It is now widely known that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Gospel for Asia (for more go here and here). In previous posts I have raised my own concerns about this mission which has apparently evolved into a kind of Episcopal Church with the "Metropolitan Bishop" KP Yohannan as its head, and ordinands vowing submission to his 'rule'. Though aware of the allegations of misappropriation of funds, I chose rather to give attention to what wasn't only alleged. I wrote instead about the Believer's Church and the unique (and troubling) role that KP plays in that Church.
I have written since only briefly about Gospel's for Asia's use of donor money.
Over the last several months EFCA has stripped GFA of its membership; and GFA has - in the meanwhile - been forced to face increasing scrutiny; and now a class action lawsuit.
First, we should pray for KP and GFA. As a long time supporter of this organization I have been heartsick about what has transpired in the last year. Early in 2015 I was still staunchly in their support. I refused to hear criticisms, and I was prepared to be loyal no matter how the 'enemy' sought to undermine their work. That is how I saw it at the time. But facts are stubborn, and I couldn't ignore them forever. I have loved KP and GFA for a long time. Though I am opposed to Believer's Church and while I am grieved at the mission's apparent lack of integrity and the alleged misappropriation of funds, I still love KP. We need to go on praying for him.
Second, we should oppose the lawsuit. Paul asks, "Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest manners?... But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded (1 Corinthians 6:1-7; italics are mine!)?" Let the authorities do their work. If KP and GFA are guilty of criminal wrongdoing we can trust that the authorities will make that discovery. It is, however, unseemly when a believer sues another believer as seems to be the case here.
There is a great deal of anger toward GFA... and much of it unrighteous. Numbers of us feel that we have been defrauded and it may turn out we have been. But God asks, "Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" Why not take the wrong? Perhaps our donations given in faith were not used as we had hoped. Instead of supporting orphan children it may be we were supporting something else entirely. But we gave those gifts in faith and trust to the Lord; and if we gave them to Him we can be sure He received them. It is enough that our Lord took pleasure in the gift. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He did not need the widow's two mites, as He does not need yours. Nonetheless, He took pleasure in the widow's generosity which spoke so well of her heart for Him. The money may be lost, but your gift in love to God is not.
Third, we need to be careful that we are not rejoicing in iniquity but in the truth. We would do well to read over 1 Corinthians 13. I have noticed in conversations across the internet a spirit of rejoicing at the announcement that a lawsuit has been filed. I find that baffling. This is cause for mourning not rejoicing. [I speak not of the lawsuit itself but the alleged criminality of KP and GFA.] Think of the honour of our Saviour. Will His dear name be blasphemed among the nations because of these proceedings - as sin and criminality are uncovered? What is there to rejoice in that? Has a brother fallen into sin? Should we not rather grieve for him? Christian, here is cause for deep sorrow not gladness and celebration!
Fourth, we need to remember the grace wherein we stand. Be angry and sin not. Be careful of pride lest you too should fall. There is a proper, indeed Biblical, way to deal with sin. Of course, KP is not part of my church nor (likely) yours. In fact, he is the head of his own. We are limited, then, in what we can do. Still, we can be careful that our handling of this man's sin does not involve sin also on our part. The man needs to be corrected, but we must do so in a spirit of grace and meekness. He needs grace not hatred. He is entangled in sin... I have no doubt about that. But it could have been me or you.
So, how would you want a brother to help you in your sin? Think of the Saviour's gracious dealings with you. His aim (remember) was not your exposure, your shame, or your condemnation. His aim was your recovery. He sought you in order to have you reconciled to Him. Let us aim - in our own way - at KP's recovery. Stop giving to GFA, but do (gently and graciously) let them know why... and then pray and plead for him.
I am certain of this: If our aim is actually his recovery we will be careful of what we say. Please be careful of the things you say; and if we will call on him to repent let us in our turn repent of those times when we have spoken in anger rather than love.
My hope and prayer is not only for KP and GFA but also for the broader testimony of the Church. We want to see GFA brought to repentance. We want to see KP repent personally. We want to see Believer's Church functioning as the Church ought: confessing the crown rights of King Jesus and bringing all glory and honour rather to Him. But I also hope that we might be a testimony to the world in the way that he handle one another. It is hard because this man is not part of my church or yours. Still, we can speak the truth lovingly. We can make our aim this man's restoration. And we can - with God's help - be gracious. Let us be careful lest we be found out as the unmerciful servant. We have been forgiven a far greater debt than KP could ever owe us. Let's be willing, then, to extend him mercy.
I believe it is good and, indeed, necessary to raise awareness about what is happening. The truth needs to be brought to light. Still, we need to be careful of our motives, and careful that we pray for this man more than we talk about him. Make no mistake. I believe grievous sin has been done. I believe the sin needs exposing. I believe Believer's Church should be reformed or shut down. I am truly thankful for the work of Warren Throckmorton and others. Nonetheless, I worry at the testimony of the Church in all of this. I worry when I read comment threads and see people heaping up criticisms on a brother. This is not helpful.
We do need to get the truth out there for the sake of the gospel and the honour of our King - but let us be sure of our motives. We want this man's restoration. We want his recovery; and we want all honour and praise to be given unto our glorious King Jesus. Remember these things as you comment and post and text... and for every comment, post or text pray and then pray again.
If Gospel for Asia has taught us anything it is the blessing of the Church. This is why God has given us under-shepherds (elders, presbyteries, synods): for our accountability - so that what happened to KP couldn't happen; so that men who begin to wander into sin may be reclaimed; and so that oversight might given when so much is at stake.
[February 18, 2016: After a helpful conversation with a brother in the Lord I have decided to add the following clarification to what I have written above. I don't personally question the motives of the couple filing the lawsuit. They are undoubtedly acting in faith doing what they believe necessary for the good of the Church. Still, I am convinced there is a better way. Better to let the criminal investigation unfold. Let the authorities decide whether or not there is criminal behaviour that needs prosecuting. I simply cannot see my way around Paul's admonition. It seems many of us have been defrauded. So - says Paul - suffer the wrong. Setting aside the lawsuit itself I admit am worried that those of us who have suffered wrong may be tempted to unrighteous anger, and so rejoice at the public discovery of sin and its fallout. Of course, we want the sin to stop even as we hope donations may be directed to more worthy objects. But our attitude toward these discoveries is my main concern. We should be mourning rather than rejoicing! Even as we pray for KP and GFA let's pray also for this couple and many others trying to faithfully respond to sin.]