JD lets KP know tomorrow will work for a call.
“I’ll be available tomorrow afternoon…”
From: K.P. Yohannan <email@example.com>
To: JD Smith <xxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, March 2, 2012 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: Spiritual Authority
JD lets KP know tomorrow will work for a call.
“I’ll be available tomorrow afternoon…”
From: K.P. Yohannan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: JD Smith <xxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, March 2, 2012 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: Spiritual Authority
“Dear JD, thank you for your email. It is enlightening, and I appreciate it.”
Dear JD, thank you for your email. It is enlightening, and I appreciate it. Give me a number where I can call you and let me know a good time to call. It’ll be much easier than replying by email. KP Yohannan
From: JD Smith
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 9:09 AM
To: K.P. Yohannan
Subject: Spiritual Authority
“One of the issues which I believe is at the heart of many of the misunderstandings at GFA is the issue of spiritual authority, and specifically who is a spiritual authority, and to what extent does their authority go.”
GFA US: Joe P. – Church Relations, Volunteer, HR Dept. Coordinator;
Cari P. – Web Marketing
2010 – 2014
We were on staff from February 15, 2010 through June 10, 2014. During that time we were treated very nicely by everyone there, staff and leadership. We were blessed to develop wonderful friendships and live together as a community. When we were in need, leadership and staff supported us. When we saw others in need, we did our best to help them when we could. In so many ways, being on staff was truly wonderful for us. Unfortunately, over the four and one-half years we were there we discovered that GFA is not what it appears to be from the outside. Had I not seen and experienced this first hand, I would never believe it.
Although we have left GFA because the ministry is no longer what we agreed to support when we signed our statement of agreement and we do not agree with the new teachings, methods, and practices of the ministry, we are not on an anti-GFA crusade. We still greatly desire to see the unreached reached with the gospel of Jesus and do not in any way want to hinder that, but we must not ignore God’s Word or justify the breaking of God’s commands to reach the lost. If someone is in agreement with the teachings, methods, and practices of GFA, then it is their choice if they want to get involved with such a ministry. But GFA should be open, honest, and straightforward and disclose their teachings, methods, and practices to all current and potential supporters, staff, and students so that each can have all the information and make an informed decision regarding whether or not they want to support or be a part of such a ministry.
We are greatly concerned for the uninformed, unsuspecting, and trusting believers who may get pulled into this ministry without knowing what they are really getting into and what the ministry is truly doing and promoting. We are greatly concerned for the young adults and their parents who think they are sending their young adult children to a safe and solid non-denominational ministry and who have no idea what is being taught behind the scenes. We must never do the Lord’s work deceitfully in any way, so we humbly share this testimony out of our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, those at GFA and those who are not, because love “rejoices in the truth.”
Before joining, we diligently sought the Lord’s will and He made it very clear to us that He was calling us to join staff. To this day I am absolutely certain He called us to GFA. As a dear brother in Christ and supporter said to me when I told him we were leaving and why, he said when Jesus got into the boat with His disciples in Matthew 8, He knew there was going to be a storm – He KNEW there was going to be a storm! And Jesus still had them get into the boat and go into the storm. He led them into the storm, He was with them in the storm, He led them through the storm, and He calmed the storm. And in the end, the Lord was glorified! So despite the storms we have faced, we can KNOW the Lord has been and IS with us as we continue to follow Him!
Shortly after joining staff, I began to notice some things that troubled me such as, Why does KP live in Castle Hills? That did not seem like “The Road to Reality” he wrote about. Why did such a large number of staff leave somewhere around 2003-2005? Why are we still asking for people to donate money for bicycles when so many have already been provided? Why when responding to a question about the ministry was I to share less information rather than more?
Despite these questions, I trusted leadership and accepted their answers and explanations because so many people, churches, and pastors spoke so highly of GFA and I did not find anything on the internet that contradicted that (other than some obviously anti-Christian websites). Also, I didn’t want to let such seemingly little things distract me from the main thing: reaching the 80,000+ who are perishing each day in the 10/40 window without Jesus! Certainly that was much more important than such seemingly little things! I did not want anything to hinder the lost from being reached, so I didn’t put these things, these “plates” as one leader refers to issues that staff members encounter, up on a shelf to remember. Instead, I pushed them under a rug or into a closet so they would be out of mind and not distract us from our call.
