Gospel for Asia has a long history, having been founded by K.P. Yohannan in 1978. Terrol (Terry) Jones is a missions advocate who served at GFA from 1984 through 1993. Jones recently wrote a letter to George Verwer, an endorser of GFA and the man who has served as a lifelong mentor to GFA founder and director K.P. Yohannan. Verwer is also the founder of Operation Mobilization. In this email which was addressed to Verwer and several others, Jones calls on Verwer to remove his endorsement of GFA. Jones also addressed the letter more widely to the body of Christ.
It is hard to put into perspective how disheartening GFA’s public fall has been to long time mission watchers and leaders. When a person like Terry Jones comes forward with a public call like this, the situation is grave.
November 8, 2015
To George Verwer and the Body of Christ:
Thank you George for receiving me and my Sri Lankan ministry friends into your personal cabin and then for the privilege of sitting with you up front. Thank you also for the gift of your new book, More Drops. I have read the last part three times- Messiology. Thanks again for writing the Foreword to my book.
Having lived a composite of 9 years in India and Sri Lanka which includes innumerable ministry trips of up to three months and the wonderful experience of having our two sons born in Sri Lanka, I am very aware of the “messy” situations in missions. Still the Lord is doing some wonderful things in South Asia. I certainly do not have an “idealistic view” as you mentioned in your book nor an inclination for perfectionism. We need “radical grace” as you say, but that must not give way to “cheap grace”.Your message on the Logos hit home. It was a privilege to see my former student at Lanka Bible College interpret your words into Sinhala. What a joy also to see many of my ministry friends sitting right on the front row. You do not mince words and you are transparent about your own struggles. We are all miracles in the making, becoming more Christ-like from one degree of glory to another.
I videoed part of your message and intend to get the entire series which you delivered at the Pastors and Leaders Conference on Logos-Hope ship. Your statement about integrity in finances especially stuck in my mind: “If you have received money to buy three chickens and spent it on something else, then confess it to the donor and get yourself right.” Make amends!
Unfortunately, when it comes to K P Yohannan and GFA/Believers Church it is a matter of mega millions of dollars, a massive difference. I worked with K P for 9 years as Church Coordinator developing relationships with churches from 84-93. I traveled with him to California and met with Chuck Smith. He sent me to places like Alaska to spread the word of native missions. The initial copy of Revolution in Missions includes a photo of our small staff including me. I think we had only four or five full-time staff at that time.
In 1993 while still with GFA I returned to India with my family to see how we were doing. What I discovered caused me to resign. KP decided that the “work was not being done” as he thought it should be. Instead of supporting, encouraging, equipping and training missionary/church planters, he would start his own church. The wonderful testimonies of brother and sisters we used to publicize GFA and create a high degree of integrity, these people would now be discarded. This radical change went almost unnoticed by western constituency. However it caused great confusion and division on the field. I saw the results first hand.
In Bihar I spoke at the GFA training center. There were about 50 students. I asked how many were converted to Christ through a GFA evangelistic team. Two or three raised their hand. The rest were sent in good faith for training by their home church, Assemblies of God etc. I later got a report from Lalachen, one of KP’s Kerala friends, reporting that all 50 students were being sent out to start KP’s new Believers Churches.
I visited our friend in Nagaland, the late Vito Chu. He founded Christ For the Nations of Nagaland connected with CFNI in Dallas, Texas. KP asked him to change the name of his school to GFA training school and he would continue to support the work. He refused and GFA went 7 km down the road and started his own school. This I am told folded after sometime. Not sure if GFA still owns land there or just rented. This happened all over India at this time.
In Sri Lanka I helped GFA connect to groups who were doing pioneer church planting. KP assured pastors that he had no intention of starting his churches, just extend the kingdom of God. He lied! The GFA Bible training school took students from anyone and every where and shifted them to start Believer’s Churches. Lal Vanderwal used to teach at Lanka Bible College but KP made him a Bishop and now receives a good salary but, of course, not at all comparable to the huge amount paid to His Imminence with all expenses paid, reported to be $120,000 in 2007 according to one of his staff. Does his wife Gisela receive a big salary also? His son Danny also? The common BC priest gets a comparable pittance.
