Obviously, Gospel for Asia founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan wants people to believe he doesn’t sit on any boards of Believers’ Eastern Church in India. Even though he is the Metropolitan Bishop of the church, he told his own staff and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability that he wasn’t in authority. Now I have found a financial statement filed in the UK where he claims he isn’t on BEC’s board (see note 10). See below:
10 TRANSACTIONS WITH DIRECTORS/TRUSTEES AND RELATED PARTIES
During the period, none of the Trustees of GFA World received emuneration from the Charity (2015 anil).
On 18th October 2016 a donation of F1,660,000 was made to Believers Church India to further the Charity’s objectives. Kadappilaril Yohannan Punnose, is Metropolitan Bishop of Believers Church, which is GFA World’s primary recipient of funds. Whilst he does not sit on the Board of Believers Church and receives no remuneration from Believers Church, he does exercise spiritual oversight through his role as a member of Believers Church’s Council of Bishops. Daniel Punnose is the son of Kadappilaril Yohannan Punnose and is an ordained minister and is a Bishop of Believers Church (among many), but has no formal leadership role in Asia. He is not on the Board of Believers Church and receives no remuneration from Believers Church India.
Gospel for Asia (US) funded a number of radio broadcasts in the UK and provided some administrative support for many of the appeals and communications with supporters in the UK. Kadappilaril Yohannan Punnose and Daniel Punnose are both members of the Board of Gospel for Asia (US) and received remuneration from Gospel for Asia (US) for their services.
On 24th May 2016 a donation was made to Gospel For Asia (US) for 282,000 for two months of “Road to Reality” radio broadcasts in the US. Two of the trustees of GFA World are also trustees of Gospel for Asia (US), and as such were not present in the meeting where the decision was made to make the grant
FOrmer GFA COO Appeared to Admit What Seems Obvious
In a February hearing, an email from former Gospel for Asia COO David Carroll to Yohannan was quoted by attorney Marc Stanley. Atty Stanley represents Garland and Phyllis Murphy who are suing GFA and various officers of the organization alleging fraud and misuse of funds. In this citation, Carroll reminds Yohannan that they have told the public Yohannan has nothing to do with finances and is only the spiritual head but implies such a representation isn’t true.
We can say all we want that we don’t have anything to do with the Believers Church or the field and that you are only the spiritual head of the church and that finances are handled by others but you, but as a practical
matter, that will not hold up.
This post is the second in a series covering a February hearing in Murphy v. Gospel for Asia. Former donors, Garland and Phyllis Murphy are
suing the leaders of Gospel for Asia in federal court claiming that GFA did not use donor funds as donors intended. Recently, the transcript of the hearing became available. If you are a GFA donor or are thinking about being one, you should read it. It is available via this link with commentary in my first post on the topic. This post discloses the concerns GFA leaders had about being investigated even as they were telling the public they were no problems.
One of the bombshell revelations in the February hearing is the disclosure of an email from David Carroll to K.P. Yohannan which suggests that both men may have misled GFA staff members in May 2015. The Murphys’ attorney Mark Stanley read the email into the record. According to Stanley, in May 2015 then GFA COO David Carroll wrote to GFA founder K.P. Yohannan about his concerns over financial reports and truthfulness. From page 64 to page 68 of the transcript, attorney Stanley cited the email with his comments interspersed throughout. David Carroll’s words are in quotes. I have reproduced Stanley’s testimony below. Click this link to read the segment of David Carroll’s email to K.P. Yohannan without attorney comment
MR. STANLEY: What’s really interesting to me also, if I might just take one second and read pretty much one of the key documents in the case. This is an e-mail from Reverend Carroll, David Carroll, to K. P. Yohannan, and I think it’s really important because it really will put it back into perspective what’s going on: “Sir, I need to share with you where I am over this situation.” I’m right here. “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” — which they rely on quite a bit in their answers, if you recall — “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,” [Stanley remarks] which they told us did not happen.
