A church in the Netherlands has maintained a continuous worship service — 24 hours a day, seven days per week for the last month — in order to prevent an Armenian refugee family from being deported.
Sasun and Anousche Tamrazyan and their three children have been living in the Netherlands for the past nine years after they fled from Armenia after Sasun’s political activism resulted in death threats.
According to Quartz, the family was initially granted asylum in the Netherlands by a judge after years of court proceedings. However, the government was successful in its attempt to overturn the earlier court ruling that granted asylum to the family.
The Tamrazyan family then applied for a “children’s pardon” through a program in which permits to stay in the country are given to refugee families with children that have been living in the country for over five years. But, the family’s request for a children’s pardon was denied earlier this year.
The Tamrazyans were previously living in a refugee shelter in Katwijk for two years. But after they learned that a deportation order had been issued in September, the family then looked for churches in which they could seek shelter.
The local church that the family first turned to was a bit too small to house all five members. They eventually wound up at Bethel Church, a Protestant church in The Hague, where they had been given sanctuary on Oct. 25.
Under Dutch law, police officers are barred from entering churches during religious services in order to enforce immigration orders.
Pastors from across the country have taken turns in holding worship services at Bethel Church to ensure that the service does not end so that a police officer cannot come to detain the family.
According to The Huffington Post, the church has used a rotating cast of about 400 pastors and lay people to conduct the never-ending service. In all, the church claims, as many as 3,500 people from across the country have visited the church to support the family.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith