'Soul Surfer's Bethany Hamilton, known for her story of faith and perseverance amid tremendous odds, testified before President Obama, the First Lady, and members of congress about her Christian faith at the annual National Prayer Breakfast held at the nation's capital.
Hamilton survived a shark-attack, but lost her arm at age 13 while surfing near the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. That experience forced her to think beyond her childhood dreams and hopes of becoming a pro surfer and venturing the world, but about the countless others in this world who are less fortunate than she is.
"I felt for a time I had lost more than just my arm," she said. "But the faith that I had in Jesus Christ gave me strength to comprehend and lean on him for understanding even as a young girl."
Hamilton started her message with two passages from the New Testament, including Luke 10:29-37 (Story of the Good Samaritan) and Ephesians 3:14-21.
"But God who is able to take my life and do much more than I could ever ask or think," she said, adding how she is honored to have "become a role model to millions of young girls in America and the world and to people of all walks of life - ultimately to share the hope and salvation that there is in Jesus Christ."
Hamilton also testified how she has "no regrets for the adversities" that God has allowed her to go through. Instead of feeling self-pity, she chooses to look at her experience as "something beautiful," for "God has taken something that seems awful to something incredibly amazing."
Towards the end of last month, Hamilton teamed up with Make a Wish to grant the wishes of ten young children struggling with illnesses by taking them out to surf - many of them for the first time, she wrote in her January's issue of "The Coconut Wire" newsletter.
"Many kids struggle with fear - fear of dying and also the insecurities of the scars may have gotten," she wrote. Yet, Hamilton noted at the end of the newsletter that "Jesus has already taken on all our fears and insecurities when He went to the cross to die for us. Jesus looks beyond our fears and scars, loving us for who we are in Him.
"'By his wounds we are healed' (Isaiah 53:5)," she wrote. "I like to think of us as a rose, though we may loose some petals we are still absolutely beautiful."
With this as the backdrop, Hamilton shared with enthusiasm her time with these kids to those gathered at the National Prayer Breakfast, and how she "got to take them surfing and remind them that there is hope, and remind them of the love that Jesus Christ has for them."
Concluding her speech, Hamilton drew from her first hand experience of learning to look beyond herself and to reach out with God's love to those who are suffering in pain. Perhaps, it was why she read the parable of the Good Samaritan.
"For many of us it is easy to look at the things of this world to solve our challenges and the obstacles in life," she addressed the nation's leaders. "But when we submit our lives to Christ, His grace, mercy, truth, peace, and love will bring true fulfillment to our lives."
After her speech, Obama and the attendees gave a standing ovation to the 23-year-old surfer, who has learned to not only ride the ocean's waves, but also to follow in Christ's example and footsteps in courageously riding the waves of adversities in life.