Gospel for Asia and Compliance with ECFA’s Standards: The 2015 Letter, Part 4

In CEO and founder K.P. Yohannan’s recent “exclusive personal response” to the fraud lawsuit settlement involving Gospel for Asia, Yohannan traces GFA’s problems to a “confidential letter from a financial standards association we were part of, and of which we were a charter member.” That letter was from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and outlined 17 potential violations of ECFA financial standards. In October 2015, ECFA evicted GFA from membership. To help donors understand the nature of the concerns ECFA had about GFA, I am posting one of the concerns each day. You can read all of the posts by clicking this link.

Read the entire ECFA letter on GFA’s compliance issues here.

From that letter, here is the fourth compliance issue:

4. The level of urgency communicated in GFA donor appeals contrasted with reserves held by foreign field partners and delays in sending funds to the field. In light of the significant cash balances held by field partners and the delay in sending funds to the field, ECFA staff raised concerns about the appropriateness of communicating urgency in many donor appeals. This includes appeals indicating “When we share with you about the urgency to reach the untold, lost millions—and the opportunities to win them to Jesus—it is not done to produce feelings of guilt or manipulate.” One appeal we reviewed indicated “One blanket, like the one Hetaksh received, will literally make the difference between life and death for them and especially for their small children and elderly relatives.”

The delay between when a donor gives a gift and when the funds are actually made available for designated purposes on the field is inconsistent with the level of urgency in many appeals and the timeliness of using donor-restricted funds as required by ECFA Standards 7.1 and 7.2. On August 12, GFA staff indicated that despite the delay in making foreign contributions available to carry out programmatic work, at least some designated funds were disbursed on a timely basis through the use of field-generated income.

Our review of the board minutes did not indicate the GFA board had approved, or even been notified, of GFA’s practice of soliciting funds based on urgency with a corresponding delay in disbursing funds to the field.

GFA Recycles Urgency

Even after being called out for this in 2015, GFA used this same urgent appeal in 2017. In a 2017 Patheos article, an anonymous GFA staff person recycled this appeal as follows:

To Hetaksh’s surprise, God answered his prayer for financial breakthrough in a very practical way—and just before winter started, too: He and his family received a thick, warm blanket!

This blanket came as a gift through Pastor Mrithun’s church during a blanket distribution to the poor—a distribution sponsored by our dear Gospel for Asia friends around the world. The blanket was big enough to keep the whole family warm at night, night after night, throughout the entire cold season.

This visible sign of God’s love and care greatly encouraged Hetaksh. No doubt the Lord will continue to care for this precious family and make them a powerful witness to others.

Urged to Give

Every winter, our partners in Asia feel the urgency of those around them, and we do, too. They pray for means and opportunity to distribute thousands of blankets and articles of winter clothing among those who lack adequate shelter and clothing to survive the freezing cold temperatures. They know that one blanket, like the one Hetaksh received, can make the difference between life and death for a family, especially for small children and the elderly.

It’s crazy to realize what a blanket can do. They are so small, but they work. For those who don’t have extra blankets for every family member, like we may, one blanket can mean a whole lot.

This recycled story (who knows if it is true) of Hetaksh  is presented as if it is current and represents an urgent need. In fact, GFA has had millions sitting in accounts and could have provided thousands of blankets. Instead, some of that money eventually went to other projects and some went to complete the Wills Point headquarters.

It is hard to believe that GFA was called out for this very appeal in 2015 and then reused it in 2017. So few people know about the ECFA report that apparently the GFA marketers believe it won’t matter.

Gospel for Asia Asks Donors to Give Back Settlement Money

After settling the $37-million fraud lawsuit with new board member Garland Murphy, Gospel for Asia now wants donors to regift their settlement funds back to Gospel for Asia. According to an appeal letter sent to me by a former donor, GFA is spending promotional money in an attempt to recapture their losses. Take a look:

This isn’t the first time GFA has attempted to collect these funds from former donors.

Where are the audits?

