Chan said he wasn’t sure if he should stay on the GFA board. But he plans to stick by Yohannan.
“While there remains uncertainty, I do know that I love K.P. and pray for him,” he said. “I see him as a brother and a friend, and I want to be the godliest friend I can be to him during this time.”
For several former staffers, a breaking point came in 2013, when GFA began sending cash money overseas in unmarked envelopes.
At the time, the ministry was concerned about increased scrutiny from the Indian government. So it began asking staff, students, and pastors on vision tours to carry cash for the ministry without declaring it to US officials, according to former staff members.
US regulations stipulate that travelers must declare any amount over $10,000 when leaving the country. Former staff members and students in GFA’s school of discipleship told CT that GFA attempted get around that rule by having a number of group members carry smaller amounts—as much as $4,500 each.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warns that such “bulk cash smuggling” is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Helm said he carried $4,500 in cash on one occasion and that Yohannan asked him to give similar envelopes to the group of pastors he was leading. The total amount of cash exceeded the $10,000 limit, he said. Helm refused to hand the cash to the pastors.
Upon arrival in India, Helm said he turned over the cash to GFA staff but did not receive a receipt. Some cash was also carried by students in GFA’s School of Discipleship.
“We’ve taken more than a half million through these students to India—and never got a receipt,” Helm said.
Several former School of Discipleship students and one other former staff member confirmed to CT that they had carried cash for the ministry. They requested anonymity, saying they had been contacted by DHS as part of an investigation into GFA’s actions.
In a May staff meeting, Carroll said the practice of carrying undeclared cash was legal. He also said that GFA had decided to stop the practice.
“We would never endanger students or anyone else,” Carroll said in a recording of the meeting, posted online by Throckmorton. “We’ve had pastors carry money, we’ve had staff carry money, we’re always looking for ways to get money into India because the reality is that it’s getting more difficult to do that, and we are looking for other ways that we’re able to do that.”
Carroll told CT that GFA contacted DHS earlier this year, after becoming aware that it should have filed declarations. He said that GFA’s attorneys have now filed all the necessary paperwork, but said that he did not have copies of the paperwork.
“If we are being investigated, we have not heard anything about it,” he said.
A spokesperson for DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement told CT the agency “does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation unless the matter is publicly available through court documents.”
Although they aren’t happy with the outcome, GFA leaders say they’ve learned from the ECFA’s review.
“We believe that much of the conversation we have had with ECFA has indeed been part of the Lord showing us the way and how to walk in it,” GFA said in its statement. “We are truly grateful for this part of our journey in learning how to better serve our Lord Jesus, our donors and sponsors, and our field partners as we go forward.”
Morgan Lee and Ruth Moon contributed to this report.