Class Action Suit Filed in Canada Against Gospel for Asia

This morning Nova Scotia pastor Bruce Morrison wrote to say that an elder in his church has filed a class action fraud lawsuit against Gospel for Asia. The CBC has a news item about it in print and on radio.

The plaintiff is Greg Zentner and he alleges that $100-million in donations didn’t end up where the donors wanted it to go. Marc Stanley is one of lawyers involved. He was the lead council in the case that was settled for $37-million in the U.S.

GFA is on the defensive against an earlier CBC broadcast documentary which featured an interview with GFA spokesman Johnnie Moore. Moore dodged questions posed by the CBC and failed to account for discrepancies in documents filed in Canada and India.

I Don’t Believe Most of What Johnnie Moore Said in His CBC Interview About Gospel for Asia

In his interview with CBC reporter Angela MacIvor, Gospel for Asia spokesman Johnnie Moore justified the diversion of funds to Believers’ Church Medical College Hospital by saying there are no other hospitals in the area for “many miles.” This and nearly everything else Moore said in his interview requires scrutiny. I started that activity last week and this week, I turn my attention to the rest of the interview.

In this interview, MacIvor asked Moore why some of the funds donors gave for poor people went to build a state of the art hospital in Kerala (first reported here). In response, Moore said:

It was all happening. It was all happening. They were building hospitals, the hospital that you are referencing, I’ve been to it. I’ve walked around it. I’ve sat down with people being cared for in the hospital. I’ve sat with the director of the hospital. I’ve seen the gigantic statue of Jesus in the center of the hospital, and by the way, that hospital is the only hospital of its kind within a very long distance. I mean people come from all over that part of India to get great health care for themselves. Not only that, by the way, you know they’re training doctors and nurses to serve other people all across the country. You know, this is an organization that has always talked about providing healthcare and educating people and so they’re doing it, they’re doing it. And while they’re doing it, they’ve also provided goats and wells and medicine and literacy training.

There are problems here.

Moore said: “that hospital is the only hospital of its kind within a very long distance.”

Not true. There are at several other comparable hospitals within 30 miles of Believers’ Church Medical College Hospital. One, the Tiruvalla Medical Mission Hospital is a modern state of the art facility with a location only 3.4 km away (about a 9 minute drive) (see the image below).

St. Ritas Hospital is 10 minutes away. St. Thomas Hospital is about 22 minutes away. Each has a nursing school and other medical training. There are numerous specialty clinics in the vicinity as well (heart, dental, etc.). Since Moore says he has been there, it seems like he should know that.

Moore added: “Not only that, by the way, you know they’re training doctors and nurses to serve other people all across the country.”

I am sure that the school does train doctors and nurses but Moore makes it seem as though there is a shortage of medical training in India. That is not true. According to this list, there are three other medical colleges in the same district (Pathanamthitta) of the state of Kerala as Yohannan’s. About 1.2-million people live in the district which covers just over 9 square miles. In the state of Kerala (the size of New Hampshire and Connecticut combined), there are 36 medical colleges with 2 more planned.

Moore: “I mean people come from all over that part of India to get great health care for themselves.”

While that may be true, they have to pay for it. Moore said there isn’t another hospital of its kind in the area, but the Believers’ Church hospital found one about 30 minutes away to send a poor patient to according to the Deccan Chronicle report.

A patient  suffering from breathing difficulty,  who was shifted from a private hospital at Thiruvalla to the MCH [Government Medical College Hospital] here on Wednesday,  had to wait in the ambulance  for over four hours due to the lack of a spare ventilator in the MCH.  The doctors at the private hospital had told the relatives of the patient that medical colleges will have ventilator facility all the time. The plight suffered  by the   patient,  N.K. Saaidharan Pillai, 58, of Pandalam,  was explained to DC  by his daughter Salini on Friday.

