K. P. Yohannan
|Alma mater||Criswell College|
|Occupation||Metropolitan Believers Eastern Church|
|Organization||Believers Eastern Church|
|Known for||Social Reformation and Church Ecumenism|
|Notable work||"Revolution in World Missions"|
K.P. Yohannan is the founder and Metropolitan Bishop of Believers Eastern Church (Earlier Believers Church) one of the Episcopal Christian church denominations in India, he is also the founder and president of Gospel for Asia, a large Christian NGO with a focus on India and Asia. He is the pioneer in establishing one of the largest child care projects in India called Bridge of Hope. Yohannan is also an author of over 200 books on Christian living and missions, as well as a noted speaker and columnist.
Early life and education
Yohannan was born in 1950 and raised in a St. Thomas Syrian Christian (Mar Thoma Syrian Church) family in Kerala, India. At age 8 he became a follower of Jesus. He was 16 when he joined Operation Mobilization, an evangelical missions movement, and served with them for eight years on the Indian subcontinent.
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. He graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies, becoming the school’s first international student to graduate. He eventually was also conferred an honorary degree of divinity by Hindustan Bible Institute & College in Chennai, India.
Six months into his undergraduate degree, Yohannan became an ordained clergyman and served as a pastor of a Native American Southern Baptist church for four years near Dallas, Texas. In 1978, Yohannan and his wife Gisela started an organization known today as Gospel for Asia, which is resided in Carrollton, Texas until 2014 in which it moved to Wills Point, Texas.. In the first year, they helped provide financial support and training to 24 missionaries.. In 1979, he resigned from his church to devote his attention full-time to mission work. In 1981, he started a chapter of Gospel for Asia in Kerala and in 1983 created an Indian headquarter in Tiruvalla. GFA directly supports more than 50 Bible colleges in various countries.
Believers Eastern Church
Believers Eastern Church (previously Believers Church) is a Christian denomination with congregations and parishes worldwide. The church has an episcopal governance. The church holds Christ as the head of the Church (Col 1:18); hence it is governed by a committee of Bishops, the Synod, with one central Bishop holding the honorary title of "first among equals" and follows Evangelical Christian doctrine. Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. In 2015, the church reported it was re-organized into 33 dioceses; a decrease from the 36 dioceses reported by Smith in 2009. According to Believers Eastern Church, its membership consists of more than 3.5 million people in 10 countries speaking a hundred languages. The Church currently has 30 Bishops, and the current Metropolitan Bishop is Dr. K. P. Yohannan.
Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia would grow to become one of the largest evangelical Christian NGO and missionary organizations in the world, but constantly marred by dubious fund distribution. Gospel for Asia adheres to Yohannan’s belief in the efficiency and efficacy of “national missionaries”, or missionaries that are native to the nation or culture being served. The organization’s primary mission fields are those people that live in the “10/40 Window”, referring to longitudinal coordinates consisting of areas in west Africa, India and east Asia.
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.”
From its inception, Gospel for Asia has held to Yohannan’s conviction of the use of national missionaries. The ministry discourages direct missions from outside countries or people-groups, but rather trains and equips missionaries from within distinct cultures. In order to accomplish this, Gospel for Asia has over 56 Bible schools in 10 countries, training over 9000 ministers. In all, Gospel for Asia has trained over 16,000 national missionaries.
In addition to training national missionaries, Gospel for Asia incorporates several 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.
Print and radio
Dr. Yohannan is the author of eight books published in the US and has authored more than 200 books published in India. His book Revolution In World Missions, has over 2 million copies in print.
K.P. Yohannan’s radio broadcast, "Road to Reality," is heard on over 900 radio stations throughout the USA, Canada, U.K., New Zealand and Australia. 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.
K.P. Yohannan is married to Gisela, who served with him in Operation Mobilization. They met in 1973. In 1974, they were married in Germany, Gisela’s country of birth. They have two children, Daniel and Sarah.
The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Church were scrutinized after Believers Church, under the guidance of Yohannan, purchased a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India. Opponents claimed the church had diverted foreign funds to amass 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.
Legal proceedings are still ongoing. “Former Ernakulam District Collector Dr M G Rajamanickam, who was appointed as the Special Officer of the government to confiscate the 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, this ruling was appealed and now there is further complication because the local government wants to build an airport on this estate. News outlets are reporting that the local government wants to buy the property. However, it is also 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." The BJP is currently behind a large scale anti-corruption crackdown on Black Money[better source needed] inside India.
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 services among underdeveloped communities and not a personal land grab as opponents have claimed.
The controversies regarding the purchase of estate have been cleared by the Kerala High Court. The findings pointed out by Dr. M G Rajamanickam in his report have been completely rejected by the court. The court came down heavily on the government and the officer for playing "robin hood" 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.
There are currently two RICO anti-fraud lawsuits active against GFA naming KP as one of the defendants with one scheduled for a jury trial on 4/15/2019, but Gospel for Asia denies any wrongdoing.
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- 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.
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- 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.
- Hearth, Katey. “Jesus Wells deliver redemption and safety.” Mission Network News. 22 September 2014. 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.
- Yohannan, K.P. (2004). Revolution in World Missions. Gospel for Asia. ISBN 1-59589-001-7.
- Neustel, Lauren (1 March 2011). "Revolution in World Missions (Review)". Online Journal of Christian Communication and Culture. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Athmeeya Yathra Official Website. “Athmeeya Yathra TV: About. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
- Bland, Vikki. "Yohannan: Persecution is Part of the Deal". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Cash scanner on evangelist". The Telegraph.
- "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
- "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.
- "Smooth take-off unlikely for proposed Erumeli airport".
- Indian black money
- "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
- "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".
- "Dr. K. P. Yohannan, Metropolitan Bishop, Believers Church, Kerala calls on PM".
- "Kerala High Court sets aside order taking over Harrisons Malayalam Co's land". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
- "Kerala High Court restores 30,000-acre plantation land to Harrisons Malayalam". @businessline. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
- "Harrisons case setback may cost Kerala government dear in Erumeli airport project". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
- "Letter from George Verwer and Statement from GFA Board". Gospel for Asia. Retrieved 27 July 2016.