Some Questions for Francis Chan, K.P. Yohannan, & Gospel for Asia about Believers Church and Ring Kissing

Francis Chan and K.P. Yohannan are out with press releases and a video conversation designed to rehabilitate Gospel for Asia’s reputation. Francis Chan is investing his substantial reputation in this effort and I hope it is worth it to him. The men are hoping to convince donors that it is safe to trust Gospel for Asia now that the mission giant has settled a fraud lawsuit with Garland and Phyllis Murphy.

In the Chan-Yohannan conversation, several questions are raised which demand answers if they expect to be trusted. In this post, I will take two issues which pertain to K.P. Yohannan’s (or as he is known in the Believers Eastern Church “Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan“) status as Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church in India. First, here is the segment of the video where he claims he is equal to the other bishops, and that nobody kisses his ring.*

Yohannan and His Power

Yohannan says “I have no greater power than the 30 other bishops.” I have questions for Chan and Yohannan about that statement.

According to the Believers Church constitution (see also chapter three), the Metropolitan is the “final authority” on all matters ecclesiastical and temporal.  Yohannan serves until he wants to leave and is the head of all bodies in the church. He can’t be removed. None of the other 30 bishops have that kind of power. The Metropolitan can appoint and disband committees and clergies, consecrate Bishops, and when he decides there is not a consensus of bishops he can exercise his “discretionary power.” No one else can do that.

According to the Constitution, the Metropolitan also is co-owner with Believers Church of all property maintained by the church. From Chapter three:

In 2005, local church pastors were reminded to register property in Yohannan’s name. This letter was sent to make sure they did it according to church policy.

And then finally, there is the 2015 email from former GFA Chief Operating Officer David Carroll to K.P. Yohannan which asked Yohannan how he could explain Yohannan’s claim not to be in charge of things in India. Click here to read a transcript of the email which came to light as a part of discovery in the Murphy v. GFA case. The relevant segment is when Carroll wrote 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.

As many former staff members and at least one former board member (Gayle Erwin) acknowledge, K.P. Yohannan has much more power than the other 30 bishops. Now, Metropolitan and Rev. Chan could you please explain why these documents tell a different story than you all told on the video?

Ring Kissing

Yohannan told Chan, “We do not have a practice of people kissing my ring.” Then what is this from K.P. Yohannan’s birthday video:

Yohannan wears his Metropolitan ring on his right hand.

Now review this video of an ordination ceremony. One can’t see lips to ring but it doesn’t really look like a hand to the forehead either. It appears to me that the priests are kissing his right hand.

While these matters are not as large as where millions of dollars went (see David Carroll’s email for more about that), they do make me question credibility. Chan and Yohannan want the public to believe every word they say. However, here is direct evidence my eyes can see which contradicts what they are telling me on this new video. What am I supposed to believe?

Since 2015, I have repeatedly asked GFA for answers to these kind of questions. I have asked them why K.P. Yohannan’s name is all over legal documents in India and why the Believers Church constitution says he is the supreme authority when at the same time. he tells American audiences that he isn’t. I have gotten no answers. Sorry Rev. Chan and Metro Yohannan unless you provide some answers that make sense, I will believe my eyes.

*On September 2, 2019, YouTube issued a take down notice of my fair use video clip of Yohannan’s and Chan’s conversation. Although I believe the clip was fair use of that material for the purpose of commentary, I am not going to fight it at this point because I can simply embed their YouTube version which starts at the point in the conversation where they discuss Yohannan’s role in The Believers’ Church.

Compare Gospel for Asia’s Image with Reality

In 2019, Gospel for Asia is celebrating 40 years in business. This comes the same year GFA settled a fraud lawsuit (Murphy v. GFA) for $37-million. The settlement was just finalized with about 26,000 claimants seeking just over $109-million. Not everybody will get what they donated but this shows that donors weren’t happy.

On their Patheos blog, an unnamed staff member wrote a glowing vanity piece about GFA founder K.P. Yohannan. I would like readers to compare that piece with an email from David Carroll to Yohannan from 2015. This email came to light during discovery in Murphy v. GFA. At issue in the case was the use of donor funds. Plaintiffs Garland and Phyllis Murphy contended that GFA didn’t use all donor funds as donors intended. As a part of fund raising, GFA made representations that the funds were all going to mission work and were urgently needed. The discovery process pulled back the curtain on GFA’s claims and found that the reality wasn’t always what they claimed.