When I saw photos of the brothers in the field wearing cassocks, and when I saw them in person, as well as the bishops in their special colored cassocks when we went to India in September of 2010, I accepted the standard explanation from leadership that the cassocks help them in the Indian culture. But then at the watch night service on New Year’s Eve 2011 (going into 2012) I was absolutely amazed, astonished and baffled to see KP wearing a special cassock with a stole and beaded necklace with a cross to prepare for Holy Communion. I was really surprised and taken aback by this. He then proceeded to say special prayers over the bread and wine (juice?) and make the sign of the cross a number of times.
But again even though this bothered me, I wanted to extend grace and not let this cause division or distract us from our call. One of the senior leaders who was my mentor asked me if I was ok with this. Well, after having seen the campus pastor at one church in Carrollton about a year earlier present communion by saying, “let’s play a little make believe and pretend the bread is the best feast you ever had” and “let’s play a little more make believe and pretend the juice is the best vintage wine, non-alcoholic of course” (yes, that is what he actually said), the special attire KP wore and the special prayers KP said seemed much more respectful. So I told the senior leader that although I was not comfortable with it, it was better than someone saying we were going to play make believe.
Then Believer’s Church was started at GFA in July of 2012. Even though we were not required to attend, my wife, C.P., and I wanted to fellowship and worship together with other GFA staff, so we decided to attend. On the first Sunday I again was amazed to see how very liturgical it was, especially the special consecration of the bread with the prayer that “it may become for us the body of Christ,” and the consecration of the wine (juice) with the prayer that “it may become for us the blood of Christ.”
Having grown up in the Roman Catholic Church (in which I had nothing but wonderful experiences – other than being picked on a few times by one of the school bullies in the grade school), I did not want my knowledge of the false teachings of the RCC to interfere with what could be something positive that maybe I needed to learn. So my family and I attended for about six weeks or so trying to accept the highly liturgical format of the service including the special white cassocks the leader would wear with a shiny gold stole over his shoulders (yes, not just in India, but now in the U.S. office) as he presided over the service. The purpose of these cassocks we were told was “to cover the man,” though to me and everyone in my family it always seemed to bring more attention to the “specialness” of that man and set him apart and above from the rest of us. After about six weeks C.P. and I agreed to once again begin attending one of the solid bible teaching fellowships in the area.
Sometime around September of that year we spoke with one of the senior leaders about the liturgical practices of Believers Church and he suggested we speak with KP about it. So one afternoon we met with KP and he suggested that we study the early church fathers and he gave us a five part video series on worship which he had presented to the brothers in the field in August of 2012.
C.P. and I watched the first two videos together in the next month or so, but then for some reason we did not watch the final three until I began watching them myself January of 2014. I do not remember whether or not the first two parts had anything that was new to us and I did not take any notes on them, but the final three clearly presented KP’s teaching that the Sunday worship service should be based upon the liturgy that developed from second through fifth century church (what some call the ancient church) and that the Holy Eucharist is the climax of the worship service during which we experience the mystical presence of Christ. In KP’s words, “The Lord gives Himself to us in the sacrament of Holy Communion.” And “Body language is very important…the washing of hands, the gesture of laying hands on the bread and wine. Not just laying on of hands, but I found that it would be a gesture three times representing the Holy Spirit that it may become for us the body of the Lord Jesus.”
At one point Part 4 of the video series KP states that the early church fathers celebrated the Holy Eucharist every Sunday and he says, “So you say, ‘Metropolitan, why don’t we have Holy Communion every Sunday?’ We will, don’t worry, we will.” I am not saying it is wrong to have communion every week, but I believe this was the beginning of the high liturgy in the Believers Church and the initial training and preparation for the brothers in the field to be led into the Episcopal/Anglican-like beliefs and practices for their church services.
It was the beginning of 2014 when I began to really wrestle with the direction the ministry was going and what was and wasn’t being communicated to supporters. Additionally, a friend of mine had a son who was considering joining GFA’s School of Discipleship (SD). So now I needed to know, not just for me and my family, and my supporters, but for my friend and his son who he was possibly going to entrust to GFA for a year.
About that time GFA started a second year for the SD and offered a class on Wednesday evenings called, “Church History through 1200 AD” which staff were invited and encouraged to attend. So C.P. and I did attend hoping to grow in our understanding and acceptance of the direction GFA was going. The required book on Church History was very good and I read it through completely.
