Gospel for Asia
|K. P. Yohannan|
Gospel for Asia (GFA) is a large Christian missionary NGO founded by K. P. Yohannan in 1978, focused on evangelizing in India and Asian countries through the use of national missionaries. The organization, based in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburb of Carrollton, Texas, states that its primary aim is to support indigenous missions to "share the Good News of Jesus Christ with lost men, women and children throughout South Asia".
Scholar Michael Bergunder considers it to have been "One of the most influential new foundations in the second half of the 20th century".
- 1 History
- 2 Mission statement, vision and programs
- 3 Court rulings
- 4 Controversies
- 5 See also
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In 1981, current president K. P. Yohannan formed a branch of GFA in his native Kerala, with an Indian headquarters being set up in Tiruvalla in 1983. It is active throughout India, especially in the North, and directly administers bible colleges, whose graduates receive financial support to found new congregations. Increasing donations made GFA "one of the most financially powerful mission undertakings in India in the 1980s." GFA directly supports more than 50 Bible colleges in various countries.
Mission statement, vision and programs
The mission statement for Gospel for Asia is Our mission in life is to be devout followers of Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission among the unreached in Asia through training, sending out and assisting qualified laborers in partnership with the Body of Christ. The goal of Gospel for Asia focuses on the formation of missionaries native to the nation the missionary is serving, with special emphasis on Asia. It embraces the claim that God himself builds his church in 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 Gospel for Asia ministers to a dense population of largely poor communities that have had limited or no exposure to the Christian faith.
Although the ministry accepts trainers for Bible translation, the ministry discourages direct missions of Western countries. Yohannan considers that the sending of Western missionaries to areas that are inaccessible to foreign missionaries can result in a waste of resources. He also believes that the imposition of western culture and neo-colonialism should be avoided. In order to increase efficiency and achieve its goals, Gospel for Asia has become a repository for donations and financial support of Asian missionaries by non-Asian cultures. Gospel for Asia administers these resources to the various programs listed below within its organization.
Gospel for Asia’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. Gospel for Asia has over 16,000 missionaries and church planters in over 10 Asian nations
Church buildings, bibles and gospel literature
Gospel for Asia sponsors the building of Christian worship centers to educate new disciples as well as provide a visible meeting place for Christians. Approximately 16 churches or mission stations are created every day. Similarly, Gospel for Asia distributes native-language bibles and evangelical Christian literature to the region in order to strengthen churches and promote proclamation of the Christian faith.
Radio and television broadcasts
Radio in Asia is a broadcast that is especially designed to reach Asian communities. Yohannan's Athmeeya Yathra (Spiritual Journey) radio programs reach more than a billion people and are translated into 113 languages. His Road to Reality is aired on more than 900 radio stations across North America, Europe and Australia. Athmeeya Yathra was recently expanded to include a television station and print media.
Gospel for Asia has over 56 bible colleges serving a whole range of cultures and dialects. The purpose of the bible colleges are to train native missionaries within their own dialects and cultures so that they will be effective ministers. The program includes three years of instruction, including field instruction and experience. Over 9000 native missionaries have been trained through these institutions.
Bridge of Hope
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. The program also presents the Christian faith to the child as well as to the child’s family. Religious conversion is not required for participation; rather, the service increases exposure to the family and community.
Jesus Wells are local wells dug for free by Gospel for Asia in communities where water is scarce during parts or most of the year. The wells are built for long-term use near churches, bible colleges or Bridge of Hope centers, and each well is maintained by the local pastor. All wells provide free, clean water to individuals regardless of caste, class, social designation or religion. Each well also contains a plaque with the Bible verse from John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered and said to her: 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” While profession of Christian faith is not required for access, the wells increase exposure to Christianity though their locations and the scripture verse. Gospel for Asia claims that most of the wells become very important for lower-caste and Dalit communities, as they previously had to collect water from specially-designated areas far from their homes. Several hundred wells have been built, and Gospel for Asia plans to build another 5000 in the coming years.
The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church were scrutinized after Believers Church, under the guidance of Yohannan, purchased a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India. Opponents claimed the church had diverted foreign funds to ama land for itself and for uses other than declared purposes. Further, it was alleged that the rubber estate, which Believers Church purchased from Harrison's Malayalam Ltd., was on leasehold from the government and not saleable. Hence, Believers Church was accused of illegally holding government land. At a later time, Harrison's Malayalam was accused of forging their land title, leading to continued debate about the legality of the sale.
