K. P. Yohannan

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Moran Mor

Athanasius Yohan
Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church
KP Yohannan.jpg
Native name
Yohannan Kadippiaril Punnose[1]
ChurchBelievers Eastern Church
Predecessorposition established
Personal details
DenominationEastern Protestantism (Believers Eastern Church)
SpouseGisela Punnose
OccupationMetropolitan Bishop of Believers Eastern Church
Alma materCriswell College

Athanasius Yohan (K.P. Yohannan)[2] is the founder and president of GFA World earlier known as Gospel for Asia,[3] a large non-profit missions organization with a focus on India and Asia. He is also the founding Metropolitan Bishop of Believers Eastern Church[4] with the religious title and name of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I[5][6] (Earlier Believers Church). Yohannan has authored over 200 books on Christian living and missions.[7]


Early life and education[edit]

K.P. Yohannan[2] was born in 1950 and raised in a St. Thomas Syrian Christian (Mar Thoma Syrian Church) family in Kerala, India. At age eight he became a follower of Jesus.[8] He was 16 when he joined the Operation Mobilization, an evangelical missions movement, and served them for eight years in the Indian subcontinent.[9] Through an invitation from Dr. W.A. Criswell, Yohannan moved to the United States in 1974 for theological studies at Criswell College (at the time Criswell Bible Institute) in Dallas, Texas.[10][11][12] He graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies, becoming the school’s first international student to graduate. Eventually he also was conferred an honorary degree of divinity by Hindustan Bible Institute and College in Chennai, India.[9] Though his degree is honorary, he often uses the title of "doctor" when in the United States.

KP Yohannan with former Prime Minister of Nepal, Madvah Kumar Nepal


Six months into his undergraduate degree, Yohannan[13] became an ordained clergyman and served in the clergy of a Native American Southern Baptist church for four years near Dallas, Texas. In 1979, Yohannan and his wife Gisela started an organization known today as Gospel for Asia, based in Carrollton, Texas until 2014, when it moved to Wills Point, Texas. In the first year, they helped provide financial support and training to 24 missionaries.[14][12] In 1979, Yohannan resigned from his church to devote attention to full-time mission work. In 1981, he started a chapter of Gospel for Asia (GFA) in Kerala, India, and in 1983 created an Indian headquarters in Tiruvalla.[10] GFA supports over 50 Bible colleges in various countries.[10][15]


Yohannan is married to Gisela,[16] who served with him in Operation Mobilization. They met in 1973.[10] In 1974, they were married in Germany, Gisela’s birth country. They have two children, Daniel and Sarah.

Name change[edit]

In August 2018, Believers Eastern Church announced that bishops and leaders in the church would take up "ecclesiastical" names in church duties, and Yohannan henceforth would be known as Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan with respect to church duties.[17] Across the United States and the Western world, he continues to go by K. P. Yohannan as an author, speaker and missionary statesman.

Believers Eastern Church[edit]

Believers Eastern Church (previously Believers Church) is self-described as "evangelical in nature and outlook, oriental in worship, democratic in function, and orthodox in governance and character" and has congregations and parishes worldwide. The church has an episcopal governance. Believers Eastern Church adheres to the biblical faith taught in the historic tenets of the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the unbroken line of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” [18] The church holds Christ as the head of the Church (Col 1:18); accordingly it is governed by a committee of Bishops, the Synod, with one central Bishop holding the honorary title of "first among equals". Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. In 2015, the church reported it re-organized into 33 dioceses, decreasing from the 36 dioceses reported by Smith in 2009. According to Believers Eastern Church, its membership includes over 3.5 million people in 10 countries speaking a hundred languages. The Church currently has 30 Bishops, and the current Metropolitan Bishop is Athanasius Yohan I.[19]

Print and radio[edit]

Yohannan is the author of 39 books published in the U.S. and over 200 books published in India.[9][20] His books include Revolution In World Missions.[21]

Yohannan's radio broadcast "Road to Reality" is heard on over 900 radio stations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia.[9] He has also been heard on the Athmeeya Yathra (Spiritual Journey) daily broadcast for the past 25 years. This is broadcast in 14 nations in 113 Asian languages. Athmeeya Yathra now includes a television station and print media.[11][22]