Pillai, who had breathing difficulty due to a neurological deficit, was undergoing treatment at the Believers Church hospital at Thiruvalla. However, he was shifted to the Kottayam medical college hospital  on Wednesday as the family could not afford the huge expenses. Salini  said that the doctor who administered treatment to her father at the Thiruvalla hospital told her  that the MCH will have a full- time ventilator facility.   “He told us that there was no need to ring up the MCH about arranging a ventilator,”  she said.

This man couldn’t afford the care at Believers’ Church. Despite the millions given by donors to help poor people in India, this man could not get medical care at a facility that those foreign donations helped build. Does this look like the picture Johnnie Moore was painting?

The Deccan Chronicle report gives a hint that this patient wasn’t the only one dumped on the government hospital. The article concludes:

Meanwhile Winnie Elizabeth Johnson, PRO of the Believers Church hospital told DC that while the hospital authorities used to call them previously, since the MCH authorities used to come up with excuses against assurance regarding the ventilator facility citing increase in patient arrivals, they had stopped calling them anymore.

Apparently, Believers’ Church had been shipping so many patients to the MCH that MCH was coming up with reasons not to take them. Now Believers’ Church Hospital just dumps them. For some reason, she thought that was okay to admit.

Moore concluded: “this is an organization that has always talked about providing healthcare and educating people and so they’re doing it…”

This is a big part of the dispute between donors and GFA. In fact, GFA did not talk about building a hospital and that is the problem. Donors never heard about a hospital and when I first started covering GFA, it was scandalous that such a huge amount of money in fiscal year 2014 (over $14-million) of foreign donations went to the construction and maintenance of the hospital. There were no appeals for funds to build a hospital. It just appeared.

So no, GFA didn’t talk about building a hospital and ask for funds to do it. If Johnnie Moore can find an appeal and document a U.S. campaign in 2012-2014 to build the Believers’ Church Medical College Hospital, I would like to see it.

Apparently, former GFA COO David Carroll didn’t know about it either because he sent a nervous email to K.P. Yohannan after Bruce Morrison and I started asking questions about the Indian public documents (FC-6 Reports). Moore said in the interview that GFA contested the accuracy of those documents. However, David Carroll, GFA’s COO at the time, did not contest them. Here is what he said to K.P. Yohannan in early 2015 in an email reveal during the RICO court case:

Sir, I need to share with you where I am over this situation. I will try to summarize for brevity sake. We have a saying in our country: The numbers don’t lie. The published FC-6 reports show westerners that we have either sent money to the field raised for National Ministries and Bridge of Hope to fund the hospital and the corpus fund, or our FC-6 filings are filed wrong.

Either way, this is a huge problem. It appears to those reading these that we might have been dishonest to the donors (fraud), or been dishonest to the Indian government, (a PR nightmare at least). Sister Siny’s report below will, in my opinion, do little to satisfy those who are printing out and analyzing our FC-6 reports. I am sorry for not expressing more confidence than this. I think we may have used money raised for National Ministries and Bridge of Hope for the hospital.

I think that India feels that we raise money and send it. I think that India feels that we raised money and sent it to them and they can legally use it any way they deem fit. I hope that I am wrong, but I am doubtful. I also don’t think that it is an intentional wrong, but if I am correct, it is a huge wrong. We’ve spoken at hundreds of churches with tears asking for the National Ministries and Bridge of Hope support, and the FC-6 that is public says that we sent much of that money for the hospital and the reserve corpus funds.”

Yes, the money went “to the field” but David Carroll here in the privacy of this email is lamenting that Believers’ Church — which is run by K.P. Yohannan — spent funds meant for ministry to poor people on the hospital and to stock a reserve fund.

An Indian tax court document confirmed the transfer of funds in December 2014. According to the court filing:

…the assessee [Believers’ Church] advanced funds to BCMET [a trust to build the hospital] for construction of hospital building. BCMET is also a registered trust u/s 12AA of the Act. The ld.representative further submitted that Carmel Education Trust also a registered charitable trust u/s 12A of the Act was given funds by the assessee to carry out their charitable activities.

