Valley couple look for Albanian families in Kosovo |

Valley couple look for Albanian families in Kosovo

by Christina Nelson

Don and Marti Denham started their mission almost five months ago to help refugees in Albania and preach the word of God.

They have now moved on to Kosovo where they will try to find some of the families they were helping who returned to their native country.

“They have an incredibly soft spot for people. And they cry for people,” said Valley Christian Fellowship Pastor Leo Kruger about the Denhams.

“I got a note from them saying they are in Kosovo and that they are doing well,” Kruger said. “I’m probably not going to hear much from them because of the communication problems there.”

The way Kruger describes them – as tenacious and fearless – and from the tone of their letters and e-mails, the Denhams don’t seem afraid of living, working and preaching in a war-torn country.

“Please do not worry about us, we are in the Lord’s hands. We understand the area is dangerous, but then so is Durres (Albania), and Los Angeles too, maybe even Fargo.” -e-mail, July 31

But there are times when anybody would be scared, Kruger said.

“They have gunfire every night. That’s part of the Albanian lifestyle. They’ve seen people get assassinated in the streets,” he said.

“Shortly after dark, the streets that were filled with people will be empty. Albania is a violent place, and after dark it is very unsafe to be on the streets alone. Every evening gunfire is heard. In fact, the first night we were here, someone was firing just below the window, kind of wanted to hit the deck, but no one else did, so we just listened and waited.” – letter, July 1999

“Going to Kosovo makes it even that much more (dangerous) because they’re American, for one; they’re Christian, for another,” Kruger said.

They have had some success in converting Muslims to Christianity during their trip and have written about a few of them.

The Denhams’ primary purpose was to assist a church in Albania. They have been distributing food – 1,000 loaves of bread a day – and assisting wherever and whoever they can.

“Once the people found out Marti is a nurse, they asked her to check their sick and wounded people. So we have also provided medical care and medicines without charge to the people.” – letter, July 1999

Their journey started in April and took them first to Israel and eventually to Greece and Albania. The first week in August, the couple planned to move on to Kosovo to follow up with some of the refugee families they had been helping.

“It has been a sight to see as thousands of people are leaving, in much the same way they arrived, in every kind of vehicle one can imagine. They are so excited to go home. We will certainly miss our new friends, though, and look forward to going to Kosovo next month.” – letter, July 1999

During their three-month stay in Albania, a 14-year-old boy, Mario, acted as one of their interpreters. Other interpreters – Christian Albanians – have helped the Denhams in their religious mission.

Valley Christian Fellowship and people in the community have sent over $9,000 to the Denhams to assist with their missionary work.

“They’re spending all of their money,” Kruger said. “They don’t have any money left.

“I’m not overly worried (about the Denhams). We miss them a lot because they’re dear friends of ours.”

Kruger expects they will return in October, but believes they will return to Kosovo or Albania soon after.

Donations to help the Denhams with their mission are welcome. Call 782-4482 for information.