Former Gospel for Asia donor Jimmy Humphrey wants to send a message to the current board members at GFA. Humphey wants change at the giant mission organization and believes it should start at the top. Over the weekend, Humphrey started a petition at Change.org asking GFA’s board of directors to fire GFA’s founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. In support of his petition, Humphrey wrote:
I originally discovered the ministry of K.P. Yohannan and GFA through listening to a sermon online, and was amazed at this ministry, and swayed powerfully by the presentation given by K.P. I was a supporter of multiple missionaries for just under a decade, and even gave some money to some various “emergency” situations to strike Asia. Now after recent discoveries, I wonder if the money ever made it into the hands of the people I gave towards. I want to give GFA the benefit of the doubt and believe nothing fraudulent happened, and that the ministry simply grew too big and too complex for the likes of K.P. Yohannan to run. But honestly, at the end of the day, I simply don’t know anymore. As a result, in good conscience I can no longer continue to give or support GFA. A change of leadership is in order.
The petition begins:
Recently it has come to light that the “Gospel For Asia” (GFA) missionary organization lost its “Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability” (ECFA) seal of approval and accreditation, due to numerous violations of the financial standards that the ECFA requires of its member organizations. The ECFA is regarded as the “gold standard” in the Evangelical Christian community for non-profit organizations, that attests to the fidelity of its member organizations faithfully handling the charity of its donors, acting as wise stewards, in keeping with Christian conduct and the highest of financial accounting standards.
As a result of these violations and the losing of its ECFA accreditation, GFA has suffered severe public reproach, not only in Evangelical Christian circles, but also in the secular media. The level of reproach brought upon GFA undermines the ability of the organization to carry out its mission, which is to ultimately spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout all of Asia, by training, equipping, and financially supporting native missionaries within each country that GFA operates.
Humphrey calls on the board to take over day to day operations of GFA:
In order to save GFA, we the undersigned call on the independent board of directors to either fire or place on leave the current leadership team of K.P. Yohannan, David Carroll, John Beers, and Danny Yohannan.
We urge the board to take control of the daily operations of GFA.
Click the link below to read the rest and sign the petition:
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability provides guidelines for governance which member organizations must follow. One important feature is independence which is defined as follows:
Board independence. The organization should take care to maintain the reality, not just the appearance of independent board governance. Requiring the predominance of independent board members helps ensure the board will take official action without partiality, undue influence, or conflict of interest.
To assess the reality of board independence, ECFA looks beyond the majority of independent board members on the board roster. ECFA is just as concerned about the reality of board independence as with the mathematical determination of a majority of independent board members.
ECFA defines independent board members as:
Persons who are not employees or staff members of the organization.
Persons who may not individually dictate the operations of the organization similar to an employee or staff member. A person who is an uncompensated CEO, for instance, is not independent.
Persons who are not related by blood or marriage to staff members or other board members. Blood or marriage relationships are defined for the purposes of the standard as being his or her spouse, ancestors, brothers and sisters (whether whole- or half-blood), children (whether natural or adopted), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses of brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Persons who do not report to, or are not subordinate to, employees or staff members of the organization.
Persons who do not report to, or are not subordinate to, other board members.
Persons who do not receive a significant amount for consulting or speaking, or any other remuneration from the organization.
Persons who do not have relationships with firms that have significant financial dealings with the organization, officers, directors or key employees.
Persons who are not the paid legal counsel, related by blood or marriage to the paid legal counsel (see definition of blood or marriage in #3 above), or are employed by the firm that is the paid legal counsel of the organization.
Persons who are not the auditors, related by blood or marriage to the auditors (see definition of blood or marriage in #3 above), or are employed by the auditing firm of the organization.
Gospel for Asia provided Guidestar with the names of 2015 board members as of April*:
Looking at this board, it is reasonable to question the independence of a majority of members. K.P. Yohannan is President, his son is Vice President (Daniel Punnose), and his wife is a volunteer (Gisela Punnose). Chuck Zink is a major donor to GFA and his son and daughter-in-law are employees of GFA. Yohannan is also employed by GFA (#1), Daniel Punnose is employed by GFA (#1) and is a family member as is Yohannan’s wife (#3). As mentioned, Chuck Zink’s son and daughter-in-law are employed by GFA (#3). That is four out of seven.
A case could be made that Gayle Erwin’s independence has been compromised by his reliance of K.P. Yohannan and Gospel for Asia for promotion of his book, Jesus Style, and speaking engagements. According to Yohannan, GFA has translated the book into multiple languages.
In any case, it seems misleading to have “No Affiliation” by Zink’s and Erwin’s names. It is also misleading for Yohannan’s wife and son to use their Indian last name while Yohannan reverses the order for his name.
The ECFA claims that the guideline is not met by simple appearance of independence. According to Christian Today, the ECFA is reviewing GFA. I wonder if board independence is one of the items under review.
*There was a rumor that Francis Chan joined the board but as usual GFA won’t confirm this.