Will the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Hold Gospel for Asia Accountable?

I am not betting on it.
CashThe Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference ended yesterday with no public statements from anyone within the Calvary Chapel movement about Gospel for Asia. GFA exhibited at the conference but left their table unmanned much of the time according to sources there. Several pastors, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me that their church would soon drop support for GFA due to GFA’s public silence about various financial, personnel and leadership concerns.
Several sources have told me that GFA is holding up their membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability as proof that no real problems exist. Furthermore, GFA insiders have told me that ECFA executives have reviewed GFA’s finances and is privately expressing confidence in GFA. ECFA leaders have ignored my requests for clarification or explanation about the missing money, money carrying to India, etc.
Mars Hill Church similarly pointed to ECFA membership as an indication that funds were being used properly. Even as the church did that, Mars Hill made changes to their procedures to come more into compliance with ECFA guidelines. What I learned about ECFA via the Mars Hill experience and then later through ECFA’s handling of Faith Christian Church is that donors cannot count on ECFA to disclose problems with members.
Now ECFA membership is being used by GFA to avoid explanations of multiple concerns raised by around 100 former employees, former donors, and bloggers. In my opinion, ECFA is now responsible for whatever problems GFA manifests. Here again is a summary of issues that GFA and ECFA have ignored.

Millions of dollars are unaccounted for and GFA has not given any reasons or explanations. Now GFA is claiming that ECFA has seen the books and has given the all-clear.
Since GFA won’t be accountable, I publicly call on ECFA to provide information relevant to list of concerns listed above.
 

Gospel for Asia Exhibiting at Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference; Any Answers There?

Earlier today, Danny Yohannan (K.P. Yohannan’s son and in leadership at Gospel for Asia) tweeted the following:


GFA is exhibiting at the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference (watch live here). I wonder if GFA will address any of the CC pastors’ questions.
Tomorrow will be two months since GFA told me they would answer no more questions. GFA reps have time to exhibit at this conference but they can’t be bothered to address other matters such as:

In addition to the “awesome free materials” perhaps Mr. Yohannan could give some free answers to these questions. If anyone attending the Calvary conference gets any responses, please add that information in the comments or send me an email.

Former Gospel for Asia Staff Respond to K.P. Yohannan's Donor Letter: GFA Leaders Never Followed Through

Yesterday, I posted an email that Gospel for Asia donor services is sending to donors about the recent controversies, many of them disclosed on this blog. Today, the former staff have posted a response to the question: Is Diaspora willing to meet with GFA?
The letter from GFA CEO K.P. Yohannan did not address the questions about GFA’s financial dealings but did indicate that the former staff (now around 100) were to blame for lack of face-to-face meetings. This reply provides the other side of the matter.
To the question, is the Diaspora willing to meet? They say:

The short answer is: Yes.
However, we doubt there continues to be a reason to meet.

Diaspora had hoped from the beginning to meet with GFA leadership to address the concerns voiced in our first letter. As we moved forward through this process, we even chose a date with KP for such a meeting (October 2, 2014 and then October 13, 2014), but GFA’s leadership never followed through in actually sitting down to meet. Instead, we were told that Gayle Erwin was heading an investigation into our concerns and, as such, it was now out of KP’s hands and up to the board as to what to do next.

A part of the results of the investigation, according to the Diaspora, was a statement that GFA saw no reason to meet.

Several months passed until Gayle Erwin sent his final report in March stating that our claims were dismissed and that they would no longer be communicating with us. We took that to mean an end of any opportunity for a meeting to take place.

The Diaspora explain their reasoning for commenting publicly and deny that a demand for videotaping was the deal breaker:

We have been told that GFA is telling supporters that the only reason the meeting has not happened is because “Diaspora would not meet without it being videotaped” and GFA has been counseled against doing so by the ECFA. Therefore, they have accused us of not being willing to meet.
We think this is disingenuous, as it gives the impression that GFA did all they could to arrange a meeting and the only thing that led to failed negotiations was our demand that it be videotaped (see Aug 22, 2014). This is simply false. Again, see our Communications History for the whole truth.
The only meeting negotiations between GFA and ourselves were the emails and calls between JD and KP. If one reads, s/he will find that JD asked one time about it being videotaped and KP never even responded to that. Then KP announced the investigation. After that, the negotiations about meeting times simply stopped and KP never spoke directly to JD after that. We would not call that a failure on our part.