That same court opined that Believers’ Church and GFA used funds inappropriately:

 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.

I don’t know if Angela MacIvor will get another chance to interview Mr. Moore. I hope so. I also hope U.S. media will follow up on the CBC documentary and bring more light to GFA.

 

 

 

SEC Brings Charges Against Mark MacArthur

Mark MacArthur, son of John MacArthur and board member of MacArthur’s Grace to You ministry, has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission of engaging in a scheme to defraud clients over a three year period from 2014 to 2017. According to the complaint, MacArthur and his partner, Robert Gravette, failed to disclose a costly conflict of interest:

Defendants Criterion Wealth Management Insurance Services, Inc. (“Criterion”), Gravette, and MacArthur were investment advisers. They owed their clients – who entrusted them with the discretionary management of their money – a fiduciary duty to act with loyalty, fairness, and good faith. This civil enforcement action arises from defendants’ breach of their fiduciary duty when failing to disclose a glaring conflict of their financial interests with those of their clients. From the spring 2014 through the summer 2017, defendants recommended that their advisory clients invest more than $16 million in four private placement funds, without disclosing that the fund managers for these investments had paid them more than $1 million in side compensation – income on top of the fees that defendants were already charging their clients directly.

For two of the private placement funds, the undisclosed  compensation that defendants received reduced the investment returns that defendants’ advisory clients would have otherwise received. Defendants kept their clients in the dark as to all these material facts and, in doing so, they violated their fiduciary duty and defrauded their advisory clients.

Read the SEC Complaint

According to the complaint, MacArthur and Gravette (both The Master’s University graduates) worked with another TMU graduate at a separate company to construct a scheme which allowed Criterion to pocket fees which should have gone to Criterion’s clients. The SEC claims MacArthur and Gravette failed to disclose the terms of investing to clients which put those clients at a disadvantage and depressed their investment returns.

It is not stated in the complaint which clients received the lower returns or if any of the entities controlled by the MacArthurs were involved as investment clients.

Gospel for Asia Offers Secret Meeting to Selected Donors

Gospel for Asia is apparently going to expand operations. In a solicitation to selected donors, GFA is offering to bring them in to hear about (and no doubt financially support) some new work. Here it is:

GFA is marketing into a storm of bad publicity including a recent CBC radio documentary which raises the issue of $94-million listed in Canada as having gone to India but without any record of it showing up in India.

The secrecy is par for GFA’s course. They have not issued an audited financial statement since 2013 and refuse to disclose how donations to India are getting into the country. GFA and Believers’ Church lost their charity registration there in 2017, but GFA in the U.S. has never informed donors about that and keeps raising money. I would like to see the CBC’s Angela MacIvor ask Johnnie Moore about that.

From the Past: The Mars Hill Church Board of Elders Wanted Mark Driscoll Out of Ministry

James MacDonald (left); Mark Driscoll (right)

In 2014 during the final days of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, 21 former elders of the church lodged charges of pastoral misconduct against Mark Driscoll. In line with church bylaws*, a committee of elders investigated those charges by interviewing numerous church members and related witnesses. A report of that investigation was never released to the church or public. Instead, the Board of Elders provided results to a decision making board at Mars Hill called the Board of Overseers.* This was communicated in a conference call and via a brief summary.

Recently, an anonymous source provided me with a summary of these results which were intended to be shared with members after Driscoll resigned. I checked this summary with several sources who were at Mars Hill at the time who confirmed the accuracy of information in the report. These sources were in a position to know if the material was true. I have also seen information shared with various members of the Board of Overseers which make it clear that the Board of Elders did not want Driscoll to be in a teaching or administrative role at Mars Hill without first going through a restoration process.

As you will see when you read the summary, the elders recommended to the Board of Overseers that Mark Driscoll be removed from ministry pending his participation in a plan of restoration. The BoAA (the ruling board of Mars Hill)* did not accept this recommendation in full. At the time, this board acknowledged that Driscoll was guilty of many of the charges, but they did not believe him to be disqualified from ministry. As we now see from this report, the investigating elders disagreed. They believed he should not continue without first being restored.