Gospel for Asia[edit]

Gospel for Asia is among the world's largest missionary organizations, adhering to Yohannan's belief in the efficiency and efficacy of “national missionaries”, or missionaries that are native to the nation or culture they serve. The organization’s primary mission fields include those that live in the “10/40 Window”, referring to the longitudinal coordinates of areas in west Africa, India and east Asia.[10]

K.P. Yohannan visiting slum in India

Yohannan credits his early work in his native India as inspiration for his focus on the poor and underserved in this region. He states: “In my head I knew all the answers, and Bible became the tool of the trade for me that I would use to teach and preach and I was doing very well. People liked my sermons, but finally I said to myself, ‘I’m not the same person I was when the Lord called me to serve Him. I’m not the same person that I was that walked on the streets of North India weeping over the lost and perishing millions and stayed up all night praying and weeping over a world map. The Lord was gracious enough to talk to us very lovingly, and I realized that he wanted me to go back to America and speak to the ‘Body of Christ’ about the possibility of seeing countries like India, Burma and Bhutan, turn to Christ if only they would become unselfish in praying and helping these brothers by becoming senders.”[12]

From its inception, Gospel for Asia has held to Yohannan's conviction about operating national missionaries. The ministry discourages direct missions from outside countries or people-groups, instead training and equipping missionaries from within distinct cultures. To accomplish this, Gospel for Asia claims to have over 56 Bible schools in 10 countries, training over 9,000 ministers. In all, Gospel for Asia claims to have trained over 16,000 national missionaries.[23][24][12][25]

In addition to training national missionaries, Gospel for Asia includes other ministries such as Bridge of Hope (child sponsorship), Jesus Wells (clean water wells), Bible translation, radio and television broadcasts, disaster relief and refugee camp aid.[26][27][28][29]


Income tax raid[edit]

In November 2020, the India Income Tax Department raided the residence and offices of KP Yohannan, seizing Rs 57 Lakh (5,700,000 Indian Rupees, about $78,147 US) from a car boot.[30][31][32] The Ministry of Home Affairs had barred the Believers Church and three other associated N.G.O.s from accepting foreign funds. It was claimed in 2008 that the church received over Rs 1,000 crore (10,000,000,000 Indian Rupees, about $137,100,000 US) in foreign funds over an 18-year span.[33]

Court rulings in India[edit]

The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church were scrutinized after Believers Church purchased a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India.[34][35] Opponents claimed the church had diverted foreign funds to amass land for itself and for uses other than declared purposes.[36] It was further alleged that the rubber estate, which Believers Church purchased from Harrison's Malayalam, Ltd., was on government leasehold and therefore not saleable.[37] Hence, Believers Church was accused of illegally holding government land.[38] At a later time, Harrison's Malayalam was accused of forging their land title, leading to continued debate about the legality of the sale.[39]

Former Ernakulam District Collector Dr. M.G. Rajamanickam, who was appointed as Government Special Officer to confiscate illegal and excess estate lands under the custody of various companies, had issued an order in May, 2015, confiscating the 2,268 acre of land from Believers’ Church." However, the ruling has been appealed and now is further complicated by the local government's desire to build an airport on this estate, as reported by local news outfits.[40] However, it also was reported that "The government does not need permission from K P Yohannan to set up airport in the Cheruvally estate, BJP national executive member V Muraleedharan said."[41]

Yohannan says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church are transparent.[42][43] Further, the rubber estate is an investment to help fund social services among underdeveloped communities[35][44] and not a personal land grab as opponents have claimed.