When I returned to the States I met personally with KP in his office and told him he was in danger of self deception. He said, “If you have the money you have the power.” He was completely defiant and determined to continue in deception. What he was projecting in the States and the West was not the reality of things in South Asia. He was apprehensive that I would speak negatively to his growing staff but we decided to leave quietly and return to Sri Lanka where I taught at Lanka Bible College. He rejected my observations and, I assumed, that the Board also rejected my accusation of “deliberate deception”.
Instead of receiving correction, KP expanded his deception and took on more and more staff. He had found his groove as a missionary entrepreneur. Was God blessing his deception? Money was certainly flowing in. Many good, loving, dedicated and committed people joined the staff thinking they were serving the benevolent image KP had created. But it was a mirage.
The GFA Diaspora, former staff, must understand now that they worked in good faith for the Lord, not KP’s Kerala Kingdom of which he is the King.
George, must we wait for a secular court to prove that KP has deliberately deceived people out of millions of dollars? Board members, whom I personally know, have resigned because they know KP has deliberately deceived people encouraging them to give for various benevolent causes while lining the Believers Church coffers with mega millions. Nearly $20 million was sent back to build his headquarters in Wills Point, Texas. The deception is so massive that one could say “you can not see the trees for the forest.”
George, I strongly urge you to withdraw your endorsement of KP and GFA/Believers Church if, indeed, you still publicly endorse him. Money given for three chickens is minuscule in comparison to this massive deliberate deception. Others have withdrawn their endorsement including former board member Skip Heitzig. Radical grace must not become cheap grace!
Following Matthew 18, I went to KP personally in 1993. He was obstinate and even became more deceptive. A few years later I called for KP to come to Secunderabad to meet with me, Ray Eicher, Divakaran and another brother from OM. He came. We met at the OM center and tried to show KP that he was deceptive but we were loving, not condemning. He was unmoved. Intransigent!! Now, I submit this to you, George, as a representative of the Body of Christ in it’s manifold form and to others receiving this e-mail.
So far KP and the ruling staff/board have shown no inclination to repent of their deception or even acknowledge culpability except for a very weak admittance of human fragility and fault of which we are all guilty. Instead, they have practiced diversionary tactics even avoiding “facing the facts”. If KP continues in this unrepentant manner, we of the Body Of Christ have no other option than to consider him and his decision makers as heathens and entrepreneurial tax collectors. Matthew18:17. This is the true Biblical shunning, not what GFA leaders and other staff practiced against staff who questioned the status quo.
This is submitted to you George and the Body of Christ in hope that KP will turn from his corruptive practices and truly walk in the light as Jesus Christ, the light of the world, not in mixture, good and evil light and darkness, which has been Satan’s way from the beginning. He always deals in mixture and deception. KP and ruling staff need to come clean.
If they do not repent, should Believer’s Church bishops and priests continue to dress in cassocks that have originated from the deception of His Imminence? What should the believers in these churches do? Where can they go? If the very foundation of Believers Church is deception and now the power is the money power that KP lusted for, what shall these believers in Jesus do? Still Jesus is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I hope they will disrobe, trust God and Jesus our Lord, and disassociate with KP unless he truly does turn from his deliberate deception and mixture of light and darkness.
Humbly submitted to the Body in hope,
Brother Terrol (Terry) Jones in Sri Lanka
Terry Jones became a Christian while he was a sophomore at Tulsa University through the witness of a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member. He was graduated from TU and Asbury Theological Seminary. Terry served 15 years in United Methodist Churches and non-denominational churches. He worked with Operation Mobilization for two years in India and has lived a composite of 9 years in Sri Lanka and India. He married Pattie in 1980 and they moved to Sri Lanka where he taught at Lanka Bible College eventually for 5 years. From 1984 through part of 1993 he worked with K.P. Yohannan and Gospel For Asia as Church Coordinator establishing relationship with churches throughout North America. He and Pattie are still very much involved with national missionaries in India and Sri Lanka especially, traveling there at least twice a year for a month at a time.
As always, I call on GFA leaders to respond and provide answers to the growing list of concerns which have surfaced over the past two years.