Immigration and Education – a Personal Testimony by R.K. Ulrich

FROM R.K.’S CORNER

Ulrichs - May 2016This month, I share  I share with you a slice of my life – the part of my testimony which encompassed both Immigration and Education, presently the two most divisive and passionate issues of our time.

A legal immigrant myself — and still one after 43 years living in this country, I want my story to be an encouragement to those who struggle to find their place in life, whether it involves immigration issues, or other things.  Ephesians 2:10 states that God has created us for His glory, and prepared us for good works.  He holds our future in His hands; He opens doors and makes a way where there is none, provided we obey His Word and the law of the land!

MY TESTIMONY

The situation described here took place in the mid-seventies in Upstate New York.  A Junior High school teacher from Norway, I had arrived in the States two years prior having been accepted into an eighteen month Fulbright post-graduate educational research program at the University of Hartford, CT with a study group of eleven other educators from various European countries.  The program included a year of teaching at an American school, which for me meant a job at a private Christian school in Connecticut. Our study group had been admitted into the United States on student visas which expired on June 30, 1974.  According to law, we were all required to return to our individual homelands, no exceptions made, especially since we were under the tight rules and regulations of the Fulbright Scholarship Grant.

The Love Inn Barn in 1974 when I first moved to New York and established the school there.

The Love Inn Barn in 1974 when I first moved to New York and established the school there.

In an unexpected turn of events that can only be described as a supernatural guidance of the Lord, I ended up with an unprecedented one year legal extension of my student visa, and found myself in the Fall of 1974 in a barn in Upstate New York called Love Inn.  Surrounded by several hundred former hippies, university students (Cornell University was located only 15 min driving distance from the barn), and a few local people, who had all embraced a living relationship with Jesus Christ, I realized I had been planted smack in the middle of the Jesus movement of the 60-70 ties! There, I established a grade school with the members of this young community who sought a Christian alternative in the education of their children. The task was exciting and challenging.

Love Inn School, presently called the Covenant Love Community School, started with five students in the tractor tool shed in the barn, without hardly any funds or educational material.  It was a small beginning, indeed.  What we did have, was  faith and a large vision that what God was starting, He would complete!

God was calling us to develop a well rounded Christ-centered and relationally-based education, its basis being integrated Christian Education built on the foundation of the Judeo-Christian Biblical world view. During the six years I was Principal of the school, we experienced on a grassroots level a philosophy/methodology emerge, which we called Kingdom Education.  It was an exciting and exhilarating endeavor!

After one year, in June of 1975, my extended student visa would expire, which meant that I would have to leave the country and the people and the school I had come to love.  Recognizing God had sent me  to head the school, and that the work had just begun, the community leaders and members, including myself, strongly felt it was not the right time for me to leave.  After much prayer and consideration by all, I filed change of status from student visa to permanent residency at the regional immigration office in Buffalo, NY.  Each profession had an immigration quota according to countries and regions.  There was no quota for teachers from Nordic countries since there was a glut of them already, so I did not qualify. My application was denied, and my subsequent appeal was also denied.

We learned we had one legal option left: My case could be presented to the highest Federal Immigration Court  in Washington, D.C.  We were not of a mindset to defy the law of the land, but rather, in faith trusting God’s guidance. Scott Ross, our community fellowship leader, called the church to prayer: “God is above human authorities. God sent Ragnhild, and has established her.  She needs to stay.”

With no money, no legal counsel, no arguments that would hold before the court, we nevertheless went forward and filed an appeal of the denial with that Court.  The good thing was, I was legally allowed to remain in this country while the case was pending.  A few months later, I received a document from Washington DC confirming my pending case.

More that a year passed.  Nothing was happening.  I continued my life’s work in the school and lived life to the fullest.

The Barn in the early eighties after renovation and change of name to Covenant Love Community

The Barn in the early eighties after renovation and change of name to Covenant Love Community

One day, I was in the middle of teaching a class, when suddenly the two doors — one at each end of the classroom— opened simultaneously.  Two tall, strong men in black suits walked in. They flipped out their i.d. badges and asked, “Are you Ragnhild Marie Kjeldaas?” “Yes, I am,” I answered.  “We’re from ICE,” they said. “You have overstayed your visa and you’re in violation of U.S. immigration law. Grab your bag, come with us, we will take you to the airport.  You are being deported.”

