How the Help of Others Enabled Us to Help Others

“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

Just opposite the main U.N. headquarters building in Priština, the capital of Kosovo, was the most popular English pub in the city, where many of the ex-patriots working in Kosovo either for the U.N., a humanitarian organization, or a contractor would flock after working hours. For many of these people, it was difficult to live and work in a poor foreign country that had just come through a war. There were long electricity and water cuts, no garbage collection, etc. The pay was excellent, but the combination of poor conditions and being away from family and friends contributed greatly to their stress level. So sitting with colleagues for a few drinks after hours was just what the doctor ordered to relieve the stress, and was one of the few enjoyable pastimes available to them.

This bar was owned by a British man and his two partners. He was a rough, outspoken man, and not at all highly cultured like one normally perceives the British to be. But he had a heart for helping others, and so after hearing about our humanitarian activities, he said he would include us in the list of charities his business would support!

Each Tuesday evening the pub hosted a charity-fundraising activity that most often was either a dart-throwing contest or a trivia quiz. Each patron that wanted to participate would pay a small entry fee. The winner of the event would get half the pot, while the other half would go into the charity-fundraiser kitty that was distributed between the three chosen charities every 3 months.

At one point our new friend said he wanted to do something more just for us, and suggested a charity auction. We had never heard of such a thing, but thought it was a great idea! We set the date and went about town soliciting contributions that we could auction off. Several restaurants donated dinner for either two, four, or six people, one hotel donated a free night’s stay, the pub itself threw in a case of wine, a shop donated a fruit basket, etc., so that when the day came, we had a pretty good list of items to offer at auction. The great thing was that these men (mostly) did not really care all that much for what they were bidding on. They just wanted to donate to our cause and the auction was a fun way to do it. The fruit basket was actually auctioned off three separate times, as each time the person who won the bid would then put it back on the table so it could be auctioned off again! But the featured item that was to be offered at auction that evening was a free, round-trip ticket to any destination in Europe, donated by the regional manager of Austrian Airlines. That ticket itself went for more than 600 euros ($900 at that time)! By the end of the evening the Lord had supplied more than 1,500 ($2,250) euros for our charitable activities, and the pub owner asked us if that was “OK”! Meanwhile, one of his partners, who owned a sushi restaurant, offered to host a charity dinner as a fund-raiser for our work a few weeks later.

During the auction, I was going around with one of our young volunteers to talk with some of the clientele in order to explain more about our humanitarian activities and why we were in Kosovo. One of the men we talked to, who was in charge of a construction company that had lucrative contracts with NATO and the UN, said that he would like to help some needy cause, if we could suggest to him a worthy project. He invited us to his office, and during that meeting we told him about the dilapidated, run-down primary school building in the Serbian village that we had “adopted” and were helping. He went to take a look at the situation on the ground and agreed to totally renovate the school, including a new roof and heavy wooden floor boards. They did an excellent job and were happy and thankful for the opportunity to put something back into the community. We found that many of the ex-pats who are posted in these type of foreign missions feel very guilty about making such huge salaries while the poor local people suffer terribly as a result of the conflict they have just come through. We are happy that in this case at least, one of them went out of his way to do a kind deed for others.