Gospel for Asia

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Gospel for Asia
2017 GFA Logo.jpg
Founder
K. P. Yohannan now known as Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan
Religions
Episcopal[disambiguation needed]
Scriptures
The Bible
Website
www.gfa.org

Gospel for Asia (GFA, also known as Believers Church) is an Episcopal NGO (formerly Christian), founded by Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan[1] (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[2] in 1979, which states they focus on helping the poor and needy in India and Asian countries through the love of God.[3] The organization is located about five miles southwest of Wills Point, Texas, a small community east of Dallas. GFA claims their primary aim is to support indigenous missions to "serve the 'least of these' in Asia".[4]

Gospel for Asia claims that they are present in numerous countries, including India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos and Thailand.[5] Gospel for Asia is currently subject to lawsuits concerning fraud.[6] The charity's right to operate in India has also been revoked.[7]

History[edit]

Gospel For Asia was founded on the convictions of its President, K.P. Yohannan regarding the people in his culture in Asia. Since its beginning in 1980 , K.P. and his wife, Gisela Yohannan, have dedicated their lives to spread the knowledge of Jesus throughout South Asia in hopes that people who have never heard of Jesus would have the option to follow the Christian faith. After learning more about the time and cost of mission trips in the late 70s and early 80s , K.P., with the help of his wife and friends, developed a way for believers in the west to financially support Christian workers who were born and raised in Asia. K.P. began to tour churches in the U.S. to share this opportunity, and many Christian began to pledge $30 a month to support their own missionary in Asia.

Programs[edit]

A group photo of believers in front of their church building in Asia.

The goal of GFA focuses on the formation of missionaries native to the nation the missionary is serving, with special emphasis on Asia. The organization has defined its primary mission field as being those people that live in the 10/40 Window, a rectangular region extending from west Africa to east Asia and between 10 and 40 degrees north longitude. By concentrating on this region GFA ministers to a dense population of largely poor communities that have had limited or no exposure to the Christian faith.[8]

National missionaries[edit]

This is a team of national missionaries with their bicycles working in a remote region of Asia.

GFA's main focus is to train and equip national missionaries. Yohannan has stated that he does not limit "national missionaries" to formal nation-states, instead focusing on differences in culture and language to define nationalities. This approach might result in several specialized missionary groups within a single nation-state, from large cities and regions down to small tribes and villages. GFA says that they have over 16,000 missionaries and church planters in over 10 Asian nations[12][13][14]

Church buildings, Bibles and gospel literature[edit]

Gospel for Asia raises funds for the building of simple Christian worship centers in small villages to educate new disciples as well as provide a visible meeting place for Christians. However, they have built several large cathedral type buildings in major cities. Examples are St. Thomas Believers Church Cathedral in Thiruvalla[8] and another in an upscale neighborhood Hauz Khas[9]. They claim approximately 16 churches or mission stations are created every day[citation needed]. Similarly, GFA states they distribute native-language bibles and evangelical Christian literature to the region in order to strengthen churches and promote proclamation of the Christian faith.[10]

Radio and television broadcasts[edit]

Radio in Asia is a broadcast that is especially designed to reach Asian communities. Athmeeya Yathra (Spiritual Journey) radio programs reaches more than a billion people and are translated into 11 languages. More than 900 radio stations across North America, Europe and Australia air Road to Reality.[17]

Bible colleges[edit]

GFA has over 56 bible colleges serving a whole range of cultures and dialects with the purpose of training native missionaries within their own dialects and cultures so that they will be effective ministers. [20] The program includes three years of instruction, including field instruction and experience. They claim that over 9000 native missionaries have been trained through these institutions.

Bridge of Hope[edit]

A class in the Bridge of Hope school

Bridge of Hope is a child sponsorship program for poor families in underserved communities, especially lower-caste families and Dalits. Child sponsorship provides education, three daily meals, and access to medical care.

