In order to protect the Tamrazyans, a migrant family from deportation, a church in the Netherlands is exploiting a law preventing law enforcement from interrupting religious services.
At 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, a church community center in the Hague began the service to shield the Tamrazyan family from being returned to their native Armenia. On November 30, USA Today reported that the church had already clocked over 800 hours of worship, with no signs of slowing down.
The Tamrazyan family fled after the father, Sasun, became the target of death threats due to political activism, which, according to the New York Times, the family declined to comment on. Even more difficult for the family is that after receiving permission from a judge to stay in the country, the Dutch government overturned that ruling. They have sought refuge in Bethel’s church, where they have remained since October 26.
The church’s stated mission with the continuous service is simple:
“The purpose of the Church Asylum is to create rest and safety for the family and to offer some respite to the family during which we invite politicians to discuss with us the family’s fate and the effects of the Child Amnesty Arrangement.”
Unfortunately, a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments has made cases like that of the Tamrazyan family much more common. The church’s website encourages invested onlookers to “pray for the family and the 400 other children in a similar situation.” It also states that donations are much appreciated to keep their unconventional church service going.
— Hayarpi (@hayarpi_3) November 3, 2018
Since receiving more publicity, the Bethel church has been flooded by visitors and guest speakers, delivering baked goods, music, and positivity to a situation with an otherwise bleak prognosis. Though it may prove difficult to guard the family forever or to abate the rise of anti-immigrant zealotry, Bethel church is proving that doing good is sometimes as simple as worshipping without end.