Joel Hunter’s Son Isaac Found Dead After Suicide

Another tragic case of suicide in the body of Christ. 

(UPDATED) Two Orlando-area megachurches ask for prayers for grieving family; Kay Warren, who recently lost her own son to suicide, reacts.

Isaac Hunter, the middle son of Joel Hunter, an Orlando-area megachurch pastor and spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama, has reportedly committed suicide. News spread via an email sent to members of Summit Church, which Isaac founded in 2002. The Orlando Sentinel has the fuller story.

The email, sent today, read:

We found out today that Isaac took his life. . . . We are obviously deeply deeply devastated and saddened beyond words by this news. The tears keep coming and coming as we mourn. We are praying for his family and this congregation as we walk through this together.

Northland, A Church Distributed, where Joel Hunter is senior pastor, notified its own members with a Facebook statement andblog post:

We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I [Pastor Vernon Rainwater] have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven (Romans 8:38-39).

Last November, Isaac Hunter, 36, stepped away from Summit after admitting to leaders that he had an affair with another staff member. He filed for divorce from his wife of 13 years, Rhonda Hunter, on October 4, according to court documents reviewed by the Sentinel.

This April, megachurch pastor Rick Warren and wife Kay lost their 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide after he purchased a gun online. The Warrens and other church leaders have since spoken out about mental health and gun rights.

Today, Kay Warren wrote on Twitter: “My heart is broken for the Joel Hunter family in the loss of their beloved Isaac. No words, just tears.”

Joshua DuBois, also a spiritual adviser to President Obama alongside Joel Hunter,tweeted: “Praying hard for my dear friends Joel and Becky Hunter. Please join me in lifting them, and all who loved Isaac, up.”

The suicide of a Georgia pastor recently drew headlines

*(complete article at Christianity Today can be read here)

As one author I read recently wrote,

“…no one can truly understand the depth of someone else’s suffering, or the reasons that could drive a soul to such desperation. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart (Psalm 139:1-2). Only he knows the extent of pain which might bring a person to the point of suicide”



4 comments on “Joel Hunter’s Son Isaac Found Dead After Suicide

  1. There are two things going on here that are driving this phenomenon.

    The first is a church that is spiritually bankrupt. When the church becomes nothing more than a religious entertainment center and political action organization, our youth are left with no life giving foundation in Christ. For youth to become grounded in faith requires some sort of structured catechism with the credibility behind it of changed lives on the part of the catechizers. Neither are present in the modern evangelical church which to ever greater degrees is becoming a mirror image of the spiritually bankrupt liberal church.

    The second and equally important factor is a scientifically bankrupt secular psychiatric profession. Modern day western psychiatry is pretty close to a witch doctor approach to practicing medicine. It is based on secular religious doctrines that are taken on faith and fiercely defended. When all else fails, which is usually the case, the patients are drugged and released back onto the streets under the guise of being “treated”. The reality is that psychiatric health around the world is being ravaged by unhealthy diets and lifestyles and near malpractice on the part of the medical establishment in not identifying and controlling those dietary and lifestyle factors that are destroying people’s mental faculties. Mental illness does not flow forth exclusively from psychological issues OR spiritual issues for that matter. In addition to those factors, people in our world today are literally poisoning their brains by what they eat, the toxic chemicals they expose themselves to, and a number of other factors.

    Rick Warren has, to his credit, come to his senses in this regard, at least on the psychological level. He is now working with top experts in implementing the “Daniel Plan”, a unique strategy that aims to revolutionize people’s physical and mental health. I just hope that he is responding to the spiritual threat as well and realizing that “The Purpose Driven Life” is not going to do squat to ground believers in their faith. In fact, they represent, in my opinion, a sort of New Age assault on the church, because they wrongly emphasize the importance of good works over the importance of faith and sound doctrine.

    That’s my take on the matter in a nut shell. I am not a bit surprised to see depression and suicide all around me, even in the church. And all too many who make it past their thirties these days end up being prime candidates for Alzheimer’s and plain old early onset dementia. This world is very toxic place spiritually and physically and mentally.

