Dutch church holds 800-hour service to save family from deportation

Dutch church holds 800-hour service to save family from deportation

A church in the Netherlands has been holding a prayer service for over 800 hours in order to prevent a family from being deported.

Dutch laws do not permit Police officers to enter a church while service is still ongoing, so the said church decided to hold an around-the-clock service.

CNN reports that for more than a month, hundreds of pastors and volunteers from across the country have been meeting to maintain the 24/7 service in support of an Armenian family whose asylum claim has been rejected.

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The chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers in the Netherlands, Theo Hettema, says they are not ready to end the service anytime soon.

According to him, the service will continue "as long as it's necessary” to ensure the Armenian family doesn’t get deported.

"We want to love God and our neighbour. And we thought that this was a clear opportunity to put the love for our neighbour into reality," he told CNN.

The embattled family – the Tamrazyan – is said to have fled Armenia and has been living in the Netherlands since April 2010.

However, their application for political asylum was rejected, and they are now being asked to leave the Netherlands.

The family consists of three children, namely; Hayarpi, Warduhi and Seyran.

Hayarpi Tamrazyan, now aged 21, says she is "incredibly happy and grateful to all volunteers."

The plan by the church to prevent their deportation was hatched in secret, with only a few people being told.

Axel Wicke from the Bethal church and community center in The Hague, where the service is taking place, explained that only a handful of people knew about the idea beforehand so that the family wasn't put in any danger.

"Back then there was no rota," he told CNN. "After the welcome service, I took over with a couple of parish members."

"I had copied and pasted the liturgies of the last 10 years into one huge document and we just sang and prayed through that, until other pastors were found and took over."

According to him, while the police are not waiting outside the church, the building is being monitored "more closely than usual".

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Meanwhile, the only way the Tamrazyan family can continue with their stay in the Netherlands is for the Dutch government to intervene.

There is a provision for a so-called children's pardon for those who have been living in the Netherlands for more than five years.

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