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


Available in bookstores today: 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. 

“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

Watch the book trailer for A Twist of Faith at YouTube.

Watch video of author John Donnelly and subject David Nixon at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Read Chapter 1 of A Twist of Faith at Scribd. 

Read a review at Publisher's Weekly. 

About the Author
Donnelly-FINAL-credit_TKFor 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.