Ten years after having been attacked by a tiger shark in her hometown, professional surfer Bethany Hamilton is engaged to be married. The 23-year-old who lost a limb in the attack is an inspiration to many, and her faith in the Lord shines brightly.
Hamilton loved surfing as a young girl, and has never stopped – even after losing an arm to a shark at the age of 13, she was back in the water one month later. The native Hawaiian went on to become a professional surfer in 2007, and is currently one of the top 50 female surfers in the world.
Known for her resilience and strong faith in the Lord, Hamilton encourages others to not allow suffering or loss to inhibit their lives. She started a non-profit organization called Friends of Bethany to help shark attack survivors and amputees recover from their trauma. The organization is “dedicated to sharing the hope and love of Jesus Christ worldwide by supporting and inspiring people through the life stories of Bethany Hamilton and others.” The movie “Soul Surfer” starring Dennis Quaid and Carrie Underwood is based on her life’s story, and she currently resides in Kauai, Hawaii, where she met her husband-to-be.
Adam Dirks is a youth minister who felt called by God to start Young Life Christian organization on the island of Kauai. “It was hard leaving family and friends behind, but I have found that as soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises,” he wrote in a blog post. Dirks met Hamilton through a mutual friend in May of 2012.
The two went cliff-diving on their first date, and have since enjoyed hiking and playing sports together. Dirks says of his fiancé, “I find so much joy in who Bethany is, a woman who genuinely seeks after God, kind, funny, adventurous, and joyful.” He proposed to her in April of this year.
“God has us together for Him,” says Hamilton in a blog post. She describes Dirks as “genuine, kind, fun, adventurous, easy going, friendly to all, passionate for Christ and just a great guy over all!” The couple is doing Biblical pre-marital counseling in preparation for their upcoming marriage, and they are thankful for the One Who will hold their marriage together for the rest of their lives - “When we have hard times, we can rely on Christ and grow closer and stronger in our love and relationship,” said Hamilton.
The young amputee struggled to understand how someone could love her in light of her unique lifestyle. She exalted God, Who has answered her prayers - “God knew my heart, my thoughts, concerns and desires; and He has heard my prayers. Ever since I was a young girl I wondered what my special person would be like; so I would pray for the right guy, and do my best to trust that God would give me what I desired one day … I just wanted to be patient for that right one – the one God had in store for me – to share life with that special someone in a deep and beautiful friendship.”
Dirks is equally as grateful for having found his wife-to-be. “I know her love for me comes from Christ, and I am very thankful,” he said, and remarked that one of his favorite things that they do together is pray. “I want to support Bethany, encourage her, and lift her up as God continues to shape and mold her into the beautiful woman of God that she is,” said Dirks.
The couple gives glory to God for the love they have found in Him. “I guess it comes back to my first love besides my family – the unconditional love of Christ,” said Hamilton, reflecting on how she has learned to love others. “Having that makes it easier to love all. And eventually when you meet that special one you get to take that love of Christ and smother that special one in the love that you know,” she said.
In light of their unique love story, Bethany quoted 1 Peter 3:3-4 at the end of her blog post - “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (English Standard Version).