The controversies about the estate purchase have been cleared by the Kerala, India, High Court. The findings by Dr. Rajamanickam in his report were completely rejected by the court. The court came down heavily on the government and the officer for playing "robin hood" [45] with the owners of the estate. A long standing controversy for Believers Church comes to an end with a clean verdict from the high court of Kerala.[46][47]

US Federal lawsuits[edit]

In 2017 there were two RICO anti-fraud lawsuits active against Gospel for Asia[citation needed], naming Yohannan and other Gospel for Asia leaders as defendants.[48] One of these lawsuits went to arbitration and the other was settled after three years in which both parties agreed that “all donations designated for use in the field were ultimately sent to the field.”[49] Gospel for Asia denies any wrongdoing.[50]


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  2. ^ a b "Home". kpyohannan.org.
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  6. ^ "K.P. Yohannan Gives Himself a New Name – Warren Throckmorton". Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  7. ^ Eternity, Living in the Light of. "About Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan". Living in the Light of Eternity. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
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  11. ^ a b New Release Today, A Division of NRT Media Inc. “K.P. Yohannan Author Profile and Bibliography.” 1 September 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
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  13. ^ "K P Yohonnan".
  14. ^ Van Rheenen, Gailyn (1996). Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-20809-2.
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  16. ^ Bland, Vikki. "Yohannan: Persecution is Part of the Deal". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Believers Eastern Church". 15 October 2018.
  18. ^ "BEC Faith and Beliefs". www.bec.org. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Believers Eastern Church".
  20. ^ "Books by K.P. Yohannan (Author of Revolution in World Missions)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  21. ^ Yohannan, K.P. (2004). Revolution in World Missions. Gospel for Asia. ISBN 1-59589-001-7.
  22. ^ Athmeeya Yathra Official Website. “Athmeeya Yathra TV: About. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  23. ^ 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 30 March 2016.
  24. ^ 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 30 March 2016.
  25. ^ Cooper, Bill. “Gospel for Asia President, K.P. Yohannan.” ChristiNet Christian News Service. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Wooding, Dan. “Jesus Wells bring ‘living water’ to thousands in India and South Asia.” ASSIST News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  28. ^ Hearth, Katey. “Jesus Wells deliver redemption and safety.” Mission Network News. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  29. ^ Christian Today. “5000 Jesus Wells Bringing Clean Water Across India and South Asia.” christiantoday.com. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  30. ^ "ബിലീവേഴ്‌സ് ചര്‍ച്ച് ആസ്ഥാനത്ത് റെയ്ഡ്; കാറിന്റെ ഡിക്കിയില്‍ നിന്ന് 57 ലക്ഷം രൂപ പിടിച്ചെടുത്തു - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  31. ^ "സംസ്ഥാന വ്യാപകമായി ബിലിവേഴ്സ് ചർച്ചിൻ്റെ സ്ഥാപനങ്ങളിൽ ആധായ നികുതി വകുപ്പിൻ്റെ റെയ്ഡ് - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  32. ^ "ബിലീവേഴ്സിൽ ഐടി പരിശോധന രണ്ടുമാസം നീളും; സഹകരിക്കുമെന്ന് സഭ | Believers Church – YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
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  34. ^ "Cash scanner on evangelist". The Telegraph.
  35. ^ a b "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
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  37. ^ "God's own country". The Telegraph.
  38. ^ "Madhyamam". Govt files petition against Harrisons, Yohanan. December 2012.
  39. ^ "Forgery case filed against Harrisons Malayalam staff". The Hindu.
  40. ^ "Smooth take-off unlikely for proposed Erumeli airport".
  41. ^ "'Yohannan has no stake in Cheruvally estate' | Thiruvananthapuram News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  42. ^ "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
  43. ^ "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".
  44. ^ "Dr. K. P. Yohannan, Metropolitan Bishop, Believers Church, Kerala calls on PM".
  45. ^ "Kerala High Court sets aside order taking over Harrisons Malayalam Co's land". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  46. ^ "Kerala High Court restores 30,000-acre plantation land to Harrisons Malayalam". @businessline. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  47. ^ "Harrisons case setback may cost Kerala government dear in Erumeli airport project". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  48. ^ Torres, Mike (5 June 2017). "Arkansas couple accuse ministries group of fraud". Legal Newsline.
  49. ^ Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff. "Gospel for Asia Settles Lawsuit with $37 Million Refund to Donors". News & Reporting. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  50. ^ "Letter from George Verwer and Statement from GFA Board". Gospel for Asia. Retrieved 27 July 2016.

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