The narcissism in this article is obvious. The blog is GFA’s and the person writing it is an anonymous GFA staffer and yet readers are expected to take the following statements at face value:

They, and others like them, can look back and stand in awe of how an Almighty God has blessed their ministries abundantly and beyond imagination.

I know a man exactly like that. His name is Dr. K.P. Yohannan. He is one of the humblest and most dedicated men I have ever known. Forty years ago, he responded to God’s call to minister to the millions of people in Asia. Little did he know that in 2019 he would be able to look back at the remarkable things the Lord did over the past 40 years.

By any objective assessment, GFA has not had such a good record since 2014. The organization has been embroiled in scandal, membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was removed, they lost other symbols of financial integrity, they lost their registration as a charity in India, at least one of their schools in India closed due to financial problems, and they have to pay a $37-million settlement to donors. Yes, K.P. is a remarkable CEO.

Leaving aside the fact that GFA hasn’t had a great record of late, the picture presented is that GFA is taking all of that money using it to help the poor and needy. Since all of this is done for the Lord, surely there wouldn’t be any deception or double talk.

Now let’s pull back the curtain a bit.

In the fraud lawsuit, an email from Chief Operating Officer David Carroll to CEO K.P. Yohannan surfaced which presents a different picture. Here is the email. 

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.”

“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.”

“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 (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.

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, 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 [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?”

There is much in this email which is inside baseball. One would need to follow this story closely to understand all of what Carroll is worried about. But note this: He is worried. He is worried because GFA was caught in misrepresentations and feared that Bruce Morrison from Canada and/or I would investigate the matter further to expose it all. And we did.

For the purpose of this post, I want to highlight one misrepresentation. K.P. Yohannan told people that he had nothing to do with finances in India, that he didn’t control anything financially there. However, here is what David Carroll said about that.

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.

Yohannan told the the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and his staff the story that he had no power over finances in India. However, in this email, David Carroll acknowledged that Yohannan’s story would “not hold up.” Click this link to hear the audio of the staff meeting in 2014 when he and Carroll told the staff about a $20-million gift from India which was used to complete the GFA headquarters in Wills Point, TX. The transcript can be read here.

Carroll could see there was a problem with donor funds going into a corpus fund (a kind of rainy day fund) and being spent on a medical center and other projects instead of on what donors intended. Yet, GFA was officially denying all of this. Eventually, the ECFA removed GFA from membership when these discrepancies could not be cleared up.

GFA still hasn’t admitted publicly that anything was ever wrong. They haven’t been readmitted to ECFA membership. They were sanctioned by a federal judge for delaying discovery during their fraud trial. There isn’t an indication that anything has changed. For all we know, reality is still much different from what they are presenting.

One aspect of the fraud case settlement which might serve to bring GFA into the light is the addition of two new board members to GFA’s board. Plaintiff Garland Murphy and an unnamed person will be added. Provided GFA honors the intent of the settlement, there may be some light at the end of this tunnel. For now, the public would do well to discern reality from image.

 

 

Believers Eastern Church and K.P. Yohannan Use Indian Law to Attack Critic

While using a defamation lawsuit to attack critics didn’t work well for Harvest Bible Chapel, it may have a different result in India for K.P. Yohannan and Believers Eastern Church.

According to this The Hindu article, The Believers Eastern Church is behind a charge of defamation which led to the arrest of a longtime critic of the church and Yohannan.  Anush Solomon Joy, aka Solomon Samaritan was arrested and then posted bail after being accused of defamation and attempted blackmail. Over the years, Anush has contacted me as well as GFA former employees with various concerns about GFA. He has published a rather fantastical booklet alleging satellite and microwave attacks.

My impression has always been that the gentleman isn’t making serious or credible attacks  and that he shouldn’t be considered a threat to Yohannan. That the church is taking on someone who has no following and isn’t taken seriously is surprising and disturbing.  Microwaves aside, perhaps Mr. Anush has stumbled on to something and should be given a second look.

Gospel for Asia is Encouraging People to Donate Settlement Funds Back to GFA

As a part of the settlement in fraud case Murphy v. Gospel for Asia, GFA agreed to set aside $37-million in a Settlement Fund to provide relief for donors as well as cover court costs and attorneys’ fees. GFA also agreed to have plaintiff Murphy join GFA’s board. Murphy and GFA will also work together to designate a replacement for K.P. Yohannan’s wife who will go off of the GFA board. GFA agreed not to appoint any other relative of Yohannan to the board.

