Yohannan told ECFA that miscommunication was to blame. The overseas affiliates, he told ECFA in a letter, had reported the funds they held at their headquarters. They had not reported all funds overseas.
“It was never our intent to deceive you,” he wrote.
Yohannan said he was not aware of how much money GFA’s overseas affiliates had in the bank.
The GFA board was also kept in the dark, according to the ECFA report:
In our meeting on July 1, ECFA staff asked you (Yohannan) what the GFA board would think if they knew of the high balances in partner field accounts. You indicated that neither the board nor you were aware of the magnitude of the balances. You responded, “They would be as surprised as I am.”
Despite running a ministry that collects hundreds of millions in donations, Yohannan appeared to be unaware of the basics of nonprofit management.
For example, GFA board records reveal few details about the business conducted during board meetings. Yohannan admitted this as a failing in his response.
“We also realize that our board minutes could have been more comprehensive to note the discussions that took place in board meetings and are seeking to improve the details of the minutes in the future,” Yohannan wrote to ECFA.
According to the report, ECFA had questions about who is in charge of GFA’s overseas affiliates. Yohannan is the leader of Believers Church, an India-based denomination that runs the ministries overseas. Yet he claims that GFA has no oversight of those groups and that he is not in charge of them.
But the ECFA review found that GFA had substantial control over the overseas groups.
“Based on this level of oversight and control as well observed during our review, ECFA staff questions whether GFA has a sound basis to disclaim any control over the activities of field partners,” Van Drunen wrote.
Since being expelled from ECFA, Yohannan and GFA have sought to reassure donors that the ministry is trustworthy. The ministry recently ran an apology letter in the December issue of CT.
In the letter, Yohannan apologized for the ministry’s failings and promised to improve in the future.
“To date, we have implemented or are in the process of implementing every one of the changes learned through the ECFA review,” he wrote. “We have engaged outside counselors who will help us achieve the level of excellence and accountability our donors deserve.”
Yohannan reiterated the efforts today in a written statement to CT. “ECFA’s review of Gospel for Asia USA helped us to identify areas of organizational and financial management where we have failed,” he said. “Our processes and procedures did not grow and improve at the same rate as the ministry in recent years. Despite ECFA’s decision to terminate our membership, we learned volumes from their review and, with the Lord’s help, we will do better.”
Erwin, who resigned from the GFA board in October after 30 years of service, also released a copy of an internal inquiry he had conducted for the board.
That inquiry looked at accusations of misconduct by GFA leaders. The accusations were made by a group of former employees known as the GFA Diaspora.