In the first image above, GFA boasts about their clean annual audits. Prospective donors should know that GFA refuses to release those audits to the public. One of the initial red flags about GFA came from the last publicly available audit. In that audit, GFA said the nearly $20-million to complete their Wills Point, TX headquarters in 2013 came from an anonymous donor.  However, now we know that those funds actually came from donor funds given to Believers’ Church in India as a related party transaction. GFA acknowledged this to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability which was one of the reasons for GFA’s expulsion from that group.

Since that time, GFA has kept their audits in house. Why should we believe them? GFA told the world the 2012-2013 audit was clean and accurate. Trust has to be earned and GFA has not shown any ability to step into the light. They do not answer questions about these audits, their loss of charity registration in India or their practices in Believers’ Church. It long past time for GFA to address these issues for the sake of the mission they claim to uphold.

 

Gospel for Asia Issues Takedown Notice for Video of K.P. Yohannan and Francis Chan

I was informed by YouTube on August 31 that Gospel for Asia issued a takedown notice to my YouTube account for a video clip of K.P. Yohannan and Francis Chan discussing Believers’ Church.

Due to a copyright takedown notice that we received, we had to take down your video from YouTube:

Video title: K.P. Yohannan and Francis Chan discuss Believers Church customs
Video url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVbGMDcP1Sw
Takedown issued by: Gospel for Asia

That seems odd since the clip was K.P. Yohannan and Francis Chan talking. However, maybe they didn’t want to make it easy for readers to see just the part where they discuss Believers’ Church customs. Well, readers are resourceful, they can still find out things from this post:

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

In that post, I showed this picture and asked why K.P. Yohannan said that people didn’t kiss his ring when it sure seems like that is what is happening in this picture.

And then even though I don’t have the video clip posted on my YouTube account any more, K.P. Yohannan has it posted on YouTube and I can embed it at just the location in the video where Francis Chan asks him about people kissing his ring. Watch:

Now you could watch the whole rest of the video or stop at about 8:50 if you want to just get the two claims I wrote about. In this video, K.P. Yohannan says there isn’t a ring kissing practice and he says he isn’t any more powerful than the other 30 bishops in Believers’ Church.

I invite you to click the link to the article below to see evidence counter to those claims.

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

For the record, I believe my use was fair use but because Gospel for Asia seems to have a lot of money to spend on lawyers, I am concerned that they might sue me just for sport. And because GFA has the same material embedded at YouTube, you can still compare what the Metropolitan said to what the Constitution of his church says and what your own eyes tell you in this video.

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.

Statement from Gospel for Asia’s Board of Directors on ECFA, Fraud Lawsuit, and a Blogger

Just today, the Gospel for Asia Board of Directors placed the following statement on the GFA website.

STATEMENT FROM GOSPEL FOR ASIA BOARD ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Wills Point, Texas – February 12, 2016: In the fall of 2015, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) revoked Gospel for Asia USA’s membership, after a 36-year relationship. ECFA is an organization that provides accreditation to Christian nonprofits in the U.S. based on their “standards for financial accountability, transparency, fundraising and board governance.” ECFA accreditation entitles a ministry to use the ECFA seal, but the loss of accreditation does not mean that the organization is guilty of illegal or unethical behavior. It simply means the organization no longer meets the standards chosen by ECFA to entitle an organization to the ECFA endorsement. Gospel for Asia was a founding member of ECFA, so an endorsement by ECFA is and remains a great honor to us. However, many very reputable organizations are not members of ECFA because they do not meet their rules for membership or they have chosen not to meet them, but Gospel for Asia has always valued our endorsement by ECFA and therefore made efforts to remain in good standing for 36 years.

Our change in status with ECFA caused concern by some and raised questions about financial accountability of Gospel for Asia. ECFA’s decision was made after conducting a special review of Gospel for Asia, and we respect ECFA’s evaluation. Our response was to begin a focused review and to implement the ECFA’s recommended improvements.

