Hoop Dreams

How Basketball, Haiti Bible Mission, and MAF are changing lives in Jeremie, Haiti

When the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their 2009 draft roster, one name was not on the list—Dwayne Jackson. After a summer practicing with the NBA champions, the college star had not made the cut. This painful moment would prove to be a definitive one for Jackson.

“God had an even bigger dream for me,” says the NCAA Big South star.

Four years later, Jackson found himself in a place very different from the Staples Center locker room … on an MAF airplane in Haiti. Since his time with the Lakers, Jackson has dedicated his life to sharing Christ with others through basketball. He folded his 6’4 frame into the plane’s cabin in Port-au-Prince and set out for the remote city of Jeremie for a local tournament put on by Haiti Bible Mission (HBM), one of the many Haitian ministries served by MAF. While this tournament is a far cry from the NBA finals, for Jackson and local hoop star Carl Eric Jeune it would make a huge difference.

The tournament attracted hundreds of Haitians and was an excellent opportunity for HBM to share Christ. It was also a chance for Jackson to connect with Carl Eric, who had recently become a believer but was struggling to balance his faith with his life as a local sports star. Rather than heading back to the States after the tournament was over, Jackson stayed in Jeremie to help Carl Eric grow in his faith.

“As soon as we got there, we instantly connected!” says Jackson. “God allowed me to use basketball to reach that kid. I shared Jesus with him, and Matthew 6:25-33 changed his life. I told him that God has a plan for his life and that he should always be strong.”

“Dwayne Jackson taught me about Jesus; he showed me that Jesus is everything,” said Carl Eric. “Thank you, MAF, for bringing him to Jeremie!”

MAF pilot Jason Krul (right) and others loading Eric Carle into the MAF Cessna.

MAF pilot Jason Krul (right) and others loading Eric Carle into the MAF Cessna.

MAF played another key role for Carl Eric when, later in the year, he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. MAF flew him on an emergency flight to Port-au-Prince. For a short time, basketball was out of the question, and Carl Eric reflected on what Jackson had taught him about putting Christ first.

“This is having a ripple effect throughout Jeremie,” said HBM director Mark Stockeland. “Jesus is everything for Carl, and he is reaching other Haitians in a way that we, as outsiders, can’t.”

For Dwayne Jackson, that is a victory that far exceeds anything he could have won playing with the Lakers.

“It takes a team to reach the people of Jeremie,” said Stockeland. “And without MAF none of this would have happened. People’s lives are being changed because MAF is there.”

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