The mission organization also agreed to comply with Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability guidelines and seek readmission to membership. GFA was kicked out of the ECFA in 2015 and has never requalified for admission.

Read the Settlement Agreement

In the mean time, GFA is seeking to get some of the settlement money back via donors. The email below comes from a current staff member who asks supporters to seek the funds and redonate them to GFA. Although this is meant to sound spontaneous and individualized, I have gotten word that the same appeal has gone out from several staff members. I can’t corroborate all of the claims in the email except those which are a part of the settlement. Here is the appeal:

Dear friends,

I come to you this morning, not in any official capacity or representing anyone else, but expressing my own thoughts as someone who loves and supports Gospel for Asia. I am writing to you about a matter of tremendous importance, for which I request your prayers.

I am sending this communication to all those on my regular prayer email list plus a few others that I thought would benefit to hear this.

As you may know, GFA has been embroiled in a class action lawsuit for the last three years alleging that the ministry has misdirected funds that people donated to the mission field. If you donated to the field any time in the last 10 years, then you are part of the class and you should have recently received a notice from the court informing you about the settlement of this lawsuit and your part in it.

So what does this settlement mean to you and to me? First, some background.

For over three years now, GFA has been in a legal battle to survive this lawsuit, and yet it has not even come to trial. In addition to the immense burden on GFA of carrying on its defense, paying for legal representation, and supporting the onerous demands of the court and plaintiffs for information, the lawsuit has repeatedly been used as fodder for a far-reaching negative public relations campaign which has greatly damaged the reputation and ministry of GFA.

As a consequence, despite having the evidence to demonstrate that “all funds designated to the field were sent to the field and used for ministry purposes” GFA has agreed to settle the lawsuit out of court. As GFA says in its official statement here, “The agreement to settle was, in part, precipitated by a concern that the ministry could continue to bear the weight of defending itself.”

The settlement means that, in return for the lawsuit being dropped and never renewed, GFA must pay 37 million dollars. There is a bit more to it than that of course, but essentially it comes down to money—1/3rd of which (about 12 million dollars) goes to the trial lawyer. You can read One donor’s analysis of the GFA Class Action Settlement for a summary of what the settlement means, or read the 45 pages of legalese in the settlement itself here. GFA also has an official FAQ.

You might well be asking, “If GFA is an organization which primarily exists to connect the American church to the work of believers in Asia, how does it have 37 million to pay this settlement?” The answer: GFA doesn’t have it. GFA’s field partners in Asia have decided to use their locally-raised funds to cover about two-thirds of the settlement cost, and GFA has twelve months to raise the remaining 11 million, none of which will come from donations to the work on the field. If GFA doesn’t come up with the 11 million before the end of that twelve months, it forfeits it’s security collateral—GFA’s International Headquarters campus in Wills Point, TX.

So what does the settlement mean to you and me? The 25 million dollars that remains of the settlement (after the trial lawyer’s cut) is where you and I come in. This money is designated for what is called “Settlement Relief” of the class members. Each of us in the class may claim up to 100% of the amount we donated to work on the field through GFA. Or we can claim nothing, and none of that money will come to us. Any money that is unclaimed after the claim deadline will be divided up by the court between five ministries: Samaritan’s Purse; Friends of Israel; Global Training Network; Heaven’s Family; and Christ for All Peoples. Regardless of whether anyone makes a claim against the settlement fund, GFA will still have to pay the full amount of the settlement.

This brings me to my decision about my response: Because I strongly disagree with this lawsuit and what it represents, because of the great burden it has placed on GFA without any determination of wrongdoing, and because I want to do what I can to help God’s work continue in Asia, ______ and I have submitted our claim in this settlement for 100% of what we are eligible to claim. I plan to take all the money I can from my claim, minus an amount I will need to set aside for taxes, and donate it back to GFA to their general fund to help cover the 11 million dollars it has to raise for the settlement.

If you are also part of the “class,” will you ask God whether He would have you to do the same? And whether or not you are part of the class, will you please join me in praying that God will work a mighty deliverance for His people and for the work of the gospel?

To make your claim, all  you have to do is go to this link and fill out the online form. You don’t even have to know how much you are eligible to claim, the settlement administrator already knows that. You will need your “Class Member ID” which is in the settlement notification that you received by email or by postcard.

