Convenience Meets Communion

By Suderman, Brenda | Winnipeg Free Press, October 4, 2014 | Go to article overview

Convenience Meets Communion


Suderman, Brenda, Winnipeg Free Press


Manitoba NFLer looks to religion to find a career away from gridiron

A Manitoba-raised pro football player hopes the blessings keep flowing from packaging -- and selling -- small cups of juice and tiny wafers.

Although the main purpose of Israel Idonije's business Blessed Communion was to provide him with a future after football, the Chicago-based company also supports his charitable work.

"As a company, we give a significant amount of capital to charity," says the 33-year-old Idonije, who has spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and one with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League and is now a free agent.

"This year, we've focused on tithing. There's no other communion company that does that."

For the past five years, the Nigerian-born Idonije, who moved at age four to Brandon with his Christian missionary parents, has been selling pre-filled communion cups to Christian churches and organizations across the United States and Canada. He also runs a foundation for youth, operates a real estate company and writes comic books.

About the size of a single-serving cream container, the communion cups have two compartments filled by machine: Concord grape juice on the bottom and an unleavened wafer on top.

"It's a much more sanitary option and very functional way of offering communion to people," says Idonije in a recent telephone interview from Chicago.

Communion is a sacrament common to most Christian denominations, based on the biblical Last Supper, where Jesus Christ shared wine and bread with his disciples. It is also called the Eucharist, Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper.

The company fills orders as needed, and can produce up to 250,000 cups in a day. The products are available online at www.blsd.com for $25 for a package of 100, or $50 for 250. Their market is mostly large Christian churches, since the product eliminates the need for volunteers to pour juice into trays of individual cups.

"If you're a church that takes communion, we have a product that simplifies your communion needs," says Idonije, who travels to Winnipeg several times a year to visit his family. …

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