I encourage interested readers to examine the communications history and responses to other questions from the former staff group.
The GFA response so far appears to be to claim they want to be transparent but actually not be transparent. They have ignored calls to provide information which would address the many issues which have been raised.  I hope that will change. The silence from GFA is very loud.
 

Gospel for Asia Avoids Tough Questions, Continues the Spin

Beginning in mid-June, some donors and former donors to Gospel for Asia began receiving a letter from GFA CEO K.P. Yohannan. That letter is below. Yohannan doesn’t actually address any of the matters of smurfing money to India, surpluses in India, funds unaccounted for and the role of Yohannan in the Believers’ Church.
I am going to provide the letter along with my comments.

From: donorservices@gfa.org
Date:
Subject: Gospel for Asia
To:
Dear Friend in Christ,
Greetings in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Thank you for your commitment to the Great Commission and to Gospel for Asia’s role in seeking its fulfillment. While there is much to share with you about how God is working through Gospel for Asia and how we are seeking to reach the millions of souls still waiting to hear the Good News of the Gospel, that is, unfortunately, not the purpose of this letter. What I have to share with you today relates to criticism that you have recently heard about Gospel for Asia by several former staff members.
In June of 2014, we received a letter from 37 former employees outlining some concerns they had about the organization. After receiving their letter, our first reaction was to consider each of the charges made against us, asking God to show us where we may have been in error. With a desire to seek reconciliation with each person, we reached out one by one to all who signed the letter. Unfortunately, we were only given the opportunity to reconcile with one of the signatories. But we praise God for bringing about reconciliation with that one!
After unsuccessfully trying to seek biblical reconciliation with the entire group, our board designated one member to conduct a formal inquiry into the outlined complaints. To ensure a fair and unbiased process, I along with my wife, son and members of the board, recused ourselves from participating in the investigation. At the same time, our leadership team examined our human resources policies and procedures, making improvements wherever possible, and affirmed the freedoms afforded to those called to the work of Gospel for Asia. The board investigation concluded the following:
“We are broken-hearted and repentant that we damaged by our actions and attitudes any believer for whom we had responsibility by relationship.”
“[We] feel that your [the authors of the letter of complaint] other accusations are without foundation in terms of the fulfilling of our call to enlarge the Kingdom of God.“
I want to acknowledge there have been times when I have not communicated with enough grace nor with enough clarity when speaking to members of our staff. It has always been my goal to keep short accounts and ask the Lord each day to show me where I have offended someone, so that I might seek the forgiveness of God and the one I have offended. I am not perfect and thank God that he is gentle with me as I seek to serve him. I will not apologize for the zeal I have for God’s work, but I do sincerely apologize for the times I have been insensitive to those working along side me.
It grieves my heart that this matter has gained outside attention and is now causing distraction from our mission of reaching the people of Asia with the Gospel, and I wanted you to hear directly from me how saddened I am. I am grieved not only for those who have felt it necessary to take such actions against the ministry, but also for the people of Asia who do not currently know our Lord and Savior.
Because I believe that disputes among brothers and sisters in Christ should be handled in a manner that accords with the Scripture, I have not issued a blanket response and have chosen to not respond any further to incoming media requests for comments. We have no desire to carry out a dispute between brothers and sisters in Christ in front of a lost and dying world.
As our financial partner, I want you to know that we take the responsibility of stewarding your resources well with the utmost seriousness. While we cannot publicly disclose all of our financial information to protect the safety of workers on the field, we submit to an independent audit and the review of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
As I conclude this letter, I want you to know that Gospel for Asia’s motivation has always been to reach as many people as possible in Asia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and grow in our ability to reflect the character of Christ in our own organization. We want to fulfill our role in carrying out the Great Commission. And we want to reflect God’s love, wisdom and uprightness as we serve in his name.
Regarding those former employees with unresolved concerns, it is my desire to reconcile when possible and disagree in love when necessary, so that we might stand together in our commitment to spreading the Gospel throughout Asia. I hope you will pray for a speedy and godly resolution to this situation. But most of all, I hope you will continue to intercede for the millions in Asia waiting to hear of God’s love for them. May they come to know the One who died for them—and for me.
Please know you are extremely important to the mission of our organization, and I want to invite you to contact me with any further questions or concerns. Be assured that you will be heard.
For those who need the love of Jesus,
K.P. Yohannan
questions@gfa.org