Instead of entering a plan of restoration, Driscoll resigned. He later started a church in the Phoenix, AZ area. Despite the verdict of his elder board, Driscoll continues in the pulpit to this day.

Here is the summary of Board of Elders investigation. This was a version of results which was intended to go to members of the church.

Members of Mars Hill Church,

This report is given to you from the Board of Elders with permission from the Board of Overseers.* These two boards are working together for the good of Mars Hill Church.

Below are the findings and recommendations from the Board of Elders and our investigation into the charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll. Though Mark has resigned from his role of pastor and elder we believe these findings should be explained to the people Jesus has entrusted to us. In this matter we stand before God, Christ Jesus and the elect angels (1 Timothy 5:21) to give an account.

Summary of BoE Findings

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

1 Timothy 5:19-20 says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

We conducted an examination of the charges against Mark by interviewing more than 40 eyewitnesses and Mark himself. The charges below we find to be true are supported by testimony of those currently close to Mark, and was not limited to the former staff and elders who signed the formal charges. Based on eyewitness testimony and our own direct experiences we find the following allegations of sin in Mark to be true:

Quick-tempered, including harsh speech
Arrogant
Domineering in his leadership of the elders and staff

While no members of the Board of Elders expect Mark Driscoll to be perfect, the scriptures hold those who serve in the office of elder to a high standard of character and godliness. Throughout the history of Mars Hill Church, Mark has demonstrated these patterns of sin. Former elders have shared their concerns on this with Mark privately, and friends and advisors outside the church have shared this feedback with him as well. On many occasions Mark has acknowledged these sins himself. Sadly we see Mark continuing in these patterns to the present day.

It is with a heavy heart that we believe the church should follow 1 Timothy 5:20 which says that an elder persisting in sin should be rebuked before the body. It is our prayer that through the church following scripture, and the work of the Holy Spirit, Mark can more clearly see his sin, repent and be reconciled with those whom he has sinned against.

Recommendations
It was our recommendation to the Board of Overseers that Mark be rebuked for his sin and a restoration process be developed to shepherd Mark towards godliness. This process would have involved:

Removal from eldership and all church leadership for reflection, repentance, and healing

Repentance and reconciliation with those who have been sinned against

A team of pastors and counselors inside and outside of Mars Hill that would care for Mark throughout the process

Loving restoration of Mark to ministry and leadership when the above pastors unanimously agree that Mark is in a place of repentance and godliness

All of the members of this board love Mark Driscoll deeply. We hoped to see him restored and are grieved that Mark chose to leave before we were able to walk alongside him through this process.

Repentance as Leaders
As we walked through this investigation the Holy Spirit impressed upon us that we too have been sinful and that He is calling us to confession and repentance of our own sins. Before God we confess: we are guilty of arrogance, being quick-tempered, we have led in a domineering manner.

It is our hope to lovingly lead the church in a season of reflection, confession, and repentance. May the love of Jesus Christ we show towards one another and his redemption of our brokenness be what Mars Hill Church is known for in the future. Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Board of Elders
Ed Choi
Alex Ghioni
Aaron Gray
AJ Hamilton
Bubba Jennings
Miles Rohde
Tim Smith

Winners of Mars Hill Church trivia contests might recognize some of this as being similar to a statement read to congregations by elders shortly after Driscoll resigned in October 2014. It was during a church service after Driscoll’s resignation that elders revealed Driscoll resigned instead of entering a restoration plan. However, at that time, the elders were silent about whether or not Driscoll was disqualified. The more complete statement above indicates that the Board of Elders wanted Driscoll to move out of eldership and leadership (in contrast to this report last year).