The supplemental book for the class which I also read through carefully and completely was “Common Roots – The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith” by Robert Webber, the father of the Ancient-Future Faith movement. This book really troubled me because it teaches among a number of other troubling things, “the climax of worship is the Eucharist, for the symbols of bread and wine are the material objects that in a mysterious manner are connected with the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ…” It also endorses the teachings of the mystics to the extent that Robert Webber states, “The primary source of spiritual reading is the Bible. But we must not in our love of the Scripture avoid the mystics and activists,” and, “Those who neglect these works do so to their own harm, and those who read them do so to their own inspiration and spiritual growth.” I wondered, “Do the parents of these students, even though the students are adults, have any idea what their young adult children are being taught?”
One of the things that was clearly taught and emphasized in the class was that the eastern church is led by a Metropolitan who is just one of the bishops and is considered the “first among equals.” We were taught that this is also how Believers Church is set up with KP as the Metropolitan and as such he is just the first among equals. But a few months later I found on the Believers Church website that the Metropolitan of Believers Church is actually “the supreme head” of Believers Church. A position where someone is the “supreme head” is very different from a position where someone is “the first among equals.”
As I diligently continued to seek the Lord daily about what the truth is and what is going on with the ministry, I often cried out to the Lord with tears and even questioned if I was being deceived by the enemy to pull me out of the battle. I prayed and fasted asking for the Lord to show me the truth. I asked Him to show me if I could stay. At times I questioned and doubted if I could hear from the Lord or if the enemy was deceiving me. But I held onto the truth of His Word and His promises and sought to walk fully in the light of the truth.. And as I held on to the Lord through this, I knew the Lord would never leave me and that “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps 145:18) I clung tightly to Him and to this promise!
As I prayed and sought the Lord in all this, I did not discuss my struggle with anyone, not even my wife. My reason was that I was not sure about any of this (that now is so very clear) and if I was wrong, I did not want to sow seeds of doubt in my dear wife’s heart and mind. I did not contact any current or former staff members about any of this, nor did any former staff contact me about any of this. Nor did I contact any churches or pastors about any of this, nor did any contact me about any of this. I wanted to be sure the guidance I received was from the Lord and trusted that when He showed me the truth, He would confirm it, and I could seek council before I made any decisions.
In May of this year (2014) I was getting to a point where I was greatly and heavily burdened with what the Lord was revealing to me. I was reading past prayer notes and seeing the dangerous teachings and the deceptiveness of the ministry more and more clearly – it was beginning to eat me up on the inside as I shared this with no one. Much of KP’s teaching is filled with truth and appears on the surface as being really good. But being on staff and wanting to “stay in the battle” and staying focused on one’s “call,” these messages are heard through a filter that screens out the underlying messages. From time to time I would hear things that were troubling to me, but after just a brief moment or two of thought, I would shove those things and thoughts under a rug or under a bed or into a closet. After all, I didn’t want anything to distract me from my “call”. As time went on however, KP’s teachings became more and more troubling to me. Below are some of his teachings that are dangerous, or at least, potentially dangerous. I have included just a few of multiple quotes from KP that I have for each:
Independent thinking is discouraged and linked to pridefulness and a lack of humility:
The independent thinking of our culture – I don’t know anything more dangerous to embracing a life of humility. I say that carefully because I struggle with it too. I have no illusion, I know some of you will not embrace this. I’m not beating you up, I just want to continue to ask you to embrace this life of humility on your journey with the Lord. (2013-09-24)
I’ve been agonizing over the east campus. My biggest agony is: is living in community with people who are one, serving God an illusion? As a nation we are heading toward anarchy; nothing is going to be safe. No family will survive on their own. The only way to survive is to be a community. What will keep us from being a community? Pride and independent thinking. (2013-10-08)
When we understand the sovereignty of God, that our life is not independent for us to make our own decisions, comes abandonment. (2014-05-13)
Leadership is to be obeyed without question:
“I thank God for our brothers __ and __ who served in our US office, but when asked, moved to different countries to head up other offices without question. I’m certain most of you would do that. Please, consider this call as serious. Let’s look at our life and evaluate, not as Americans, but as missionaries living in a world that is dark and desperately in need. We have no choice but to obey without question what the Lord asks.” (2011-11-15) [This last sentence equates instructions from KP as instructions from the Lord that should not be questioned.]
