Summer 2024

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is now an ordained minister

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is out for the year with a serious left knee injury sustained on New Year’s Day, but the third-year NBA pro is still living up to the “Minister of Defense” nickname he first earned as a defensive terror on the hardwood.

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On Tuesday, Isaac posted on Instagram that he had become an ordained minister:

“If you know me, you know this is not a game to me. From 2 and half years ago to today … I haven’t lost a thing in pursuing Jesus, as cheesy as in today’s day that sounds.. I’ve only gained! Gained myself. My identity my purpose and so much more … Thank you Jesus for your open arms!”

Isaac officially received his certificate of ordination at J.U.M.P. Ministries Global Church in Orlando. Isaac’s mentor, Bishop Durone Hepburn, is the pastor and founder.

It was after a few encounters with Hepburn, as he was getting accustomed to the NBA, that Isaac was convicted by the opening verse of an NBA chapel service — Luke 6:46: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

“It was one of those moments where you just kind of get punched in the gut by the Word,” Isaac said on a 2018 episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “And I was like, ‘Wow that’s me, this is exactly what I do. I say “Lord, Lord” but I don’t live like it, I don’t know it.’ And it was almost like a fork in the road for me, like I’m either going to drop this whole thing and do me, or I’m going to kinda seek it out and figure out what it really is. And I had that time period of just seeking.”

Thanks in large part to the guidance and persistence of Hepburn, Isaac began to discover what it meant to truly be a follower of Christ. One day, the usually-shy Isaac asked Hepburn to preach at his church. Hepburn said yes.

“It’s been a real encouragement to my faith to see myself step out and speak, because I’ve always battled with anxiety and the fear of messing up,” Isaac said in the Winter 2019 edition of the Sports Spectrum Magazine. “…. To me, the fact that I was able to do this, and continue to do so, confirms God’s power — simply because I know without a doubt it was not by my own ability. Being able to do something I knew I could never do, or even want to do, has skyrocketed the level of my faith.”

Isaac played college basketball as a freshman for Florida State in 2016-2017. He then decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility to enter the 2017 NBA Draft, in which he was drafted sixth overall by the Magic.

After a rookie season derailed by injuries, Isaac began to find his footing in 2018-2019. He posted numerous career highs as a starter for a Magic team that made the Eastern Conference playoffs and lost in the first round to the eventual NBA-champion Toronto Raptors.

Before his injury this January, Isaac was having by far the best season of his career. He was starting and averaging 12.0 points per game, but perhaps more impressive were his averages of 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game.

Isaac and fellow talented young stars Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba give the Magic a roster that, when healthy, could be a contender in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

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