I am not a big wrestling fan; the truth is I’m not a fan at all except for maybe Nacho Libre (Pssssst Chancho, I need to borrow some sweats).

Even though I am not a fan of wrestling, one of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis 32. The night before he is to meet his estranged brother Esau, he is alone, and he wrestles with a “Man.” After the encounter, Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.

This concept is fascinating to me, wrestling with God. A hands-on struggle, a sweaty, frantic, wearisome encounter with the Almighty. At the end of the match, the Lord blesses Jacob and forever leaves him with a limp.

Why do I share this story? As I reflect on ten years in Haiti, this is the story that keeps returning to my mind. Haiti has been a place where I have wrestled with God. Haiti has been a hands-on struggle, a sweaty, wearisome encounter with the Almighty.

I remember returning from one trip. I had spent several days at the orphanage where my daughter was living. She had a special baby that was her responsibility. The older children were assigned younger children to look after because there were not enough “nannies” to do all the work. This little boy’s name was Jimson. When I would pick Jimson up, he would fold into my body. He was quiet, never cried, he just craved being held.

It’s hard leaving children in orphanages; children left alone in cribs rocking themselves to self-soothe their unanswered cries, children living without food, without shoes, without comfort, without safety, without love. After leaving Jimson, I got on an airplane and arrived home. That night I crawled into my bed and my dog jumped onto the bed, as she does every night, snuggled down into the blankets, and I began to cry (bawl, really), and I began to cry out to my God — “Why does my dog have a better life than a child?” And that night, I wrestled with God.

The Bible says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…” and yet, from rooftops in Haiti I have seen wanting, I have seen fear and I have seen desperation, and on these rooftops, I have wrestled with God.

I have wrestled with myself. Is there more I can do, is there more I can give, is there more I can sacrifice? Am I willing to follow Jesus into the extreme places in the world and the uncomfortable places in my heart?

Over the last ten years, I have wrestled with God.

And much like Jacob, I am blessed for it. Wrestling with God has made my faith stronger, not weaker. Wrestling with God has given me a deeper understanding of Scripture. When I read in Scripture to take care of widows and orphans, I know who they are by name. When the Scripture says to fight injustice and give a voice to the oppressed, I understand where the battle is and where the oppression is darkest.

Also, like Jacob and his life-long limp, I, too, am forever changed. Haiti has left a visible mark on my life, my family’s life, and our church. My son asked after our very first trip to Haiti, “How can we not go back?” He voiced what I knew was going to be true that we were forever changed.


Our Work is Not Done in Haiti
We also have two trips planned to continue the Celebration in Haiti.  Now may not be the time to sign-up for those trips, so I have created a place where you can sign-up to let me know you are PRAYING about being a part of one of these trips.

When you sign-up that you are PRAYING about these trips you will receive updates from me about what is happening in Haiti, our plans for these trips, and specific prayer requests for the people and places we support.

Would you consider taking a short week out of the year and join me in Haiti? Yes, some things in Haiti are challenging, but I promise you that the struggle and sweat will be worth it, and you will be blessed and forever changed.

CLICK HERE If You’re Interested in Praying About Joining Our Back to School Haiti Trip!

CLICK HERE If You’re Interested in Praying About Joining Our Christmas in Haiti Trip!

~Jilane Hawkins

Check out our 10 STEPS FURTHER Podcast ~ “Stories from 10 years in Haiti


Enjoy some photos from past trips!