Of course, none of this changes the past. However, for historical purposes, it does provide a bit more clarity to the narrative. The Board of Elders conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with over 40 witnesses and came to the conclusions you read above. Although there were hints, it was never clear if the group of elders who did the investigation considered Driscoll to be disqualified pending restoration. Apparently, they did.

*The Board of Overseers was a subcommittee of the Board of Advisors and Accountability. The BoAA included people who were not members of Mars Hill and those who were officers, including Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas and was the final decision making body for the church. However, according to the bylaws, only the independent members of the BoAA could investigate any formal charges against Mark Driscoll. In this case, the Board of Overseers (Michael Van Skaik, Larry Osborne, Matt Rogers, Jon Phelps) assigned the task of investigating the charges to the ad hoc Board of Elders listed above. Thus, when the Board of Elders completed their work, they presented the report to the Board of Overseers who were a part of the BoAA.

Johnnie Moore’s Gospel for Asia Evasive Maneuvers

Yesterday, I posted a link to a CBC radio documentary about Gospel for Asia’s use of Canadian funds. In this program by Angela MacIvor, PR guru Johnnie Moore was interviewed and made some dubious claims. I take one of them up today. I’ll examine the others in future posts.

During the interview with Moore, MacIvor asked

Can you explain how it’s possible in a period between 2007-2014, GFA reported to the Canadian Revenue Agency that nearly $94-million left Canada and went to India during that time period but GFA reported to the Indian government that zero dollars went to India?

Moore gave a truly extraordinary answer:

I contest that those statistics are factual. The organization has always contested that that is a factual characterization of that and not to mention the organization doesn’t exclusively operate in India. They operate, their partner, they operate in 20 other countries around the world as well.

This issue was one of the earliest matters I researched regarding GFA. In June 2015, I asked former GFA COO David Carroll why funds listed in Canada as going to India didn’t show up as arriving from Canada in Indian documents. He told me:

The Canadian funds were combined with U.S. funds by our auditor in India for various accounting reasons. There is no requirement that they be reported separately.

However, in the Indian reports, funds were listed as originating from other nations, such as Australia, Germany and the UK. According to Indian regulations and contrary to Carroll’s claim, the national source of the funds has to be listed. As noted by MacIvor, for an 8 year period, it appeared Canada had not sent funds when in fact, almost $94-million had been donated specifically for India.

I want to make it clear that Moore’s mention of the other nations where GFA works is irrelevant. The Canadian branch of GFA specifically said in government reports (see this post for images of those reports) the money was being sent to India. This information must be reported accurately. If GFA Canada wanted to send it somewhere else, then some other nation would have been listed. Moore’s statement about other nations was a distraction.

In response to what appeared to be gaslighting from Moore, MacIvor followed up by asked if GFA wants the public to ignore those public reports. Moore’s answer was stunning:

I am not saying you shouldn’t look at those. People ought to have the humility to ask themselves a more important question which is: What is it that I might not know about this? What is the information that I might not have? Or the information that might not be available in the public domain? And I think there are vast gaps between the two pieces of information.

Humility? It is the height of arrogance for Johnnie Moore to accuse donors, former staff of GFA, and members of the public of lacking humility. Since 2015, hundreds of people have been asking GFA for answers to questions about their financial practices only to be met with silence or evasion. When I asked these exact questions (what don’t I know? what can make this make sense?), all I got was silence and name-calling. When a federal judge wanted answers to questions like this, all he got was stone-walling from GFA. I wish the reporter would have asked Johnnie Moore about the sanctions Judge Timothy Brooks imposed on GFA for failure to respond to questions about financial information during the fraud lawsuit brought by  Garland and Phyllis Murphy.

Then Moore dodged the last question posed by MacIvor when she rightfully asked for the information we mere mortals don’t have. Moore’s reply?

Yeah, first of all, that’s a question for the Believers Eastern Church in India and around the world. That’s a question that needs to be asked of them.

How convenient. K.P. Yohannan isn’t available, so they bring in Moore from D.C. to speak for Yohannan on GFA matters, but when Moore turns the attention to Believers’ Church, all of sudden he can’t speak for Yohannan.

