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A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa Hardcover


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A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa + Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time + Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001325
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Through the story of David Nixon’s faith-driven journey to save the destitute in Malawi, John Donnelly explores the tenets of true service to underserved communities and accompaniment of the poor, while focusing a shrewd reporter’s gaze on the efforts of various American aid organizations in Africa. He offers a compelling account of the great joy, frustration, and personal sacrifice inherent in addressing the urgent moral claim of the poor on a Christian conscience.”—Paul Farmer, author of Haiti After the Earthquake

“Donnelly sheds light on the faith-inspired armies of compassion who have responded to a call to serve in Africa. By telling the personal story of the founder of one organization, we learn the fundamental truth that regardless of the sums of money involved, service requires human interaction, humility, and an openness to otherness.”—Ambassador Mark R. Dybul, co-director, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University

“In A Twist of Faith, John Donnelly documents the twisting road traveled by many from a faith-motivated righteous commitment to Africa’s AIDS orphans to the far more difficult destination of doing the right thing. His protagonist David Nixon is an archetype for dozens of well-intentioned Americans I have met who triumphed or failed miserably in direct proportion to the degree that they were able to acquire humility, embrace African family and community values, and overcome the perception that they knew best what African children needed to thrive. An instructive and compelling read.”—Warren Buckingham, first recipient of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Lifetime Achievement Award
 
A Twist of Faith beautifully tells the story of an American Christian whose commitment to Africa’s orphans moves him from confidence, passion and determination to humility, wisdom and dependence. Along the way he slowly learns the best practices that can truly honor a culture and its children. An important book for anyone who wants to be God’s hands and feet in our broken world.”—Lynne Hybels, author of Nice Girls Don’t Change the World

"A rousing good read and cautionary tale of one man's mission to help AIDS orphans in Africa–and how good intentions can pave the road to hell..."–Humanosphere, KPLU's blog

"Mr. Donnelly does a masterful job of slowly unraveling the troubled, complex, mutilayered Mr. Dixon."—United Methodist Reporter

About the Author

For more than thirty years, John Donnelly has reported in regions far from the United States, starting with the civil wars of Central America, delving into the political violence in Haiti, drawing out tales of conflict and peace in the Middle East and Asia, and then landing in Africa, where he feels most at home. In Africa, where he traveled as a staff reporter for the Boston Globe and later as a Kaiser Family Foundation fellow, he became intrigued by the steady stream of Americans with big hearts and big ambitions whose adventures are told in this book.

More About the Author

John Donnelly is the author of "A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa" (Beacon Press, 2012). For more than thirty years, John Donnelly has reported in regions far from the United States, starting with the civil wars of Central America, delving into the political violence in Haiti, drawing out tales of conflict and peace in the Middle East and Asia, and then landing in Africa, where he feels most at home. In Africa, where he traveled as a staff reporter for the Boston Globe and later as a Kaiser Family Foundation fellow, he became intrigued by the steady stream of Americans with big hearts and big ambitions whose adventures are told in this book.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Dominic Chavez, 2012.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I can't wait to read the next chapter.
Richard
Donnelly paints a sympathetic portrait of Nixon, who becomes more and more astute about how to best help the Africans.
James R. V. Matichuk
I found the book to be very well-written and easy to follow.
Miriam from Wheels Have Eyes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lovedrunkbliss on August 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The outsider must learn how they can help before they start working."
For the last 20 years Americans have been giving and going to African nations is record numbers. One of the largest groups to do both has been Evangelical Christians. Some academics estimate that evangelicals have given more money to Africa than the United States and various relief organizations. The major focus of these Christians has been the children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic of recent memory. John Donnelly, a former journalist, became interested in the attention Africa was receiving from the U.S. in general and grew curious having discovered that much of the efforts are coming from private evangelical citizens and faith based groups.

Donnelly's book is a combination of statistical date, personal anecdotes, and biography of one of the Christians working on Africa's ground level issues. The book sticks with one of those countries by talking almost exclusively about Malawi. The major thesis of the book is that many secular and faith based organizations arrive with lots of money and good intentions but have not taken the time to learn the subtle nuances of a foreign culture. Furthermore, the author hints that perhaps "outsiders" and "whites" may never fully understand the cultures of Africans.

The major biographical subject of the book is David Nixon. Nixon is a southern loner who after a life of drugs and hard living finds Jesus. Upon conversion he develops an almost self-taught dogma while living in a tent with only the bare essentials. He comes out of his self-imposed exile with a few simple revelations. Mostly, he takes the Bible as literal as possible and begins looking for his own personal destiny to help others. Early chapters about Nixon seem to be written with a certain emotional distance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary C. Hoyt on December 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been immersed in personal research about Africa's orphan crisis for two plus years trying to learn from what others have done and praying through what role I can play in serving the children and their communities in Kinshasa, DRCongo. I've been searching for a book like John Donnelly's and am thrilled to have found it. I've read many articles and websites about the principles Donnelly is advocating and how various groups are implementing them to varying degrees across Africa, but there's just something about a book -the heft of it, the cover to cover feel of it, the ability to go more in depth and present a broad range of data and stories in a comprehensive manner. Donnelly is an excellent writer, a true journalist, and he has given this book to us, the American Christian orphan care community, as a gift of self-reflection. I plan to promote it at the 2013 May Orphan Summit and online until then!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miriam from Wheels Have Eyes on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This was a wonderful story of one man's faith in God and living out what he believed God wanted him to do with his life. The book shares a lot of obstacles that a person must overcome to help people in a foreign country. I found the book to be very well-written and easy to follow. I don't want to repeat the above book description as it depicts the book in an accurate light and there is no need to add to it to tell you what the book is about. If you enjoy reading about missionaries and their stories, then you will find this book a delight to read. In addition to describing Nixon's journey, the author includes the attempts and successes of others who have provided aid to Africa as well, along with how that aid is used and received by their government and people. It gave me an education in how missions and donations to other countries actually work out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard on August 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book - one that I couldn't put down. This is for all those who wish to help children in crisis around the world - valuable lessons inside. This is for all those who look cynically at religious organizations claiming to alleviate pain and suffering through charity, donations, and orphanages. There's a lesson in here for everyone and it's helpful and instructive. My heart goes out to the book's protagonist - David Nixon. I can't wait to read the next chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whitehouse on August 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Talk to anyone who identifies as a Christian and you'll likely hear stories of travels to other places to help those in need (i.e., mission trips) and/or a desire to help others-particularly children who have no families to call their own. It's the reason many people travel to other countries and spend time in orphanages-or send money to other countries to build an orphanage or a school or some other likely much needed outpost for a marginalized part of the population.

Those same people will have wonderful stories to tell and will describe how those experiences impacted them individually as well as the hope that they made some type of difference wherever they were. Although there's a lot of good in all of that, perhaps it's not all it really could be.

In A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa, John Donnelly explores what it means to offer aid (regardless of your motivation) in places which we perceive need it most. Mixed in with Donnelly's own research into foreign aid-specifically to Africa-is the story of David Nixon, a well-meaning carpenter from North Carolina who raises money to go to Malawi and build an orphanage. As the project stalls, Nixon learns what it means to listen to the Malawians describe what they need and how to make it happen. Nixon comes to understand that listening to and understanding those from this new (and very different) culture means putting aside his preconceived ideas and plans, taking a different approach, and bringing change and hope to another part of the world-and himself.

Donnelly intersperses his own research (to include interviews with Nixon and others in aid organizations working in Africa as well as his own travels to Africa) with Nixon's story throughout this book.
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