Stunned, I looked out the window and saw the black limo parked outside with the U.S. government seal on the side.  Dazed, I thought, “It is here, waiting to take me to the airport where I will be sent back to Norway in disgrace. I will be a Persona Non Grata in the United States!”

Upstairs, the Love Inn staff saw the black limo and knew they had come for me. One of the guys said, “We can take them on. We’ll run down, wrestle them, and grab her.” They were ready to go to prison for me!

Downstairs, my mind was racing. “Wait, I have a paper from the government!” I told them I had a document from the Federal immigration authorities proving I had legal permission to remain in the States till the Court had resolved my pending case.  “Can I go home and find it?” I asked. “No, come with us right now.”

Where else could that paper be? I knew that it wasn’t in my desk, but I decided to check in the file cabinet in my cubbyhole of an office. A copy of the document was there! The men looked at it, politely apologized and left.  We realized then that the situation was really serious!

Scott got on the Scott Ross Show, a Christian radio program he produced weekly which was broadcast to 70 stations in the country, and shared my case.  We received an avalanche of calls of support, as many professional groups saw this as a constitutional church/state issue.

Shortly thereafter, I received a document in the mail summoning me to appear at a pretrial in Washington DC and asking me to bring all necessary paperwork.  With no money and no lawyer, no ability to fill in the complex judicial paperwork, I had nothing to present at the pretrial. “I will be charged with overstaying my visa and immediately deported, but for a miracle,” I thought.  None of us knew what to do, so I kept teaching and we all kept praying.

Then, I got notice the trial was two weeks away. I was still able to sleep at night because the Lord had given me assurance, “Do you trust me? I will walk you through it.”

Three days later, I receive a phone call from New York City.  I picked up the phone, “Hello?”  “Are you the Norwegian school teacher with immigration problems?” a male voice asked.  “Yes, I am.”   “My name is Victor Anfuso. I’m an immigration lawyer. I believe I’m supposed to take your case.”  I was stunned. “I think I need to talk to my leader about this,” I said. “What is your number? I’ll have him call you.”

Scott dismissed the lawyer and his offer as most likely an opportunist wanting notoriety in handling the case, as my story had become more public. He initially refused to talk this lawyer, but Mr. Anfuso persisted and kept calling, day after day. After a few days,   Scott finally picked up the phone.

“I need to explain to you who I am,” the lawyer said. “I’ve been an immigration lawyer for 15 years. I once prayed, ‘God, if you can use an immigration lawyer to do something significant in your kingdom, use me.’ I just met a lawyer in California who, in a meeting, presented your case to a group of immigration lawyers.  When I laid the case notes on my desk at home, the glory of God entered my room. The Lord said, ‘You are going to take this case and you are going to do it pro bono.’”

He invited me to New York City to stay with his family for a few days to discuss the case. “I know that God is going to glorify himself,” he said as we sat in his Manhattan penthouse office. “I’ve looked at constant violations between church and state. I can’t promise anything, but God is at work.”  So I signed papers that listed him as my legal representative and we asked for an extension of several months. Then we dove into the details of the immigration law, which stated that no professional from northern Europe could enter the States and receive a work permit if there were qualified Americans to fill the position. However, if the job required a special qualification to be used in  50% or more of the job, and no American had that qualification, the foreigner would be admitted and given a work visa.

Transformation of the old Love inn Barn to today's up-to-date building, a well-known landmark in the area.

Transformation of the old Love inn Barn to today’s up-to-date building, a well-known landmark in the area.

Anfuso decided to file my appeal under that clause in the law.  What was my special qualification? We came up with a brilliant idea: My qualification was the Kingdom of God. At Love Inn School, we explored how the word of God fit into every area of our lives. Dissecting a frog became interesting because He made the frog. Anfuso prepared a brief for the Court in which he argued that Miss Kjeldaas did not use only 50% of her classroom time doing “Christian activities”, but rather 100%, since everything was taught in light of God as Creator and then integrated into all subjects and activities. Since there was no other school in the country that brought this awareness to all the subjects, he argued I was uniquely qualified to lead the school.