Moore got away without answering the questions. So Moore chides the public for failure to understand something he refuses to disclose. The appeal to Believers Church is a disgusting dodge. Not only is Yohannan the head of the church, but GFA in Canada and the U.S. is responsible for how donor funds are spent. GFA needs to know why the funds they sent to India didn’t show up in records there. It is obvious GFA knows or else they would just as concerned about it (where is our money?).

There are two other issues I want to take up from this interview. First, what does it mean that all the funds given to “the field” went to the field? Second, what about those hospitals in India? Moore was asked about that and misrepresented the situation. More to come in future posts…

CBC Documentary on Gospel for Asia: The Spin Continues

Understandably, this CBC radio documentary, out today, focuses on the Canadian side of the Gospel for Asia story.  It is told via the perspective of Canadian pastor Bruce Morrison who once supported GFA. Bruce has been a relentless searcher of truth and has a great platform here to present his case.

A real plus of this program is the interview with public relations representative Johnnie Moore. K.P. Yohannan declined to meet with CBC despite months of requests but GFA found money to fly Moore in to Wills Point to meet with the CBC.

Moore’s answers shade the truth and are insulting and maddening. I intend to take them apart in future posts, perhaps starting tomorrow.

Eric Metaxas Finds His Moral Whisper About Harassment Claims Against Mike Bloomberg

Oh I see how it is. Mike Bloomberg’s past harassment allegations get some press and Eric Metaxas finds his moral concern.

I don’t think this was “whoa” as in “whoa, he is as much of a louse as Trump, maybe I should support him too.” I think this was “whoa” as in “whoa, that’s bad.” What do you think?

Metaxas and other Trump court evangelicals will be severely blasted if they try to play the morality card on Trump’s opponents during this election. They can’t really do it with a straight face. I suspect Metaxas only wrote a muted “whoa” because he knew he would be ridiculed unmercifully if he went for a stronger condemnation.

Recently CBN’s David Brody (a supporter of Trump) acknowledged that making an issue of Pete Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a winning play for Trump supporters since Trump has no moral high ground. Watch:

Brody just ruled out this out as a plausible strategy given Trump’s questionable behavior. I don’t think Bloomberg is going to prevail, but I can’t see how Republicans can make an issue of it if he does.

What is Going on at Acts 29?

By now, it is common knowledge that Acts 29’s CEO Steve Timmis was fired. According a report in Christianity Today, he was let go “amid accusations of abusive leadership.” The ripple effects are significant. His church in the UK is investigating and his publisher stopped selling his books. All of this is in the CT article.

The essence of the charges against Timmis involve micromanaging and defensiveness when challenged. According to the CT piece, Acts 29 staff members brought this to Acts 29 president Matt Chandler’s attention in 2015. However, Chandler led the dismissal of those staffers and required them to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to get their severance packages.

It is worth noting that Steve Timmis was on Acts 29’s board when Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church was removed from the Acts 29 Network in August 2014. Now we learn that within a year of that act, Timmis was accused of nearly the same actions and protected by Chandler and the Acts 29 board. What changed?

Another name on the list of board members who removed Driscoll was Darrin Patrick. In 2016, Patrick was removed from The Journey in St. Louis for “pastoral misconduct.” Steve Timmis was on Patrick’s restoration team. Now Patrick is back in business.

While none of this may influence how to plant a church, those who are in the market for such services should be aware of what they are getting into.

 

 

 

Don’t Stop Believing Awkward Style

You just never know what you are going to find on this blog.

I don’t really have a reason or words for this but this actually happened.

Jim Bakker, Lori Bakker, Paula White-Cain, Johnathan Cain from Journey, Mondo De La Vega and Tammy Sue Bakker (Jim Bakker’s daughter with Tammy Faye Bakker) make Don’t Stop Believing a sad shadow of its former self.

The shots of the audience at the end are great.

What a show.