Jesus Wells[edit]

GFA digs wells in communities where water is scarce during parts or most of the year. These wells are built for long-term use near churches, bible colleges or Bridge of Hope centers, and each well is maintained by a local pastor. These wells provide free, clean water to individuals regardless of caste, class, social designation or religion.[11][12] In 2016, 6,822 Jesus Wells were drilled in communities needing clean water. [13]

Believers' Church hospitals and schools[edit]

Believer's Church owns and operates a variety of hospitals, colleges and public and residential schools. Most of these are for-profit enterprises.[citation needed] Narada News has reported that BC will be expanding their investments by building as many as 500 additional international schools.[14] The list of what is currently operating includes some hospitals and clinics, some colleges, 9 schools located within small towns of southern Rajasthan, and at least four public schools.[citation needed]

Cheruvally Estate[edit]

In 2014, the Believers’ Church purchased the Cheruvally Estate, a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India as an investment to help fund social work among underdeveloped communities.[15] In mid-2015, the government initially confiscated the land from the Believers’ Church in order to build an airport, but that decision was appealed.[16] After a 3-year long legal battle between the government and the Believers’ Church, it was decided by an Indian High Court that the Believers’ Church has the ownership right of the Cheruvally Estate and the government must pay them for the land if they still choose to build an airport in that location.[17]

Controversies[edit]

GFA Diaspora[edit]

In 2014, a group of over 10 former Gospel for Asia staff members formed a group called the GFA Diaspora and wrote two letters. While their concerns were mostly regarding GFA leadership, they were also concerned about GFA's donors.

These letters[18] from former staff, along with their request to meet with the board and discuss the issues[19], brought about a supposed internal investigation by GFA.

Mr. Erwin later admitted, after resigning from Gospel for Asia's board, that the report was in fact dictated to him by GFA's president and founder Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan) who was very displeased with Mr. Erwin's actual findings and original report[20]. According to Mr. Erwin, "When I first presented the conclusions of my investigation to KP (with David Carroll present) KP glanced at it, declared that he was a speed reader, and begancall an ugly scene filled with brutal expressions I don’t wish to repeat...".[21] Mr. Erwin's report of his was discarded and a new report was written and given to the board. Mr. Erwin wrote a letter to GFA President KP Yohannan on 12, 2015 after seeing the false report. In this , he states "I think you are well aware that I cannot agree with this letter except for the generic niceties about wanting biblical reconciliation." and also " I think you exponerate you and GFA.".[22]

Mr. Erwin's original report[23] was eventually by him to the GFA Diaspora group, along with an apology for in allowing the false report to be distributed without a public outcry[24]. The original and unchanged report[25] revealed that Mr. Erwin had in fact found all of the to not only be legitimate, but extremely .[26]

These controversies by the GFA Diaspora (former staff) caused many donors to become concerned and to the actions of Gospel for Asia. As organizations (the ECFA) and news outlets became aware of previously unknown problems, they began to their own investigating.

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) Revokes Gospel for Asia's Membership[edit]

In September of 2015, GFA lost their 36-year membership in the financial standards advocacy group Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, with the ECFA reporting that GFA had not met many of their required standards[27] of excellence in financial accountability and governance.[28]

ECFA's Report[edit]

The ECFA had been conducting and investigation into Gospel for Asia for four months before releasing the results and revoking the organization's membership.[29][30][31] The ECFA states that GFA's membership was "Terminated for failure to comply with:[32]

  • Standard 2: Governance
  • Standard 3: Financial Oversight
  • Standard 4: Use of Resources
  • Standard 6: Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions
  • Standard 7.1: Truthfulness in Communications
  • Standard 7.2: Giver Expectations and Intent

The ECFA also noted in their report that "Certain information provided to ECFA by GFA that was crucial to our review was, at least initially, inaccurate." and also that "Certain pertinent information about the compliance issues was not revealed to ECFA by GFA until late in the review process.". Additionally the ECFA stated that "We have learned significant information from sources unrelated to GFA that we should have learned directly from GFA."[33] In the letter revoking GFA's membership, the ECFA seventeen concerns.[34]

GFA Response to ECFA[edit]

The GFA board responded with a statement that noted "ECFA's decision was made after conducting a special review of Gospel for Asia, and we respect ECFA's evaluation. Our response was to begin a focused review and to implement the ECFA's recommended improvements".[29][35]

Lawsuits Against Gospel for Asia[edit]

Gospel for Asia has been accused of raising funds for charity "while covertly diverting the money to a multimillion-dollar personal empire."[36] There are two RICO anti-fraud lawsuits pending against GFA's president and several GFA leaders, seeking to substantiate GFA's claims of where it spent the money donors gave to the organization.[37] The first is awaiting an appeal by GFA.[38] The second has a scheduled court day to begin a jury trial on 4/15/2019.[39] That court case states that in 2013, “Despite GFA’s explicit representations that it would spend in the field 100 percent of every dollar donors designated for the field, GFA spent only $14.9 million of $118.6 million on actual relief efforts, instead spending far more on salaries and overhead,” according to the complaint.[40] "The Murphys (the plaintiffs), of Bentonville, Arkansas, say that Gospel for Asia raised more than $450 million in donations from the United States alone from 2007 to 2013, much of which Yohannan redirected to his personal empire."[41]