Asking to pray about a major life change is rebellion:
“Recently, I had a couple students approach me about serving the Lord in other countries. I ask you too, would you be willing to take your wife and children to some other country if I asked? You might say, “Let me pray about it,” but that answer is the independent passive rebellious nature.” (2011-11-15)
Elitism is promoted:
The bride that Jesus is coming for, we are part of one of the most elite groups in history, living in the enemy’s territory calling people to follow the Lamb. (2014-01-14)
Distrust of anyone, even family, other than leadership:
“The most dangerous thing is people that you believe in or you are related to, they sow the seeds of doubt and confusion and questioning and you start wondering. You need to guard your mind, your ears from listening to people who care more about your wellbeing and your happiness than for the glory of God and for the things of God. When someone, even among us, who is your best friend to you and me and we’ve never had to put our guards up, but when they are discouraged and down and out they will start talking to you.” (2014-01-10)
Don’t let anyone – mother, father, family, friends – influence you to the extent that you begin to wonder if you should do something else. Jesus firmly said, “Who is my brother, sister, mother, or father?” His mother and brothers were afraid that He was losing His mind and they wanted him to get away! But Jesus evaluated his blood relationships and family in light of his relationship to God the Father and why His Father sent Him to earth. Peter, one of His closest friends, said, “Jesus, please don’t talk about being killed or dying” and Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan. Peter, you are speaking in human interest not in God’s interest.” This is a battle we have to deal with all of our lives. Trials, loneliness, confusion and attacks, all of these things come as a deliberate attack from the enemy to dilute our call and decision to follow the Lord. (2014-02-25)
Discourages open discussions about problems or concerns:
“All of you husbands and wives, and families, you especially need to be sensitive. In my home, many times my wife would quietly say, “What you are saying, I don’t think the Lord would say that. I don’t think that’s what Scripture says.” There was never a time that I can remember of Gisela looking at me, “What is wrong with you? You are a creep.” No. She’s very humble, very gentle but very much focused always to align with God not with her husband. We need to be very careful even in our homes. When our children were growing up, Gisela and I made some covenants about raising children and one of the things was we both made a promise to God our children will never hear us say anything unkind or negative about anyone, in the car or at our dining table or anywhere.” (2014-01-10)
Avoid people, even your best friends, even people in the ministry, who constantly only talk about comfort and ease and niceness and are negative about leaders. You and I need to be helping others, all of us together to protect us that the wall of separation from the world and worldliness will not be broken down and our lives are destroyed. I have seen this happen, and it could happen to us and it has to staff who have left from here and they contact me, a few of them, with statements, “I only wish I didn’t listen to that person. I only wish I was more honest to ask and walk in the light.” The reason I’m saying this to you, you, in a million years, will never be strong enough to keep your heart from being destroyed by negative input by listening to people. (2014-01-10)
Fosters an environment of fear (even fear of the truth):
“In a thousand years, you will not be spiritually strong enough to save yourself from evil report. And that’s what you need to keep in mind. The millions of people God delivered from Egypt, they were destroyed, except Joshua and Caleb. It says in Numbers 13:14, “They heard evil report.” And what was the evil report? It was truth, giants in the land. It is full of difficulties and the terrain is bad and it’s a mean situation. They were telling the truth. But that became evil report, and people believed and they were all destroyed.” (2014-01-10)
I have watched for 30 years how many people came here, having given up everything in their life, but how the churches and preachers have destroyed their life. (2012-11-13)
Humility is something that God will not give you. You can pray for it but you may end up in such catastrophic experiences. Because when God humbles someone you can get into a lot of trouble like in Daniel. He (Nebuchadnezzar) boasted in his empire and then became insane. (2013-07-09)
You need to be very, very careful, otherwise you will be deceived. And when you are deceived, you do not know you are deceived. (2012-11-13)
People outside of GFA do not understand our call:
“We at GFA have something that no one has, that is one another and Jesus. How do we live with hope and enthusiasm? What keeps us from killing ourselves? What keeps us to survive during seasons of going through the valley? Psalm 23, people read that when people die but it is not for that. Who will help us? Don’t look to people who don’t understand your journey. When Balaam was hired to say negative words to God’s people, no matter what he did, he couldn’t do it. He opened his mouth and said good things. In the end it was getting really confusing, he said, “I tell you what, nothing I say is going to work but you can do something to destroy them. God will not do one thing wrong, God will not destroy them. But if you do this, they will do certain things and they will be destroyed.” So they infiltrated, the wall of separation was taken down. They went in and began to mingle with the people of God, and they put their guard down and they talked and influenced everything and became the reason for God to judge them.”
