Torben Søndergaard and his family fled Denmark for America this year like refugees fleeing a war zone, leaving with only what they could carry in eight suitcases.
Torben is the founder of The Last Reformation, a worldwide movement which seeks to return Christianity to the Book of Acts. He also began the Jesus Center in Denmark, which trained disciples from 30 nations to spread this message around the world.
A Series of Attacks Against Him
Attacks against his ministry in Denmark began in 2016 when the Jesus Center was investigated by six different Danish government agencies for everything from food safety to unpaid taxes. Officials found nothing wrong.
Then last year, the government began to investigate their family when they began homeschooling. Then they put their daughter back into public school, but that didn’t stop the investigations.
But the worst was yet to come. Torben Søndergaard’s life and ministry would take a dramatic turn when Danish TV approached him and said it wanted to profile his ministry. It sounded like it could be very positive. It wasn’t.
Danish TV Investigates Him
Danish TV not only sent a film crew. Torben says they also sent two undercover reporters, one who said that he wanted to follow Jesus and was even baptized, and another who pretended to be mentally ill.
The resulting documentary on national TV, called “God’s Best Children,” lumped Torben in with other so-called “radical Christian” ministries that had had serious moral or ethical failures or even criminal activity.
Torben said, “When I saw that I was like, ‘I’m finished. No one will ever trust me again.'”
Portrayed as a Liar, Abuser, and a ‘Quack’
Torben watched in horror as he saw himself depicted on national TV as a liar, as an abuser of children and the mentally unstable through healings and so-called “exorcisms,” and as a quack who takes medicine away from the sick, something he says he has never done.
“I’ve been doing my ministry for 18 years. I never had a problem, I never had complaints,” Torben said. “Of course, there were misunderstandings. Maybe people got hurt and so on, like every other church and every other ministry. But when these programs started it just changed the whole atmosphere in Denmark. We were like, ‘We need to leave Denmark. This is not going to stop.'”
Demands for a Police Investigation of Torben
Torben became a punching bag on Danish TV, as guests on news shows pushed for a new law against Christians who allegedly inflicted mental violence on children through healings and deliverance.
“They interviewed a state church priest talking about how we were evil people coming as a predator to find the weak animals who are sick and to eat them, and how we wanted to take people into the cult,” Torben said.
Then the demands grew in the media for Torben to be investigated for the crime of “quackery.”
“And I just saw that I was already guilty in the mind of the politicians,” Torben said, “I was already guilty in the mind of the people, for something I have nothing to do with.”
Friends Warn Torben to Leave Denmark
Torben was now a marked man, viewed as a dangerous person by many of his countrymen, worried that he would lose his children. During his final three weeks in Denmark, he says he never left his home.
He told us tearfully, “We had people starting to call us and say that, ‘You have to leave Denmark now because they’re not going to stop.’ They want to continue getting you down. So, we bought a ticket to America. Then two days later we have packed eight suitcases and we left with our kids to America. Two days later we packed eight suitcases and we left with our kids to America.”
“It was very stressful,” he added, “And now our [Jesus] center is closed. We had an 80,000 square feet center in Denmark is closed down. Our work is closed down. Everything is closed down.”
The Søndergaards have appealed to the US government for political asylum. Torben has testified in a sworn affidavit that if he is returned to Denmark, he risks being imprisoned and having his minor daughter removed from their family.
Awaiting an Asylum Decision
The Danish Press Council has ruled that Torben was misled by the journalists who made the documentary. But there is no government agency in Denmark that can give Torben his reputation back or guarantee his freedom if he returns.
Torben now waits to see if his asylum request will be approved, and says he dreams of starting a Jesus Center like the one in Denmark here in America.
“I also have a message to people in America, that we need to be prepared. We need to be alert,” Torben said, “to say that this would never happen in America. That is a lie. I have said the same [about] Denmark.”