Gospel for Asia founder KP Yohannan dies of cardiac arrest after being struck by car

Gospel for Asia founder KP Yohannan.

(CP) K.P. Yohannan, the founder and director of Gospel for Asia and the metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church, has died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 74.

Gospel for Asia announced Yohannan's death in a statement, noting that the influential Indian Christian leader died on Wednesday morning at a hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Yohannan was struck by a car while taking a walk the day before. While at the hospital recovering from the accident, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

"We praise God for allowing His servant the strength to run his race faithfully and with much endurance to the very end," GFA stated in the announcement.

"Millions of lives are forever transformed because of his tireless passion and service unto his Savior. May God receive him into the embrace of the saints. Christ is risen! May his memory be eternal!"

Yohannan is survived by his wife, Gisela; his son Daniel, daughter Sarah and seven grandchildren: David, Esther, Jonah, Hannah, Lydia, Naomi and Noah.

Yohannan was born in Southern India in 1950 as the youngest of six sons, reportedly in a village where St. Thomas the Apostle had planted a church in the first century, according to his online obituary.

Inspired by the example and friendship of missionary George Verwer, Yohannan entered the ministry and received a theological education at Criswell College in the 1970s.

Yohannan founded Gospel for Asia in 1979. He became metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church in February 2003. BEC identifies as Evangelical, however it adopts more high church worship practices and attire.

A prolific writer, according to GFA World, Yohannan has had around 250 books published in Asia and 12 books in the United States.

From 2008 to 2022, Yohannan contributed a few opinion columns to The Christian Post, the last of which was published in May 2022 and titled "How do we reclaim this 'vanishing generation'?"

"I believe we've left a whole generation floundering because — despite all our teaching materials, church programs, and activities — they've never had a genuine encounter with the living Christ. Instead, we've been led to believe the smartphone generation needs constant media bombardment," he wrote at the time.

"Our misplaced emphasis on fast-moving media and rock-concert volume has replaced the much-needed timeless discipline of seeking God in quiet meditation and reverent silence. As a consequence, our worship services have focused on performance rather than coming before God."

In recent years, Yohannan and Gospel for Asia have faced legal battles amid allegations of financial misconduct regarding their handling of donations.

In one lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that millions in donations earmarked for charitable purposes were instead used to run for-profit businesses and build personal residences and a headquarters in Texas.

In 2019, the ministry reached a $37 million settlement over the allegations, with Yohannan and GFA's Chief Operating Officer David Carroll denying any wrongdoing.

Among those who have come to Yohannan's defense after the settlement was announced is popular Crazy Love preacher Francis Chan, who served as a GFA board member. Chan said he hired a financial expert and went to GFA's Texas headquarters to investigate the claims of misappropriation.

"After careful research, our conclusion was that there was no money misappropriated and that all funds were channeled to the intended areas," Chan said in 2019.

However, GFA was expelled from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in 2015 and from the National Religious Broadcasters in 2016 over the controversy.

In November 2020, the Indian government, which over the last several years has cracked down on foreign-funded Christian mission organizations amid a rise of Hindu nationalism within the country, accused BEC and Yohannan of "siphoning out" tax-exempted funds for "personal and other illegal expenses."

BEC spokesperson Fr. Sijo Pandapallil told CP at the time that the matter was being misrepresented and "wildly mischaracterized on social media."

In 2021, Greg Zentner of Nova Scotia filed a $170 million class-action lawsuit against GFA, accusing the ministry of defrauding thousands of Canadians and churches by using funds for "improper purposes."

In 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a motion to certify the complaint, concluding that the plaintiff "failed to show some basis in fact for his allegation that the defendants intentionally misappropriated donor funds in a manner that had no connection to any purported charitable purpose."

© The Christian Post