Some comments. On the 37 former staff letter, please recall that it is now over 80 former staff that have raised the concerns. Yohannan said:

Unfortunately, we were only given the opportunity to reconcile with one of the signatories. But we praise God for bringing about reconciliation with that one!

GFA has had the opportunity to meet but hasn’t. Please see the former staff website for a history of this dispute between GFA and the former staff.
From the letter:

Because I believe that disputes among brothers and sisters in Christ should be handled in a manner that accords with the Scripture, I have not issued a blanket response and have chosen to not respond any further to incoming media requests for comments. We have no desire to carry out a dispute between brothers and sisters in Christ in front of a lost and dying world.
As our financial partner, I want you to know that we take the responsibility of stewarding your resources well with the utmost seriousness. While we cannot publicly disclose all of our financial information to protect the safety of workers on the field, we submit to an independent audit and the review of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

I and others have gone to GFA prior to publication on various matters and they have not replied. Furthermore, the financial matters are not Matthew 18 issues but rather part of accountability as a non-profit organization and public charity. The rest of this is a non-answer and another great illustration of how the ECFA isn’t working for donors.
Basically the message is GFA is too busy winning millions to Jesus and we can’t be bothered with petty questions. This is the same K.P. Yohannan that posted the following on the GFA website:

And if you hear something about Gospel for Asia that doesn’t sound right, would you please contact us—via email or phone—and let us know? Whenever there are accusations, we seek to immediately respond. We don’t walk away or cover it up. Most often, these are simply rumors or misunderstandings. And if we are wrong, we are happy for the opportunity to repent and make things right. We desire to walk in the light with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters.

The fact is GFA is not answering questions or responding, immediately or otherwise. With this new letter, K.P. Yohannan continues the spin.

More Questions for Gospel for Asia About 2013 Spending and Funds Unaccounted For

It has been nearly a week since I posted auditor Jason Watkins analysis of publicly available records of Gospel for Asia’s spending in 2012.  I sent the information to Gospel for Asia’s CEO, K.P. Yohannan, and COO, David Carroll as well as the president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Dan Busby. I asked them to provide information which would contradict Watkins’ findings. No reply.
Today, I want to post Watkins’ analysis of the spending in 2013. Over just these two years, if Watkins is correct, $90 million that GFA affiliates report as contributions to GFA in India do not show up in Indian reports (see both posts).
GFA Pie Chart 2013 F2
 
This is a similar break down as the 2012 chart.
I want to add that GFA may have some explanation for where the $47 million is. It may be that they give it away to other organizations in India (which might be a problem, see this report). If GFA ever responds with additional information, Watkins and I will adjust the analysis and other posts.
For those who are disturbed by these reports, I want to say that this analysis was done with publicly available records. These records are required by various governments and watchdog groups to keep organizations accountable. An examination of those records has led to this analysis and others I have previously published. I have in good faith asked GFA for explanation or additional information. However, COO David Carroll told me in May he would no longer answer my questions.
GFA stopped responding to my requests on May 7. For nearly eight weeks, GFA has remained silent as report after report has been published. To staff, leaders admitted requiring students to carrying cash to India, and told them it wasn’t illegal. GFA said their audit firm, Bland Garvey, said what they did was fine and legal. Then, they acknowledged that they have retained lawyers. However, at no time has GFA commented about why they violated their own financial integrity promises and possibly U.S. law to get hundreds of thousands of undeclared U.S. dollars to India.
My sources inside GFA tell me that some students have left the School of Discipleship over these issues and others including the conflicting stories over Believers’ Church bishops kissing His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan K.P. Yohannan’s ring at ordination.
On the GFA website, CEO Yohannan promises*:

