This page was originally created to raise awareness about the wrongful imprisonment of Torben Sondergaard in 2022-2023. Today it serves as an archive page. Find Torben’s new website on torbensondergaard.com.

One year in jail

An update from Torben.

Greetings to all of you in the name of Jesus. I have now been locked up for one year, and therefore I want to send this special greeting to all of you. I actually came up with another greeting just ten days ago where I shared a lot of details about my case, and I encourage you to check that out. However, this is a more personal greeting. In this update, I will also read something from one of the books I’ve written while in here, so I hope you will enjoy it. First, one year is a really long time, and it’s truly special to think that I have spent one year in jail. It’s still incredible to understand that something like this can happen—all the lies and injustice. I did not expect this to happen in America when I fled Denmark to escape all of this and then ended up in jail here.

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But first, in this update, I want to give you a glimpse of my day. This morning, I woke up around 4:30 AM. The light was on in my cell. They called us for breakfast, and then I went out and stood in line with everyone else. We received a brown breakfast bag through a hole in another door in the dorm. Then I returned to my cell, which is 9x13ft, equivalent to 2×3 meters. I spend around 20 to 23 hours per day inside my cell. I often only leave for changing clothes, getting food, or making calls like now. But this morning, I took my breakfast bag, went back to my cell, and spent some time with God, as I do every morning because it’s quieter in the morning. After that, I tried to sleep again during the quiet time from 6:30 to 7:30 AM. However, they wake us up and count us at the same time, so I usually only get around 30 minutes of sleep. Then the TV is turned on, and it remains noisy throughout the day, making it difficult to sleep until the lights are turned off again at 1 AM. As you can hear, there are only four to five hours of sleep every night and a lot of interruptions throughout the day. Otherwise, it’s the same routine—same food, no windows to see the sunset or feel the rain. I haven’t been in a car, felt grass under my feet, or seen my family or friends for one year now. The walls are the same color, the cell is the same, and I have been in this one cell for ten months. It consists of one bed against a wall, a shower, a toilet with a small sink, and something that resembles a mirror but is not a real one.

Let me share something with you. The other day, I went to the doctor to get a shot for tuberculosis, as it is required upon entry and after one year here. In the doctor’s place at the jail, they have a toilet, and on that toilet, there is a mirror—a real mirror. The other day, I went in there and saw myself. It was a very emotional moment to see myself in a mirror for the first time in one year—a real mirror. I looked so different with a beard and having lost 35 to 40 pounds. It was an emotional experience, and I stood there for a long time, just looking at myself, unable to recognize the person staring back at me. It’s a very different world here, and this is my life right now.

However, I want to say that God has used this experience to humble me and to change me. When I stand in line with everyone else, I realize that I’m the only white person here, taller than anyone else, and the only one who doesn’t speak Spanish. Yet, I stand in line just like everyone else, multiple times a day, to get food. Sometimes, the officers yell at us, and it is a humbling experience to be in this situation. When I arrived a year ago, it was shocking in the beginning, being put in handcuffs and isolated for ten days. But after some time, you somehow adapt to this world. You learn how to live here, or sometimes it feels like you die inside or shut yourself away to survive. Otherwise, you become depressed. Nevertheless, I have also witnessed God’s help and His faithfulness throughout this time.

The hardest part for me right now is seeing my family suffer, especially my wife, Lene, who is still not doing well. She is under a lot of stress and fear due to everything we have been through on the outside, and it’s really hard for her. That makes it very difficult for me as well. I really need to come out soon, to be with my family. For example, my son, Sonni, and Hannah in Denmark, and my grandkids—I haven’t seen them in two years because they were in America. They were supposed to come back after a year, but then I got detained. It’s been two years without seeing them, and it’s really hard. My daughter-in-law, Hannah, wrote this beautiful post on Facebook the other day. 

