What does “preferenced” mean? Does it mean something different than “designated?”
Donors should read the second sentence carefully:
Contributions are income tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and are made with the understanding that Gospel for Asia has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.
As I read it, this sentence allows GFA to spend donations anyway they want to, even in ways that you might not prefer.
GFA might also be addressing the IRS requirement that donated funds come under the discretion and control of the non-profit. Is that the case now? Does GFA actually control what they give in India? In times past, the leaders have been unclear about how they do that.
I will say that the last sentence is revealing. I demonstrated early on that GFA has millions sitting in Indian banks. Last year, an Indian court ruled that GFA/Believers’ Church spent some of their funds in ways donors did not intend. Now, with this disclaimer, GFA can raise money using popular causes as a marketing tool, then take the excess and do whatever K.P. and crew want. If we can believe ECFA, it appears that donor intent has not been carefully followed prior to this new phrasing.
In any case, perhaps this new wording satisfies some legalese requirement, but it isn’t clear to me what GFA is promising.
UPDATE 2 (10/8/15) – This morning I noticed that now two-thirds of endorsements on the GFA website are now missing. Prior to the GFA’s loss of ECFA membership, there were 18 endorsers on the GFA endorsements page. Now there are six: Patrick Johnstone, George Verwer, Luis Bush, Dan Wooding, Suellen Roberts and Frank Wright.
Now missing are Francis Chan, Ray Comfort, Emeal Zwayne, William Blount, Katey Hearth, Karol Ladd, Sharon Geiger, Jeff Lutes, Ashley Elliot, Barbara Dowling, Terry Powell, and Megan Basham.
Only Ray Comfort and Emeal Zwayne have issued any kind of statement.
UPDATE: I just received this from Daniel at Living Waters: “Yes, at this time Living Waters has temporarily pulled its endorsement of GFA, while awaiting further information.”
I also see that another name has been pulled from the list: William Blount
Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing.
It remains up here.
More big names are missing from the Gospel for Asia endorsements page. Just recently, Ray Comfort and Emeal Zwayne, both affiliated with Living Waters, were featured endorsers of Gospel for Asia. Now their names and endorsements are gone.
If you check out the endorsement page now, those names aren’t listed. I wrote Living Waters for confirmation and will add any communication I receive.
I am not sure why someone would pull an endorsement but stay silent about it. Apparently, Francis Chan is taking this approach. Some of his endorsements are missing from the GFA website but he has declined to reply to multiple requests for comment on his position.
UPDATE: David Cooke, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Riverhead, NY has been pulled from the list of pastor endorsers (see Google cache).
Francis Chan once was here but now is not.
Yesterday, he was there:
Today, he isn’t:
He is also missing from this page as of this morning.
Chan’s recommendation is elsewhere on the GFA website, hence the question (Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing. It remains up here.). I have reached out to Chan on many occasions, including yesterday and today with no answer. It is possible that the overworked website staff at GFA haven’t been able to keep up and the other locations on GFA’s website will soon disappear.
Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing. His endorsement remains up here and here.
Actually, this was a result of sneaking the endorsement off the page.
Earlier this evening, Gospel for Asia leadership posted a response to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability after the ECFA voted on October 2nd to terminate GFA’s membership. The statement:
Our Response — ECFA
October 5, 2015
For more than 30 years, Gospel for Asia Inc. has been a member of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Gospel for Asia values and respects both the high standards of ECFA and the good advice they have given us.
This past year GFA had four extensive meetings with ECFA representatives about fiduciary matters. Although there were no findings of money missing, ECFA felt that some of our procedures and practices did not line up with their Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. GFA was grateful for ECFA’s input and put into practice every suggestion that was mentioned in these meetings. We were not always in agreement with ECFA’s conclusions, but were glad to continue in our relationship and make the adjustments that they advised.
Nevertheless, on October 2, 2015 the ECFA Board of Directors terminated our long-time membership. Although this is disappointing, Gospel for Asia accepts the decision with regret and sadness.