Regardless of what you decide to do, I hope this information has been useful to you. If you have questions, feel free to email or call me and I will answer to the best of my ability. And if you have found this email helpful, please forward along to anyone else you know who has donated to GFA and you believe might benefit from the information.

And finally, please pray that God will be glorified in this situation, and His will be done. I know that God is mighty and is in control. Many of the Psalms have taken on fresh life and relevance for me over the last couple years.

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

(Psalm 69:4)

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.          Selah

(Psalm  62:8)

If this was written by a staff person, I would guess they work in public relations. I suspect more that this was written for staff by someone hired by GFA.

Clever strategy but I doubt that this is what the court intended. I should add that the settlement isn’t final as yet. It won’t be until June 13 when the Final Settlement Hearing is held. I don’t know if this kind of action by GFA could put the settlement in jeopardy.

It is obvious that GFA’s leaders are unconcerned about any of the issues raised by the ECFA in 2015 or Murphy v. GFA. Despite being chastised multiple times by a federal judge and having to settle this case with a monetary settlement and by giving up a board seat to Dr. Murphy, they have taken no responsibility and show no humility or contrition.

Right now, there are food pantries in every town in America which need funds to keep going. If you donated funds to GFA, consider recovering those funds to help people who need essentials.

If you want to give to something more exotic, consider the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. The SCI helps protects children from parasitic worms which helps to decrease rates of malaria and HIV transmission. Benefits include improvements in neurological function and overall health. Survival chances increase dramatically when simple and cheap treatments are implemented.

Whatever you do, ask questions. GFA spins and promotes well but they don’t answer questions. For instance, numerous times I have asked, as have others, how they are getting funds into India since they lost their registration as a charity. The only answers given to others have all been false or misleading.

Gospel for Asia Class Action Suit Claims Process is Now Open

I just saw the following notice which is relevant to donors to Gospel for Asia. The claims process for the $37 million settlement in Murphy v. GFA is now open.

Pursuant to the proposed class action settlement with Gospel for Asia (and the individual defendants), the claims process is now open. Class members should have received individual notice by mail and/or email from the Settlement Administrator, Heffler Claims Group.

Filing a claim is simple – either:
1. Complete and return the Official Claim Form included with the Notice; or
2. File your claim online at www.gfaclassaction.us

Both ask you to agree or disagree with the list of donations (provided to the Settlement Administrator from GFA) on the website. To review the list, click on the “Donations List” tab on the website and insert your Class Member ID (found on your claim form). If you cannot find your Class Member ID, you may contact the Settlement Administrator using the appropriate prompts on the website.

Importantly, the claim deadline is July 11, 2019.

Should you have any questions, you may contact the Settlement Administrator at (844) 367-8894.

Funds may be recovered via this action and donated to another organization. If you need a reminder of the problems at GFA, please see this post (and this one) and re-read the report of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Remember that the ECFA removed GFA from membership in October 2015 due to multiple violations of financial standards. GFA promised to seek reinstatement. However, it is now 2019 and GFA still has not done so.

Gospel for Asia’s Headquarters Funded by Canadian Donor Funds – Guest Post by Bruce Morrison

Bruce Morrison is a pastor in Nova Scotia, CA and a former Gospel for Asia supporter. In recent years, he has actively sought to bring to light GFA’s practices regarding fund raising and spending.

In this guest post, Morrison documents and describes the path of funds from Canadian donors to India and then the Wills Point, TX where they were spent to complete the GFA headquarters. The routing of money from Canadian donors who thought they were spending money to help poor India people to the Wills Point campus should be of interest to Canadian authorities. It makes me think that the source of funds to pay the court settlement will likely come from Canadian donors. Thanks to Rev. Morrison for this analysis.

…………………………………………..

Bland Garvey CPA, from Richardson, TX, was the accounting and auditing firm that prepared the financial statements for GFA-US in 2013.  In their audit notes they stated that $19.8 million was received from an anonymous donor to help fund the construction of the new GFA head office complex in Wills Point, TX. Later, it was disclosed that this money did not come from an anonymous donor, but instead came from Believers Church in India.  Apparently, the auditors did not research the validity of what they had been told by GFA as one would expect, especially given the large amount of money involved.

The idea that money sent to India designated to spread the gospel and help the poor was later returned to the US for an expensive building project was disturbing to donors who learned of this.

Three years passed.  In a US federal court hearing with plaintiffs Garland and Phyllis Murphy versus GFA defendants, a new and surprising revelation came to light. The $19.8 million for the US building project did not come from India – it came from Canada!