“I think that India feels that we raise money and send it” –[Stanley remarks] by the way, Mr. Mowrey said that in a prior hearing, that none of the money went to the hospital. “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.” [Stanley remarks] This doesn’t sound like someone who has already got accountability, knowing how they spent the money.
“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.” Next page.
MR. MOWREY: Could he read the rest of that letter, your Honor?
MR. STANLEY: I am.
MR. MOWREY: Okay. Good.
MR. STANLEY: “It doesn’t matter that we have now moved the money out of the corpus fund” — [Stanley remarks] this is now after the ECFA thing — “because of public FC-6 reports” — I’m sorry. It’s backwards. Sorry. That’s not right, either. That’s right.
“It doesn’t matter that we have now moved the money out of the corpus fund because according to the public FC-6 reports, we have been building them up for years. Moving the money only serves to confirm the feelings of guilt to outsiders.”
Again, they have not been spending the money. They have been building up the corpus funds for years. “I think the only way for us to handle the inquiries raised by Bruce and others is to refer them to our Indian office. Mr. Throckmorton” — that’s the blogger — “(unless a miracle happens) will get this information and may even begin an investigation of us. We can say all we want that we don’t have anything to do with the Believers Church or the field and that you are only the spiritual head of the church and that finances are handled by others but you, but as a practical matter, that will not hold up. Can the field find a way out of this situation? I too am very nervous.”
“I have always believed in total accountability of the field, yet the FC-6 reports provide numbers that, as a former auditor, I cannot just explain away with a simple explanation. I, and the world, will need numerical proof now, and I do not have the ability to get it from the USA end. Only the field can explain it, and I am in the hot seat in this crisis and I feel a lot of pressure.”
[Stanley remarks] I would point out, Judge, this was in 2015, May of 2015, almost three years ago. You pointed out that our discovery was served in August. ECFA asked them for this information in May of 2015. They’ve had three years to compile this information, and they just don’t have it because it doesn’t exist. Nobody ever tracked the designations because they were simply spent out on the — once they were sent to the field, they were done with it. There was no accountability. It goes on to say, “If I say, well, it is not my problem, it’s a field problem, it’s as good as saying we are guilty of misappropriation,” [Stanley remarks] which is true. If I say “The FC-6 reports are filed inaccurately on purpose, due to the hostile environments we work in, it gets the field in trouble and turns the attention to them. I get the feeling that, although we are not financially dishonest, we are financially reckless. The stockpiling of money in the RBC — [Stanley remarks] Royal Bank of India account — “and then the hurried transferring of it to the field, the Hong Kong account, et cetera. Sir, may I please have my name taken off of the RBC account as soon as possible?”
First, let me say that a miracle didn’t happen, if you know what I mean.
David Carroll expressed anxiety about accountability in this email. He acknowledged that either donor funds were diverted from Bridge of Hope and National Ministries to the Believers’ Church Medical Center or the reports were filed incorrectly with the Indian government. There seems to be little doubt that the funds were used for the hospital as I first reported in May 2015. Carroll was fearful that Bruce Morrison and/or I would launch an investigation into the obvious discrepancies. He was right about that. In response to us, he refused to answer any questions and denied any problems.
Furthermore, in a telling admission, Carroll said to Yohannan:
We can say all we want that we don’t have anything to do with the Believers Church or the field and that you are only the spiritual head of the church and that finances are handled by others but you, but as a practical matter, that will not hold up.
GFA leaders told ECFA that they had no control over Believers Church. See yesterday’s post for a run down of what GFA told ECFA about that. In addition, K.P. Yohannan told his Texas staff in May 2015 that he didn’t sit on any boards and had no authority in India. David Carroll was sitting right beside him. This email suggests that he knew it wasn’t accurate when Yohannan said it.
Publicly, GFA said they were operating in accord with the law, ECFA standards, and best practices. However, behind the scenes we now learn that there was worry, pressure, and a more candid assessment of the situation even as the confident and sunny messages were being disseminated.
What should we believe now?
