Former Gospel for Asia Board Member Quit But Isn't Sure Why

Phoenix Preacher has an email from an assistant of former Gospel for Asia board member Skip Heitzig. Through his assistant Heitzig says there hasn’t been an independent investigation of GFA and the charges are of a “he said/she said” nature. What?
Talk about demoting the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Is ECFA the he or the she?
Perhaps, Rev. Heitzig failed to tell his assistant that GFA was terminated from the ECFA after an independent investigation revealed most of the ECFA standards had been violated. I know that board members were told this. Another former board member Gayle Erwin told me that he was shocked to learn that ECFA terminated GFA and decided not long after to resign.
If Skip Heitzig doesn’t know any facts, why did he resign?
For what it’s worth, I believe Rev. Heitzig and Rev. Walker should try again.

Did Gospel for Asia/Believers' Church Buy Cheruvally Estate With a Bank Loan or Donor Funds?

Recently, a reader in India sent a clip of a 2012 interview of K.P. Yohannan on Surya TV and Indian station. In it, Yohannan responds to questions about why he did not respond to charges that Believers’ Church acquired Cheruvally Estate (a rubber plantation) illegally. He also claims that the funds to purchase the rubber plantation in 2005 came from donors who designated their donations to the church on the condition that the funds would be used to purchase income producing property.
The clip is mostly in Malayalam. I was able to secure translations by four Malayalam speakers and found them to be nearly the same. Notice that K.P. Yohannan uses some English in his replies. A composite translation is below the video with the time in parentheses after the English words he says.

Anil Nambiar: The Believers Church is the owner of Cheruvally estate.
K.P. Yohannan: Correct (.04)
AN: There is a claim that Cheruvally estate is taken from revenue land.
KP (interrupts): Simply saying…
AN: …this is an allegation from A.M. Varghese
KP: If there is any estate in Kerala that is not owned by the government for the people or does not have any questions about a clear title (.22), that is Cheruvally estate. I take the blame because I did not publically challenge such allegations.
AN: Why didn’t you come out and publicly challenge it?
KP: Stupidity, It was our foolishness (.33). Because there was some advice from people who I respect, “Your highness, don’t reply to these things. Do things straightforwardly, and you are doing that, why fear? Let them say whatever they want.” But like how got beaten up in darkness then woke up, and this is how it is now. I admit, this is a mistake we made (.53) that we didn’t respond. Because we have nothing to fear as we have not done anything wrong.
Estate…when I travel from Thiruvalla to Trivandrum along the way there are so many land, institutions belonging to other churches. How much more property owned by Amrita (a Hindu sect led by a lady guru called “Amma: meaning mother) has how much property? Why did they buy these?
As for Believers’ Church and Cheruvally estate, donors specifically (1:18) have instructed us to establish an income producing entity (1:23), in the future for you to continue your work. Let me ask you, we spend almost 40 crore rupees to take care of 60,000 children – where does this money come from? Can we campaign to raise money all the time? We have to produce our income (1:43), that is what this is for, for that only. Funds for this are literally given to us by the donors for such purposes only. See (1:52) people will ask, “your highness, your sadness (1:58), your sorrow (2:00), what is that?”

I have looked through the donor reports for Gospel for Asia going back as far as 2004 and I can’t find anything specifically donated to allow Believers’ Church to purchase income producing property. In fact, in the 2013 audited financial statement, GFA doesn’t even list Believers’ Church as a related party and recipient of cash from GFA. I suppose it is possible Yohannan referred to donations from within India which are not a part of the U.S. audit. There are many questions raised by this interview.
Those questions aside, Yohannan told one story to Anil Nambiar about the purchase of the Cheruvally Estate  and another story on his GFA website. Read what he said there about the acquisition of the plantation:

In addition to generous giving on the part of its members, theese (sic) churches also generate revenue from literature publishing and other activities. When leaders were presented with the opportunity to purchase an operating rubber plantation for only “pennies on the dollar,” they saw a way to open a new income stream for ministry. But there were stipulations on how the purchase would have to be made.

The leadership made the decision with the understanding that financing would not come from church or mission funds,” explained Dr. K.P. Yohannan, who is also president of Gospel for Asia, whose native missionaries serve the Asian church. “Rather, it would have to be taken care of from the profits of the estate.”

With that understanding, and the knowledge that the property was being “dumped” at a very low price (about US $19 million), the leaders voted to go forward.

We made the purchase with a 100 percent bank loan at a very favorable rate,” Dr. Yohannan explained. “And now the loan is being repaid with the profits from the rubber plantation. When it is paid for in six or seven years, all further profits will go directly to fund missions and ministries.”

I gave my full support to the purchase,” Dr. Yohannan added, “because I know that the future of the church in India depends on its ability to take care of itself.