And if you hear something about Gospel for Asia that doesn’t sound right, would you please contact us—via email or phone—and let us know? Whenever there are accusations, we seek to immediately respond. We don’t walk away or cover it up. Most often, these are simply rumors or misunderstandings. And if we are wrong, we are happy for the opportunity to repent and make things right. We desire to walk in the light with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters.

I have been contacting you since May with no answers. Rev. Yohannan, you walked away 55 days ago.
 
*This was written before the recent controversies. There have been other issues over the years I haven’t begun to examine.

An Auditor Raises Questions About Gospel for Asia's Promises, Spending and Unaccounted For Donations

I have been raising concerns for weeks about Gospel for Asia’s use of students to carry undeclared cash to India and unreported donations in India.  GFA remains silent and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability appears to be disinterested in the evidence submitted. Neither organization responded to my request for comment and information about this post.
On the other hand, I regularly receive emails from former GFA donors and supporters who have taken the information very seriously and have contacted GFA. Thus far, no donor who has contacted me has expressed satisfaction with GFA’s answers. Also, I was recently contacted by Jason Watkins, a former auditor with a Big 4 accounting firm who did a detailed analysis of GFA’s finances using information publicly available from around the world. I will post more of his material in coming days, but for today, I want to post an image depicting Watkins’ analysis of where GFA funds were spent in 2012. See below:
GFA Pie Chart 2012
 
I have posted information which addresses some of these issues, but this image brings 2012 together in one place.*
Jason had this to say about the chart:

The data from the FC-6 Forms for the 4 GFA NGO’s (Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope) were obtained and converted to US dollars. The amounts reported as received from foreign (non-Indian) countries were reconciled to the amounts reported as sent by Gospel For Asia, Inc. (US), Gospel For Asia-Canada, Gospel For Asia-UK, et al. This reconciliation shows that nearly half of the money sent from the west was not reported as received by GFA in India. That money is not accounted for. That is, of the $95 million that was spent by all entities, $45 million was not reported and $50 million was reported in India.
Further, of the foreign $50 million that was reported as received in India, an analysis of the ways that money was spent was performed. This analysis segregated and identified the specific expense categories (water wells, children, women, disaster relief, missionaries, administrative expenses, et al) to show how much was actually spent for the purposes indicated.
The amounts on the pie chart are a sum of the spending categories [called ‘utilised’ on the FC-6] reported in India on the 4 GFA NGO’s FC-6 forms, and then dividing each spending category by the sum of the spending of all GFA entities ($95 million).

The Indian government requires completion of the FC-6 form by registered charities. GFA has completed those forms but, as Watkins points out, the GFA affiliates around the world report sending more funds than the FC-6 forms show as received.
Watkins found reason to question several of GFA’s signature claims:

Gospel For Asia (GFA) solicits and collects over $90 million per year from trusting donors by using the following claims:

A detailed analysis of the actual spending by Gospel For Asia in 2012 reveals

  • 47% of the money ($45 million) is missing and unaccounted for. This was money donated by citizens of the US, Canada, UK, and other western countries. This money has not been recorded as received by the four Indian NGO’s (Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope) according to the FC-6 forms filed with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs. If there are other NGOs directed by GFA, then GFA should reveal this.

  • 21% of the money ($20 million) was spent on administrative overhead in the west (12%) and administrative overhead in the field (9%).

  • Only 31% went towards charitable expenses, and only 12% actually reached the needy. These are the items that are highly promoted as uses for your donations (water wells, disaster relief, humanitarian outreach, women, children, and missionaries).

  • GFA spent $0 on adult literacy and poverty and yet this is a huge promotional item.