 

THIS guy 👇🏻 right here, I can very very proudly call my father in law🥺😊🙏🏻
I’m feeling so overwhelmed just thinking about what he has been through for almost 1 YEAR.
But do you know what amazes me???
Every time I have spoken with him in phone he has been so excited and thankful to God.. every time😭 Only that has truly been making a huge impact on me. His endurance and surrenderance to the Lord and the gospel. His steadfastness. His JOY and PEACE that surpasses all human understanding. Wow!
I can’t wait to see the beautiful FRUITS that will come out of this season. God is going to do mighty things through you Torben, and the whole family.
AND I can’t wait for God to reunite us all again, after almost TWO years apart😭🙏🏻
But we all know that we serve a MIGHTY and FAITHFUL God!
Thank you for being such an example for me personally and for MANY others.
I love you so much💛
I couldn’t wish for a better father in law!!!
/Your proud daughter in law🌻

Oh, this is truly beautiful. It’s a very emotional journey. But God is working in all of us—in me, Lene, the girls, Sonni, and Hannah. We are all growing through this experience, and there is so much to be thankful for. I’m grateful for Jesus and thankful that I am saved. Some people are lost and don’t know the Lord. I have hope, while some don’t. We often take things for granted without realizing how truly blessed we are. This experience has taught me a lot. Yes, I’m in a cell, but I have God with me. I may not be able to leave this place, but at least I have a Bible here. Yes, the food is the same every week, but at least I have food, while some don’t. Yes, I have a small cell with a hard bed, but there are people out there who don’t even have a bed. Yes, I make my coffee using lukewarm shower water, but at least I have coffee. So there is always something to be thankful for.

When Paul was in prison, he wrote to the church in Philippians. In his letter, he talked about rejoicing and emphasized the importance of rejoicing always in the Lord. He said it again: rejoice. This is something we can do because everything we need in this life, we have in Him. We have all we need to live, suffer, and even die. So even though it’s incredibly hard, I want to say that God is faithful, and we feel that the war is on. I was truly shocked the other day when I received more information about how evil the lies have been and how much effort has been put into getting me out of this country and destroying me. It was also shocking to learn that some people from inside ICE have worked tirelessly to target me. However, I pray that everything will soon come to light. Despite it all, I can rejoice. Why? Because God is faithful, and He has the final say. He has truly transformed my life, and I can see His purpose in all of this. I want you to know that God has a plan and a purpose for everything that is happening. There is so much I have learned that I can share with you afterwards, and I look forward to that. 

Passage from my book

During my time here, I have written two books, and I want to share a passage from one of the chapters that I believe can bless you. This excerpt is from Chapter 21, titled “Well Done.” 

 

When we talk about the second coming of Jesus and the longing for His appearance, this place has not only given me the theology behind it, but it has also given me so much more. I don’t just understand it with my mind; I feel it. I long for it. I dream about it in a way that never happened out there. There is something suffering can do that nothing else can. It helps us understand things and gain the right focus. You can only attain this through suffering. Let me explain.

When I got detained, there was a song that often played on the radio. I really loved the song and ended up downloading it on my phone, so I could listen to it repeatedly. The song is called “Well Done” by the group The Afters, and the lyrics go like this: “What will it be like when You call my name, in that moment when I see You face to face? I have waited my whole life to hear You say: Well done, well done, my good and faithful one. Welcome to the place where you belong. Well done, well done, my beloved child. You have run the race, now you’re home. Welcome to the place where you belong. I have waited my whole life for that day. I will live my life to hear You say: Well done, well done.”

This song truly resonates with me, and I genuinely long to hear those words. Just imagine that day when we see Jesus face to face, when we are finally home. Yes, as the song says, we should live for that day and live for Him. Say, “Well done.” It’s a powerful message, but being here has made everything real in a different way. Now I truly believe and see it in a way I didn’t before. Being locked up like this has taken me to a place I’ve never been before in my life. I’ve lost my freedom, been separated from my family and everything I love. It has created in me a longing I never had before—a longing to be with my wife, to see my daughters again, and a longing to leave this place and go home where I belong.

