faith in God and our love for surfing.”
The power of family, the importance of faith, and seeking God’s direction in life have proven to be important lessons for churches to teach. Outreach Inc., a church marketing and publishing company, has produced resources based on the movie’s positive, family-friendly themes for churches to utilize.
"Amid the difficult times we are all facing, Outreach's 'Soul Surfer' resources equip congregations with the materials essential to walk through challenges, deepen their faith and strengthen their relationship with God," remarked Eric Abel, vice president of marketing for Outreach, in a statement Tuesday.
“Soul Surfer” stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany Hamilton, Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt as Bethany’s mom, Dennis Quaid as Bethany’s father, and Kevin Sorbo and Carrie Underwood.