Despite the scrutiny, no conviction was secured against Believers Church. The high court dismissed the petition claiming that Gospel for Asia had failed to account for funds, citing lack of evidence as the reason, and Gospel for Asia's compliance with regular auditing. The high court also dismissed proceedings by the state government to take possession of the estate under the claim that it was government land. Challenges against the title deed of Harrison Malayalam were also dismissed, absolving it of allegations of land fraud under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA). 
Yohannan says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church are transparent. Further, the rubber estate is an investment to help fund social work among underdeveloped communities and not a personal land grab as opponents have claimed.
In October 2015, GFA lost their 36-year membership in the financial standards advocacy group Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, with the ECFA reporting that GFA hadn't met their standards. The ECFA states that their membership was "Terminated for failure to comply with 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, and Standard 7.2 Giver Expectations and Intent". The GFA's 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".
- Michael Brodeur, Banning Liebscher, (2013), Gospel Light Publications, Jan 17, "Revival Culture: Prepare for the Next Great Awakening", Chapter 4, "Indigenous Leaders".
- Yohannan, K.P. (2004). Revolution in World Missions. Gospel for Asia Books. Carrollton, Texas. ISBN 1- 59589-001-7
- Bergunder, Michael (2008), The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, page 53
- Bergunder, Michael (2008). The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-2734-9.
- Philip, Shaju. "An archbishop’s spiritual factory". The Indian Express. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Anderson, Allan; Tang, Edmond (2005). Asian and Pentecostal: The Charismatic face of Christianity in Asia. Regnum Books International. ISBN 1-870345-43-6.
- "In Service to God". believerschurch.com.
- Gospel for Asia official website. “Gospel for Asia: Who We Are.” Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Gospel for Asia offial website.[ http://www.gfa.org/about/what-we-do/ “Gospel for Asia: What We Do.”] Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Stout, Ken. “Fostering Sustainability and Minimizing Dependency in Mission Finances.” Reformed Theological Seminary Masters Thesis, October 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Bergunder, Michael (2008), "The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, page 54-55
- Klaus Fiedler (1994), The Story of Faith Missions, page 404 (26)
- Houston, Rickey. “Loving Your Neighbor: A Guide to Developing and Sustaining Community Service Projects.” Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry Thesis, March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Jaffarian, Michael. “The Statistical State of the North American Protestant Missions Movement, from the Missions Handbook, 20th Edition.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Vol.32, No. 1. January 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Wooding, Dan. “K.P. Yohannan’s Long Road To Helping India’s ‘Broken People’.” ASSIST News Service. 14 July 2006. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- New Release Today, A Division of NRT Media Inc. “K.P. Yohannan Author Profile and Bibliography.” 1 September 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Athmeeya Yathra Official Website. “Athmeeya Yathra TV: About. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Cooper, Bill. “Gospel for Asia President, K.P. Yohannan.” ChristiNet Christian News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Gospel for Asia official website. “Gospel for Asia: Bridge of Hope.” Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- The Christian Post: Crossmap. “Anti-Christian Death Threats Force Closure of Bridge of Hope Center for Children in India.” Crossmap.com. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Wooding, Dan. “Jesus Wells bring ‘living water’ to thousands in India and South Asia.” ASSIST News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Christian News Wire. “Gospel for Asia to Drill 5,000 ‘Jesus Wells’ by Year End.” 18 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Hearth, Katey. “Jesus Wells deliver redemption and safety.” Mission Network News. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Christian Today. [ http://www.christiantoday.com/article/5000.jesus.wells.bringing.clean.water.across.india.and.south.asia/36283.htm “5000 Jesus Wells Bringing Clean Water Across India and South Asia.”] christiantoday.com. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Cash scanner on evangelist". The Telegraph.
- "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church.
- "Probe on into functioning of Gospel for Asia, HC told". The New Indian Express.
- "God’s own country". The Telegraph.
- "Madhyamam". Govt files petition against Harrisons, Yohanan.
- "Forgery case filed against Harrisons Malayalam staff". The Hindu.
- "HC rejects probe into income of Believers Church". The Indian Express.
- "Kerala HC quashes govt proceedings". The Indian Express.
- "Harrisons Malayalam welcomes verdict dismissing State plea on land deed". Samachar.
- "Harrisons Malayalam spurts as Kerala High Court dismisses a petition against the firm". Share Market India.
- "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
- "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".
- "You Ask, We Answer - Is Gospel for Asia a Legitimate Christian Ministry? Yes!".