The Green Wristband

My first visit to the Exit rock festival—held annually in the shadow of a beautiful castle in Novi Sad, a pretty Serbian town on the Danube River—was unforgettable. There were stages everywhere and the streets were filled with crowds, huge tent villages resounding with all styles of music, aromas of chevapi, the local meat dish, and an atmosphere of brotherhood, havoc, and freedom. But for a time it looked as though I wasn’t going to take part at all.

I and a fellow volunteer from Denmark had traveled from Bosnia to attend and were met outside the festival grounds by colleagues who organized humanitarian projects in Serbia and Kosovo. The plan was to gather a 50-odd group of volunteers who would use music as a way of reaching the youth with God’s love, as well as an anti-drugs and anti-violence message.

We had been assured free entrance, but unfortunately this didn’t materialize. The administration offered a discount but couldn’t waive the fees completely.

My companion and I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t that large a sum, but we had limited funds. If we paid the entrance fee, we risked not having enough money for our return journey; and the alternative was to return home immediately, without doing anything of what we had come for. How we envied those wearing the bright-green wristbands that allowed them entrance.

Then a woman we had never met before approached and began a conversation. When we introduced ourselves, she exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve heard of your work in Sarajevo! I need to go fetch something, but could you wait just a short while?”

The woman—Maria—came back a few minutes later, holding a couple of green wristbands, one for each of us. As she tagged them onto our wrists, she commented, “I was planning to buy some souvenirs to take home, but I’d rather make it possible for you to attend.”

That was just the beginning of a great time at the Exit festival. We sang songs on the streets and squares, we distributed Christian literature, we participated in meaningful skits, we held countless conversations with people of all ages and nationalities, we prayed with hundreds, and we spent unforgettable days with friends.

Thank you, Maria, for your generosity that made it possible for us to participate.