A Texas law firm filed a lawsuit claiming missionary organization Gospel for Asia, among other organizations, solicited hundreds of millions of dollars for the charity but then misdirected the money to GFA leader K.P. Yohannan.
But the GFA board of directors says the lawsuit stems from a misunderstanding.
"We learned of the lawsuit when reporters began to call us. It's worth noting, the first to post anything related to the lawsuit was a blogger who has leveled a relentless attack on Gospel for Asia for months," the board said in a statement to Charisma News.
"We appreciate the role and responsibility—and often good intentions—of journalists in the 'new media' and in traditional media, but we have been grieved to discover that too many of them have chosen to consider us 'guilty until proven innocent' as opposed to innocent until proven guilty.'"
The allegations stem from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability revoking GFA's USA membership in 2015 after 36 years, according to the board of directors.
Just because they were removed from the ECFA doesn't mean GFA misdirected money.
"Our change in status with ECFA caused concern by some and raised questions about financial accountability of Gospel for Asia. ECFA's decision was made after conducting a special review of Gospel for Asia, and we respect ECFA's evaluation. Our response was to begin a focused review and to implement the ECFA's recommended improvements," the board said in a statement.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, GFA leader K.P. Yohannan and other GFA members acquired hundreds of millions of dollars from thousands of "well-intentioned" donors who expected their money to go to specific charitable purposes.
"In reality, 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.
But GFA's board of directors maintains it's a misunderstanding of the ECFA's membership revocation.
"Gospel for Asia has always had 'enemies' who didn't want our mission to continue, but sometimes our biggest challenges have related to managing the complex economic and political environments within which God has called us to serve," the board says.
"We must take the time to fully understand the nature of the accusations being leveled against us, and then we will respond accordingly. The issues surrounding our change in status with ECFA have been misunderstood, but regardless of viewpoint, we have taken and will continue to take a focused approach to implement suggested changes to our operations. 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.
The board concludes: "We consider it a blessing to finally have the opportunity to bring this matter to full resolution through an impartial arbiter, and you can rest assured that in the meantime we will continue operating on behalf of some of the world's most desperate people in some of its most complex environments. We hope you will pray for us, for these ongoing challenges are certainly also challenges and distractions to our mission."
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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