For more than 30 years, Gospel for Asia has served in some of the most complex environments in the world. Some of the questions raised relate to measures Gospel for Asia felt forced to take to continue our work in hostile environments where very real threats exist to Christians of all kinds, new believers and international humanitarian organizations. Gospel for Asia has always had “enemies” who didn’t want our mission to continue, but sometimes our biggest challenges have related to managing the complex economic and political environments within which God has called us to serve.

Most of ECFA’s issues resulted from us growing more quickly than our processes and procedures were able to accommodate while we were simultaneously navigating unbelievably complicated circumstances in sometimes dangerous and confusing environments. Over the course of these challenges, we made some good decisions and some bad ones and sometimes we didn’t have the right counsel or any counsel at all.

We willingly accepted—and appreciated—ECFA’s concern because our processes and procedures needed improvement, and in some cases, we were still operating like a small organization as opposed to an organization of our size and influence. We have always welcomed ECFA’s efforts to help us improve.

We learned of the lawsuit when reporters began to call us. It’s worth noting, the first to post anything related to the lawsuit was a blogger who has leveled a relentless attack on Gospel for Asia for months.

We appreciate the role and responsibility—and often good intentions—of journalists in the “new media” and in traditional media, but we have been grieved to discover that too many of them have chosen to consider us “guilty until proven innocent” as opposed to “innocent until proven guilty.”

We must take the time to fully understand the nature of the accusations being leveled against us, and then we will respond accordingly. The issues surrounding our change in status with ECFA have been misunderstood, but regardless of viewpoint, we have taken and will continue to take a focused approach to implement suggested changes to our operations.

We will fully cooperate with the law and are in the process of securing specialized legal counsel to help us and our other legal advisors navigate this new challenge.

We consider it a blessing to finally have the opportunity to bring this matter to full resolution through an impartial arbiter, and you can rest assured that in the meantime we will continue operating on behalf of some of the world’s most desperate people in some of its most complex environments. We hope you will pray for us, for these ongoing challenges are certainly also challenges and distractions to our mission.

The staff leadership of Gospel for Asia are working diligently to handle all of this responsibly and with integrity. We will come out of this stronger.

We thank our committed staff, our donors, prayer partners and friends, for walking with us all these years, especially during this challenging season.

As the Board of Directors, we take our responsibility seriously and we have full confidence in the ministry of Gospel for Asia.

—Board of Directors of Gospel for Asia

This statement mentions “a blogger.” Note to GFA board: I have a name. Furthermore, I have an email address. GFA’s David Carroll has it. He stopped answering my emails in May 2015. Is that what you wanted him to do? I just sent an email to Taun Cortado asking for comment on the allegations in the lawsuit. Instead, you respond to me via other sources.
I have sent many emails to board member Francis Chan with questions about the unaccounted for funds. Chan has not replied. Why not? Is it easier for you to accuse bloggers of misrepresenting facts or having bad motives? This is a losing strategy. Most people can see through it when you answer a charge with an ad hominem attack. Instead of attacking me, you should try talking.

If there is information you believe I am missing, please do what a responsible organization would do — contact me and let’s talk. It is unseemly for you to continue to blame the messenger. If there are answers to the many unanswered questions, then you are to blame for failing to communicate them.

You fail to mention the testimony of your former colleague Gayle Erwin. Remember him? He was on the GFA board and pulled back the curtain.
Former donors are speaking out. Former Canadian board members are speaking out after being improperly dismissed.  The Office of Personnel Management found you guilty after an investigation.

The ball is in your court.

