The unlikely story of how faith and determination compelled an American to travel to Africa and open a school for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
David Nixon knew nothing about the small, landlocked African country of Malawi. An unassuming carpenter from North Carolina, Nixon had had his share of tough breaks, from enduring a traumatic childhood to battling drug addictions. But after having a religious awakening and learning about his church's efforts to aid some of Africa's most impoverished citizens, he found a new purpose for his life. He became determined to help the people of Malawi in some way-he would come up with the details later. Nixon raised money from his church community and set off for Africa, where he befriended a Malawian pastor and decided to do what so many Americans who go to Africa do: build an orphanage.
Nixon slowly comes to realize, however, that what he thinks is good for the Malawians is not necessarily what they need or want. As Donnelly shows, orphanages are not always the best use of resources, and there is much controversy surrounding removing children from their communities. After learning to listen to the villagers, Nixon amends his plan and eventually ends up building a school and a feeding center that supports 350 children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
A Twist of Faith is the story of one man who, despite personal setbacks, a profound cultural gap, the corruption of local officials, and the heartbreak of losing the orphans he comes to love, is determined to do good in a place nothing like home. It is the story of a man who saves himself by saving others. Nixon's story is representative of a growing trend: the thousands of American Christians who are impassioned donors of time, money, and personal energy, devoted to helping African children orphaned by AIDS.
Click here to an interview on NPR's Tell Me More with host Michel Martin July 20, 2012.
Donnelly mentions the book in his piece for Global Post
"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
"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
"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. David Nixon is an archetype for the dozens of well-intentioned Americans I have met who have 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." -Warren Buckingham, first recipient of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Lifetime Achievement Award
"This is a story told with great honesty and respect, both honoring the central role of faith in inspiring compassionate action and sharing the hard lessons to be learned when the best of intentions go awry. Ultimately a story of hope and a call to informed action, A Twist of Faith is highly recommended reading." -Kerry Olson, founder and president of Firelight Foundation and chair of Faith to Action Initiative
"Donnelly sheds light on the faith-inspired armies of compassion who have responded to a call to serve in Africa. 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, codirector, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, and former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
"A Twist of Faith asks good questions about how Americans motivated by faith can best help other people. There are not easy answers, btu I will look closer before I give money or send supplies to somethign that seems like a good cause."-Through A Glass
"I think this is an important book to read, especially for congregations that want to help African children." -Hope is Real
"I'd recommend this book to pastors and missionaries. As well as any person seeking to live on mission both locally and globally. The lessons are not just applicable to those living overseas but also to people and churches stateside that want to reach their own communities." -Love Drunk Bliss
"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
"Mr. Donnelly does a masterful job of slowly unraveling the troubled, complex, mutilayered Mr. Dixon."-United Methodist Reporter