Hamilton Family

Cheri Hamilton knows what it's like to hope. After her daughter Bethany was attacked by a shark in 2003 while surfing, Cheri was left to trust in God that good would come out in the end. Discover more about the story behind the new movie "Soul Surfer" and how God helped the Hamilton family.

Jana Melpolder: What do remember of the day the attack happened?

Cheri Hamilton: I was shocked when I found out she [Bethany] had lost her arm. I remembered the prayer Bethany and I had focused on for the last two weeks asking for God to use her surfing for His glory and bring her life into the center of His will!
What were your first thoughts in the hospital when Bethany realized she lost her arm?

I wanted to help her realize she was alive and that everything would be alright in Jesus!  My first thoughts were focused on the fact that she was alive and her countenance was good! I looked into her face and felt that she would live. The brothers had both educated us all on sharks and previous attacks all over the world for school reports. We were very aware that an infection from the toxic mouth of a shark can kill you. Bethany was on an IV drip with different antibiotics to fight off any possible lethal infection. We were thankful that it was her left arm and she was right handed. This was a huge advantage for her when relearning to do things one handed. We love music and she had been learning guitar along with Alana so I knew it would be hard to let go of that. I play piano/keyboard so I told her I'd give her lessons for that but we have been too busy! Now Bethany has just focused on her ipod skills!
How has God helped you through this whole experience?

He has given us many wonderful friends who are so helpful in so many ways. We have met and stayed with many surf families all over the world who make us feel at home when we are traveling so far away during surf competitions.The song we recommended in the worship scene at the beginning of the movie is the theme song that God inspired us just after the attack. "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." He gives and takes away; this song really spoke to our situation and helped encourage us that He was close to us and was not going to let us walk in darkness apart from His love and guidance.

The scripture Jeremiah 29:11 was powerful to help us know that with God we have a future and a hope!

11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Sarah Hill shared that scripture with us on the way to the hospital. When we would attend a church service while traveling the message would be so perfect: speaking to our situation and ministering to our hearts. We would be amazed!!!!!!
What is the most important lesson God has taught you through all of this?

That He is so very real and close with His care and love which He expresses through others.

Which Bible verse do you find most inspiring?

Psalm 139:17

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.

This verse talks about the measure of God's love for us! It is a good foundation to start your day with. We spend a lot of time at the beach on the sand and even one handful is too overwhelming to count! If you take the time to embrace and consider the reality of this scripture, you will be transformed in a multitude of ways by His love!

What message do you hope to spread to young people, especially to young girls?

I believe every heart is searching for true love. Jesus is the only one who can give us the perfect unconditional love that we long for! Don't settle for anything less! He will give you the desires of your heart if you chose to love,obey and follow Him!

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