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K. P. Yohannan

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Moran Mor

Athanasius Yohan I
Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church
Native name
Yohannan Kadippiaril Punnose
ChurchBelievers Eastern Church
Predecessorposition established
Personal details
Born(1950-03-08)8 March 1950
Kerala, India
Died8 May 2024(2024-05-08) (aged 74)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DenominationBelievers Eastern Church
SpouseGisela Punnose
OccupationMetropolitan Bishop of Believers Eastern Church
Alma materCriswell College

Athanasius Yohan I (born K.P. Yohannan, 8 March 1950 – 8 May 2024) was an Indian Pentecostal Christian prelate who was the founder and president of GFA World formerly known as Gospel for Asia,[1] a large non-profit missions organisation with a focus on India and Asia. He was also the founding Metropolitan Bishop of Believers Eastern Church[2][3] (formerly Believers Church) with the religious title and name of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I.[4] Yohannan authored over 250 books on Christian living and missions.[5] [6]


Early life and education[edit]

K.P. Yohannan was born on 8 March 1950,[7] 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. He was 16 when he joined the Operation Mobilization (OM), an evangelical missions movement, and served them for eight years in the Indian subcontinent.[8] He continued to have close working relationship and friendship with the late George Verwer, OM's founder. Through an invitation from 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.[9][10][11] 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 Madras, India.[8] Though his degree was honorary, he often used the title of "doctor" when in the United States.


K.P. Yohannan meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2016.

Six months into his undergraduate degree, Yohannan[12] 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 organisation 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.[13][11] 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.[9] GFA supports over 50 Bible colleges in various countries.[9][14]

Gospel for Asia[edit]

K.P. Yohannan with former Prime Minister of Nepal, Madvah Kumar Nepal.

He founded Gospel for Asia in 1979. It adheres 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 organisation’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.[9] Yohannan credited 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.”[11]

K.P. Yohannan visiting slum in India.

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.

Believers Eastern Church[edit]

He was founder in 1993 of Believers Church later Believers Eastern Church, a self-described "evangelical in nature and outlook, oriental in worship, democratic in function, and orthodox in governance and character" church.[15][16] Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. He was the Metropolitan Bishop at the time of his death.[17]


K.P. Yohannan and his wife, Gisela.

Yohannan was married to Gisela,[18] who served with him in Operation Mobilization. They met in 1973.[9] In 1974, they were married in Germany, Gisela’s birth country. They have two children, Daniel and Sarah and seven grandchildren.

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][19] Across the Western world, he continued to go by K. P. Yohannan as an author, speaker and missionary statesman.


On 7 May 2024, Yohannan was hit by a vehicle while on a morning walk in Wills Point, Texas. He died the following day from cardiac arrest. Yohannan was 74 years of age.[20][21][22][23]

Print and radio[edit]

Yohannan was the author of 39 books published in the US and over 200 books published in India.[8][24] His books include Revolution In World Missions.[25]

Yohannan's radio broadcast "Road to Reality" was heard on over 900 radio stations in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.[8] 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.[10][26]

Yohannan served as a board member with the National Religious Broadcasters Association (NRB) from 2013–2015. In 2003, NRB presented Yohannan with its Individual Achievement in International Broadcasting award.[27]


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.[28][29] 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.[30]

Court rulings in India[edit]

The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church were scrutinised after Believers Church purchased a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India.[31][32] Opponents claimed the church had diverted foreign funds to amass land for itself and for uses other than declared purposes.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35]

Former Ernakulam District Collector 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.[36] 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."[37]

Yohannan says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church are transparent.[38] Further, the rubber estate is an investment to help fund social services among underdeveloped communities[32][39] 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 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" [40] 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.[41][42]

U.S. Federal lawsuits[edit]

In 2017, there were two RICO anti-fraud lawsuits active against Gospel for Asia,[43] naming Yohannan and other Gospel for Asia leaders as defendants.[44] 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.”[45] Gospel for Asia denies any wrongdoing.[46]


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  9. ^ a b c d e Bergunder, Michael (2008). The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2734-0.
  10. ^ a b New Release Today, A Division of NRT Media Inc. “K.P. Yohannan Author Profile and Bibliography.” Archived 7 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine 1 September 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
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  13. ^ Van Rheenen, Gailyn (1996). Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-20809-2.
  14. ^ Philip, Shaju (17 June 2008). "An archbishop's spiritual factory". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 7 May 2024. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  15. ^ "BEC Faith and Beliefs". www.bec.org. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  16. ^ Daughrity, Dyron B.; Athyal, Jesudas M. (1 August 2016). Understanding World Christianity: India. Fortress Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-5064-1689-2. Some of the more prominent Pentecostal groups are the Sharon Fellowship Church (est. 1975), the New India Church of God (est. 1976), New India Bible Church (est. 1975), and the Believers' Church, run by the Gospel for Asia ministry (est. 1978) under the leadership of K. P. Yohannan, from a St. Thomas Syrian Christian background.
  17. ^ a b "Episcopas of Believers Eastern Church Take Up Ecclesiastical Names". 15 October 2018. Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  18. ^ Bland, Vikki. "Yohannan: Persecution is Part of the Deal". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
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  23. ^ "Obituary for K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan) (1950-2024)". GFA World. Retrieved 14 May 2024.
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  25. ^ Yohannan, K.P. (2004). Revolution in World Missions. Gospel for Asia. ISBN 1-59589-001-7.
  26. ^ Athmeeya Yathra Official Website. “Athmeeya Yathra TV: About. Archived 16 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 30 March 2016.
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  28. ^ "സംസ്ഥാന വ്യാപകമായി ബിലിവേഴ്സ് ചർച്ചിൻ്റെ സ്ഥാപനങ്ങളിൽ ആധായ നികുതി വകുപ്പിൻ്റെ റെയ്ഡ് - YouTube". www.youtube.com. 4 November 2020. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  29. ^ "ബിലീവേഴ്സിൽ ഐടി പരിശോധന രണ്ടുമാസം നീളും; സഹകരിക്കുമെന്ന് സഭ | Believers Church – YouTube". www.youtube.com. 9 November 2020. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Kerala: Income Tax raid at home, offices of Believers Church's KP Yohannan; 'Rs 54L cash, phones seized'". www.timesnownews.com. 5 November 2020. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
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  32. ^ a b "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
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  35. ^ "Forgery case filed against Harrisons Malayalam staff". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 26 February 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
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  39. ^ "Dr. K. P. Yohannan, Metropolitan Bishop, Believers Church, Kerala calls on PM". Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  40. ^ "Kerala High Court sets aside order taking over Harrisons Malayalam Co's land". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Kerala High Court restores 30,000-acre plantation land to Harrisons Malayalam". @businessline. Archived from the original on 4 January 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Harrisons case setback may cost Kerala government dear in Erumeli airport project". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  43. ^ McCleery, William (18 February 2016). "Gospel for Asia sued for fraud". Biblical Recorder. Archived from the original on 9 May 2024. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  44. ^ Torres, Mike (5 June 2017). "Arkansas couple accuse ministries group of fraud". Legal Newsline. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  45. ^ Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff (March 2019). "Gospel for Asia Settles Lawsuit with $37 Million Refund to Donors". News & Reporting. Archived from the original on 27 December 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  46. ^ "Letter from George Verwer and Statement from GFA Board". Gospel for Asia. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.

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