GFA often claimed in fundraising materials and marketing that it sent donor money to the exact cause that a donor gave towards, but the lawsuit alleges that donor money was regularly funneled to fund other projects (including for-profit entities), and even GFA's current new headquarters, a large campus east of Dallas, TX.[42][43]

Gospel for Asia Sanctioned[edit]

On June 4th, 2018 Federal Court Judge Brooks issued an order sanctioning GFA ordering it to pay for a Special Master to oversee the gathering of evidence for the discovery phase.[44] Judge Brooks stated, "Therefore, the court finds that the defendants abusive conduct in this case since August constitutes a willful violation of its clear discovery orders."[45]

Class Action Membership[edit]

In late November 2018, those who donated to Gospel for Asia between the dates of January 1, 2009 and September 10, 2018 were starting to be notified of the lawsuit and their eligibility to join the class action. Any person from the United States who dontated funds to Gospel for Asia during this time period is automatically part of the lawsuit (no action is needed).[46] Information regarding the lawsuit has been published on the official Murphy v Gospel for Asia website.[47]

GFA Canada[edit]

There are also alleged problems with the Canada office, with one newspaper reporting that $90 million in donations could not be accounted for.[48] The head of that office, Pat Emerick, is also named as a defendant in the Arkansas lawsuits.[49] They also reported that Pastor Bruce Morrison and a recently ousted GFA Canada board member, Garry Cluley, have filed complaints against the office with the Canadian government.[citation needed]

GFA UK[edit]

There is also news that the United Kingdom GFA office has gotten the attention of the UK Charity Commission, which is their government agency that investigates charity-related fraud.[50]

GFA New Zealand[edit]

Gospel for Asia's New Zealand office operated out of space provided to them by the church Calvary Chapel Auckland. Once Calvary Chapel became aware of the controversies stirring in the United States, an investigation into GFA's practices was launched. Finding that the work on the field did not at all resemble what GFA had presented to the church and that many for-profit enterprises were run using donated funds, GFA was told to leave the building and the church ceased supporting the ministry.[51] [52] The office in New Zealand was closed for a time, but may now have reopened in a new location. The local staff having resigned amid the controversy, staff from the United States were sent over to keep the doors open.

Believer's Church (GFA India)[edit]

There is also considerable controversy in India considering GFA. The Times of India has reported that "The Believers Church, founded by Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan), and three NGOs associated with it have been barred from bringing in foreign funds to India with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) canceling their FCRA registrations." Money from foreign offices can no longer legally be transferred into India in support of GFA (a major problem considering that much of GFA's donations are from western countries).[53] In August 2017, The Hindu (a newspaper in India) reported that, "The Church of South India (CSI) has decided to pull out from the Kerala Council of Churches (KCC), an ecumenical forum of non-Catholic Protestant Churches in Kerala, in protest against the KCC decision to provide membership to the Believers Church. The latest development has to be viewed in the backdrop of the controversy over the episcopacy claims of the Believers Church that its head, K.P. Yohannan, was consecrated by the CSI Church."[54] Narada News in India reported concerning that, "The CSI senate committee probed the issue. They came to the conclusion that their bishop was paid huge sums of money and a luxury car for this. The church sacked bishop KJ Samuel from the CSI for this deed." [55]

