American Christians, veteran reporter John Donnelly has discovered, are an ever-increasing source of aid in Africa, with some experts estimating that U.S. churches supply more resources to Africa than USAID. In A Twist of Faith, he tells the unlikely story of how faith and determination compelled one such American Christian to travel to Africa and open a school for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. David Nixon, a carpenter from North Carolina who had lived through his share of trouble, knew nothing about the small, land-locked African country of Malawi. But after having a religious awakening and hearing about a preacher's efforts to aid its impoverished and beleaguered citizens, he raises money from his church and sets off to do what so many well-intentioned Americans of faith do in Africa: build an orphanage. But as his plans are beset with difficulties, Nixon slowly comes to realize that helping others requires listening to and learning from them. And that means changing his preconceived ideas of what the Malawians need and how he can best serve them. A Twist of Faith is the story of one man who, despite personal struggles, a profound cultural gap, the corruption of local officials, and the heartbreak of losing an orphan he comes to love, saves himself by saving others in a place nothing like home. 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.
"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
From Chapter 1
A Moment in an African Field
This was all new. The country, the people, the big sky, the red-clay road that was so narrow it seemed to have been built for bicycles. Just being in Africa made him want to praise the Lord, which he did frequently and with great feeling. David Nixon Jr., an evangelical Christian and a doit-all carpenter from a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina, couldn’t have been more excited, or more on edge, as he rode in the back seat of a long white Toyota Hiace van into the African bush.
He was traveling deep into the backcountry of a nation he had ﬁrst heard about only months before—landlocked Malawi in southeastern Africa. He was in the middle of nowhere as far as he was concerned, about an hour’s drive west of Lilongwe, the country’s quiet capital. And he was with ﬁve fellow American missionaries, including two friends who, like him, were on their ﬁrst trip to Africa. They had all come in the middle of the summer in 2002 with a loose plan to ﬁnd local churches and work with them to help orphans. The six of them weren’t sure if that meant contributing money and whatever expertise each of them had to offer, or if it meant diving in and doing it all themselves.
Nixon was of average height and weight: ﬁve foot eight, 165 pounds. He shaved his head every day so close that his scalp shone, a habit he had begun a decade earlier when he’d spent months living in a tent, studying the Bible, and trying to ﬁgure out how he would follow God’s word. He had strong arms, a broad chest, a linebacker’s shoulders, a booming baritone voice, and eyes that could be as playful as a child’s or as stern as a drill sergeant’s. He was not good at hiding his emotions. When he was having a good day, he was full of energy and vim, ready to attack life. When troubles got him down, his shoulders slumped as if he were Atlas carrying the weight of the world. Those dark moods would come and go, but they didn’t stay as long as they had when he was a young man hounded by trouble. He attributed the elevation of his mood to his trust in God. God was his Father, and when Nixon said grace, he praised God so thoroughly that the food would often get cold.
On this day in a ﬁeld in Malawi, he felt vaguely like one of those explorers from a distant era. But he and his partners weren’t looking for gold or diamonds, or for tribes that had had little contact with the outside world; they were hunting for a community in dire need of help. These men knew every community could use some assistance, so they needed to ﬁnd a local organization they could feel comfortable with to act as their on-the-ground contact. They believed fervently they had to do all the good they could do for poor Africans, the polar opposite of the goal of most of those who’d come before them, decades and centuries earlier—people who wanted to pillage the continent’s riches or enslave its inhabitants.
Their mission couldn’t have come at a more urgent time. According to estimates put forth by the United Nations, in recent years the number of orphans in Africa had grown to 34 million, a huge jump from a decade before, due to the AIDS pandemic, which had hit sub-Saharan Africa with greater force than anywhere in the world. In 2002, AIDS treatment was available to people in wealthier countries but to only a tiny percentage of HIV-positive people in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Just ﬁ fty thousand...
|Title:||A Twist of Faith||Publisher:||Random House, Inc.|
|Edition:||Ebook , EPUB|
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