I have asked GFA several times for information regarding these matters. However, GFA told me that the organization would answer no more questions. Regarding the claims of 100% going to the field, I have indicated before that much of the money is on the field, but it is sitting in banks.
Perhaps this is case of bad reporting on the part of GFA. Maybe there is some other explanation. I have acknowledged in the past that I am not an auditor and have been open from the beginning of my research to any information provided by GFA. However, when an experienced auditor examines the publicly available documents and comes away with these findings, I think it is past time for GFA to address these matters.
I have additional analyses to report and plan to do so in the coming days.
 
 
*Sources: Forms FC-6 filed by Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope with Indian Ministry of Home Affairs; Audited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia, Inc. (TX Corp); Gospel For Asia-Canada, Forms T-3010 filed by Gospel For Asia with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); Unaudited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia (Australia) Inc. filed with Australia Charities Regulation Commission (ACNC); Audited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia (UK) Ltd. filed with the UK Charity Commission; and other online inquiries. Local currencies were converted to USD using exchange rates at oanda.com for the relevant reporting periods.

Gospel for Asia's Leader K.P. Yohannan to Speak at Calvary Chapel Missions Conference

According to this website, Gospel for Asia’s founder and president will speak at Calvary Chapel in Downey, CA as a part of a missions conference. I wrote the church to ask if Yohannan plans to address any of the controversies swirling around Gospel for Asia and will add any answer I get.
Specifically, it is not known if any leader at Gospel for Asia is going to publicly acknowledge that the leaders prevailed upon their own students and ministry partners to carry envelopes of undeclared U.S. cash to India in apparent violation of U.S. law. Thus far, GFA has not apologized for violating their own financial integrity guidelines or requiring students as young as 18 to engage in smurfing of large amounts of cash to India.
There are other issues about which donors and supporting churches should be briefed.
GFA’s audit (conducted by Bland Garvey) failed to disclose three related NGOs which received funds from GFA’s American donors. Furthermore, between $30-50 million of money GFA said went to India in 2013 does not show up in reports submitted to the Indian government.
Another question I hope H.E. Most Reverend K.P. Yohannan addresses is the massive surplus of funds being stored in Indian banks.
Perhaps he could also address why he claimed he didn’t allow men being ordained to kiss his ring but a video shows the men kissing his ring.
An ongoing concern has been the stories of more than 80 former staff members who have unresolved problems with GFA. Current turnover in U.S. staff should be a red flag to any supporter.
Although this might not be of great interest to California church goers, maybe he could also say why GFA – India did not disclose to the Indian government the amount of money given to GFA – India by Canadian donors.
There are other questions and more issues to be raised, but these would be a good start.
 
 

Why Doesn't Gospel for Asia Report All Related Party Transactions?

The only audited financial statement Gospel for Asia makes available is from 2012 and 2013. In that statement, Note H reports Related Party Transactions. Generally, organizations are expected to disclose transactions with other groups where there are common board members or other common elements. In Note H, GFA reports contributions of cash to five related parties, all GFA affiliates in Asia. However, GFA failed to report other related party transactions to Believers’ Church, Love India Ministry, and Last Hour Ministries. I assume that the $58 million GFA claims that it sent to GFA – India includes money sent to Believers’ Church, Love India Ministry, and Last Hour Ministries. It would be good for GFA to clarify this, especially considering the discrepancy between U.S. and Indian reports. Give notice to the first paragraph of Note H:
GFA Related Party Transactions 2013
 
