Due to a law in the Netherlands preventing police from entering places of worship during services, a Dutch church has been conducting services for three weeks straight to protect refugees inside.
… reverends from around the country have taken turns holding services at Bethel Church to prevent officials from arresting the Tamrazyan family, who have been in The Netherlands for nine years. “By giving hospitality to this family, we could give them time and place to [demonstrate] to the secretary of state the … urgency of their situation,” Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers says.
Sasun and Anousche Tamrazyan and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran, fled their native Armenia and sought asylum in The Netherlands after Sasun’s political activism earned them death threats. After several years of court procedures, the family was granted asylum by a judge, but the government launched legal proceedings and succeeded in overturning that ruling.
The Tamrazyans had been living in an asylum shelter in the municipality of Katwijk for two years when they found out about the deportation order. They decided to seek shelter at a nearby church, but it was too small to house the family, so they reached out to other Protestant congregations in The Hague to ask for help. On Oct. 25, Bethel Church (link in Dutch) answered their call. The Tamrazyan family has been there ever since.
American churches should take note: When it comes to respecting the safety and dignity of others, even when it technically violates the law, the answer should be simple. Jesus chose the former. “Picking up your cross,” as He told his disciples, is intentionally difficult. There may be consequences. Some churches in the U.S. have, indeed, taken this to heart, but many white evangelical Christians continue to beat the drum of deportation while rejecting claims of asylum.
If Christians want to be seen as “different” in a good way, though, they should learn from religious leaders like the ones in this Dutch church. They’re using their religious privilege to subvert authorities, all in the name of helping those who need it the most.
(Image via Shutterstock)