Gospel for Asia
|K. P. Yohannan|
Gospel for Asia (GFA) is a Christian NGO founded by K. P. Yohannan in 1979, which states they focus on helping the poor and needy in India and Asian countries through the love of God. The organization is located about five miles southwest of Wills Point, Texas, a small community east of Dallas. GFA states their primary aim is to support indigenous missions to "serve the 'least of these' in Asia".
GFA states that they are present in numerous countries, including India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos and Thailand. GFA is currently subject to allegations concerning fraud. Pending the outcome of the lawsuit, GFA might have to close its USA office. The charity's right to operate in India has also been revoked.
- 1 History
- 2 Programs
- 3 Controversies
- 4 References
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 External links
GFA was founded by K. P. Yohannan, originally in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Later it relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburb of Carrollton, Texas, before relocating in 2013 to a 30-acre compound outside of Wills Point.
In 1981, Yohannan formed a branch of GFA in his native Kerala, with an Indian headquarters being set up in Tiruvalla in 1983. GFA 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.
Scholar Michael Bergunder considers it to have been "One of the most influential new foundations in the second half of the twentieth century".
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.
Although GFA accepts trainers for Bible translation, the ministry discourages direct missions of Western countries. GFA and Yohannan argue against sending of Western missionaries for three reasons:
- the high cost needed to support a Western missionary (who would be expected to maintain Western standards of living while overseas) is believed to be a waste of resources (when compared to the cost of supporting a native or near-native missionary, who would live by the far less expensive standards of the culture).
- concerns that the use of Western missionaries would cause the local population to believe Christianity is an imposition of western culture and neo-colonialism.
- in the most-needed areas, Westerners are generally forbidden entry; where they are allowed to enter they are highly restricted in their duties (e.g. would be allowed to assist in providing clean water) and not be allowed to share the Gospel.
In order to increase efficiency and achieve its goals, GFA has become a repository for donations and financial support of Asian missionaries by non-Asian cultures. GFA administers these resources to the various programs listed below within its organization.
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 In 2016, GFA-supported workers serve in 865 slums throughout Asia. 
Church buildings, bibles and gospel literature
GFA 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 and another in an upscale neighborhood Hauz Khas. They claim approximately 16 churches or mission stations are created every day. 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.
Radio and television broadcasts
Radio in Asia is a broadcast that is specially designed to reach Asian communities. Yohannan brags that Athmeeya Yathra (Spiritual Journey) radio programs "reach more than a billion people and are translated into 11" languages. He claims that 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.
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.  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
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. In 2016, there were 82,000 children enrolled in Bridge of Hope throughout Asia.
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. In its 2016 Special Report, GFA reports 6,822 Jesus Wells drilled in communities needing clean water. 
Believers' Church hospitals and schools
BC owns and operates a variety of hospitals, colleges and public and residential schools. Most of these are for-profit enterprises. Narada News has reported that BC will be expanding their investments by building as many as 500 additional international schools. 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.
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. In mid-2015, the government initially confiscated the land from the Believers’ Church in order to build an airport, but that decision was appealed. 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.
GFA has been accused of raising funds for charity "while covertly diverting the money to a multimillion-dollar personal empire."
In 2014, a group of over 100 former GFA workers formed an organization called the GFA Diaspora and wrote two letters addressed to the GFA board highlighting their concerns.
Then 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 had not 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 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".
There are two RICO anti-fraud lawsuits pending against GFA officers seeking to permanently close the US office. A U.S. federal judge has sanctioned GFA ordering it to pay for a Special Master to oversee the gathering of evidence in one of those lawsuits. The first is awaiting an appeal by GFA. The second has a scheduled court day to begin a jury trial on 4/15/2019. 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. "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." 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. 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."
There are also alleged problems with the Canada office, with one newspaper reporting that $90 million in donations could not be accounted for. The head of that office, Pat Emerick, is also named as a defendant in the Arkansas lawsuits. 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.
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. Calvary Chapel Church in Auckland, New Zealand also severed ties with GFA in 2015.
There is also considerable controversy in India considering GFA. The Times of India has reported that "The Believers Church, founded by KP 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). 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." 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." 
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. 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." Yohannan says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church are transparent.
- 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.
- Bergunder, Michael (2008), The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, page 53
- Gospel for Asia official website.“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.
- Gospel for Asia 2016 Special Report.  Retrieved 28 September 2017.
- 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 Today. "5000 Jesus Wells Bringing Clean Water Across India and South Asia." christiantoday.com. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
- "Smooth take-off unlikely for proposed Erumeli airport".
- "Former Members". ECFA. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
- "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".
- 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