Leah Darrow, a former model for “America’s Next Hot Model (ANHM),” says she received – in a flash — a 5-word message from God during an international photo shoot when she was 25 years old.
Darrow was part of the ANHM show hosted by Tyra Banks in 2004. After she was eliminated from the competition, she decided to pursue a career in modeling in New York City.
“I was having a career that everyone said I should go for,” she says, “yet I realized how incredibly unhappy I was.” She wasn’t free. She felt she was chained to a non-stop schedule, following orders all the time to do this, do that, go here, go there. She’d mask her pain with obligatory smiles.
“As I’m blinking after a flash of a Polaroid camera, I saw a shadowy profile of a man’s face,” she says, noting the man took her hands in his and spoke five words to her: “I made you for more.”
She says she heard the message “I made you for more” again and again and again – five times in all – concluding, “God speaks simple truths.”
With that, she decided to quit and walk away, saying she didn’t want this lifestyle anymore. Convinced God came to her in the photo shoot with a message she couldn’t deny, she walked – a long walk — back to her apartment. Crying, and alone, and desperate, she decided to call her father.
“I called him, and he answered the phone,” she said, “and I told him, ‘Dad, if you don’t come get me, I’m going to lose my soul.’ There was a long pause, and he said, ‘OK, baby, I’m coming to get you.’ He then drove 2,000 miles to pick me up.”
What makes that willingness of her father to sacrifice his time and gas money to agree to her request is that Leah, at the time, was the wayward child among her siblings, the one who they feared might die young from who knows what. She had strayed from her faith. She was like a lost sheep.
While her father was hastily packing for the trip, her mother gave him some words to say to Leah when they met: “You say you want to go home? Well, Jesus is home. If you want to go anywhere else, you can call Southwest Airlines. If she says no, kiss her on the forehead and come home alone.”
Darrow, a Catholic speaker, wife and mother of six children, lives with her family on an 80-acre farm in the small town of Fordland, Missouri. She told this story as the featured speaker at the Cenla Pregnancy Center’s 5th annual Gift of Life Banquet last week before about 900 guests at the Ned Randolph Riverfront Centre.
“I had somebody to call, to hear me and nudge me in the right direction,” she says. “Having someone to call can be an absolute game changer. What you have here at this pregnancy center – and at pregnancy centers across the country – is a person on the other end of that call. What a blessing it is to pick up the phone!”
That’s because it’s a phone call that can be a matter of life or death. It’s a daily battle between good and evil, between life and death that is won, not with coercion but with love. And sometimes tough love, like a dad was prepared to show his daughter back in New York City if she didn’t agree to come “home.”
Editor’s note — The main branch of the Cenla Pregnancy Center is in Alexandria, near the corner of MacArthur Drive and Jackson Street Extension, with two satellite centers in Marksville — 115 Ferdinand Street — and Vidalia — 4951 Hwy 84 West. It provides a variety of services for anyone with an unplanned pregnancy