As I came across these teachings, I began to understand the dynamics of how GFA operates. I had heard most of them before and had pushed them out of my thoughts, yet they still began to affect the way I lived and thought and even my relationship with the Lord. I am so thankful that somehow the Lord revealed the truth and the dangers of these teachings to me before I became completely blinded to the reality of the psychological and spiritual manipulation and control that is practiced at GFA and which most staff do not see because of their sincere and innocent hearts toward the Lord, their love of Jesus, and their trust in KP and other leadership at GFA.
On May 16, 2014, KP clearly revealed the direction he is leading the ministry when after the morning prayer meeting he recommended three books by Robert Webber who is considered the father of the Ancient-Future movement. KP said these books would be beneficial and helpful and give a biblical approach to life. The books are: 1) “Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith” (one of the two books used for the SD class: “Church History through 1200 AD” and which I referenced earlier); 2) “Worship is a Verb: Eight Principles for Transforming Worship”; 3) “Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church.” By endorsing these books to staff, it is clear to see that KP is leading the ministry into the Ancient-Future church movement and into Anglican-like or Episcopal-like beliefs and practices.
The problem with this is not just that I disagree with these teachings because they encourage spiritual activities, practices, and rituals that are not biblical and that are potentially very dangerous to one’s spiritual well-being. The problem with this is that the ministry has intentionally concealed this information from supporters, including those supporters who they know are opposed to these teachings. They have failed to openly, clearly, and plainly disclose these things to those outside the ministry as evidenced by what staff is allowed to communicate to their supporters and by the editing of reports, videos, and photos from the field to remove evidence of these practices in the field. This is deceptive communication.
One example of deceptive communication is the description of the “Practices of Believers Church” on their website, www.gfa.org, which I have shown below:
Practices of Believers Church
If you ever travel to various Believers Church ministry sites, you may encounter practices, protocols and dress codes that are a little different from what you are accustomed to. Some of them are simply cultural, others are biblical practices that may not be emphasized as much in other nations, while others are just matters of practicality. It is important to note that many evangelical churches in Asia share the same or similar church systems and practices as Believers Church.
Some of these systems and practices have been misunderstood by some in the Body of Christ who have accused us of being Catholic, which we are not. Nor are we Presbyterian or Anglican or Charismatic or Pentecostal. Rather, we are part of Christ’s Body, seeking to exalt Him and display His love and glory to the unreached masses in a very hostile environment.
The explanation above speaks of denominations that Believers Church is not and by not stating that Believers Church is a denomination and not explaining the actual type of denomination they are, to the uninformed, unsuspecting, and trusting believer, it appears as though they are a non-denominational church like most of the churches that currently support them. Additionally, this explanation is not directly linked through the “About” page on www.gfa.org. In order to find it, one would have to know about Believers Church being the name of the churches supported by GFA and specify a search on the www.gfa.org web site for “Believers Church.”
The explanation staff is given for this is that GFA does not want to show a connection to Believers Church for the protection of the brothers and sisters in the field. But in the center of the 2012 Annual Report there is a photo of a church building with “Believers Church” very clearly and prominently shown on the front of the church. And, if one goes to the Gospel for Asia India website (www.gospelforasia.in) and then to the “About” page there, the following statement is found, “Under the leadership of Believers Church’s Episcopal Synod, we improve the lifestyle of both rural and urban communities through various development projects.” So there is a direct connection between GFA and Believers Church on the India website. Additionally, if the link to “Believers Church’s” in the quote above is selected, you are directed to www.believerschurch.com where on their “About” page one will see the following description of Believers Church:
In Service to God
Believers Church, a Christian denomination, is Apostolic in origin, universal in nature, Biblical and evangelical in faith, ecumenical in outlook, and Episcopal in governance. The Church at present has thirteen Bishops, with the Metropolitan as the supreme head, giving his spiritual and administrative leadership in the service of God and humanity. The Church adheres to the Nicene Creed, Biblical Faith, and traditions of the historical church backed up with its own Canonical Constitution. The Episcopal Synod and the Diocesan Councils take the responsibility for planning and executing the mission, religious life, and charitable programs of the Church.
This clearly shows that Believers Church is a denomination, that it is Episcopal in governance, and it has a Metropolitan (KP) as the supreme head. This is who and what Believers Church is and GFA in the U.S. should not have to conceal this from anyone. Failing to be transparent and disclose this information to the U.S. and other western supporters is deceptive.