In another sign that Believers’ Eastern Church continues to move away from evangelical roots, the church celebrated a “sacred ceremony” using specially prepared and blessed holy oils on the Thursday before Easter. While common in Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran services, use of anointed oils is less common among evangelicals who deny that the oil has any special properties.
From the church Facebook page:
This year’s #MaundyThursday was a historical day for the Believers Eastern Church. Following the Biblical and Eastern Church traditions, we had the sacred ceremony of the Blessing and Consecration of the Holy Oils, which were consecrated by Metropolitan Dr. KP Yohannan in the presence of our Bishops, selected priests, deacons and laity representing the entire church. The process of making these oils started several weeks ago and has been done in a complete atmosphere of prayer and fasting. These holy oils which are known as ‘Myron’ or ‘Chrism’ will be used for the sacraments such as baptism and also dedication of churches, church altars and utensils for the Eucharist and to anoint and pray for the sick.
Believers Church Validates Claims Made by Former Staff
Gospel for Asia’s public problems began when a large group of former staff members, known as the GFA Diaspora, approached GFA leaders and board members in 2014 with five concerns about the organization. At the top of the list was this:
GFA leadership practices and teaches a false view of spiritual authority
As evidence that K.P. Yohannan had inappropriately elevated himself to that they considered to be an unbiblical level of authority, the former staff pointed to the practice of requiring followers in India to kiss Yohannan’s ring as well as church practices which appeared to reflect a Catholic hierarchy of authority.
To me, the issue here isn’t the correct view of hierarchy.* It is the credibility of GFA’s statements. In response to criticism of Yohannan’s ring kissing and other practices, GFA insisted that such practices didn’t exist and that GFA was thoroughly evangelical in practice. However, this does not appear to be the case, as indicated by photos of followers kissing Yohannan’s ring, and now this use of holy oil in a special manner by Yohannan.
*I mean no criticism of any religious tradition. I have my own views but what is at issue is the accuracy of statements by GFA’s leaders over the years. GFA’s leaders have at various times portrayed Believers’ Church as evangelical in practice. However, on the ground the church operates in a manner which places all power within the hands of the K.P. Yohannan, the Metropolitan Bishop. He is a papal figure with veto power over all church actions. The church celebrates his birthday as a holiday.
Gospel for Asia’s field partner in India is Believers’ Church. K.P. Yohannan is founder and CEO of Gospel for Asia and he is Metropolitan Bishop of Believers’ Church. GFA has sent hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to India to support Believers’ Church and Believers’ Church has built an impressive array of schools and medical centers in India. GFA tells donors in the U.S. that the donations go to spread the gospel and ease the suffering of the poor and needy in India and throughout Asia.
In fact, most of the schools and medical centers often charge market rates and don’t cater to the needy. Case in point is this report from the Deccan Chronicle about a man who had to leave Believers’ Church Medical Center in Kerala because his family couldn’t afford the high fees. From the Deccan Chronicle:
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.
According to the report, the doctor in charge at K.P. Yohannan’s hospital didn’t bother to call the receiving facility to find out if a ventilator was available. Since there was no ventilator, the poor fellow had to wait in the ambulance for over four hours until a ventilator was available.
The excuse given by Believers Church is telling. The spokeswoman said the receiving hospital had made excuses in the past about not having a ventilator. Apparently, Pillai wasn’t the first patient dumped by Believers’ Church Medical Center on the local public facility. How Jesus-like of Believers’ Church.
For those who have forgotten, recall that GFA promised to regain their membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. That promise was made in October 2015 after being kicked out for multiple financial violations. GFA has not regained membership.
GFA’s RICO suit continues on with trial set for 2019.
Some past posts have aged well. The 2009 post regarding child abuse and non-heterosexuality has been in the top ten nearly every year since 2009. Readers continue to be interested in Mars Hill Church and various players surrounding the demise of that church.
Although the page views don’t show it, the story that continues to be covered here and almost nowhere else is the Gospel for Asia saga. The target of federal scrutiny and two RICO lawsuits in the U.S., GFA has also initiated and been involved in various legal actions in India. Although the scope of the GFA empire dwarfs other organizations I have examined, it continues to fly along under the radar.