Petition Urges Gospel for Asia Board of Directors to Remove K.P. Yohannan

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:
GFA PETITION
 
 
 

Ever Carry Cash to India for Gospel for Asia? Calling All Pastors, Staff and Students

Gospel for Asia’s Chief Operating Officer David Carroll told Dallas CBS 11 News that GFA stopped sending cash in envelopes to India after they learned it was illegal. Mr. Carroll told staff another version of that story back in May of this year. In that May 14 staff meeting, Carroll said pastors and staff had carried money to India:

A couple things you should know. We would never endanger students or anyone else, we’ve had pastors carry money, we’ve had staff carry money, we’re always looking for ways to get money into India because the reality is that it’s getting more difficult to do that, and we are looking for other ways that we’re able to do that. But we checked with our auditors before we ever would allow such a practice. We actually called Bland Garvey, they’re our audit firm and said this is what we’re planning to do, this is what we are intending to do, and they told us how we get it receipted they said it’s completely legal, you’re under all limits, you need to get receipts, there need to be receipts here, there need to be receipts there which Lori has receipts from here.

I have spoken to several former GFA School of Discipleship students who carried cash to India. I have spoken to former GFA staff who carried cash and who knew others who carried cash.
Now, I am calling on pastors and current staff to contact me privately to relate experiences of carrying cash to India. Click the link to email me with your story. Nothing will be published without your permission.
I first wrote about this story on May 14, the same day GFA leaders were discussing the subject with staff. Many questions remain about why GFA did it and why they told staff that their auditor, Bland Garvey, told them it was legal. Bland Garvey has since resigned as GFA’s auditor. Pastors and others who carried cash could perhaps help provide some of the story that GFA has declined to share.
 

Is Gospel for Asia's Indian Corpus Fund One Reason Why ECFA Terminated GFA's Membership?

One of the first things I noticed when I first started investigating Gospel for Asia’s finances in India was the corpus fund set up for the Indian organizations (i.e., GFA-India, Believers’ Church, Love India Ministries, & Last Hour Ministries). When I examined Indian records (FC-6 reports), I saw millions in U.S. dollars used to fund these accounts. A corpus fund is a “permanent fund generated and kept for basic expenditures needed for administration and survival of the organisation.” (also see this link)
There is nothing wrong with setting up a corpus fund. In India, organizations can set up a fund and use the interest earned for charitable purposes. However, the donations to the fund are not supposed to be used unless the organization’s existence is threatened.
Another important condition is that donations to the corpus fund must be designated for that purpose by the donor, usually in writing. Without designation, donations are not supposed to go to the corpus fund, but rather to the charitable purpose intended by the donor. The evidence I produce here today suggests to me that GFA donor funds have been systematically diverted to the GFA corpus fund apparently without donor designation for that purpose.
First, I have access to reports showing all donations to GFA – United States for years 2004-2008, 2010-2014 (2009 was unavailable from my source). None of those reports show any donations to a corpus fund.
To illustrate, click through this link to see the 2012 report (it is too long to include in the post). All donations are credited to a specific line item and all line items used by GFA are included in this chart of donations (I have redacted the names of staff and the amount received in their support accounts). I cannot find any line item which refers to a corpus fund. None of the reports going back to 2004 have a line item for the designation of donations to a corpus fund.
Now take a look at this chart of GFA contributions prepared by Jason Watkins, a former auditor with a Big 4 accounting firm. This table shows the donor funds sent by GFA to Indian affiliates to establish and maintain corpus funds. I have independently checked the figures in this table.
20092013CorpusFundsGFA
This table also shows the percentage of total giving from GFA -United States to the Indian affiliates. Total corpus fund donations from GFA represents about 35% of all giving from GFA to Indian affiliates since fiscal year 2010.
Where did GFA get the money to give to their Indian affiliates?
Due to GFA’s claim that 100% of donations designated for the field go to the field, I feel sure many donors think that 100% of what they give goes to a missionary or children or disaster relief or some such good cause. However, the Indian records show that GFA leaders have established a financial cushion for Believers’ Church and related organizations in India with over $67 million from GFA in Texas. Diverting donor money to a corpus fund would violate ECFA guidelines and might have figured in ECFA’s vote to terminate GFA’s membership.
In summary, donations toward the corpus fund do not show up on GFA’s comprehensive giving reports. However, in the FC-6 reports in India, millions of dollars in contributions to the corpus funds are listed as coming from GFA in the United States. I ask again where did GFA get that money? Nothing in available reports shows donations earmarked for the corpus fund.