There is also been an ongoing court case regarding the illegal filling in of wetlands in order to build the Believers Church Medical College Hospital.[56] GFA has been paying a special tax because a "substantial" amount of its income is not used for intended purposes of the fundraising. An Indian court said, "It is not in dispute that substantial income of the assessee trust was not used by both the assessees for the purposes for which they were formed."[57] Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan) says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church are transparent.[58][59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/category/k-p-yohannan/
  2. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  3. ^ https://www.gfa.org/about/
  4. ^ http://www.gfa.org/about/who-we-are/
  5. ^ http://www.gfa.org/regions/
  6. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/
  7. ^ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/mha-no-fgn-funds-for-believers-church/articleshow/60962612.cms
  8. ^ https://www.youtube.com/user/StThomasBCC
  9. ^ https://www.ixigo.com/believers-church-new-delhi-india-ne-1353795
  10. ^ Wooding, Dan. “K.P. Yohannan’s Long Road To Helping India’s ‘Broken People’.” ASSIST News Service. 14 July 2006. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  11. ^ Wooding, Dan. “Jesus Wells bring ‘living water’ to thousands in India and South Asia.” ASSIST News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  12. ^ Christian Today. "5000 Jesus Wells Bringing Clean Water Across India and South Asia." christiantoday.com. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  13. ^ Gospel for Asia 2016 Special Report. [1] Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  14. ^ http://naradanews.com/2016/07/self-appointed-bishop-kp-yohannan-now-declares-himself-saint-starts-for-profit-schools-in-the-name-of-st-johannes/
  15. ^ "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Smooth take-off unlikely for proposed Erumeli airport".
  17. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/apr/13/harrisons-case-setback-may-cost-kerala-government-dear-in-erumeli-airport-project-1800878.html
  18. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GFA-Letter-2014-06-17-wide.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/communications-history
  20. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/gayle-erwin-board-communications--2015-12-02
  21. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/PDF-Letter-of-Apology.pdf
  22. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/PDF-LETTERS-OF-CONCERN.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/pdf-report-to-GFA-as-assigned.pdf
  24. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/PDF-Letter-of-Apology.pdf
  25. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/pdf-report-to-GFA-as-assigned.pdf
  26. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2015/12/02/former-gospel-for-asia-board-member-gayle-erwin-speaks-out-discloses-ecfa-report-on-gfas-violations-of-membership-standards/
  27. ^ http://www.ecfa.org/content/standards
  28. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ECFA-REPORT-TO-GFA.pdf
  29. ^ a b http://www.charismanews.com/world/55166-gospel-for-asia-responds-to-claims-of-egregious-abuse
  30. ^ http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2015/october/why-gospel-for-asia-kicked-out-of-ecfa-yohannan.html
  31. ^ http://www.christiantoday.com/article/gospel.for.asia.fights.back.against.fraud.allegations/84561.htm
  32. ^ "Former Members". ECFA. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  33. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ECFA-REPORT-TO-GFA.pdf
  34. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ECFA-REPORT-TO-GFA.pdf
  35. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  36. ^ https://www.courthousenews.com/class-calls-christian-charity-a-vile-scheme/
  37. ^ http://legalnewsline.com/stories/511121880-arkansas-couple-accuse-ministries-group-of-fraud
  38. ^ https://www.longroom.com/discussion/330393/gospel-for-asia-appeals-the-denial-of-a-stay-in-the-rico-lawsuit
  39. ^ http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2017/07/Murphy-v-GFA-transcript-051617.pdf
  40. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?DocPath=/Documents/Plaintiff_s_Original_Class_Action_Complaint.pdf
  41. ^ http://www.courthousenews.com/class-calls-christian-charity-a-vile-scheme/
  42. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2015/08/24/believers-church-india-gave-nearly-20-million-to-help-build-gospel-for-asias-new-office-complex/
  43. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/tag/wills-point/
  44. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?DocPath=/Documents/Order_Appointing_Special_Master.pdf
  45. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?DocPath=/Documents/Order_Appointing_Special_Master.pdf
  46. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/
  47. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/home/faqs/
  48. ^ http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6397796-hamilton-based-charity-allegedly-can-t-account-for-over-90m-in-donations/
  49. ^ http://www.gfaclassaction.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?DocPath=/Documents/Plaintiff_s_Original_Class_Action_Complaint.pdf
  50. ^ https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/commission-assessing-whether-to-investigate-uk-branch-of-scandal-hit-charity-gospel-for-asia.html
  51. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2015/11/29/citing-radical-changes-at-gospel-for-asia-calvary-chapel-auckland-pulls-support-gfa-new-zealand-shuts-down/
  52. ^ https://cathnews.co.nz/2015/12/04/79456/
  53. ^ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/mha-no-fgn-funds-for-believers-church/articleshow/60962612.cms
  54. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/csi-pulls-out-of-kerala-council-of-churches/article19576267.ece
  55. ^ http://naradanews.com/2016/07/kp-yohannan-and-his-web-of-deceit-how-the-pentecostal-pastor-became-episcopal-bishop/
  56. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/Govt-overruled-objections-to-aid-illegal-filling-of-land/articleshow/49798205.cms
  57. ^ https://indiankanoon.org/doc/6359714/
  58. ^ "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
  59. ^ "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brodeur, Michael; Liebscher, Banning. (2013). Revival Culture: Prepare for the Next Great Awakening. Chapter 4. Gospel Light Publications. ISBN 9780830765478
  • Yohannan, K.P. (2004). Revolution in World Missions. Gospel for Asia Books. Carrollton, Texas. ISBN 9781595890016

External links[edit]