For nearly a month, a Dutch church has been holding services round the clock to prevent an Armenian refugee family from being deported, Eternity News reports.
Pastors from all over the country are taking turns leading services at Bethel Church in The Hague to prevent the family from being picked up by officials, who by law are not allowed to enter places of worship during religious services.
When one pastor finishes his shift, he passes a lighted candle to the next and the service continues unbroken, with sometimes only a handful of people in the congregation.
The Tamrazyan family – Sasun, Anousche and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran – fled their native Armenia nine years ago, because, they say, "Sasun’s political activism earned him death threats."
They sought asylum in The Netherlands, where a judge granted the family asylum but the government succeeded in having the ruling overturned.
The family then applied for a children’s pardon – a rarely granted permit which allows refugees with children who have lived in The Netherlands for more than five years to stay – but their application was refused.
When the Tamrazyan family found out about the deportation order against them, they reached out to Protestant congregations in The Hague to ask for help. With the support of the national leadership of the church, Bethel Church took them in on October 25, and the Tamrazyan family has been there ever since. The family alternate their time between the chapel and accommodation in the top of the building – going outside is not possible.