Gospel for Asia's Board of Directors and Fiduciary Responsibility

During the late 1990s, I served on the board of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. One of the first things we learned as new board members was the concept of fiduciary responsibility. I learned that our organization was formed to serve the interests of our constituents and more broadly the public interest. I also learned that I was responsible to ensure that the organization functioned within the law and in accord with rules we set for ourselves (e.g., by-laws). Furthermore, I had a duty to exercise oversight of staff and the operations of the association.
In light of recent resignations from Gospel for Asia’s board and the secrecy surrounding current board members, it seems appropriate to consider the duties and responsibilities of board members. In my view, GFA’s board shares responsibility with current leadership for the many questions raised over the past two years. Below are quotes from various authorities on the fiduciary responsibility of nonprofit board members.

Boards of nonprofits are legally responsible for overseeing the organization’s financial management. Since nonprofits receive tax-exempt status by state and federal agencies to fulfill public needs, the board’s obligations go well beyond its organization’s members, constituents, beneficiaries or clients.
An important part of serving the public trust is fulfilling the important stewardship roles of protecting financial and nonfinancial assets, and managing current income properly to fulfill exempt purposes. Although a ministry’s management has the primary responsibility for the organization’s financial management and reporting, the board of directors is ultimately responsible for the process. Outside auditors also play an important role as well. – Dan Busby, Quality Financial Reporting: What is the board’s responsibility?

Speaking of outside auditors, GFA’s auditor Bland Garvey recently resigned according to former board member Gayle Erwin.
GFA’s leaders have maintained an unseemly silence in the face of poor relationships with staff, unaccounted for funds, allegations of mismanagement, and other financial irregularities. The responses from David Carroll and K.P. Yohannan have not been specific and have not addressed certain issues at all. My Calvary Chapel survey results thus far find that former donors and supporting pastors are unsatisfied with the answers given by GFA leaders. At this point, GFA directors have a responsibility to speak to the allegations and transparently disclose what is being done to correct any violations of the public trust. So far, outside of comments from former board member Gayle Erwin, all we have heard is crickets.
Since GFA is expected to maintain discretion and control over funds sent to Asia, board members need to have knowledge of how those funds are spent and audited. According to Erwin, the GFA board was not given such information. Recently, Erwin told me, “Once the monetary figures went beyond the local, we board members had no knowledge of it. I am embarrassed by how little we knew.” According to Erwin, the board’s information came from K.P. Yohannan and was not contested by other senior leaders who in Erwin’s words, have to do “what K.P. says.”

Because the board of directors is ultimately responsible for the activities of an organization, it can become the target for criticism or legal action when things go wrong, and failure to live up to fiduciary responsibility is a serious charge.

As trustees of the organization’s assets, board members must be able to demonstrate that due diligence has been employed in decision making, particularly with regard to the oversight of financial matters. While individual board members are responsible for their own actions, the full board is responsible for the board’s decisions. This means that board members must hold each other as accountable.

But nothing absolves the board from its single most important responsibility as a fiscally accountable body of trustees – that of acknowledging the responsibilities that come with being a beneficiary of the public trust. Generally speaking, nonprofits are deemed to be holding assets, including investment funds, in trust for the benefit of their constituencies and the charitable purposes for which the organization was formed. Linda Compton, Painful Lesson in Board Investment Policy Making, Boardsource, retrieved from ECFA

Although the primary topic of Compton’s article is about board oversight of retirement funds, the principles that apply to oversight of those funds also apply to all other activities of an organization. Boards can’t merely blame staff when concerns are raised by the public and constituents of the nonprofit. As it is now, GFA lost ECFA membership, is losing donors, and has not resolved the concerns of well over 100 former staff. Three board members have resigned over these issues. The remaining board members have a duty to God and the public to step in and right the ship. Remaining silent doesn’t remove their responsibility.