The court hearing took place on May 16, 2017.  On Pg. 32 of the hearing transcript, Judge Timothy Brooks referred to the $20 million that came from GFA-India and the plaintiff’s claim that this money was donor restricted, diverted away from donor’s intents, without donor’s knowledge, and was therefore used fraudulently.

In response, to assure the Court that US funds were not misappropriated, Robert Mowrey, lawyer for the defendants, on page 32, lines 4-19, stated:

The documents – – your Honor, this gets a little complicated, but the documents we have provided to the plaintiffs show that the $20 million did not come from any US donors.  This was $20 million that GFA-India had.  It was their money.  It was sitting in an account in Canada.

There were Canadian donors who had given this money to GFA-India to be used in various     purposes.  GFA-India directed that money to be given for the campus and then GFA-India fulfilled requests, the specific requests from internal money in GFA-India to replenish the Canadian account.

The bottom line here is that – – and I don’t know if the Court followed that but the bottom   line here is that none of the $20 million came from any  US donors.

To this the judge replied:

Well, it says in the second sentence that GFA staff confirmed that the funds relating to this donation were originally received by GFA as gifts restricted for the field.

Thus, Mr. Mowrey attempted to avoid allegations of fraud by saying that US-donor money was not used to help fund the new GFA head office. The judge did not agree and contended that even if the $20 million came from Canadian donor-restricted funds they were still – donor restricted!  In other words, fraudulent use by GFA-US of Canadian funds was equally as fraudulent as if the money came from US donors.  For the judge, the country of origin was not an issue.

As incredible as it seems, the lawyer for GFA implied that GFA-US did not defraud US donors, only Canadian donors – as if to say Canadian donors didn’t matter – it’s OK to cheat Canadians!

It is amazing beyond words that unsuspecting Canadians gave close to $20 million USD to help build an elaborate GFA complex in the USA, all the while believing their donations were spent in India.

The idea that GFA-India money sent from Canada was later replenished by GFA-India in India is absurd.  Why not send the money to the US directly from India in the first place?  Even if GFA did replenish the Canadian fund, it would still mean that Canadian donor money was not used as donors intended.

More Evidence of Possible Canadian Violations

Later, at a February 16, 2018 hearing, evidence was given that GFA World in Canada possibly breached laws set forth in the Criminal Code of Canada on many counts and might also be guilty of non-compliance with several CRA regulations.  (GFA World was formerly known as GFA-Canada.)

On page 62, reference is made to GFA’s Indian bank account. Deposits to this account were made from GFA-Canada’s main bank account at a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in Hamilton, Ontario, and from there large sums were transferred into an “Indian account” which, in fact, was not located in India, but was actually just a separate account in the same RBC bank.  GFA falsely led donors to believe that their donations had gone to India and were used for the reasons the gifts were given.  The truth was exactly opposite to their claim – the money was still in Canada.

Also on page 62 of the transcript, reference is made to a letter sent by David Carroll from GFA-US to Sarah Billings of the RBC in Hamilton, requesting that she transfer $20 million from GFA’s Indian account to GFA’s head office in the US.  On page 63, Mark. Stanley, lawyer for the plaintiffs, referred to a document showing that this money was received at the GFA head office in Texas.

Apparently, money sitting in the GFA-India RBC account grew to tens of millions of dollars and sat there for an undetermined number of years.  These massive amounts of cash undoubtedly earned interest that aided growth.  No one other than KP Yohannan and a few of his confidants knew of this. Apparently, even Canadian board members were not informed

A search of FC-6 sites In India FYE 3/31/2015 and FYE 3/31/2016 shows that for the first time, GFA entities in India reported that they received money from Canada

CANADA TO INDIA FYE 3/31/2015
From To INR USD CAD 
GFA-Canada Ayana (GFA) 658457500       10,798,703    12,247,310
GFA-Canada Believers Church       933660000       15,312,024    17,366,076
GFA-Canada Last Hour       109840000         1,801,376      2,043,024
GFA-Canada Love India       110393900         1,810,460      2,053,327
Total     1812351400       29,722,563    33,709,737

This is the first year that GFA entities in India reported receiving money from Canada. For the year that ended 12/31/2015, GFA-Canada stated on their T-3010 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) 2015 Registered Charity Information Return, that they sent $11,105,054 to India.  However, the amount reported as received by GFA entities in India from Canada for the period is vastly different – approximately three times the amount.  Such discrepancies are common practice for GFA.

