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CBN.com The beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai is home to more than 63,000 residents, and many of them are here for one reason: surfing the beautiful waters of the Pacific. For many of them, this is a way of life.
But what happens when the very thing that gives you life is taken away from you in an instant? For 25-year-old Sara Hill, an avid surfer, that was exactly the case.
Sara grew up in San Diego with her mother, three sisters, and a brother. Her father, an alcoholic and drug addict, abused Sara and her family.
"We all had gone through the verbal abuse, we all had gone through having a father in the house who abused our mom, but I was the only one that was physically beaten by my father," she says. "I had no respect for him. That’s such a young age to have a corrupted vision of what a father should be. It always put a bad taste in my mouth, so I really didn’t want any part with him."
On top of that, Sara was diagnosed with acid reflux disease in fifth grade. The 12-hour surgery that followed left horrendous scars.
Says Sara, "I was so self-conscious. Having a stomach scar and having to deal with that, I just became bitter at the Lord. I just didn’t understand. Why me? That was a very tough period of my life, trying to find out who I was."
Sara desperately needed to find her own identity, so she pursued sports.
"I got very active in swimming and water polo, and that’s when I began surfing," she says. "That was kind of a facade I could put on, a face. My aspiration was to play water polo in college. My long-term goal was I wanted to be on the first women’s team for the Olympics for water polo."
But on one beautiful day at the beach, those dreams evaporated.
"After I had graduated, we had gone to stay, me and some friends at a beach house in Oceanside, Calif., and the surf was pretty good. We had a good swell hitting that day, and as I went to dive under a wave, I got thrown back and landed on the back of my head. I went back to the beach house thinking I had just a sprained neck. I ended up sitting up in a chair all night because I was in so much pain, feeling like my head was going to roll off," Sara recalls.
Twenty-five hours later, Sara was rushed to the hospital and received news that changed her life forever.
"The radiologist came in and said, 'I don’t want to frighten you, but I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is no one is going to be moving you anymore. The bad news is you’re neck is broken. You are 1/16 of an inch from being paralyzed.' "
Sara spent the next seven months in bed while her neck healed.
"I always knew that God was real," Sara explains, "but I couldn’t understand how a God of love would allow something like this to happen. I was supposed to start college in two weeks and play water polo, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen."
Sara went into a deep depression. Even though her neck healed, she wasn't sure what to do next. She searched for a new direction in life. That is when she realized that there was one place she had not looked.
"I found myself at home lying in bed alone, and I was so depressed I just called out to the Lord, 'Lord, I need to hear You speak to me. If You are real to me, I need to hear Your voice.' I opened my Bible, and it just opened up to 2 Corinthians. It was chapter 12, and on the two pages, there was one verse in red writing and it was Corinthians 12:9. It says, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' That verse hit me like nothing else," she says.
Sara rededicated her life to the Lord and decided to attend Bible college.
"In Bible college is where the Lord began to show me that He had a plan for my life, that He wanted to use it," Sara says. "The Lord just really began prompting my heart for the youth."
Then, something unexpected happened to this former surfer girl while she was on her way home to San Diego. She had spent the summer in Kauai, Hawaii, working with young people.
"God just radically changed my heart on that plane ride, and in my heart began an urgency," she says. "I needed to come back and continue this ministry with the youth because on the North Shore, Kauai, there just wasn’t anything for kids."
So Sara returned to Kauai. Since her arrival, Sara has helped plant two churches, and, believe it or not, Sara is back in the water.
"It's been a big platform in reaching the youth and just being able to paddle out and meet kids. The kids that know me are always stoked, 'Oh, you surf. Cool!' It took me a long time to get back in the water. I actually really didn’t start surfing again until coming to Hawaii just for that fear of am I going to hurt myself again? I could break my neck again. You can’t allow tools of fear to shape your life. There’s no safety when you get in a car. There’s no safety when you’re walking on the street. But we don’t live in fear. We live knowing that God has a plan. We just surrender all to Him, and we just live in faith that He’s going to take care of us," Sara explains.Can God change your life?
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