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A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa Hardcover – July 10, 2012
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“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Contrary to other reviewers, I was not impressed by the author. One great flaw of the book is that it is a story of faith written by an author with a secular mindset. That author tends to interject his own views into the story.Read more ›
A Twist of Faith: An American Christian’s Quest to Help Orphans in Africa, by John Donnelly, Beacon Press, Boston, 2012
John Donnelly is a veteran reporter who has spent many years writing on the subject of AIDS and particularly AIDS in Africa. Twist of Faith came about because of his interest in the many faith groups in Africa who were dealing with the pandemic, but not showing up in official statistics and reports.
A Twist of Faith is the story of one man, David Nixon, who is on a mission from God to do all that he can to help children in Malawi, one of the poorest African nations, and among one of the nations hardest hit by AIDS. The book recounts Nixon’s experiences over a period of about seven years, from his arrival as a naive young man full of energy to one who has grown much wiser, but no less passionate in his desire to provide a future for the children in and around the area of Malawi where the school he helped build is located. We also get to see the challenges to Nixon’s faith that arise from trying to find the best way to help the children.
One thing that sets this book apart from a lot of others, is that we get to see glimpses into Nixon’s life, from his childhood right up until present day. As a result we get to relate Nixon’s actions to his own upbringing, to his relationship with church leadership and his own personality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First of all, this book has lots of information when it comes to the missionary work with orphans in Africa. Read morePublished 19 months ago by l.k.
This book tells of the ups and downs of mission work in Africa. Well-meaning Americans are still working to help African orphans...but what should that look like. Read morePublished on April 2, 2014 by mamaratzi
A friend recommended this. She is writing a book of her own about the challenges American volunteers face understanding or more likely misunderstanding foreign cultures. Read morePublished on March 8, 2014 by bonnierose
very good shape.it came when they said it would.its a good book for ou reading club at the church.thanks alotPublished on February 22, 2014 by Nancy D. Talley
I have not read it all but what I have read is very good. The book came in good shape and I appreciate it.Published on October 23, 2013 by jo a white
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. Read morePublished on August 24, 2012 by Miriam from Wheels Have Eyes