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

Police cannot enter a church while the service - which began in October - is taking place.

(CNN)A church in the Netherlands is holding an around-the-clock service that has lasted more than 800 hours, to shield a family from deportation.

Under Dutch law, police officers are not permitted to enter a church while a religious service is taking place. So, 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.
Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers in the Netherlands, told CNN the service will continue "as long as it's necessary."
    "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," he said.
    The Tamrazyan family, including three children Hayarpi, Warduhi and Seyran, fled Armenia and have been living in the Netherlands since April 2010 while their claim for political asylum was being decided. But their case was rejected, and they've now been told to leave the country.
    Hayarpi Tamrazyan, now aged 21, says she is "incredibly happy and grateful to all volunteers."
    Since the service started, Hayarpi has been posting regular updates on Twitter, thanking people for taking part in the service.
    The initial plan to thwart the deportation order was hatched in secret. Axel Wicke from the Bethal church and community center in The Hague, where the service is taking place, says only a handful of people knew about the idea beforehand so that the family -- who are staying in church accommodation -- wasn't put in danger.