Another example is from when I was the prayer coordinator. In 2011 or 2012 we received video reports from various regions in Asia showing what was going on in their areas and we would show them at Tuesday night prayer. One night the field report we showed had a photo of KP with his salmon colored cassock and his beads and cross. The narrator said something like, “Thanks to his eminence, the reverend bishop KP Yohannan…” After the prayer meeting I was asked by one of the senior leaders about who was reviewing the videos before they were shown and to make sure such things would be edited out of the videos in the future. The reason for editing such things out was because some staff and visitors would not understand. I accepted that explanation and agreed to make sure that was done for the future videos.
A third example I came across after my initial meeting with leadership about leaving. While browsing the internet I came across a photo of KP holding a child in India and he was again wearing his salmon colored cassock and his beads and cross. Then the next day I saw the same exact photo in the 2013 Annual Report inside the front cover, but the beads were completely gone! Then I looked in the 2012 Annual Report and inside the front cover I saw another photo of the same little girl with KP taken at the same time, but in this photo the beads appeared much smaller than the original and the color was much very different than the original dark brown or dark burgundy and was now a much lighter color similar to KP’s cassock. These photos are shown below:
When I asked a senior leader about this, I calmly and politely stated that this could appear to be deceptive. His response was not concern about the photos, but said in a very loud and angry voice, “how can you make yourself judge, jury, and executioner?!” I said I am just asking what happened to the beads to which he replied, “What about Matthew 18?” I replied, “I did not say this is sin, I am just asking what happened to the beads?” To which he again replied, “What about Matthew 18?” This “What about Matthew 18?” statement was repeated to me several times when I restated my question, “What happened to the beads?” I share this detail not to get into all the “I said…” and “he said…”, but because this was so very strange and weird and not at all the response I would expect from a normally very calm, gentle, and kind brother in the Lord. He did apologize for the way he spoke to me, but to this day he has not expressed any concern about the photo to me nor has he or anyone else presented an explanation to me.
I could not believe it when I discovered these photos and I found it even harder to believe the response I received from the senior leader. I was heartbroken to see this from a ministry that I was a part of and passionately represented and supported. A ministry that has one of its core values stated as: “Being a people of integrity and excellence” and which I thought was beyond reproach in regard to integrity. Modification of photos to minimize or remove objects not just to protect the missionaries in the field, but to minimize or remove objects that may raise questions about the ministry was now obviously not a one-time occurrence. This practice may be used in the secular world, but as followers of Jesus we should never practice such deception.
These three examples show that GFA’s nondisclosure and concealing of the Ancient-Future movement and the Episcopal/Anglican-like denomination and practices of GFA and Believers Church are deceptive. This hit me very personally when I thought about my own supporters. One of my supporters who is an elderly lady in her late 70s who lives alone in a very simple and small one-bedroom apartment and was supporting me for the equivalent of $8.33 per month and who I know is opposed to the Ancient-Future church movement and would not want to support it in any way. I knew it would be deceptive of me if I continued to accept support from her, or any of my other supporters without being open and transparent with them.
As I wrestled with open honesty versus deception, I felt led me to do a word study of deception in the Bible which led me to the following verse:
“Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully,” Jeremiah 48:10
Although the quote above is in a section about Moab, the principle is applicable to all. I knew immediately that I would be committing the sin of deceit and would deserve to be cursed by God if I were to continue saying I was doing the work of the Lord without being open and honest with my supporters about what GFA is doing and the direction it is going.
Then on Saturday, May 17, 2014, the first house dedication at the east campus took place. When KP arrived in a car driven by one of the leaders, KP was in the back seat even though no one was in the front passenger seat. This seemed a bit strange. But even stranger was that he was wearing two layers of silk or satin robes – something like the pope might wear – and like I had never seen him wear before. Then on the way home, we were passed by the car driven by the same GFA leader and again KP was in the back. Unless KP has motion sickness when he sits in the front seat, he was clearly be chauffeured to and from the east campus. This may not be a big deal to some people, but it certainly appeared to us as KP positioning himself in a special place of prominence above others.
