By Caitlin Chodakowsky
Indonesia’s first supermodel felt empty until something in Paris changed her life
Tracy Trinita won her first international modelling competition at age 15 in 1995, giving her the greenlight to move from her small village in Bali to pursue a career in the world's fashion capital.
"I thought that if I had more money I would be happier, so I pursued modelling for happiness, leaving my friends and family behind to travel to New York," Tracy explains.
Following the lure of wealth and glamour portrayed in the modelling industry, Tracy writes on her blog that "life was full of surprises".
"Who would have ever thought that a little girl who grew up in Bali would end up living in some of the greatest cities across the globe: New York, Paris, Milan, Spain, Sydney, Sao Paolo, Rio De Janeiro, Hong Kong, Manila, Los Angeles, Miami, and many more," Tracy explains.
She fell in love with the world of fashion and appeared regularly in New York and Paris fashion week for prestigious labels such as Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier and Kenzo.
"When I went to meet Mr. Jean Paul Gaultier at his work shop in Paris for a fitting, I was in awe of this genius man's workshop," she says.
"It was sooo messy and yet there were plenty of brilliant designs and ideas scattered around in that huge room. I wondered if I could ever be a designer, just like him."
Yet despite all her success, Tracy says she could not escape an unsettling feeling of emptiness inside.
Her friends suggested drugs and partying would make her feel better but this advice only scared her and left her seeking alternatives.
Tracy recalls noticing that people who had faith in God seemed happier and more content in life but, having been brought up surrounded by many different religious faiths, she felt confused as to which God was real.
It was at this point she remembers crying out to God, asking Him to reveal Himself to her.
Soon after, Tracy travelled to Paris for a modelling job where she met a girl who invited her to church.
It was here Tracy says, "God bridged the heart and the mind and truly comforted my heart; I sensed love like nothing I have ever felt before."
She had many questions for her friend about Jesus, asking, "how is it possible that what Jesus has done on the cross centuries ago is still relevant for me today?"
Her friend explained to her that Jesus' sacrifice was "sufficient for the whole world" – for all who believe in Him and accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.
"I did not realise how much God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus, the only sinless person who ever walked on earth," Tracy later elaborated in her blog, drawing from John 3, verse 16.
"He had to suffer on the cross ... He was paying for all our sins ... The worst and the best trade ever, we give our worst to Him, all of our sins, while He gave His best to us – His righteousness – so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Looking back on her first encounter with God at the church service with her friend, Tracy recalls thinking, "If Jesus was not real, then how could I have felt so amazingly loved? I know fake happiness – that is what the world of modelling relies on – and this happiness was true. It was out of my power and God changed me."
Since accepting Jesus' free gift of forgiveness and making Him Lord and Saviour of her life in 2002, Tracy says she is full of joy.
"I was lost, a dead girl walking in my own land without purpose or meaning, glamorous on the outside and poverty of the soul on the inside," she explains.
"I'm forever grateful to the Living God for calling me and welcoming me as part of the family of His Heavenly Kingdom. I am now walking in the land full of purpose and meaning. I can constantly look up to God in good times as well as in bad times."
Tracy continued to work in the fashion industry for a while but had a new outlook on her work, including the realisation that "other models were not the enemy or a threat, but just people like me doing a job".
Sometimes other models mocked her for choosing not to do certain fashion shoots because of her faith, but Tracy adds: "The things they made fun of were the very things that they were attracted to and questioned me about; they were intrigued by my faith and how I was different."
After seeing another friend of hers become a Christian, Tracy says a passion grew in her to share her story with others.
She soon left her modelling career to take up a scholarship to study Christian apologetics and theology at Oxford University.
Since completing her postgraduate studies, Tracy has worked as a pastor in Jakarta and international itinerant speaker for Ravi Zacharias Ministries, focusing on bringing a message of hope and faith to the fashion, arts, media and entertainment industries.
"You don't have to be smart, but trust God and let the [Holy] Spirit guide you. It is in Christ's power, not our own, that people find God because He is the one that calls people," she concludes. •