(February 25, 2023) Michael Ashcraft reports…
The U.S. judge who denied Torben Søndergaard’s (right) asylum application probably didn’t want to set a precedent for hundreds of Nordic Christians to flee to the United States, claiming religious persecution, the lawyer for Torben speculated in an interview with Dr Michael Brown.
‘Excuse me for speculating, but I think I’m making a very good, educated guess: In the back of that judge’s mind, he doesn’t want to set a precedent that would allow other individuals to apply for asylum,’ said Michelle Sanchez, immigration attorney for Torben.
Lambasted by other Christians!
‘The immigration judge would open up the floodgates and say, ‘Christians who are persecuted in this way in Nordic countries can apply for asylum because I’m finding that Mr. Søndergaard fears persecution should he return,”’ she added.
Danish evangelist Torben Søndergaard started a cutting-edge international movement of evangelizing in the streets, casting out demons and baptising people. His movement, dubbed The Last Reformation (TLR), has generated myriad supporters who gush about his ministry. Other Christians, rankled or disgruntled, lambasted his methods and even went so far as to call Torben a con man.
Torben fled Denmark in 2019 after video journalists performed a hit piece on him. The video portrayals appeared to traumatise kids with prayers of exorcism. TLR discredited the hit piece alleging that the child in question was actually special needs and not traumatised, but the nationally televised piece prompted politicians to pass a law banning deliverance-style prayers.
(Above. Happier times: Torben and his family ministered in Italy)
Torben believed he was completely discredited in Denmark and feared his children would be taken away from him by Danish authorities. He applied for asylum in the United States and continued ministering, performing his trademark ‘kick starts’ that train Christians who are hungry for more effective ministry.
Imprisoned – but doing what Paul did!
On June 30, 2022, Torben was suddenly arrested, shackled hand and foot, when he showed up for an interview with ICE. TLR initially quoted Torben saying he was accused of smuggling arms from Mexico (where he had ministered).
Weeks later, the charges were changed to smuggling people (helping Mexican nationals to come into the United States?). The charge seems implausible. Why would he jeopardise his own chances for asylum by doing something so blatantly illegal?
Torben was held, with no charges formally lodged against him, from July until January, when he was given a chance to make his case in front of an immigration attorney. Nothing of the supposed charges apparently even entered into discussions at the court hearing, Sanchez says. It was purely an immigration hearing.
Torben (right) relates to the apostle Paul and other New Testament heroes who were unjustly jailed. He did what Paul did: He evangelised his fellow prisoners, baptised them and held Bible studies. He fasted, prayed, read his Bible and struggled to stave off becoming demoralised, he says. Outside, his wife, Lena, and children were distraught and confused, with their immigration status in limbo.
At the January hearing, the well-respected Dr. Michael Brown testified on behalf of Torben. Torben’s lawyer endeavoured to show that the hit piece singled out Torben and was capable of generating reprisals against him.
Danish politicians – who have also denied religious liberties to Jews to circumcise and to Muslims to wear burqas – pounced at the opportunity to extend their persecutions to non-Danish church Christians.
Dr Michael Brown, whose college students have ministered alongside Torben, was mystified by Torben’s detention. ‘This is actually happening in America,’ Dr Brown says. ‘We’re not making this up. It’s shocking.’
Legal team charges foul play
‘Torben was determined to be 100% credible,’ Sanchez said. ‘All the persecution he fears was subjectively and objectively grounded and that’s what we had to establish. If there were a law passed on the parliamentary floor (of Denmark) and a politician speaking about (the documentary in which Torben was criticised). The only preacher that the politician was referring to was Torben Søndergaard. How could there be any room for further judgment than seeing this gentleman, Torben Søndergaard fears persecution should he return to Denmark?’
Meanwhile, The Last Reformation, weary of relentless attacks online, has decided to go on the offensive and sue a YouTube channel operator for slander and defamation, because he allegedly attempted to discredit Torben and his ministry, the TLR channel says.
Torben continues his incarceration, apparently at the sole discretion of ICE, with no recourse for appeal, TLR reports. A CBN report quotes an ICE official saying Torben was arrested for overstaying his visa. Three requests for interviews with Torben’s lawyer went not responded to.
Torben’s legal team charges foul play in the proceedings. First, unauthorised persons allegedly were granted access to see and film the hearings. They say some of the footage was initially posted online, in violation of U.S. law. The most recent TLR video alleges Torben’s lawyer was not duly notified that transcripts were available to formulate an appeal.
Any or all of these procedural glitches (or missteps) may open the door in a subsequent hearing for an appellate judge to overturn the initial decision of Judge Yon Alberdi, an appointee of Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, TLR says.
Jailed in the Land of the Free
‘The Last Reformation is basically one of these back-to-the-Bible movements,’ Dr Michael Brown says on his YouTube channel. ‘It is saying, ‘Hey look, Jesus gave us a commission to go out and heal the sick and set the captives free, to make disciples and baptise them. Torben was seeking to live this out and seeing amazing fruit in the streets.’
The rise of virulent opposition in Denmark blindsided Torben. But he never expected to get jailed in the Land of the Free.
‘I’m very surprised that something like this has happened in America,’ Torben said on the Dr Brown show. ‘I’m still here (for more than) 195 days celebrating my birthday, celebrating New Year’s, Christmas, away from my family. I’ve done ministry over 20 years and never done anything criminal.’
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GodReports.com, founded by Mark Ellis in 2009, is devoted to promoting Christian missions by sharing stories and testimonies from missionaries and mission organisations. Michael Ashcraft, author of this article, is also a financial professional in California and other states.