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.

More Missing Gospel for Asia Endorsements: Ray Comfort, Emeal Zwayne, William Blount and Many More (UPDATED)

UPDATE 2 (10/8/15) – This morning I noticed that now two-thirds of endorsements on the GFA website are now missing. Prior to the GFA’s loss of ECFA membership, there were 18 endorsers on the GFA endorsements page. Now there are six: Patrick Johnstone, George Verwer, Luis Bush, Dan Wooding, Suellen Roberts and Frank Wright.
Now missing are Francis Chan, Ray Comfort, Emeal Zwayne, William Blount, Katey Hearth, Karol Ladd, Sharon Geiger, Jeff Lutes, Ashley Elliot, Barbara Dowling, Terry Powell, and Megan Basham.
Only Ray Comfort and Emeal Zwayne have issued any kind of statement.
UPDATE: I just received this from Daniel at Living Waters: “Yes, at this time Living Waters has temporarily pulled its endorsement of GFA, while awaiting further information.”
I also see that another name has been pulled from the list: William Blount
Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing.
GFA Chan Page Not Found
It remains up here.
………………..
More big names are missing from the Gospel for Asia endorsements page.  Just recently, Ray Comfort and Emeal Zwayne, both affiliated with Living Waters, were featured endorsers of Gospel for Asia. Now their names and endorsements are gone.
ComfortZwayneClip
If you check out the endorsement page now, those names aren’t listed. I wrote Living Waters for confirmation and will add any communication I receive.
I am not sure why someone would pull an endorsement but stay silent about it. Apparently, Francis Chan is taking this approach. Some of his endorsements are missing from the GFA website but he has declined to reply to multiple requests for comment on his position.
UPDATE: David Cooke, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Riverhead, NY has been pulled from the list of pastor endorsers (see Google cache).
 

Has Francis Chan Dropped His Endorsement of Gospel for Asia?

Francis Chan once was here but now is not.
Yesterday, he was there:
GFA Endorse Chan
Today, he isn’t:
GFA Endorse No Chan
He is also missing from this page as of this morning.
Chan’s recommendation is elsewhere on the GFA website, hence the question (Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing. It remains up here.). I have reached out to Chan on many occasions, including yesterday and today with no answer. It is possible that the overworked website staff at GFA haven’t been able to keep up and the other locations on GFA’s website will soon disappear.
Francis Chan’s video endorsement is now missing. His endorsement remains up here and here.
GFA Chan Page Not Found
Actually, this was a result of sneaking the endorsement off the page.

Gospel for Asia Adds Board Members

According to a former staffer in a position to know, Gospel for Asia added Frances Chan (Crazy Love), David Mains (Chapel of the Air), and Damian Kyle (Calvary Chapel – Modesto) to their governing board.
The addition of these men makes GFA’s silence all the more troubling. It seems fair to call these men into accountability for the questions which GFA has refused to answer about their financial and other dealings.
These new members join founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan, his son Danny, his wife Gisela, Chuck Zink, Gayle Erwin, Robert Felder and Skip Heitzig as board members.

Francis Chan Joins Gospel for Asia Board Meeting Today; Is He Still Skeptical?

Last week, I publicly asked pastor Francis Chan for some answers regarding Gospel for Asia, a ministry he has endorsed. Today, I learned from a source at GFA that GFA’s board is meeting in Wills Point today with Francis Chan in attendance. It is not clear if Chan is there as a new board member, as has been rumored, or if he is there to be skeptical and ask questions. In any case, this heightens expectations that perhaps GFA leaders might break their silence. 

If Chan does join the board, that might help to address concerns but not just by joining. The expectation is that he would use his position on the board to create a culture of transparency. If he doesn’t do that, the impatience of donors and the public will grow.

As a summary, here are some concerns for GFA.

While these are not the only problems, getting some information about them would be a good start.

Francis Chan: Can You Get Some Answers From Gospel for Asia?

Some time ago I emailed Francis Chan ab0ut his endorsement of Gospel for Asia. Chan says on the video below that he is skeptical and because of that he sent people to check GFA out. I was told by his assistant Chaz that he was getting my emails, but it was unlikely that I would get a personal response from Chan. And as Chaz predicted, I have not heard from Chan in response to concerns I raised in the emails and blog posts.

Watch Chan’s endorsement of GFA.

Rev. Chan, like you, I am skeptical, but unlike you, I don’t have a budget that allows me to send people to check GFA out. However, I have asked GFA multiple times for help understanding why their 2013 audited statement says they sent $58.5 million to GFA-India in 2013 but only $6.5 million shows up in GFA-India’s reports to the Indian government. I can account for another $22 million that GFA in the U.S. sent to Believers’ Church and two other NGOs controlled by K.P. Yohannan but that leaves about $30 million unaccounted for. It seems like a discrepancy like that would make a skeptical person wonder what happened to the $30 million.

If you or your auditors know anything about the unaccounted for $30 million, could you let me know? If there is a reasonable explanation for this, then it seems odd that GFA has allowed the situation to go on without public disclosure. The ECFA is no help either. All the silence makes a skeptical guy like me wonder what is happening. However, it seems like you might know something and perhaps could reassure donors and the public.

Also, there are some other matters which you could really help with:

Rev. Chan, many people trust you, and like you, I am skeptical and don’t believe it is wrong to ask questions. Perhaps, you know something about these matters and could persuade GFA to simply offer additional information and explanation. Or perhaps you, as an endorser, could write and clear things up. We aren’t the only ones who are skeptical, others too want to know what is happening at GFA.

I hope to hear from you.