Gospel for Asia: 'Regret' at termination by financial watchdog, but no explanation yet
Gospel for Asia, whose membership of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) was terminated after an investigation found multiple breaches of its standards, has expressed "regret and sadness" at the decision and pledged to improve its reporting of financial matters.
However, it has not yet provided an explanation of the points at issue, though it says that this will "be given in due time through our regular communication channels".
The statement says: "Although there were no findings of money missing, ECFA felt that some of our procedures and practices did not line up with their Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. GFA was grateful for ECFA's input and put into practice every suggestion that was mentioned in these meetings. We were not always in agreement with ECFA's conclusions, but were glad to continue in our relationship and make the adjustments that they advised."
It continues: "In the meantime, we thank our supporters for not jumping to conclusions until those explanations have been made and for continuing to cover us with their prayers."
ECFA is an umbrella body for Christian ministries which sets standards of accountability and transparency. Membership assures donors that their money is being properly used and GFA was a founder member.
Blogger Warren Throckmorton, who has reported extensively on GFA, commented: "Essentially, GFA is claiming they did everything ECFA asked but ECFA dropped them anyway. Given that ECFA has no recent history of dropping organizations where leaders seek compliance after a period of non-compliance (eg, Mars Hill Church), this is not a credible response and does nothing to inspire confidence in their stewardship."
In the wake of the termination, Rusty Leonard at Ministry Watch, which monitors churches and parachurch ministries, issued a statement saying that "Donors to Gospel for Asia should immediately cease making donations to the ministry."
Leonard said: "While the ECFA did not disclose the exact nature of the violations, it is clear they are very serious. We encourage the ECFA to change its policy of not revealing the specifics of its findings in cases like this as donors who gave their hard earned money to the ministry deserve to know what happened."
World Magazine author Warren Smith revealed that among other issues of concern to the ECFA was the financing of GFA's headquarters building in Wills Point, Texas. As Warren Throckmorton reported, GFA failed to disclose a $19.8 million transfer from its related Believers' Church to help fund the project. It also borrowed from a US bank having assured supporters it would not do so and took money which Believers' Church had borrowed in India.