You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses…. Acts 1:8
This past April we held our second annual conference, Flourish 2016. On Friday evening as we kicked off the event, we had the privilege of listening to Leah Darrow, a former model, share her personal testimony of God’s saving work in her life. Her presentation was gripping from beginning to end. I sat close up, captivated by Leah’s passionate words.
Leah grew up in a faithful Catholic home, with goodness surrounding her. But she sorrowfully confessed that when temptation lured her in the teenage years, she chose wrongly. Spiraling from one sin to another, she soon found herself living a life that she never imagined would be hers, a life of fame and wealth that enticed her to immorality far from her childhood teaching. A thriving modeling career was central in her life, but ironically, the success and achievement of her profession were the very things that alienated her from God. She was featured on the popular show, America’s Next Top Model, and she lived fully the fast life of celebrity. In the world’s eyes, she had it all, but inside she was empty.
And yet, Leah’s story is one of hope and joy because God had a different plan for her. With eyes full of tears, she told us about her encounter with Jesus right in the middle of a photo session. As she posed for picture after picture, exhausted from the work and the glaring lights, she suddenly lost her focus on the photographer, his camera, and all the activity in the room. Everything went black around her. Then she found herself, as if gone from this life on earth, standing before God. With hands outstretched and head bowed low, she offered Him what little she had to give and found herself lacking. Yet God’s penetrating love and mercy gripped her heart at that moment, and she understood deep in her spirit that this was an opportunity for a new beginning. Leah made a life-transforming decision at that moment and walked away from the photo shoot, away from her successful career, and into the waiting arms of Christ. My heart filled with joy as she relived her glorious, intimate meeting with Jesus, an encounter so life-changing that it still filled her with emotion as she spoke.
Leah today helps young people make right choices, choices for Christ and for purity, choices that lead to freedom instead of bondage to sin. She speaks with the power of one who has intimately encountered Christ and who has been transformed by the Holy Spirit. Her message is not rooted in her own convictions. Her message is born from God’s intimate, miraculous work in her life, and so it has greater power to reach people’s hearts. Leah is an example of Acts 1:8. She received power when the Holy Spirit came upon her, and now she is a witness of Christ’s love, truth, and mercy.
You and I have that same calling, to be witnesses of Christ and His righteousness. As we allow the Holy Spirit to flood us with His presence and power, our testimonies will flow out of our lives and our mouths, just as Leah’s does.