Believers’ Church, Love India Ministry and Last Hour Ministries are related parties, so why were donations to those organizations not reported? All are controlled by K.P. Yohannan which makes these resources under his control in India. More troubling is the fact that the American and Indian reports do not match up. Just looking at calendar year 2013 receipts (from GFA’s FC-6 reports to the Indian government), only $28.6 million in contributions to the four organizations controlled by K.P. Yohannan show up. This is a nearly $30 million discrepancy.
If one just takes this audited statement as written (GFA – U.S. gave $58.5 million to GFA – India in 2013), then the problem is much worse. In the reports filed with the Indian government for GFA – India, just over $6.5 million is reported as received from GFA -U.S, a discrepancy of $52 million. I assume that $22 million of that went to Believers’ Church, Last Hour Ministry and Love India Ministry but the audited statement omits those facts.
The practical matter is that donors dollars intended for GFA may be paying the salaries of bishops and clergy within Believers’ Church, or ordination services such as the one where those ordained were expected to kiss the ring of K.P. Yohannan.  Some dollars indeed going to GFA affiliates in Asian nations but other dollars are going to a denomination with K.P Yohannan as Metropolitan with all the administrative, personnel, and other costs associated with it. Another practical matter is the millions of dollars which GFA claims were sent to GFA – India but don’t show up on Indian reports.
Legally, failure to report related party transactions can be a big deal in the for profit world, but not so much in the non-profit sector. The issue is about why GFA and/or Bland Garvey failed to report it. Is there some reason GFA doesn’t want donors to know the largest share of contributions go to Believers’ Church? Did GFA tell Bland Garvey about the other three related party transactions. Or did Bland Garvey omit that information?  And where is the $30-52 million which doesn’t show up on Indian reports?
As always, if GFA has information which are relevant to this post, I invite them to present them. I will always present their side or information the organizational leaders believe to be relevant.

Phoenix Preacher Raises Red Flags Over Gospel for Asia

Last week, the Phoenix Preacher blog ran a post titled Red Flags over Gospel for Asia. The post describes a GFA donor’s attempt to get answers to questions which have come up in recent weeks. It is good to see donors asking questions but not so good to see the responses. The blog author raised some of the issues I have covered with this assessment.

GFA has felt that Throckmorton has been unfair to them and takes them out of context and so they have chosen to stop communicating with him in any efforts to clarify the concerns he raises. In my phone conversation with the GFA rep, he did give me explanations to some of the concerns raised by Throckmorton. However, some of the explanations seemed to me more like trying to put a positive spin on things rather than giving good solid evidence and rationale. Meanwhile, Throckmorton continues to raise more concerns as he uncovers more and more suspicious looking information. Here is a link to all his GFA articles: https://www.wthrockmorton.com/category/gospel-for-asia/

I plead not guilty to this charge. Up to and including the last email from David Carroll, I included the information Carroll sent on behalf of GFA. Here is what he said in his final email:

No, Gospel for Asia has not violated the law.

When you first contacted us, I mentioned that we would not be able to respond to every question you put before us. Now, with the increased volume and frequency of your questions, it has become clear that this back and forth has become a distraction from our mission work. For this reason, this will be my final response. We understand that you will continue to explore issues around Gospel for Asia and continue to be fed accusations from former employees, and we accept that.

We continue to remain accountable to all applicable laws and regulations, to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and to independent auditors.

In his email, Carroll doesn’t accuse me of being unfair or taking him out of context. He said I asked too many questions and for that reason, he was not going to reply. This reason should be of grave concern to donors.

As we now know, GFA did violate the law when they sent groups of students to India each with $4500 in cash in envelopes without declaring the cash to U.S. customs.

The Phoenix Preacher post shows that the questions have only multiplied.

 

Gospel for Asia, and the $9 Million Interest Play

In note H of GFA’s 2013 audited financial statement,  GFA describes a $9 million transfer to India to take advantage of what is described as “favorable interest rates” (see the last paragraph in the image below).
GFA Related Party Transactions 2013
The Indian FC-6 forms requires NGOs to report the amount of foreign contributions received and the amount of interest made on those contributions. It appears that GFA in India made about 6% on contributions in 2011-2012.  According to the Bank of India, the benchmark interest rate peaked at 8.5% during the period.


source: tradingeconomics.com

While 6-8.5% sounds high compared to U.S. rates, the unfortunate thing about the move is the fact that Indian rupee continued to weaken. On August 15, 2011, one rupee was worth .02177 cents. By December, the rupee had declined to .01816. By August of 2012, the decline continued to .01796. The financial statement doesn’t say when the money was returned but even if it was January 2012 (.01889), GFA lost just over 13% due to currency devaluation.