Red Flags Over Gospel For Asia
Over the last couple of weeks some of those concerns have been spoken to by others in social media.
Our own KevinH has done an outstanding job of gathering that information and this is his report.
I have posted on Facebook about Gospel for Asia (GFA) a couple times recently due to some potentially concerning information that has come out about the organization over the past couple months.
My wife and I currently sponsor two children through GFA and I know a good many of my Facebook friends are familiar with the organization and may even be donors or sponsors of children themselves.
While I can’t claim to know the full truth on all these details and accusations of GFA, they are at the very least quite concerning. There seems to be a lot of red flags. I believe it is only fair that those of us who support this organization are aware of the current situation as we want to make the best decisions in the stewardship of the money we give to the Lord’s work. And part of making the best decisions is being informed. I have no plan to pull sponsorship of our children, lest the children get hurt. I believe GFA does a lot of good work in spreading the Gospel and meeting both the spiritual and physical needs of less fortunate children and adults. But many of these concerns are unsettling and how this all plays out could affect my future decision making in regards to GFA. The following is a list of some items of concern:
- Due to all the accusations and concerning information I have read on the internet over the past couple months, I did email GFA with my concerns. My contacting them was not meant to get to the bottom of every single detail, but I at least wanted to leave them with the impression that their donor base is concerned. That way, if things are in fact being done wrongly, there might be some impetus to change. Plus, I wanted to be fair and hear their side of the story. GFA responded and wanted to speak on the phone rather than respond to any information through email (no documentation trail?). And so I spoke to a GFA representative who is pretty high up in the organization and got his side of the story. I did not push much in the conversation, as again, my intent was not to perform an investigation and get to the bottom of every last thing. While the GFA rep did give explanations to some things that sounded at least plausible, I was still left with an unsettled feeling after the conversation.
- There is a group of 80+ former GFA staffers who have banded together and have brought their concerns before GFA. Concerns of overly controlling and abusive actions by GFA along with deceptive practices toward their donors. They do not believe their concerns have been addressed with any real significance. GFA and this group of former staffers do not see eye-to-eye on how the concerns have been or should be addressed and how the reconciliation process should play out. Here is their website: http://www.gfadiaspora.com/
- Warren Throckmorton, a blogger and professor at Grove City College has detailed some of the concerns from this group along with doing a lot more digging on his own which has uncovered a lot of other possible improprieties, especially on the financial side of things. 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: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/category/gospel-for-asia/
- GFA has not made much financial information available in the past, at least publicly, on various charity monitoring sites such as charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org, amongst others. GFA claims they don’t post financial information due to security concerns since the Indian government is not friendly to Christianity. However, many other Christian ministries that also work within countries that are hostile to Christianity still manage to post their financial information. The lack of financial transparency just is not a good look for a Christian ministry/charity.
- The GFA board, who has done the investigation of and continues the “reconciliation” work of the concerns raised by the GFA Diaspora group does not appear to have a healthy make-up. There are 7 or 8 people on the board. One of those people is K.P. Yohannan, himself, who some of the accusations revolve around. Two or three board members are close family members of K.P. Then another member is Skip Heitzig, who has his own history of corruption and over control at his church and board of Calvary Chapel Albuquerque, as has been documented here in the past amongst other places. Another GFA board member is also a board member of CC Albuquerque as was told to me by the GFA rep, again a board with a history of corruption. The last two board members I do not know anything about. Now the make-up of the board doesn’t prove anything. But, again, it is one of the red flags.
- There are plenty of specific accusations and details that could be discussed and further dissected. Rather than trying to do all that here, it is probably best to read the details at the websites linked in this article, if so desired.
- Again, I can’t speak to the truth of all these accusations and possible improprieties of GFA. I do think there are at least enough red flags for us to be concerned. The group of former GFA staffers is more than 80 people, not just a couple of disgruntled former employees. GFA has an established history of a lack of public financial transparency. Now maybe that truly is due to real security threats. But at the very least, it doesn’t look good on the surface when a ministry/charity chooses not to be transparent with their finances. The makeup of the board doesn’t reflect well. And the more that is read on the specific accusations such as the transferring of large amounts of undeclared cash in envelopes on group trips from the U.S. to India or the wording of pledges that are given in ordination services, the more red flags are raised. I think it is best that we are at least aware of these things and not bury our heads in the sand. We can then each use our best discretion in deciding whether or not we want to support a ministry.