KP Yohannan answers critics, says GFA is working towards ECFA reinstatement

KP Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia, pictured in a February 2015 video from Kerala.YouTube

KP Yohannan, the founder of the giant Gospel For Asia (GFA) mission organisation and of Believers' Church in India, has responded to critics of GFA's conduct in a long letter to pastors in the Calvary Chapel network, more than 100 of whom support GFA financially.

GFA was ejected from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability following an investigation showing multiple breaches of its code of conduct. Among other things, nearly $20 million was transferred from the Believers' Church in India to fund the Texas headquarters building of GFA.

The money had originally been donated to GFA for missions work in India and transferred to the Believers' Church.

A series of allegations about the conduct of GFA leaders and the oppressive organisational culture there from former staff members – the 'GFA Diaspora' – has also rocked supporters' confidence.

In his letter, posted online by Michael Newnham, Yohannan says that GFA had attempted to comply with ECFA standards and made changes to its procedures where required. He said GFA was " working hard toward becoming eligible to re-apply for ECFA".

He also answers criticisms about the episcopal structure of the Believers' Church, of which he is the bishop carrying the title 'His Grace, the Most Reverend'. Yohannan says that pastors have to be individually licensed or ordained by a bishop to conduct weddings legally in India. He denied that the controversial 'ring kissing' ritual was part of the church's practice.

Yohannan also refers to the testimonies of former employees, saying: "Some of them we spent hours counseling out of addiction and sin. Some of them we fasted with, prayed with and wept with during times of personal struggles and family tragedies. We have protected them and their reputations."

Newnham described this as "faux pietistic innuendo" designed to undermine their credibility.

Commenting on the letter, Warren Throckmorton, who has investigated GFA exhaustively, said that it did not explain why ECFA had voted GFA out if it had done everything ECFA had recommended, and referred to $90 million missing from public records in India.

He also questioned Yohannan's assertion about the legality of Believers' Church marriages; in India marriages are registered by a civil Wedding Officer.