Gospel for Asia Settles for $37 Million Over Fraud Charges

GFA operates mostly in India, where it is known as Believers Church (or Believers Eastern Church). According to the church’s website, it is autonomous and “adheres to the episcopal governance and structure embodied in Scripture and followed by the Church Fathers.”

GFA’s focus is the so-called 10/40 window, a highly populated yet un-evangelized area. Projects include its Bridge of Hope child-sponsorship program, the drilling of Jesus Wells for clean drinking water, and literary classes for impoverished women. GFA brought in an estimated $93.8 million in donations in 2013 alone.

Critics Say Gospel for Asia Isn’t Vindicated 

Some former employees say GFA has a “dark side,” including controlling tactics that verge on cult-like practices. Other critics say the ministry is financially deceptive and insist the settlement doesn’t provide vindication. Skeptics point out GFA relies heavily on outside PR, which characterizes the organization as a “missions phenomenon.”

Journalist Julie Roys, who was instrumental in exposing abuses by James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel, says coverage of the GFA settlement shows how “Christian media tend to give Christian groups more of a pass than they deserve.” In a blog post about spin and “soft media coverage,” she writes that it’s “absolutely laughable” for Moore to claim the settlement isn’t an admission of guilt. “Who pays $37 million to settle ‘bogus’ allegations?” Roys asks.

Some coverage of the settlement sorely lacks balance, Roys writes, merely giving Yohannan “a platform to make his cause seem somehow noble and spiritual.” She urges Christians to be discerning media consumers and to not overlook bloggers, who “often expose the facts that no one else will.”

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Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 26 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.