After being here for three to four months, I received a tablet where I could buy some music. I downloaded the song “Well Done” on it. However, when I started listening to the song, it brought up something else within me—a different kind of emotion. It became too overwhelming and painful to listen to the song. It evoked emotions that I had never experienced before—a deep, profound pain and longing. Consequently, I took it out of my playlist and couldn’t listen to the song for a long time. The words in the song triggered various thoughts and feelings. When I heard the lyrics, “What will it be like when you call my name?” I imagined the day an officer would call my name and tell me, “Torben, pack your things, you are going home.” The line “When I see you face to face” no longer made me think of Jesus; instead, I envisioned seeing my wife Lene’s face. The longing to see her became overpowering. The words “My pain is gone and I’m finally home” reminded me of my home in California. We recently moved to a new house there, and I haven’t even seen it yet. I pictured opening the door, stepping over the threshold, and realizing that my pain was finally gone—I was home. Many times over the past month, I have imagined that day when I will be released. I dreamt about it. The day when I will finally see my wife Lene, hug her tightly, and be with her and our daughters. We will stand together, cry, knowing that it’s over, that I am finally home. Thinking about it often brings tears to my eyes, and sometimes it breaks me, leading me to cry deeply out of the longing for it to be over.

This song brought all of those emotions to the surface, and it overwhelmed me. I couldn’t bear listening to it. I longed so much to see my wife and to be home. This doesn’t mean that I don’t long to see Jesus face to face and be home with Him, because I genuinely do. It’s what I live for—to see my Lord Jesus and to hear Him say, “Well done.” However, the longing to see my wife Lene feels much closer, more real, and easier to imagine. It could happen at any moment, and that’s why it overshadowed the other longing. Yet, as I started to understand what Scripture says about the day Jesus appears again, something began to change within me. The more I read about it in the Bible, the more my longing grew. My emotions started to shift. As I read the words of Paul, Peter, John, and James, I could feel their longing. I understood them, and I felt it deep within me. This was how they longed for that day, and I began to see it too. The longing for Jesus and to be home with Him started to grow in me like never before. This place has brought me to a new understanding. I’ve come to appreciate the depth of their longing. Although I still long to see Lene, my longing to see Jesus and finally be home grew stronger. Yet, here’s something the western church often fails to understand. We are so comfortable in our lives that we don’t feel the need for Jesus to come back right now. “Not yet, Jesus,” we say, as we busily enjoy the pleasures of this life. In many ways, we resemble the church in Laodicea described in Revelation 3. We believe we are rich and fervent for Jesus, and we try to support the persecuted church with our wealth. However, the truth is that we are lukewarm, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Yes, we have large churches and money, but the persecuted church possesses something we lack and cannot fully understand until we ourselves go through suffering and persecution.

Let me stop here, as you can read the full book one day and explore the rest for yourself. This is just a taste of the book, and I believe God has done so much in my life during this season. I am truly thankful for it. I genuinely believe this can bless you because it holds so much truth. Despite everything, I have hope for the church, and I truly believe it’s time for a breakthrough. We will witness a breakthrough within the church and return to the genuine life we read about in the Word of God. God is moving, and something special is happening. Just two days ago, a man in my dorm approached me in tears. “I met God,” he said. “I met God. I didn’t believe in Him, but He touched me. I felt Him. I met God.” He was overwhelmed with emotion. It was a truly remarkable moment. I gathered everyone in my dorm, and he shared his experience—how he had encountered God and now felt different inside. It was truly beautiful. This man reminded me of myself when I met God 27 years ago. I looked at him and saw myself. This allowed me to emphasize the importance of truly knowing God. Many people in the world have had an encounter with God, experienced Him, and believe in Him. However, we are called to know Him personally, to have a relationship with Him, and that requires a journey. Suffering and hard times play a significant role in deepening our understanding and relationship with God. I have witnessed this firsthand. God is moving here, and it’s truly beautiful to see what is happening.

I want to encourage all of you to stay strong and truly know God. It’s not just about having faith in Him but having a deep personal knowledge of Him and His Word. Don’t be afraid when you face persecution and suffering because it is through those experiences that we come to know God on a much deeper level. It’s a relationship that cannot be achieved in any other way, as I shared in the chapter of my book. Once again, I want to express my gratitude for your love and support. It means a lot to me and my family during this time. We are very thankful, and we firmly believe that God is in control. Although the war is still ongoing, we know that God has the final say. Right now, things are moving very fast, and I have already sent out a newsletter because significant developments could happen at any moment. Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. I miss all of you so much, and I want to say, live for Jesus. It’s a special calling, and I eagerly await the day when I can see you face to face and share more with you. Sending you a big greeting from jail. Bye bye.

Thank you for your interest in Torben’s case. As the legal battle is still going on, Torben still needs your support. Please consider donating to this case. You can do this by clicking the button below.