    • I am not a bit surprised to see depression and suicide all around me, even in the church. And all too many who make it past their thirties these days end up being prime candidates for Alzheimer’s and plain old early onset dementia. This world is very toxic place spiritually and physically and mentally.

      Thanks George, i was hoping someone would address the depression aspect of this growing phenomena of Christians committing suicide we’re witnessing. As one who battled clinical depression for years (and though God delivered me, still find it trying to make its way back into my life, on occasion) i have recognized it within many, of my fellow Christians in recent years. I agree…spiritually, physically, and mentally, we are living in a very toxic world. And our enemy is not standing by idle, he is using this growing toxicity, caused by the factors you pointed out and others, to rob the Church of it’s joy and faith. I see more and more Christians falling into a state of hopelessness.

      Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

  2. That’s a straight forward way of saying it George! Excellent!

    I’d parse the verse that comes to mind and only one word in the verse as an indictment against supposed shepherds who live selfish lives and not selfless nurturing lives laying down their life ( not by suicide) caring for their own lambs and sheep under their charge as Jesus instructed Peter at John 21, where He tells Peter “feed” My LAMBS, “tend” and “feed” My sheep or as George said catechize the people in the foundational doctrines of the Church! I suggest we rediscover Hebrews 6:1-3.

    Here’s the Greek Word first for the word translated into English “harassed”:

    Transliteration: skyllō
    Pronunciation: skü’l-lō
    Part of Speech: verb
    Root Word (Etymology): apparently a primary verb
    Outline of Biblical Usage:
    to skin, flay
    to rend, mangle
    to vex, trouble, annoy
    to give one’s self trouble, trouble one’s self.

    Here’s the verse:

    Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

    And here’s the broader context of that verse:

    Matthew 9:32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him.
    33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”
    34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
    35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
    36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
    37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
    38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

    Taking George’s comments above and connecting the dots by those verses from Matthew’s Gospel we can see clearly and the plain meaning what is the remedy Jesus the Great Physician prescribes as the medicine for lambs and sheep “being harassed”. It is sound Biblical Shepherds and everyone with them pleading to God He’d send healthy laborers into the fields white unto harvest. And when you have a barn full of harvest then bake some bread and feed em’!!!!

    We don’t see such corporate earnest prayer any more. When was the last time a called prayer meeting was announced and a set time for from the pulpit where leaders and members of your fellowship were asked to come together in one accord to pray specifically for a lost and dying world of harassed souls as the “remedial solution” to people being driven and burdened and harassed by a community of demons like sheep without a shepherd?

    Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

    Grrrrrr! God waits to hear some heart felt gut wrenching prayers by disciples praying in earnest and in one accord with supplications and intercessions from within the sheepfolds! I don’t think we can make up the rules and follow those ignoring God’s and then expect to not see or not be surprised when we hear about leaders, elders, teachers and flocks kill themselves for want of sound doctrine of foundational Truth like building your house on a rock so that when the rains come and winds blow and beat against your house it stands and is not destroyed internally or externally!

    1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
    2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
    3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
    4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    I say it’s time to awake oh thou sleeper:

    Eph. 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
    15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
    16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

  3. I want to add to my comments above some excerpts from 2 Chronicles 30 that highlight what I’m saying is lacking in Church leadership today. If you have time take it and read this chapter because it captures the Will and Heart of Our God to restore us to Spiritual fellowship with Him in these days that we live. This was the and still is the greatness of God’s desire to love and forgive under the Law of Moses! No wonder the book of Revelation records God’s people singing both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb!

    Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 30:1 ESV)

    … So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. …For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:6, 9 ESV)

    … So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:10-12 ESV)

    … For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the Lord. For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chronicles 30:17-20 ESV)

    And this is the capstone to this chapter:

    The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven. (2 Chronicles 30:25-27 ESV)

    Not only the Jews from the other bloodlines of the Tribes of Israel were participating in this Spiritual revival but also the sojourners both from these other tribes came with them also as well as those sojourners living in Judah were all welcomed to experience God’s forgiving Grace and Mercy in the Joy and Rejoicing of the Spirit of the LORD!

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