The next morning in my prayer time I cried out to the Lord, with knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes, that I did not know how much longer I could go on without sharing this with my wife – it was eating me up on the inside and the weight and conviction from the Lord was getting heavier and heavier. About an hour later my wife asked me, “Can I ask you a question?” And I said silently to the Lord, “Oh Lord, please let the floodgates open. Please let the floodgates open!” And they did! We spoke for about an hour or so about things that had been bothering her. And she said, “I didn’t think any of this bothered you.” I replied, “You know how you have been asking me for the last two months or so if I was alright? Well, it hasn’t been the work load or anything like that. It has been all these things that I have been wrestling with,” and I opened up to her about the things I described earlier in this letter and she opened up to me about more things that had been bothering her. At the end of our conversation, we knew we had to decide what to do, so C.P. and I decided to meet with our mentors, and they agreed to meet with us the next evening, Monday, May 19, 2014.
When we met with them, I shared my concerns about how the ministry has become an Episcopal-like denomination and the Ancient-Future direction it has gone, and that is not what we came to GFA to support. I also shared that the ministry is being deceptive by not letting supporters know about this. With very heavy conviction upon me and sobbing I told them I could not deceive our supporters. Our mentors did not deny or try to correct me on this. The husband said that he has disagreed with some of the things KP had done over the years and he has thought about leaving a number of times. Each time he would pray about it and each time he felt as though the Lord did not show him where he should go, so he has stayed and prayed for KP. He said this at least three, maybe four times, and told me to pray about it.
So we continued to pray about it, and that week I called the pastor of our sending church and two other pastors who supported us and told them about Ancient-Future movement and liturgical movement of GFA. They each were surprised to hear about this as they previously had no idea this was going on for at least a year and a half and they were very concerned about this.
I also spoke with my friend whose son had now been accepted into the SD for the August 2014 class. He also was very surprised to hear about this and had no idea this is what would be taught to his son and that the students were required to attend GFA’s church (which I thought was Believers Church as it was before for staff, but now is GFA church and is still very liturgical and the students are required to go to it and are not free to choose a church on their own). I told him there were some very good things about SD that his son might benefit from, but that he needed to check it out more thoroughly as though I was not on staff.
After the Tuesday Night Prayer meeting that same week, the Church Relations coordinator approached me and said since one of the other speakers was no longer on staff, he would probably be asking me to go to churches more frequently. I told him that I needed to speak with him as soon as possible because I was really struggling with some things in the ministry. We met on Thursday and I shared with him that I did not think I could represent the ministry appropriately at the church meeting I was scheduled to go to in a week and a half, on June 1. I apologized to him for the late notice, but he graciously said ok, he understood, and to let him know if I worked through things so he could begin scheduling me again.
Later that afternoon, one of the senior leaders who also is a speaker and was now going to that church meeting, came to my office and asked how I was doing. I shared some of my concerns about the liturgical movement of the ministry and that it bothered me that the pastors in the field were called Father. He assured me that they were going to stop using that title and he said he would pray for me.
Over that Memorial Day weekend, C.P. and I continued to seek the Lord in this and we agreed that I would speak with leadership on Tuesday. So Tuesday afternoon I e-mailed the senior leader who I spoke to on Thursday and my Group Coordinator that I needed to meet with them about my serving at the ministry. Within about a half hour I was contacted to meet in his office with my Group Coordinator there. One of the first things the senior leader said to me was, “how can you come in here when brother KP is in India and try to leave before he gets back?” I said, “Brother, I did not come in here to tell you I am leaving. I would love to meet with brother KP and would welcome a meeting with him. I just came in to tell you that I have concerns and don’t know if I can continue supporting and representing the ministry. I know this is not good timing since it is such a very busy time with the move coming up and all, but I wanted to let you know about how I was feeling as soon as I felt I could.” The next part of our conversation went something like this:
Leader his normal voice: “So is God telling you to leave?”
Me: “I don’t know. I just know that I don’t think I can continue… ”
Leader interrupting me with a slightly raised voice: “Is God telling you to leave?”
Me: “Maybe, I don’t know. I just know there are some things that…”
Leader again interrupting me with voice raised even more, “Is God telling you to leave?”
Me: “Maybe. I am not sure, but it looks like it, so ya, I think so.”
Leader in a quieter voice: “OK.”
This was the first of several very strange conversations I had with this senior leader with whom I had what I thought was a really good relationship and to whom three months earlier I said, “I really appreciate you brother. You are someone I can follow as you follow Jesus.” To which he replied, “I feel the same about you.” Now when I raise concerns about serving at the ministry, his demeanor changed drastically and I saw a side of him that I had never seen before.