Our greatest concern is for our friends and donors who deserve an explanation as to why this cancellation happened. This will be given in due time through our regular communication channels. In the meantime, we thank our supporters for not jumping to conclusions until those explanations have been made and for continuing to cover us with their prayers.
The expansion of any organization is always filled with growth pains, and we look at these issues questioned by ECFA as a time to learn and grow, increasing our understanding in areas where we have been unintentionally negligent. While we will be working to improve our reporting of financial matters to donors, we will always be cautious about disclosing anything that may jeopardize the safety of ministry partners working in areas hostile to the Gospel. We continually look to the Lord for His wisdom and guidance in often complicated international financial and political environments. We believe that much of the conversation we have had with ECFA has indeed been part of the Lord showing us the way and how to walk in it. We are truly grateful for this part of our journey in learning how to better serve our Lord Jesus, our donors and sponsors, and our field partners as we go forward.
Gospel for Asia Leadership
Yes, GFA, your friends and donors deserve an explanation. Instead, GFA has again delayed and deflected donors with promises but no substance.
Essentially, GFA is claiming they did everything ECFA asked but ECFA dropped them anyway. Given that ECFA has no recent history of dropping organizations where leaders seek compliance after a period of non-compliance (e.g., Mars Hill Church), this is not a credible response and does nothing to inspire confidence in their stewardship.
In May of this year, I posted a video of a Believers’ Church ordination service which appeared to show ministers kissing the ring of Gospel for Asia Founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan has denied allowing anyone to kiss his ring during rituals of the Believers’ Church. The following video makes it clear that those being ordained are doing something in the vicinity of Yohannan’s hand. If they aren’t kissing his ring, I think any observer could be excused for believing they are.
In an over two hour staff mega-meeting held on May 14, 2015, Yohannan again denied that ring kissing has any place in the church. This meeting took place before the video became available but the audio where K.P. offers a full-throated denial of the practice has not been made available before.
Here is the audio followed by the transcript.
David Carroll: There is one question that I think is on many of your minds and has been I think batted around a bit among us and that is, it’s asked a lot of ways but I’ll just ask it from this question plainly: Has ring kissing ever been a part of the Believers’ Church clergy ordination ceremony? Or I’ll just add: or any, is ring kissing is it required anywhere or is it still part of any of those things? Has it ever happened and if it has, if it used to be something that we did in some ceremony, are we still doing that? Kissing the ring?
K.P. Yohannan: What’s wrong with you? (Laughter) I kill you! (more laughter) Danny, I asked you, what is the meaning of kissing the ring? I thought about finding out what it actually means and obviously there’s submission to you or whatever. Now, if somebody said, ‘I saw somebody kissing the ring of our bishop or my ring, I would not tell that person, you are a liar. But if somebody asks me in your conscience and knowledge, you had taught or asked or has anybody kissed your ring, I would say as God almighty is my witness, it never happened, I never allowed it.
As a matter of fact, the most common, when this rumor started spreading, some Calvary Chapel pastors supposed to go to India and met some disgruntled person who left our ministry and started telling, you know, they’re teaching about kissing the ring. I remember that story came to me and immediately I contacted the field and said, ‘please, you know, we don’t want to be seen as belonging to some other church teaching, please don’t do it, if there is any like that.’ They said, ‘no, we never teach or practice that.’ But then I started wondering why somebody think this. So my thinking is you know the most common thing in China, India, all these countries when you see elders, especially spiritual leaders, what they do basically is they touch the feet, you can see that. And then I basically walk away from that. It has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s just culture. But then what the answer is, no, we don’t practice that, we don’t teach that, we teach against it so that we don’t get labeled by some other denomination but even today when you go to the mission field (unclear), what happens is when you meet the Metropolitan or the bishops and what they do is basically and they start doing this, they take the hand and do like that, and it’s not typically everywhere be like that, in most places, the actually touch the feet and express their honor, their respect.
