Kathy Ireland at the age of 18 was an up and coming model living in an old French apartment at the end of a dark hallway nicknamed “the dungeon” with her housemates.
It was during that time that the world famous model developed a relationship with God.
“I was living in Paris and it was really a hard time,” the 58-year-old told Fox News. “I know it might sound glamorous, but I was alone modeling. It wasn’t my plan, but I recognized it as an opportunity. I could save money for college or start a business. I just barely finished high school and I had no technology or distractions.”
Back one night in 1981, she was unpacking her suitcase when she discovered that her mom and secretly packed a bible for her.
“I didn’t even know how to read one,” said Ireland. “I’d never read one before in my life. I opened up the Book of Matthew. And as I’m reading in the middle of the night, I knew I was holding the truth in my hands. There wasn’t anybody in the room saying, ‘Be this denomination or that denomination.’ It was like, ‘I want to follow Jesus Christ.’ And he was nothing like I thought.”
“In my industry, at that time, it was filled with a lot of really sketchy guys,” she continued. “I was drawn to how powerful Jesus was. How loving and honoring he was of women. It gave me such comfort. And so, he became my lord and savior. The experience forever changed my life.”
She was a successful model, and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, but somehow she was “trying and failing in business.”
“If something would have taken off earlier, the modeling career wouldn’t have gone on for so long,” she said.
She recalls thinking how difficult it was to study the Bible.
“Some things I would read and really love,” she explained. “And other things, I would read and say, ‘Oh, that must be a typo. That’s a different interpretation or a cultural thing. Certainly doesn’t pertain to me.’ So I was picking and choosing what I liked and neglecting the rest of it. I was trying to mold God into what I wanted him to be, rather than just surrendering and letting him make me into the person he made me to be. And oh my goodness, he was so patient. I was 44 when I finally read the whole Bible. It continues to teach me every day.”
“Today, I have three children, a husband and a business,” she continued. “The message that I just felt pounding in my heart was, ‘Put me first. And I’ll give you more time, better time with your kids.’ So I started to set my alarm for 15 minutes [every morning] for a quick prayer. Those 10 minutes of prayer and reading turned into an hour and more. It’s not a duty. It’s a joy. It’s my daily bread and water.”
“And on days that I don’t do that, it’s not a good idea,” she chuckled. “Because if I open my mouth to say something, I’ll be apologizing before 8 a.m.”
Ireland by all means was a success story, gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue for 13 straight years. This included the 1989 25th anniversary issue, which became the highest selling cover of all time.
Despite all of the success, highs and lows, Ireland kept her faith in Jesus.
“The gospel is the core of every decision that I make,” she said. “We’re not a Christian company. We have team members from all different backgrounds and different beliefs. I don’t force my faith or beliefs on anyone. But I’m not ashamed of them. I can’t do anything that’s going to contradict it. I cannot compromise my faith. I’m just so thankful for God’s grace because I have made so many messes in my life. And he gives us a perspective – an eternal perspective.”
Thanks to our friends at Fox News for contributing to this article.