      CANADA TO INDIA FYE 3/31/2016
From To INR USD CAD
GFA World Ayana (GFA)     219660000         3,294,900      4,393,200
GFA World Believers Church   1953422565       29,301,338 39,068,451
GFA World Last Hour     614395950         9,215,939    12,287,919
GFA World Love India     695898469       10,438,477    13,917,969
Little Hills Believers Church       44077968 661,170 881,559
Total from Canada   4027454952 52,911,824 70,549,099

The following year GFA-Canada, on their 2016 T-3010 Registered Charity Information Return, did not report to the CRA the huge $70,549,099 that was sent to India. They made no mention of their secret Little Hills Corporation. To say the least, their misstatements to the Canadian and Indian authorities are startling.

Follow the Money

In a recent article in the Christian Post, Francis Chan defended Gospel For Asia against allegations of fraud due to misappropriation of finances.

I have great respect for this man of God. He is a gifted Bible expositor and motivator to love and good works.  Bible study groups in my church use his study materials and benefit greatly from them.

I described to an elder in my church the position Francis Chan has taken regarding GFA.  He thought for a moment and then spoke of the gifts of the Spirit as described in the New Testament, comparing ministry gifts to gifts of administration.  He indicated that there is no doubt that Francis Chan is a gifted minister but added that this does not mean he has the same strength when it comes to functions of administration.  Discerning the true nature of GFA’s troubling practices, particularly those by KP Yohannan, cannot be made by one whose eyes are blinded to key facts, regardless of the esteem in which that person is held for other reasons.

I spent three weeks as a guest of GFA in India.  I spoke in Kerala at their seminary and later to their head office staff. I toured with some of their leaders and spoke at their Bible training centre and at some of their churches in Tamil Nadu. I travelled to Sri Lanka to speak at their Bible training centre in that country. My daughter, Sharlene, attended the GFA seminary in Kerala for two years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the year 2000. The teaching staff were well qualified and spiritually minded   Sharlene, along with two others, were the first students from the West to attend the seminary. Prior to this she served as a volunteer at GFA’s head office in Dallas, TX, for six months and after graduation she worked at GFA’s Canadian office. My church supported GFA for twenty years.

Nothing in our experience indicated that anything was wrong.  I was a strong supporter of GFA and an avid advocate of their ministry encouraging others to support them. As far as I knew there was every reason to applaud voices such as Francis Chan’s in endorsing GFA.

However, the day came when I began to learn that things might not be what I had thought they were.  I began to enquire.

Where Is The Field?

My first letter to GFA was dated March 27, 2015 and was followed by a series of letters.  When I questioned why $108 million GFA-Canada reported to the CRA they had sent to India over an eight-year period was not reported to the Indian government that it was received, KP Yohannan responded by email and said:

In Canada, GFA India has a bank account owned and controlled by them. When all field donations come into our Canadian office, they are entered according to donor and designation preference by our staff at GFA Canada, and then deposited into the same bank account in Canada controlled by GFA-India.  So once the funds are deposited into that account, they are considered received on the mission field and available to the field immediately.

That money deposited in a Canadian bank was considered to be “on the field” was both surprising and alarming.  The full impact of this did not become apparent until the Murphy v. GFA court hearings took place and until GFA entities in India reported their 2015 and 2016 foreign incomes.

“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) is wonderfully true.  It is also true that, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1Corinthians 4:6).

Essential to true love is a love of truth, and valid discernment cannot be devoid of truth.  The truth of GFA’s deceptive financial practices as evidenced by its use of Canadian donor money is but one example of a much greater picture that remains hidden from the view of many due to repeated denials of the truth.

I pray that someday soon this will end.

……………………………..

When the recent court settlement says that all moneys sent “to the field” were used on the field, it doesn’t mean much when “the field” is this loosely defined. Donors still need to be wary.

Questions for Superstar Francis Chan About Gospel for Asia

Francis Chan is a superstar pastor who has a franchise called Crazy Love™.  There is a Crazy Love book, study guide, website, ministries (plural) and store where you can “shop now” for all of Chan’s books. Like all superstars, he also has a church planting network. We used to call them denominations. His is called We Are Church. He is pretty cool.