When people are ordained, this the standard thing and by the way, let me say this to you. I fortunately, unfortunately, I like or not, I’m two human beings. I’m brother K.P., hi, K.P., yo, dude, all that here, people call me by all kinds of strange names. But you know when I bought the flight and land overseas, many have seen me a million times, I don’t look like this, I have a cassock, and I’m the Metropolitan of the church and the spiritual father of 2.7 million baptized believers right now. And when you ordain people you whether I like it or not I just submit to the church; that is, there’s a chair, the Bishop’s Chair, that I sit on. If it’s not me then it’s Bishop _______ or Bishop ____________ and then people are ordained they come and they kneel to get the blessing, and they’re anointed by oil and make the sign of the Cross, and I tell them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now you are ordained minister of the church and that is done, that always be done. There’s not going to be any change in that; all cultures do that, I don’t know how it is done here, but they don’t fall prostrate before anyone or anything like that.
There is an odd near admission at the beginning (“I wouldn’t tell that person, you are a liar”), but then he clearly denies it and provides a narrative that makes the idea seem very far from the church. Given his description of the ordination at the end, I wonder why he didn’t explain what the newly minted minister was doing with Yohannan’s hand. In any case, no explanation has been given for the video.
It is hard for me to imagine how staff at GFA can watch the video in light of this denial. Clearly, some explanation is needed for this.
Recently, I posted audio of Gospel for Asia founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan promising staff that GFA would not take out a loan in order to build the new Wills Point, TX headquarters and living compound. Eventually, Believers’ Church in India (K.P. Yohannan was managing trustee at the time and he is also the Metropolitan Bishop and spiritual leader of the church) gave GFA in the U.S. $19.8 million toward the project. The church had to borrow money to make this donation. Furthermore, I asserted that an $11.5 million loan was taken in 2014 with the money used for the project.
Today, I post evidence for the 2014 loan. Below are images from the 46 page Deed of Trust.
GFA borrowed $11.5 million.
GFA May Have Kept Some Information Back
The agreement was based on the use of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and pledges that all material statements are correct. This pledge may be in conflict with the audited financial statement for 2013 which failed to disclose that GFA made related party transactions to Believers’ Church, Love India Ministry and Last Hour Ministry.
Furthermore, the bank (City Bank) was not informed that $19.8 million toward the building project came from a loan taken in India by a related party (Believers’ Church). Speaking as a non-accountant, this seems to be a significant and material omission. City Bank did not know that an entity related to GFA had taken a loan in order to provide GFA with funds. If City Bank took the audit at face value, they would have considered that $19.8 million to be a gift with no relationship to GFA anywhere in the world. City Bank might have reconsidered if they knew that an affiliate of GFA (and recipient of millions in U.S. donations) had to take a loan in order to keep the construction project going. The Bland Garvey 12/31/13 audit was completed in June 2014 and the Deed of Trust signed in July 2014. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine City Bank, an FDIC-regulated institution, making a $11.5 million loan in July 2014 without relying on the Bland Garvey audit report on the 12/31/13 GFA financial statements. That audit report included the misinformation on the source and nature of the $19.8 million previously raised and spent on the project.
In August, I pointed out that Gospel for Asia’s founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan claimed in May 2015 that he was not on any Gospel for Asia or Believers’ Church board in India. At the same time, court papers filed by Believers’ Church and GFA’s and BC’s own websites claimed he leads those boards. Then, I showed that after my posts, Indian Believers’ Church websites taken off line for “maintenance.”
Now, one website is back up with no mention of K.P. Yohannan as chair of the Believers’ Church trust or a member of the Believers’ Church Residential School management committee. Yohannan’s son Daniel has also been removed from the committee listing.
Yohannan may indeed have stepped off of the school’s management committee. However, there is no evidence that is has stepped down from the Believers’ Church board. He is the Metropolitan Bishop so even if the church removes his name from this web list, Yohannan remains the leader of the church.
More importantly, Yohannan was listed on numerous legal documents in India as managing trustee of Gospel for Asia and the Believers’ Church at the time the church took out a loan in India (early 2013) in order to give nearly $20 million to GFA in the U.S. for the purpose of building a massive headquarters and compound in Wills Point, TX.