The Bethal church in the Netherlands is currently holding a non-stop service to protect a family from being deported. Rewind back to 2010 when the Tamrazyan family, who consists of both parents and three children, fled Armenia for political reasons. Despite multiple attempts by the family to stay in the country, the Dutch government denied their asylum, even though they have been living here for eight years.
Fortunately for the Tamrazyan’s, there are a few good people on their side; and they just happen to own a church. According to an uncommon Dutch law, authorities are prohibited from entering the church and taking the family into custody. Therefore, the church has agreed that they will perform an on-going service as long as it’s necessary to ensure the family gets to remain in the home they’ve known for the last eight years. The service has been going on now for six weeks. Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers in the Netherlands, told CNN. “We want to love God and our neighbor. And we thought that this was a clear opportunity to put the love for our neighbor into reality.”
The service began with only a few ministers leading the on-going sermon, but eventually, word spread like wildfire and caught wind of a notable public relations consultant, Florine Kuethe. Florine’s experience allowed her to intervene as a bridge between the family, the church and the media.
“I’m not religious, but when I heard about this, I said to my husband, ‘Don’t be shocked, but I want to go to church,’” said Kuethe. “This type of thing makes the church relevant again.”
With Kuethe now involved, being a voice for the church and the Tamrazyan’s, more people wanted to help. The service eventually went from a few ministers preaching all night to pastors joining in from all over the world. It got to be such a national movement that the church is having trouble scheduling in all the clerics who want to participate. Hayarpi Tamrazyan, the family’s eldest daughter at 21 years old couldn’t be more grateful, telling CNN in an interview that she is “incredibly happy and grateful by all the support”.
It has to be terrifying when you and your family are on the run for your freedom, many of us are lucky enough to never have to experience such panic. It also must be completely overwhelming when the kindness of strangers takes over and puts their lives on hold to save yours. It seems America is not the only country having immigration issues, it is happening all over the world. I feel that often we forget what life must be like for people outside of the U.S. because we are stuck in our little media Trump bubble. People all over are being deported from places they call home, particularly children who grew up in their new residence. Deportation is a harsh reality for too many families, so it’s both incredible and inspiring to see people sticking together to watch each other’s back in their most time of need.