Anyway, he is also a board member of Gospel for Asia. That has always confused me because GFA hasn’t had such a cool recent history. But Francis Chan thinks everything is fine. In fact, he is out saying that GFA hasn’t done anything wrong, telling Christian Post that he researched the matter with a trusted friend and found nothing wrong with GFA’s finances.

I have written Francis Chan in the past and he first had his Crazy Love assistant Chaz answer me. When Chaz didn’t actually answer the question I asked, I wrote back but Crazy Love stopped responding.

In response to Francis Chan’s statement about GFA, I still have some questions. Maybe someone at We Are Church or Crazy Love will tell someone who will tell someone who can ask Francis Chan about it.

Dear Francis Chan:

One, if there were no financial problems at GFA, then why did Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability take the rare step of evicting the organization from membership? In case you didn’t read the report, you can read all about it here. Chaz can print out a copy for you.

Two, why did a federal judge appoint a special master to oversee GFA during Murphy v. GFA? I think you know the answer. GFA couldn’t verify their expenses and the judge had given the leaders months to do so. Being sanctioned by a federal judge isn’t a sign of an honest broker.

Three, why does His Eminence The Most Reverence Metropolitan Dr. K.P. Yohannan need to have a personal fortune when he is the supreme Metropolitan of Believers’ Church in Asia? You looked at his tax returns in the U.S. but did you consider the vast wealth of Believers’ Church in Asia? How does being the patron of a state of the art medical center and medical college in India figure into one’s empire? Why does the church need a soccer team? What needs or wants are not met when the church supplies everything due to your position as supreme temporal and spiritual authority?

Four, why did GFA cover up the transfer of $20-million from Canada to India to the U.S. for the completion of the Texas headquarters? I assume you’ve been to the compound. I hear it is pretty nice. You probably wouldn’t need a big income if you have everything you need provided for you by donors who think their money is going to evangelism and poor children in Asia.

Five, why hasn’t GFA told donors that Believers’ Church and GFA lost registration as a charity in India? When Compassion International lost their registration, it made the New York Times. When it happened to GFA, GFA told several different false stories. It still isn’t clear how funds are getting into India, if they are getting in at all.

I have more questions but that should do for now. As a board member, you will be busy meeting your two new colleagues, Garland Murphy and whoever he helps chose to take Gisela’s place. Also, you all are going to have to raise the $37-million for the settlement. Since a lien will be on the Texas headquarters, you will be really busy raising money to pay the $11-million you can’t get from “the field.” Probably, raising $11-million to pay a court settlement is really going to keep the board busy. Donors might be a little skeptical of an organization raising money to pay former donors who settled a RICO suit.

Crazy.

Love, The Blogger

P.S. In case you haven’t read the Murphy v. GFA settlement, it is here.

Was Gospel for Asia Vindicated by the RICO Settlement?

Reading the Gospel for Asia press release about the settlement of Murphy v. GFA (RICO lawsuit), one might think GFA came away vindicated. In the settlement document, GFA proclaimed their innocence and both parties agreed that all funds given by donors “to the field” went “to the field.”

Read the Murphy v. GFA Settlement

However, GFA still isn’t being transparent with the public on multiple counts. The “field” is a big place and just because funds get to Asia doesn’t mean they were spent as designated by donors. In the course of discovery, we learned that GFA interprets “the field” as being the banks where funds are deposited after they leave GFA in Texas. Yes, funds were sent to “the field” but that doesn’t mean donor intent was honored once those funds left Wills Point, TX. The plaintiffs did not stipulate to that, nor did the settlement document attest to that.

In the past, I have provided evidence that GFA has collected funds to send to Asia but used them for purposes other than intended by donors.  A tax court in India also asserted the same thing. Then, there is the matter of $20-million which came back from Asia to help finance the Texas headquarters. Donors did not give $20-million to finance a compound in Wills Point, but at least some of those funds first went to the field before they came back to Texas for purposes other than what donors intended.

Furthermore, GFA still isn’t being transparent with donors about the charity registration situation in India. GFA and Believers Church in India lost their registration status in India and cannot directly take foreign contributions. No doubt GFA is sending funds to shell organizations in India but this flaunts the law there. I and others have repeatedly asked GFA how Bridge of Hope and flood relief funds are getting to Indian recipients, but they have given false answers. If GFA is actually going to try to get membership again in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the organizational leaders will have to be accountable to the public.