For a profile of my work and the role blogging has played in it, see this lengthy article by Jon Ward in Yahoo News earlier this month.
To follow the blog on social media, check out and like
To like the Facebook page dedicated to the book Getting Jefferson Right, click here.
The learn more about the sexual identity therapy framework, go here.
In the event they prevail in their RICO suit against Gospel for Asia, the plaintiffs want to add GFA’s numerous related entities to the list of defendants. In a motion filed on October 4, Garland and Phyllis Murphy want the federal court to allow any judgment against GFA to apply to the many organizations around the world controlled by K.P. Yohannan and the GFA board.
Discovery is far from complete, but the Murphys have learned of at least 76 entities (thus far) that may prove to be alter egos of named Defendants GFA, Inc., K.P. Yohannan, and/or family members and close associates of Yohannan. (p.1)
The attorneys for the plaintiffs want the court to consider applying any verdict favoring the plaintiffs to these related entities, also known as alter egos.
…the best course of action under these circumstances is to address alter ego issues only if the Murphys first obtain a judgment against the named Defendants.2 But because the case management order is silent except for the approaching deadline to add parties, the Murphys—for clarity and out of caution—now ask the Court to explicitly build an alter ego phase of trial after verdict into the case management order. (p. 1-2)
The request is designed to protect against GFA moving assets to a related entity which has not been named as a defendant in the case. Since K.P. Yohannan and family are on the boards of these related entities, it is plausible to think they might move assets away from GFA to shield them from a judgment.
Lawyers Deny Yohannan Controls Related Entities
In a related response from GFA’s attorney’s filed on October 6, the defense team again asserted that K.P. Yohannan does not have control of entities in India.
The Field Partners are separate legal entities with their own governing boards. They are not controlled by GFA-USA or K.P. Yohannan, and thus Defendants do not have the authority to simply order them to produce documents. This separateness is important in India. (p.4)
GFA has yet to produce any proof that K.P. Yohannan has relinquished his control of Believers’ Church or any of the entities under their umbrella. According to numerous Believers’ Church documents, Yohannan is the supreme authority over the church and has the final word in matters of temporal and ecclesiastical control. As late as 2015, court documents in India refer to Yohannan as the managing trustee of Believers Church.
Alter Egos Listed
In Exhibit A of the motion to add alter egos, seventy-six possible entities are listed. They are:
1. Believers Church – India
2. Gospel for Asia – India (n/k/a Ayana Charitable Trust)
3. Last Hour Ministry
4. Love India Ministries
5. Believers Church
6. Believers Church – Bangladesh
7. Believers Church – Myanmar
8. Believers Church – Nepal
9. Believers Church – Sri Lanka
10. Gospel for Asia – Bangladesh
11. Gospel for Asia – Nepal
12. Gospel for Asia – Myanmar
13. Gospel for Asia – Sri Lanka
14. Gospel for Asia – International
15. Gospel for Asia – United Kingdom
16. Gospel for Asia – Germany
17. Gospel for Asia – Canada (n/k/a GFA World)
18. Gospel for Asia – New Zealand
19. Gospel for Asia – Australia
20. Gospel for Asia – South Africa
21. Gospel for Asia – South Korea
22. Gospel for Asia – Finland
23. Gospel for Asia, Inc. (TX Corp)
24. Gospel for Asia 75 LLC
25. Gospel for Asia 275 LLC
26. Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship
27. Bridge Builders, LLC
28. Cup Of Blessing, LLC
29. Grace in Action, LLC
30. In His Steps, LLC
31. Peace Givers, LLC
32. Road to Peace, LLC
33. Shepherd’s Care, LLC
34. Teaching Skills, LLC
35. Unconditional Love, LLC
36. Unfailing Love, LLC
37. Voice of Love, LLC
38. Way of Hope, LLC
39. Little Hills (Canada)
40. The Blind See (Canada)
41. The Lame Walk (Canada)
42. Lift Up Their Voices (Canada)
43. Growth in Fraternity Trust
44. Shekina Prophetic Mission Trust
45. New Hope Foundation
46. Holy Spirit Ministries
47. Rehaboth Indian Gypsy New Life Trust