In that first meeting I told him that I was struggling with a number of things and described them to him: the Ancient-Future church movement; the Episcopal-like practices; the lack of honestly with our supporters; that we are being taught we are better than others; and that the staff in some way is being controlled. He said that I should have given leadership a chance to pray about this and I told him I welcome their prayers even now and if the Lord shows me I should stay I would. But even if He doesn’t, I am willing to stay until the end of July so I can help with the transition of someone new into HR and to help with the move. He said he would talk to brother KP about it.
A few days later I was called into that leader’s office and asked if I knew a particular SD student (my friend’s son) who had been accepted was no longer coming. I said yes. He then asked me if I had contacted him. I said that I had contacted my friend, who is my brother in Christ and that I told him about what was going on at the ministry. The senior leader then said that I should have asked leadership about this first. I said I did not know I needed to ask for permission to share the truth with a brother in Christ who I have known for seventeen years. I said that I basically told my friend that he should check out the ministry for himself as though I was not on staff and decide for himself if it is what he and his son want to do. The senior leader then said in a raised voice, something like, “How can you say those things to him and then say you left the decision up to him.”
It was later in that meeting, or maybe it was in my final meeting, when I presented the question about the photos that were modified for publication in the 2012 and the 2013 Annual Reports and when he said to me in a very loud and angry voice, “how can you make yourself the judge, jury, and executioner?”
Each of these three encounters show how when I approached leadership with concerns, or leadership found out that I shared something about the ministry openly and honestly with someone outside the ministry, leadership turned the focus off of the issue at hand and attempted to put me on the defensive.
Finally, the next week at about 3:30 on June 3, 2014, one week after I initially approached leadership with my concerns, I was called into the senior leader’s office and I was told that they had spoken to brother KP and that would be my last regular day in the office. I should straighten up my files and clean out my desk and just be available to answers any questions that may come up in the next week and a half. They did say they would pay me through June 15 and provide the regular severance agreement to me and they have done that.
I was asked to come to the prayer meeting that night when they would announce that we would be leaving and I was asked to be at the Tuesday Night Prayer the following week for the cookie reception and send off. After dealing with our own hesitations about attending these, we did attend both and neither week did leadership say anything about why we were leaving other than we feel the Lord calling us to leave. But there was no meeting with KP, no explanation about any of the concerns I raised, and no formal exit interview.
An interesting comment that the senior leader made during that last meeting was, “It always concerns me when someone comes to say they are leaving without giving leadership a chance to pray and fast about it first. It is as though they have elevated themselves above leadership.” This clearly shows the leadership of GFA believes they are above the rest of the staff and have, or at least want to have, direct and absolute authority and control over the staff.
Also, near the end of that meeting I mentioned that I had not submitted a letter of resignation and was then told that not many people do that anymore and it was not necessary. Nonetheless, I felt it was the right thing to do, so I submitted a resignation letter on my final day documenting three of our reasons for leaving: The Ancient-Future and liturgical movement of the ministry, the deceptive communication with supporters, and the teaching that praying about a request from leadership is rebellion. I addressed our resignation letter to “GFA Leadership” and included the following comment at the end:
We [C.P. & I] hereby give Gospel for Asia leadership full permission to share all the information contained in this letter, verbally, hardcopy, or electronically, with anyone who may inquire about the reasons we have departed from GFA.
Due to a lack of time, I did not include documentation of the dangerous teachings as part of our resignation letter, but I have now done so as seen earlier by listing specific quotations from KP and the dates he made them.
Also, I do not think my resignation letter was copied and distributed to the other leaders, so I have sent it to each of them via e-mail along with my documentation of the dangerous teachings I have heard and witnessed.
We are now back in Illinois, recovering from this heartbreaking and faith rattling experience, learning to trust others in leadership again, and serving the Lord at a non-denominational church. Through this, the Lord has shown us His faithfulness, reminded us that leaders are fallible and that we need to always keep our eyes on Jesus, and that we will go through difficult times in our lives but the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. Oh, how we love Jesus for His love for us and faithfulness!
May the Lord use this testimony to bring the truth to the light, break the enemy’s attempts to destroy a ministry, somehow help bring healing to those who are hurting because of the enemy’s deceitful influence, and encourage the leadership of GFA to honor the Lord being open, honest, and straightforward with all current and potential staff, students, and supporters.