So which is it? Was the plantation purchased with designated donor funds or by means of “a 100 percent bank loan?”
It wouldn’t be far fetched for Believers’ Church to divert funds; an Indian court declared that the church did just that in 2014. But why tell American donors that the plantation was fully purchased with a bank loan? The two different narratives do not inspire confidence or trust.
In this interview, Yohannan discloses that GFA spends around $7 million (40 crore rupees in 2012) on 60,000 Bridge of Hope children. That is about $117/child a year or just shy of $10/month. BoH sponsors in the U.S. send $35/child. Furthermore, if the plantation and other income producing businesses are funding these programs then what is happening to the U.S. donations?
 
 
 
 

Calling Former Members of Mars Hill Church to Tell Your Stories

Ben Vandemeer has launched an effort to start a healing conversation about Mars Hill Church. With the able support of former MHC leaders Jeff Bettger and Bryan Zug, the effort is titled Mars Hill: Your Story:

Are we ready to talk about our time at Mars Hill Church?
It’s been almost a year already. The headlines have passed. The body of the church, thousands of us, have moved forward… how are you doing?
There’s a tension around the topic, often an unspoken understanding from those who were there and a polite “what happened with that?” from those who weren’t. There are untold stories and they belong to all of us.
Maybe we should start a conversation.
What follows are open-ended questions to help you share your story to whatever extent you are comfortable.
Questions relate to your involvement at Mars Hill, the closure of the church and your transition since then. When a sizable number of responses have been collected, they will be posted online in one place.
All perspectives on Mars Hill are welcome from anyone who was a member or regular attender during any period of time.
This is not an attempt to seek any particular conclusion or call anyone to action. It is intended to record everyone’s feelings and experiences as equally valid.
Our stories matter and collectively they paint a more complete picture than any one source could.
There are no right or wrong answers. You can be as identified or anonymous as you wish and nothing is saved until you hit “submit”.
Frequently Asked Questions: http://goo.gl/u6Guv5

Many former Mars Hill members and staff still read here so I thought it would be good to let readers know about this. Vandemeer, Bettger, and Zug are hopeful that stories come from Mark Driscoll supporters or sympathizers, people who stayed and transitioned to other churches which were once a part of MHC and from female attenders and participants.

Marco Rubio Again Leads World Magazine's Evangelical Insider Survey

Ted Cruz surged to second place among candidates for President in the survey.
Marco Rubio continues to enjoy strong support from evangelicals surveyed with 44.8% of the respondents choosing Rubio as their first choice. Cruz increased to around 25% with the rest of the candidates lagging behind. Ben Carson’s stock fell and Donald Trump is near the bottom with apparently one respondent picking Trump.
The World survey has made some enemies in recent weeks. Ann Coulter exploded about it because Trump isn’t doing better. World’s J.C. Derrick replied to her rant with some facts.
Although Cruz supporters may take hope in this month’s results, I doubt they will have much more to celebrate. Said plainly, I believe a Cruz nomination assures a Hillary Clinton win. Cruz is not center-right as he implies he is; rather he is far right with supporters who want U.S. law to reflect Old Testament injunctions. He cannot back away from this and maintain any integrity with his base. In the general election, all of the pandering to the right wing fringe will be remembered.
 

K.P. Yohannan Told Gospel for Asia Staff He Has No Powers as Metropolitan of Believers Church

In the May 14, 2015 staff meeting, Believers’ Church Metropolitan and Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan told staff that he does not sit on any boards or trusts in India and that he had no legal authority. Those declarations came near the end of the meeting. Near the beginning of the meeting, Yohannan set the tone by saying he has no powers as Metropolitan of Believers’ Church. Listen (click the link):
K.P. Yohannan Told Staff He Has No Powers as Metropolitan
Near the end of this short clip (1:20), Yohannan says:

No decision must be made by one individual. For example, I am now the Metropolitan and honestly I have no powers. I am chief among equals. So any decision for the church, faith and practice, ordination is made by the council.

Throughout the meeting, it seemed to be a matter of great importance for GFA leaders to downplay Yohannan’s authority in Believers’ Church. This is puzzling in light of the Believers’ Church Constitution. Click the links the read chapters one and two, and three. See also the segments below to see that Yohannan is the final authority on all matters of faith, practice and administration in the church. He has veto power over his Bishops and their Council.
MetropolitanPowersBC Cons
GenSecretaryBelChurch
 
 

Gospel for Asia, Believers' Church and Caarmel Engineering College

In reviewing GFA donor reports back to 2004, I have looked for line items which could have supported the purchase and construction of for profit schools and hospitals. I have been unable to find enough donations to pay for the massive expansion of Believers’ Church’s footprint in India. More on that in future posts.
For now, I am posting a promotional video of just one of the schools owned by K.P Yohannan and Believers’ Church (both his name and the church’s name are on all property deeds): Caarmel Engineering College.
[youtube]https://youtu.be/bNmECv3CW_U[/youtube]
I suspect U.S. donors had no idea that support given to GFA might end up helping to support a for profit engineering college.

