Israel Idonije's Hard Hitting Faith
By Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
The Chicago Bears defense has been ranked among the top in the NFL. Defensive lineman Israel Idonije, has been played a major role. He’s a beast on the field and a successful businessman off of it. We met with Israel at his Blessed Communion facility, which produces and distributes prefilled communion cups, to discuss his journey to the NFL and the promise he made to honor the Lord every step of the way.
Israel says, “I prayed to God that, ‘You know what, I don’t know what’s coming, what the future holds,’ but, ‘If You could just provide a way for this opportunity to work out, I’m going to commit my life and continue, just do everything and use all my resources to change the world around me for the better.’”
But his journey to the NFL wasn’t easy. He came from Manitoba, Canada, not exactly an NFL hotbed. When he finally had a tryout most of the NFL teams didn’t show up due to a SARS epidemic. The Cleveland Browns signed him, but he hurt his ankle and was released. It seemed at the time his dream of playing in the NFL was over.
“You’re disappointed, you know, it’s easy to go into hiding, which is what I did. I didn’t go out anywhere. Cause anytime I went out, it was like, ‘Oh, Izzy, what are you doing home? Aren’t you supposed to be in the NFL? What happened?’”
Israel was embarrassed and thought his career was over before it began. He started feeling sorry for himself, but advice from his mother set him on the right path. “My mother came to me and was like, ‘You can’t just sit in this room all day. An opportunity’s going to come. It’s going to come. If you just sit here, when it comes you’re not going to be ready. But you need to go out. Work out. Do your training. Get yourself ready, so when that opportunity comes, when that door opens, you’re ready to walk through it.’”
Israel listened to his mother and got back in the gym to train. Shortly after, he was offered a one week contract with the Chicago Bears to try out for the team. “I made it through the week. They extended me through the year. I’ve been in Chicago. I’ve been on one of the greatest NFL teams, for the last 10 years. It’s been an incredible experience, from this experience here in Chicago, being a part of this—this family of the Chicago Bears. The opportunities that I’ve been able to experience and all the things that I’ve been able to achieve… unparalleled. So it’s just always been—it’s been a part of His plan.”
Shawn Brown, 700 Club Sports reporter: “Have you ever thought back on that prayer, before all of this stuff happened, that you promised God, ‘Lord, if You help you get into the NFL, I will do x, y, and z?’”
“I remember that moment. I think of it often. I think that, you know what; I still got a lot of work to do. It is my thought, ‘I still have a lot of work to do, to the fulfillment of that, of that prayer that day. I still got to… I don’t feel like I’ve completed my end of the bargain, and He has.”
Israel has established himself as one of the game’s best defensive linemen. Off the field, in addition to Blessed Communion, he created the Israel Idonije foundation to help underprivileged children. While the main goal of any athlete is to win, Israel’s primary goal has always been to honor the promise he made to God long ago.
“God has a plan for my life. And it’s a plan, you know, for victory, and not for failure. When you focus on Him, when you—when you allow Him to lead your life and direct your life, you’re going to get to a victory.”
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