When Anfuso argued his case at the pretrial hearing, he was told it would not fly, that it was a religious argument, not a legal one. Gradually, the case grew even more public involving many professionals in the Christian legal communities where major discussions centered around the question: Who has the right to define “Christian activities” – the church or the state?  The courts had given Anfuso a stopwatch and a legal pad he sent on to me. Over a period of several weeks, I had to record the exact amount of time I spent on “religious instruction” in the classroom each day, specifically defined and limited by them as: reading the Bible, singing, praying, or saying the name of God. I tried my best to comply, but came sorely short of 50% by their definition.  We could not separate our lives from our faith.

Anfuso paid out-of-pocket for everything.  He even employed a couple of full time paralegals for two years.  The entire case must have cost thousands of dollars. Amazing!

After the pretrial, Anfuso called me and said, “This is a very exciting day because the courts of the world have said I’m not capable of winning our case with our argument.  We will lose.  But—now, it belongs to God. We shall watch the Red Sea part! All we can do is wait to see how He will do it on our behalf!”  Ten days before Anfuso would present our case in the highest court, he called again.  “Guess what? God parted the sea!” he exclaimed. “What happened?” I asked.  “A miracle,” he said. “Congress just published an amended immigration law.  The clause we are filing under no longer has the 50% requirement in it. Now we can argue the case and we will win! ”  We were all jumping up and down for joy!  In the Matter of Kjeldaas v. the United States, God had parted the Red Sea!  My winning case became the first precedent case under the amended immigration law!

Shortly afterwards, the Unification Church in Europe filed for permanent residency for 600 of their missionaries.  The government realized then there had been an omission in the clause, so that amendment was reversed, and that and subsequent applications were rejected.  God had parted the waters for me, alone — He had a larger plan for me remaining in the U.S.!  I received my Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) on May 10, 1978.

After 43 years, the Covenant Love Community School (CLCS) is still operating and continues to give an excellent, well rounded education to children ages K-8.  For more information, please click on the two links below:

https://casetext.com/case/in-the-matter-of-kjeldaas

http://www.clcschool.org/

2107-01-19

Bride Banner -01-17

Dear Friends and Partners,

Steve and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year, and greet you with the Apostle Paul’s words in 3. John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

The generosity of our many faithful partners have enabled us for 34 years to keep serving those who labor for the Gospel in some of the most dangerous and challenging parts of the world.  We always seek to remain good stewards of the funds entrusted into our hands for proper distribution.  Our  accountability is not only to the Lord, but also to you who give, and to the recipients.  It is an honor to stand in the gap where needs and provisions are bridged, that those yet unreached may hear and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ, be saved and discipled according to Mt 28:18-20!

For those who contributed to The Bridge in 2016, an  itemized 2016 Donor Statement with this report was sent to their postal address.  The statement serves as the official contribution receipt for the IRS.  Since The Bridge International, Inc. is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) religious organization with EIN no. 65-0100609, contributions are exempt from Federal Taxes. 

2016 IN REVIEW – REFLECTIONS

At the moment of this writing we are on the eve of a significant event which history may deem a watershed in the life and history of America:  The inauguration of the 45th President elect Donald Trump which will take place on January 20.  With his new Presidency, there will a momentous shifting in policies and practices from the prior President which certainly will make ripple effects around the globe and affect the political and economic climates in this and many other nations.  This election process was bruising and volatile, resulting in a passionate polarization of the population right down to the grassroots between the political left and right, so much so that in many cases it is causing division between family members and friends.

With all the noise from news agencies and social media, with an avalanche of talking points and opinions inundating and numbing our senses, it is good to step back, allowing the quiet presence of the Lord to flood our hearts and minds with His peace. Political and social engagement is good as long as we remember… that we are in this world, but not of it.  (John 17:15-16); that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1); that We are called to be salt and light in the world so that God is glorified (Matthew 5:13-16); and that the Apostle Paul appropriately states You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” (2nd Corinthians 3:2)!

Our Christian mandate is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to demonstrate His standards through our daily living. He came to make new creatures (His people) holy through the saving power of the Gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. What we need is not better government, but better men and women in government! 

2016 IN REVIEW – THE MISSION FIELD

logoThe Bridge International continues from its inception 34 years ago to be a “loaf-and-fish”, low cost mainstream evangelical pioneer ministry. We keep serving primarily national believers who effectively are reaching others with the Good News, by coming alongside them and helping sponsor their pioneer evangelism outreaches, church planting, and Bible-based leadership training schools. We help financially assist various mercy ministries launched by new church fellowships into their local communities as an expression of the compassion and love of Jesus toward the needy and hurting.  We also work in partnership with other low-cost, like-minded ministries, by helping them with finances in their effective work among the nationals in challenging regions of the world where the resources are less and the needs are greater.