Times of India: Gospel for Asia Gets Special Deal to Violate Wetlands Ordinance

Today’s Times of India reports that Gospel for Asia/Believers’ Church received special permission to violate Indian law regarding treatment of wetlands.  According to the report, Kerala’s state cabinet overruled objections by revenue officials to the conversion of wetlands for use by the Believers Church Medical College, a project of Gospel for Asia in Thiruvalla. According the TOI, “The cabinet has regularized the group’s land filling, citing it as a “special case” and thereby violating the Kerala Land Utilization Order. “
Please click through the link to read the report. Five points stand out.
1. It doesn’t appear that the Christian nature of the Believers Church Medical College is prompting state persecution of Believers Church or Gospel for Asia as GFA leaders often claim. This appears to be a sweet deal for Believers Church. They can use land the local authorities want for wetlands for their for-profit hospital and medical college. They also avoid the cost of correcting their illegal use of 3.77 acres.
2. According to this report, the local government gave permission for filling the land suitable for building a medical college in 2003. The empire building in India goes back a long way. Donors outside of Indian might well wonder where the funds came from in order fill the lands and construct a state of the art medical college and hospital.
3. If this report is accurate, GFA in India illegally diverted a stream and filled in 3.77 acres of land. This illegal action doesn’t square well with repeated claims by GFA leaders that their actions on the field are legal. It cannot help the overall purpose of Christian missions to conduct affairs illegally and then fail to correct the matter.
4. If I understand the TOI report, this matter may not be over. The TOI reporter makes the case that the state cabinet action violates a ruling of the Supreme Court. Although I am not sure who would lead the charge, there may be a challenge to the cabinet’s decision.
5. GFA in India is said by this report to be under Believers’ Church. Unknown to many donors, the real destination for millions of donor dollars has been Believers’ Church in India with their for profit schools, medical centers and rubber plantation. No doubt the pursuit of this matter involved lawyers and much time and money. It is past time for GFA to come clean about their finances, not just here, but around the world.

Gospel for Asia Issues Threats and Demands Removal of Staff Meeting Audio

Yesterday afternoon, I received word from the management of Patheos that lawyers for Gospel for Asia demanded the removal of posts with audio of the May 14, 2015 staff meeting in Wills Point, TX. They also wanted the picture of David Carroll in priestly garb sprinkling water around the Wills Point building site taken down.
The following posts were targeted by GFA:
Gospel for Asia’s President K.P. Yohannan and Indian Courts Seem to Disagree about His Status with Indian Charities
Believers Church in India Gave Nearly 20 Million to Help Gospel for Asia’s New Office Complex
Gospel for Asia Leaders Tell Staff Cash Carrying is Legal but They Won’t Do It Anymore
What is This Gospel for Asia Priest Doing? (Image replaced with a link to the image – the image was freely available to GFA staff)
All but one of these posts contain audio from the May 14, 2015 staff meeting where GFA leaders (David Carroll, John Beers, Danny Punnoose and K.P. Yohannan) answered questions from staff about various staff concerns and problems. This meeting was supposed to put to rest many of these questions, but in the long run more questions and problems have come up. GFA leaders are willing to pay lawyers to threaten lawsuits but they are not willing to publicly address the concerns and allegations of former staff and former donors.
Patheos management and I decided remove their sail from the wind in that I have now linked to the audio hosted elsewhere. I see no reason for GFA to harass Patheos with frivolous demands when the use of these materials is fair use of material for the purpose of providing commentary on the practices of GFA. I was provided the audio by a former staff member at GFA. The staff meeting was attended by the entire staff of GFA and was supposed to provide answers to public controversies. Now, GFA does not want you to hear their answers. Despite GFA’s heavy handed effort at intimidation, readers can still get the facts by going to these posts and following the links to the audio.
This is an incredible and I think foolish move on the part of GFA leaders. They are now making a direct attempt to cover up their own statements. This information has been in the public ear for weeks. We can hear them making their claims in their own words. When the information is available like this, I cannot be accused of taking material out of context or providing false information. So now, they want to remove these facts from the public consciousness.
Since 100% of donations to GFA are supposed to go to the field, I wonder where the funds come from to pay lawyers to threaten legal action. Perhaps GFA leaders believe attorneys’ fees are where donor funds are most needed.
Gospel for Asia is a non-profit organization. As such, GFA has a responsibility to operate in the public interest. Covering up information which allows donors insight into the actual workings and claims of the organization is the not the action of an organization operating in the public interest. From a religious point of view, they are walking in darkness and want to keep the rest of us in darkness as well.
I do not intend to allow GFA’s threats and intimidation to silence the facts. There is more to come.

Open Letter to Operation Mobilization Founder George Verwer from Terry Jones about Gospel for Asia and K.P. Yohannan

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Terry Jones, George Verwer, Rev. William W. Photo provided by Terry Jones

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.