Although GFA is secretive about their board members, evidence is strong that current board members are K.P. Yohannan (chair), Gisela Punnoose (KP’s wife), Danny Punnoose (his son), Chuck Zink (has a child on staff), Robert Felder, Francis Chan, and David Mains. According to K.P. Yohannan, there is at least one more member but the identity of that member isn’t clear. Looking at the board members, it would take every non-Yohannan family member to take action. One of the requirements to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign is a board made up of independent members. However, it is plain to see GFA does not meet that standard.

Difficult or not, board members have a duty to the public. Christian board members have a duty beyond that. Only time will tell if GFA’s board will rise to the occasion.

Additional resources:

Fiduciary Responsibilities of Nonprofit Directors

A Nonprofit Board’s Fiduciary Responsibility

Things I Think After Reading Christianity Today's Article on Gospel for Asia

Just out today, Bob Smietana penned an article at Christianity Today on the controversies surrounding Gospel for Asia including the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability board vote to terminate GFA’s membership.  It is a lengthy piece with many quotes from former staff. I hope you will read it and then come back here to discuss.
Where in the World is K.P. Yohannan?
I was struck right away by this sentence:

Founder K.P. Yohannan was not available for comment.

Why not? My sources tell me that staff are saying he is India. I am pretty sure they have phones in India. Probably he has a cell phone. Yohannan is the founder and CEO. He is listed as the International Director. Seems like the buck should stop with him. It is mind boggling that he is “unavailable.”
Smietana writes about the ring-kissing ritual in the article but no one from GFA addresses the obvious deception from Yohannan. This is another mind blowing aspect of this situation. GFA still has no answer to what is right in front of everyone’s face.
Not Skeptical Enough Francis Chan
And then there is Francis Chan, Rev. Skeptical. His endorsement has been removed from the GFA website but he is quoted in CT’s article as saying he is remaining on GFA’s board. He endorsed GFA by saying that he is a skeptical person and that he checked GFA out thoroughly before he endorsed them.  Several months after Chan was first made aware of discrepancies between what GFA said in America and what they reported in India, Chan now says he needs more time to study the situation. On May 21, I alerted Chan to the money smuggling and his assistant Chaz told me that Chan had the information but probably wouldn’t get back to me. I continued sending my posts to Chaz who said he was passing the information along.  I also passed along letters from a GFA supporter who started giving money to GFA on the strength of Chan’s endorsement. No answer.
An Investigation
We also learn in the CT article that Homeland Security may be investigating GFA. I want a little more information on GFA’s denials about the money smuggling. At first, David Carroll said it was all legal and they asked their auditor how to do it. Then later they admitted it was illegal and they sought counsel. In the CT article, we learn that GFA’s attorneys filed late customs reports (is that even possible?).
Did GFA really ask auditor Bland Garvey if money smuggling was legal? Did Bland Garvey really sign off on it? Bland Garvey won’t talk about it and GFA didn’t clear this up. There are many unanswered questions.
No Money Found to Be Missing?
What an odd phrasing – no money was found to be missing. Is it missing or was it found? I think I know what David Carroll means but this is not an answer to the fact that Gospel for Asia’s 2013 audit claims $58.6 million was sent to Gospel for Asia – India but only $6 million was reported by Gospel for Asia there as being deposited. Even if all money to Believers’ Church and two other NGOs is considered, there is still nearly $30 million in 2013 unaccounted for. GFA still has not answered this simple question.
ECFA: Mixed Feelings
After calling on the ECFA to take action, I am pleasantly surprised that the board did. However, I think an even greater service to the donor public would be to describe what GFA actually did which led to their vote. As it is, GFA supporters can imply that the violations were minor and have been corrected. We may never know.
Here are some things we now know
K.P. Yohannan is missing in action, Francis Chan is not as skeptical as he says he is, big boys in the church still take care of their own, and the little people are still on their own to make sense of this scandal.