In November, we published on this website a list of the sponsored missionaries we currently serve overseas.  If you scroll all the way down, you will find a picture of each of them and a short description of who they are, where they serve , and the focus of their ministries.  It is not a complete list, as it only includes those who are comfortable being publicly open about themselves and their Christian activities.  We have omitted a number of others whom we help sponsor, due to security reasons. They live in closed nations to the Gospel where they work clandestinely underground. Exposing them and their Christian activities publicly would pose serious risks of severe persecution, not only toward them and their families, but  toward the believers they serve.

Please note the names of these missionaries and pray for these laborers that they will remain safe and healthy and that the ripe fields they have planted and cared for will harvest hundredfold!  (John 4:35).  This website contains information and updates on each of them, so below, I have chosen to share just a few highlights of needs and blessings for prayers and edification.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Far East

We were able to provide another 17 goats for Varughese Mathew serving the Andaman Islands.  They are added to the prior flock, slowly inching the numbers upwards toward the ultimately goal of 160, which will make his family, church planters and orphans financially self sufficient.  On December 8, they were hit by the cyclone Vardah, which caused damage to some of their property.  I am waiting to receive an assessment of the cost of the damages.

Dawa Buthia is a new addition to our field partners.  An ethnic Tibetan and former Buddhist from Bhutan, he is  founder and leader of Himalayan Good News Networking Ministry with hundreds of pioneer evangelists and church planters. They serve the Lord in the Himalayan mountains among Bhutanese, Indians, Nepalese, and Tibetans. I met Dawa at last summer’s Festival at Troens Bevis in Norway.  In the Fall, he visited Steve and me in our home, which made us come to know him better.  The Bridge helped finance one semester of their church planting ministry school.

Central Asia

Sargon Daniali keeps ministering to his Iranian people in Turkey and beyond.  In spite of the recent unrest in Turkey and increasing hostility toward Christians, the new fellowships of believers in Iran and Turkey are steadily growing in numbers and maturity in faith.  His online Bible teaching ministry also keeps expanding.  Last summer I also spent a few days with him at Troens Bevis in Norway, as he had been invited to visit Iranian believers in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

Yermek Balykbekov sees a slow, but steady growth of new believers among his Kazakh people.  He reports that the government in Kazakhstan is growing more hostile toward Evangelical Christians, having imprisoned a pastor in the region without due process.  Please pray that the doors for the Gospel will remain open!

Our Afghan friends in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan proper are doing well and growing in faith and fruitfulness!  We helped finance our Kalmykian friend, Sarang Badyev who traveled on an extended visit to completely unreached communities of Kalmykian Buddhists in China and Mongolia to share the Gospel.  He is beginning to see some fruit of faith among his people.

The Middle East

We are deeply grateful for our partners in faith who labor for the Gospel in the Middle East.  The horrific persecution and hardship the Christian believers experience, especially those still living in Syria and Iraq where ISIS has established their Islamic State, are beyond comprehension! Our courageous Arab partner and his team continue to bring Relief Aid to the destitute.  They see tremendous fruit among the people they are serving: 500 Yazidis have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and are now being discipled by local pastors under the oversight of our friend!  One of our Stateside partners donated $10,000 through The Bridge which is helping the mobile medical clinic continue its operation for another year.  The clinic is an evangelistic tool staffed by local Arab Christian doctors and nurses!

Africa

We continue to invest our resources in one of the most volatile and unstable places on earth—Juba, South SudanMatthew Deng Dut keeps on preaching, teaching and mentoring new believes at two locations in spite of the presence of armed conflict which sadly has driven hundreds of thousands of people out of the country into refugee camps in Uganda.  We have opened a small microbank that establishes small cottage industries, and we kept sustaining Matthew and his leaders by meeting their basic needs.

Haiti

The Bridge gave funds to two of our partners who visited Haiti and are actively working on helping the Haitian people recover from the destructive hurricane, Matthew.

Thanks, again, for participating with us in raising the banner – Jesus is the Light in  a very dark world!