48. Arul Shelter Home Trust
51. Heavenly Grace Ministry
52. Bridge of Hope
53. Cheruvally Rubber Estate
54. Believers Church Theological Seminary
55. Believers Church Residential School
56. Believers Church Residential School Tiruvalla
57. Believers Church Vidya Jyothi English School
58. Believers Church Mahatma Public School, Chavara
59. Believers Church Mahatma Central School
60. Believers Church Mulamanna VHSS
61. Believers Church Residential School, Orissa
62. Believers Church Residential School, Allapuzha
63. Believers Church Holy Angels Public School
64. Believers Church Grace Garden Public School
65. Believers Church Medical College Hospital
66. Caarmel Engineering College
67. Athmeeya Yathra Media
68. Athmeeya Yathra Television
69. Athmeeya Yathra Radio
70. AY Broadcast Foundation
71. Believers Church Medical Centre, Purulia, West Bengal
72. Believers Church Medical Centre, Konni, Kerala
73. Asha Grih Children’s Homes
74. Dora Microfinance
75. Gospel For Asia Football (soccer) Club – Myanmar Premier League
76. St. Johannes International School Rajasthan
For over a year, I have been looking for the deed of the Believers’ Church trust. I wanted to find it because I felt sure that it would demonstrate that CEO and founder of Gospel for Asia K.P. Yohannan was on the board of Believers’ Church. Since Yohannan once claimed he didn’t sit on any controlling boards in India, I wanted the trust document to check on that claim. More recently, a lawyer defending Gospel for Asia against fraud charges also claimed Yohannan doesn’t sit on boards of GFA affiliated organizations in India.
And by the way, just so you know, I am not legally on any boards, any trusts, anything in any of these countries. I have no powers to make decisions or sign money, or release money, or make decisions, I am completely legally…why? Because anybody who work in the United States or overseas countries have a board membership or have legal membership should not be part of their legal entities in India. It’s a conflict of interest and therefore we send the funds and it is immediately under the government watch care and the government of India is responsible and investigative agencies and tax divisions to make sure that is carried out within the time frame or whatever they do, that is a public thing.
Here is the big issue, and it doesn’t really have to do with bifurcation, but I think that the Court should give us some guidance on this today. If you look at their case management plan, we could go through. They have four pages, and we’re going to produce most all the things that they have asked for, except the problem that we have, Mr. Stanley [attorney for people suing GFA] has mentioned over and over how K. P. Yohannan just controls everything. There are many — there are entities in India: The Believers Church, GFA-India. K. P. Yohannan is not on the board of those entities. Is he the metropolitan? Yes, he is the Metropolitan of Believers Church. Does that mean he has access to all of their records? No, it doesn’t.
Now, Mr. Stanley doesn’t believe that. Mr. Stanley thinks that whatever K. P. Yohannan wants, he can get; but we have no problem in producing everything we can with respect to the entities that he has sued. But when it comes to wholly separate entities in India, that’s where the rub is.
In past articles, I have produced ample evidence that Yohannan is on the GFA (now Ayana Charitable Trust) board, the Believers’ Church board, the Bridge of Hope board, and the board of at least a couple of his for profit schools. Yohannan is listed as owner on the deeds to property owned by the church. However, I lacked the trust document which established Believers’ Church in India. Now I have the original 1993 trust document and a trust deed updated in 2004 (click the links to read each one). Point 10 leaves no doubt who is in charge in the Believers’ Church.
These documents show beyond any doubt that K.P. Yohannan is a founding trustee of Believers’ Church and that he remains in control of the business and religious operations. All of the NGOs operate under the umbrella of Believers’ Church and would provide documents for the court action in the U.S. if the Metropolitan Bishop ordered it so.
The list of GFA trustees in 2004.
