Valley couple home from Kosovo, but want to go back to help
Even as Don and Marti Denham enjoy Christmas holidays in the Carson Valley, they are eager to go back to war-torn Kosovo to continue work they believe is ordained for them.
The Denhams returned to the United States in October after six months in Albania and Kosovo. They hope to raise $60,000 by the end of February to keep a bakery going they helped establish which distributes 400 loaves of free bread daily. They will also use the money to support other aspects of their ministry including nursing and helping to rebuild war victims’ homes and businesses.
“We want to finish the work we started,” said Marti Denham. “Maybe we will be there forever.”
The Denhams made a commitment to go to Kosovo a year ago. They started out in Albania working with refugees. Don Denham drove a bread, distributing thousands of loaves to refugees. Their work transcended religious affiliations and languages.
“We went over there to help a small church. Our timing was such that we landed right in the middle of the war,” he said. “God had bigger plans for us.”
The situation in Kosovo has existed for generations. The Denhams saw enough destruction to last a lifetime, helping people on both sides of the devastation.
“Some people call it a tribal war. It’s been going on for generations. You can put many labels on it. There are god people on both sides. There are some not-so-good people on both sides. For the most part, these people are gentle people, they love their families and love their children,” Marti Denham said.
The Denhams were not fearful for their own safety.
“We prayed for wisdom not to put ourselves in harm’s way, not to make foolish decisions,” Marti said.
Marti Denham said her re-entry into the United States required a period of adjustment.
“We have so much,” she said. “Having been away from these things for six months, we came back to see what we take for granted. I guess it’s made me ask why do we do some of these things. It causes me to wonder why there is so much emphasis on Beanie Babies and Pokemon. Yet, this is our lifestyle here. It’s not wrong. It’s just different.”
The Denhams want people to know that even though Kosovo isn’t drawing the headlines of six months ago, the suffering continues.
“Despite the aid organizations there, people are falling through the cracks. They don’t get the help they need. The $60,000 will enable us to go back for close to a year. Our hearts have enabled us to know and love these people so much.”
“We gave away all our money before we left. I wanted to buy a bracelet to bring home, but I bought a milk cow instead,” she laughed.
The Denhams believe they will be able to shift the focus of their ministry from the physical to the spiritual once they return.
“We’ve been so busy doing the physical things. We see the focus of the ministry will begin to change from the physical to spiritual. We will have more opportunities to teach and encourage people in the Lord,” said Don Denham.
The pastor of they served, Nik Krasniqi, exhorted them to tell their countrymen: “You’ve sent the physical army, now send the spiritual army: please, please, please.”
“We are being obedient to what we believe God wants us to do,” Marti said. “That’s why we want to go back. We really believe in our hearts that is what God wants us to do.
The Denhams will speak Sunday at 9 a.m. at Valley Christian Fellowship, 974 Tillman in the Gardnerville Ranchos. The church sponsored the Denhams in Kosovo.
“We’ll talk to anybody who is willing to listen to our story,” Marti Denham said.
Anyone who would like to make a contribution can call the church at 265-8868 or contact the Denhams by E-mail: denham41M@aol.com.