Gospel for Asia Strongly Denies Financial Impropriety; Asks Supporters to Pray 'Distractions' from Mission Be Resolved

( [email protected] ) Mar 24, 2016 05:52 PM EDT
Gospel for Asia is hitting back at claims of fraud and financial impropriety, calling such accusations "false" and "absurd" and asking supporters to pray that such "distractions" to their mission would soon be resolved.
Gospel for Asia is a large Christian missionary NGO founded by K. P. Yohannan in 1978, focused on spreading the Gospel to India and Asian countries through the use of national missionaries. Photo Credit: Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia is hitting back at claims of fraud and financial impropriety, calling such accusations "false" and "absurd" and asking supporters to pray that such "distractions" to their mission would soon be resolved.

As reported by The Gospel Herald, in February, Dallas-based Stanley Law Group filed a class action lawsuit against GFA alleging that the missions agency and several of its affiliates fraudulently solicited hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations, and misdirected the money into GFA founder K.P Yohannan's personal empire.

"Yohannan and his associates divert much of this money and do with it as they please, using it to buy and run for-profit businesses; to build an expensive, secluded headquarters and residences; to sponsor an international sports team; and to speculate in financial markets. This case is about ending this egregious abuse," the lawsuit states.   

Lead attorney Marc R. Stanley has also accused Yohannan and his GFA " inner circle" of "exploiting the goodwill and generosity of devout Christians around the country for years," and charged that GFA should "return all the money it's taken from donors who thought they were contributing to charity."

However, in a statement delivered to The Gospel Herald, a GFA spokesperson said such allegations are far from accurate, and the organization is working to put an end to the accusations continually being made against it.

"There has been no financial impropriety. Gospel for Asia and K.P. Yohannan are absolutely innocent of the accusations being made against them," the spokesperson said. "The accusations are false -  even absurd -  and the ministry intends on vigorously and fully defending itself against them. In the meantime the ministry will also continue serving some of the world's most desperate people in some of its most complex environments."

He added, "We hope our friends will pray for us, for these challenges are certainly also challenges and distractions to our mission."

However, in February, the National Religious Broadcasters terminated GFA's membership in light of the allegations, but advised Yohannan that once he can demonstrate that he can meet the organization's financial accountability standards, GFA could reapply for membership.

Three months prior, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability also cut ties with GFA for allegedly violating five of the ECFA's seven core standards.

"ECFA believes that GFA misled donors, mismanaged resources, has an ineffective board, and failed to live up to its promises as an ECFA member. It had been investigating GFA since June," notes Christianity Today.

In a statement to The Gospel Herald, GFA's spokesperson explained that the NRB membership termination was a direct result of GFA's loss of accreditation from the ECFA. He also expressed confidence that it's only a matter of time before GFA once again has active participation in NRB, a non-partisan international association of committed broadcasters and Christian communicators.

"This was a domino effect resulting directly from the ECFA situation," he said. "NRB accreditation for many years was tied directly to ECFA accreditation. GFA is fairly confident that when the organization provides its 2015 audited financial statements to NRB that the membership will be reinstated according to the NRB processes and procedures."

Similarly, GFA's board of directors maintained that the organization's change in status with the ECFA has been "misunderstood," and promised to "take a focused approach to implement suggested changes to our operations."

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

Another supporter of the organization, George Verwer, author and founder of Operation Mobilization, has urged Christians to refrain from judgement during this time, but instead "remember the millions in Asia who have been and are continuing to be so deeply impacted by this ministry."

While admitting GFA "is not perfect," he wrote, "It has been with great joy that I have watched Gospel for Asia become one of the largest, Biblical ministries on the globe, and it has been with great concern that I've recently heard of a series of false accusations made against it."

He added, "If you could take a tour of all of the work they are doing in over a dozen nations in Asia where they are serving, with 15,000 full-time workers, you would be amazed at the numerous churches, seminaries and other ministry facilities they have established. Their TV and radio ministry is also huge and effective."

"They have done all of this good ministry in the middle of a complex environment during a season of significant church growth," Verwer wrote. "With all my heart, I believe now is the time to stand with this ministry and not to attack it. This is the time to support Gospel for Asia like never before."