It is possible that another deed has been filed since 2004. However, if that is true, it should not be difficult for fellow Patheos blogger K.P. Yohannan to produce it. He is, after all, the “constitutional head” and “supreme authority of the Church” who holds “the final word on all matters whether concerning policies or theological beliefs and activities of the Church.”
In a surprising development, the nation of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the registration of Gospel for Asia and three related organizations. According to the Times of India, Gospel for Asia (now called Ayana Charitable Trust) was the largest recipient of foreign funds in the nation during fiscal year 2016. The other affiliated organizations which lost registration are Believers’ Church, Last Hour Ministry and Love India Ministry. Believers’ Church is the ecclesiastical arm of GFA in Asia.
In India for a charity to accept foreign funds, the charity must be registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The organizations affiliated with Gospel for Asia have traditionally been among the richest in India. In FY 2016, these charities pulled in $206.5-million from foreign donors, most of that from the United States.
Gospel for Asia is the target of two RICO lawsuits in the U.S. Plaintiffs allege fraud and misuse of funds. At least one of these cases has been slated for trial in 2019. In October of 2015, GFA was evicted from membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability for multiple violations of EFCA’s financial standards. GFA vowed to regain membership in the financial watchdog but has yet to satisfy ECFA requirements.
In 2016, GFA was sanctioned by the federal Office of Personnel Management for failing to abide program standards. As a consequence, the U.S. government banned GFA from accepting donations from federal employees during the annual workplace charitable fund drive.
In 2015, it was learned that GFA leaders asked student visitors to India to take U.S. dollars into India without reporting the funds to customs officials.
Below is the cancellation notice on India Ministry of Home Affairs website for Ayana Charitable Trust (formerly Gospel for Asia in India).
GFA does business in India under other organizational names that apparently have not been cancelled (e.g., New Hope Foundation, Holy Spirit Ministries) but most funds go to the four cancelled entities. In practice, the move might not immediately hurt Believers’ Church and GFA in India because the organization has hoarded so much cash over the past decade.
The Church of South India was a charter member of the Kerala Council of Churches in India. However, according to a news report in The Hindu, CSI has pulled out of the KCC in response to the admission of K.P. Yohannan’s Believers’ Church into the KCC.
The background of the move involves the insistence by the CSI that Yohannan (also the CEO of Gospel for Asia) was not consecrated officially as a bishop and has no authority as such.
The latest development has to be viewed in the backdrop of the controversy over the episcopacy claims of the Believers Church that its head, K.P. Yohannan, was consecrated by the CSI Church.
However, the CSI has outrightly rejected this claim of the Believers Church, saying that the former has never done such a thing at any point of time.
The CSI Moderator, Bishop Thomas K. Oommen, told The Hindu that the regional forum of the CSI Synod members had unanimously decided to disassociate with the KCC and its programmes.
Yohannan and several bishops created the Believers’ Church due to the need to have a church in India to receive donations from abroad. However Yohannan claimed recognition from CSI when in fact the relationship is nonexistent according to CSI. The leaders of that denomination felt so strongly about it that they pulled out of the KCC to protest the recognition of Believers’ Church. To CSI, Yohannan is a lay person pretending to be a Bishop.
This is an intriguing video posted today by Indian Narada News.
If this video is what it seems to be, K.P. Yohannan’s India educational staff believe St. Johannes schools are named after Yohannan. While I am not aware of a formal induction into sainthood, Yohannan is the supreme authority in Believers’ Church.
The video establishes that Believers’ Church is working toward over 500 schools which will charge tuition. In some locations, the government requires some seats to be given to the poor. However, elsewhere schools are operated without charity as a goal.
American donors have for years been giving money thinking they were helping poor kids go to school. Some poor kids probably have gotten some education but much of that money has apparently gone into building a tuition generating dynasty for Yohannan’s church. GFA in the states still uses his book, Revolution in World Missions, which decries the use of mission money for schools and hospitals. It appears that donations are being solicited under false pretenses.
Things have been quiet here on the GFA front but this expose may bring renewed attention to the organization.