Although most of the GFA board remains intact, Garland Murphy and one more outsider will join the board soon. In addition, a subcommittee of the board –which does not include Yohannan or his son — will report to the federal judge for three years. All of this should make the board more transparent. When GFA will not answer questions or provide answers, I know two board members who will have no incentive to keep any secrets.

More than transparency, I hope the board becomes independent. The board will be required to learn about fiduciary responsibility and act accordingly. Given the precarious place K.P. Yohannan has taken GFA in recent years (loss of ECFA and NRB memberships, loss of recognition with federal government’s giving campaign, RICO lawsuit, etc.), I have to believe any reasonable board would have to look at his status as CEO. The track record isn’t good. Perhaps it is time for the board to act in the interest of GFA.

In short, GFA lives on but has not yet been vindicated.

Gospel for Asia Settles RICO Lawsuit; Agrees to $37-Million Settlement

In court documents filed today, Gospel for Asia settled with plaintiffs Garland and Phyllis Murphy by agreeing to set aside $37-million in a Settlement Fund to provide relief for donors as well as cover court costs and attorneys’ fees. GFA also agreed to have Dr. Murphy join the board of the organization. Murphy and GFA will also work together to designate a replacement for K.P. Yohannan’s wife who will go off of the GFA board. GFA also agreed not to appoint any other relative of Yohannan to the board.

GFA also agreed to create a board subcommittee which shall not include Yohannan in order to provide oversight for the organization’s compliance with the settlement. The mission organization also agreed to comply with Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability guidelines and seek readmission to membership.

Read the Settlement 

GFA continued to deny wrongdoing but nonetheless agreed to establish a stunning settlement fund of $37-million.  GFA will raise the $37-million as follows:

GFA-USA will fund the Settlement Fund as follows: (a) within thirty (30) Days following entry of the Preliminary Approval Order, GFA-USA will transfer $26,000,000 to the Settlement Administrator (via wire instructions provided by the Settlement Administrator to GFA-USA) to an interest-bearing escrow account; and (b) GFA-USA will raise $11,000,000 within twelve (12) months of the date of the entry of the Final Approval Order, which will be transferred to the Settlement Administrator (via wire instructions provided by the Settlement Administrator to GFA-USA) to an interest-bearing escrow account, on or before the end of the twelfth month after the Agreement is executed.

GFA Headquarters Will Be Held as Security

GFA may try to raise funds to pay donors via new donors. In order to make sure the funds are paid to the class members, the headquarters will be held in a deed of trust. GFA has to come up with the money since the main campus is on the line. From the settlement:

To the extent the funds to be raised under Section 4.2.2(b) are raised through donations, they shall be raised through solicitations for general ministry purposes. To secure the obligation of GFA-USA to fund the additional $11,000,000 to the Settlement Administrator, GFA-USA shall grant a deed of trust lien for the benefit of the Settlement Administrator against the GFA-USA campus, such deed of trust to be in the form attached hereto as Exhibit G (the “Deed of Trust”). At such time as the $11,000,000 is transferred to the Settlement Administrator pursuant to Section 4.2.2(c), the Deed of Trust shall be released.

This is a stunning outcome and should be a warning to all nonprofit organizations, especially megachurches. Donors are watching and want to know where those funds are going. GFA is spinning this already on their website but this is a staggering blow to an organization and group of defendants which once bragged that they were above reproach.

I will have more coverage of the settlement over the next few days.

Gospel for Asia Drops Case Against Liability Insurance Company

In August 2018, I reported that Gospel for Asia sued Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company over unpaid attorney’s fees. GFA asserted that their legal costs should have been fully covered by Philadelphia. The insurance company countered that they paid all fees they were required to pay.  The defendant insurer argued consistently since August that the case should be dismissed.

Earlier this month, the case was dropped by GFA. According to a court filing dated January 2, 2019, GFA stipulated to the following:

Plaintiffs Gospel for Asia, Inc., K.P. Yohannan, Gisela Punnose, Daniel Punnose, David Carroll and Pat Emerick (hereinafter “Plaintiffs”), and Defendant Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company (“Defendant”), file this Stipulation of Dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii).

1. Plaintiffs sued Defendant seeking damages under insurance related causes of action.

2. Plaintiffs wish to dismiss their claims against Defendant without prejudice.

Since the case was dismissed without prejudice, GFA could later bring an action. However, for now the suit is over. There is no way to tell if the insurer paid more money.  There is no hint or indication that the insurer budged on that point.

GFA’s class action fraud suit is slated to be tried this year.