Jonathan Isaac On How Faith Is The ‘Backbone’ of His Latest Book ‘Why I Stand’

Photo from Jonathon Isaac Instagram

Jonathan Isaac On How Faith Is The ‘Backbone’ of His Latest Book ‘Why I Stand’

By Movieguide® Staff

NBA player Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic shocked onlookers after he became the first and only player to stand during the national anthem in 2020.

While Isaac pointed to God and his faith as the motivation behind his solitary act in the NBA Bubble, while teammates and coaches knelt to support BLM, Isaac wrote a book to explain that his journey to courageous faith began long before his career in the NBA.

Isaac recently talked with actor Kirk Cameron on the TAKEAWAYS show about how God led him out of anxiety and fear and into a life of brave faith.

“I left Bronx, New York when I was about 10 years old and moved to Naples, Florida,” he explained. “My mom and my dad split up and my four brothers and one sister ended up in Florida. I went from a predominantly black community to predominantly white community and I really, really struggled with fitting in. I took to a nickname early on, it was Ethiopia because I was so tall and skinny and dark of course. I really, really struggled with fitting in and I had a couple moments that I laid out in the book where it really does show you how terrible I was at fitting in and I developed a real sense of anxiety, fear, insecurity about making friends and about receiving love.”

“That’s where the process started for me, always working for love,” he continued. “Then I found basketball and basketball started to mask a lot of those feelings that I was having.”

Isaac said that as his skills improved on the court, he continued to bury his insecurities.

The better at basketball that I got the more praise and attention that I got from people,” he said.

However, even after Isaac established himself as the number one player in the State of Florida, playing for Florida State University, and being drafted to the Orlando Magic, he struggled with anxiety and fear.

Isaac said that he began to live the “NBA player lifestyle,” and would only pray to God when circumstances were difficult. Despite growing up in Church, Isaac recalled not surrendering his life to Christ.

In his rookie year in the NBA, Isaac said that God brought specific people into his life to turn him from his life of sin and anxiety to a real relationship with Christ.

“I’m thankful to God that he brought the right people into my life,” he told Cameron.

Read More: NBA Star Jonathan Isaac on Why He Stands for Faith: ‘Jesus Christ Is the Answer’

Isaac said that he went to chapel on day and that the chaplain read Luke 6:46, which reads: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

“The verse hit me like a ton of bricks and I was like, ‘oh my gosh that’s me,’” he said. “I didn’t really care what Jesus had to say about my life and I decided at that time that I was gonna find out if Christianity was real and so I started binging Christian apologetics Frank Turek, John Lennox, William Lane Craig [and] staying up late at night watching these videos.”

Isaac said that during his time of exploration, he kept seeing a man, and they finally met on an elevator. In the elevator, the man asked Isaac: “I can tell you how to be great. You have to know Jesus.”

Isaac dismissed the comment at first, but he said that God kept bringing the same man into his life.

“I said to myself God wants this guy in my life and so I say to him, ‘Me and you, we’re going to go to breakfast tomorrow morning,’” Isaac recalled.

At breakfast, the man invites Isaac to help with a food outreach to the homeless. After serving hundreds of people, Isaac said that he felt God calling him to himself.

“I got home that night and I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was looking out for me, like my footsteps were being ordered and that somebody loved me,” he said. “It was so heartfelt for me because I was so used to working for love… I started crying and I kneel down on my bedside for the first time that I had done at all [while] being in Orlando. I remembered my youth group prayer from when I was going to youth group as a kid: ‘Jesus be Lord of my life, come into my heart.”

Isaac said he eventually learned that the man he now has a relationship with is Dr. Duran Hepburn, the pastor of Ministries Global church in Orlando.

Although Isaac surrendered his life to Christ, he writes in the book that that is when his “growing pains” started.

“The time that I decided that I’m gonna live my life for Christ, that’s when The Growing Pains really started,” he explained. “How do I balance this life of deciding to live for Christ and being an NBA basketball player who previously was living the NBA basketball player lifestyle?”

Isaac said he began to cut out bad relationships from his life and invite his teammates to church when he spoke to the congregation about his testimony.

“When the stand happened so many people came out and said Jonathan Isaac is the most courageous guy and the most bold guy but the thing that was striking to me was knowing the process that it took for me to get there. It tells me that God obviously knows the future, He obviously knows what he’s preparing us for but even more so, the only thing that is more terrifying to the enemy than us becoming a Christian is us becoming who God has created us to be and growing and forming into the image of his son and being able to do what he’s called us to do.”

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