NEW – “Is Diaspora willing to meet with GFA?”

July 2, 2015

The short answer is: Yes.
However, we doubt there continues to be a reason to meet.

Diaspora had hoped from the beginning to meet with GFA leadership to address the concerns voiced in our first letter. As we moved forward through this process, we even chose a date with KP for such a meeting (October 2, 2014 and then October 13, 2014), but GFA’s leadership never followed through in actually sitting down to meet. Instead, we were told that Gayle Erwin was heading an investigation into our concerns and, as such, it was now out of KP’s hands and up to the board as to what to do next.

Please see the Communications History for the emails and phone calls between JD and KP concerning setting up a meeting.

Several months passed until Gayle Erwin sent his final report in March stating that our claims were dismissed and that they would no longer be communicating with us. We took that to mean an end of any opportunity for a meeting to take place.

Our original purpose for meeting was to clearly define our concerns and plead for repentance. We desired to see GFA leadership make changes reflective of a rejection of their false teachings on authority, a renewed respect of staff’s personal lives, and full transparency to donors of the nature of Believer’s Church. Our primary concern was not for individual personal hurts to be reconciled (most of us had already forgiven GFA for those things); but those personal incidents simply reflected the larger problems within the culture of GFA.

Because GFA leadership never admitted to the validity of our concerns in the March 26, 2015 Board Response, we progressively widened the circle of our communications from just the leadership and board initially, to the staff and finally to supporters, both current and potential (see June 1, 2015 post).

We broadened the audience carefully and progressively for two reasons: First, for the sake of GFA to give them a progressive chance to repent (per Matthew 18), and, second, for the sake of the donors who need such information to make informed stewardship choices.

Now that all our information is public, the original reason for meeting with GFA’s leadership seems to be nullified. They have not responded to our calls for repentance thus far, and now the current staff, the public itself and possibly the law continues the call to repentance and change. We’re not sure what a meeting would accomplish, unless the purpose of a meeting is to ask our advice in how to make changes. However, from GFA’s responses to us thus far, we doubt they would desire our help.

We have been told that GFA is telling supporters that the only reason the meeting has not happened is because “Diaspora would not meet without it being videotaped” and GFA has been counseled against doing so by the ECFA. Therefore, they have accused us of not being willing to meet.

We think this is disingenuous, as it gives the impression that GFA did all they could to arrange a meeting and the only thing that led to failed negotiations was our demand that it be videotaped (see Aug 22, 2014). This is simply false. Again, see our Communications History for the whole truth.

The only meeting negotiations between GFA and ourselves were the emails and calls between JD and KP. If one reads, s/he will find that JD asked one time about it being videotaped and KP never even responded to that. Then KP announced the investigation. After that, the negotiations about meeting times simply stopped and KP never spoke directly to JD after that. We would not call that a failure on our part.

Since then there has been one person—a brother named Greg—who has tried to negotiate his own meeting between Diaspora and GFA (see April 16, 2015).  Our communications with him can also be seen in the Communications History. We were unable to work with him because we had no indication from GFA or its board that Greg had any authority to carry out such negotiations. GFA’s board has never retracted their statement that they are finished communicating with us (see March 26, 2015), so until the GFA board or leaders acknowledge directly to us that they would like to resume communications, we don’t see any point in working with a third party, like Greg.

In conclusion, we invite all to review our Communications History to decide personally the whole truth of our attempts and willingness to meet with GFA. Because of the lack of response from GFA over the process, we have incrementally broadened the audience to voice our concerns; thus, at this point in time, a meeting may no longer be appropriate. Nonetheless, we remain open should it be requested.

“GFA is making policy changes for the staff.”

We have always been hopeful for real change at GFA resulting from an admission  of wrong that leads to accountability and safeguards being implemented for the future.

Policy changes are effective when they result from uncovering the root of the problem and fixing it. We sincerely hope that any policy changes reflect a genuine desire to truly address concerns we brought to light.

However,  because these policy changes are being implemented without any acknowledgment of our concerns, we have doubts they are born out of genuine repentance and desire to change the direction of the ministry.

It is difficult to not perceive changes announced to staff as a way to control damage to GFA’s reputation both internally and externally. GFA leaders’ responses clearly denied any wrongdoing and (board member) Gayle’s final report stated that all of our concerns are “neutralized” and that the case is closed.  This does not evidence true repentance.

True repentance is evidenced by a willingness to admit specific wrongs and to discuss—not dismiss—the points so many witnesses have raised.

Many of us have watched this same reaction over the years by leadership each time there was a staff crisis—yet the systemic problems emerged again, prompting mass staff exoduses in 1993, 2004, and perhaps now. Why? Because the root of the problems never changed.

Staff policy changes may be good, but they alone will not fix all of the ministry’s systemic errors.

“Don’t listen to an evil report.”

It is good to avoid an evil report once you know it is indeed evil. Scripture admonishes us not to answer a matter before we hear it (Proverbs 18:13). We are to test all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). Even the New Testament Bereans were counted more noble because they tested the Apostle Paul’s words to the scriptures (Acts 17:11). Testing is a way to help avoid deception. It is not wrong to test what even our leaders have to say to determine if it is true.

None of us is beyond rebuke. We invite you to also test us! Test what we have to say to the Word of God. We invite you to evaluate for yourself our concerns and our dealing with leadership before coming to a conclusion.

There are many examples of godly rebuke in the Bible. It was to the Jewish religious leaders, whom the people were following, that Jesus Himself had His strongest words of rebuke. Paul rebuked even Peter at one time. He also warns us about others: “Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). This does not mean we should simply avoid anything divisive. It means we should find out if it is contrary to the scriptures first. A person cannot discern if they do not take time to evaluate. We are showing that GFA practices some doctrines that are contrary to the doctrine we have learned from the scriptures.

It is sad to us that staff have been programmed to unquestioningly trust leadership and reject any alarming message from outside without testing it themselves.

We wonder if discerning an issue is difficult for some because of many years without being taught the whole counsel of God. Instead, many may have been taught things pertaining only to selected passages that have to do with submitting to authority, reaching the lost, and extreme discipleship—without the rest of the Bible’s balance.

“JD and his group did not go about this in a biblical manner.”

Actually, after careful consideration, we have gone about this biblically, according to Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20.

You see, over the years, many of us individually shared our concerns directly with leadership. In some cases a leader seemed to be open to our concerns and even agree with them—but no changes ever resulted. In other cases, leadership immediately fired the staff member and told them to clear out their desk that day.

This failure of adequate response from GFA when we approached individually according to Mat 18:15 prompted us to move to the next step of taking multiple witnesses, per Mat 18:16. We did this through our initial group letter. GFA leadership had already proven they had no intention of acting on our individual concerns, so we felt we must dialogue only as a group to hold GFA leadership to a higher level of accountability. This is why we chose to not dialogue further individually with GFA leaders when they tried contacting each of the initial letter signers.

The scope of GFA’s problems goes beyond restoring personal offenses in Matthew 18:15-17. It is now apparent that 1 Timothy 5:19-20 is also appropriate here to address doctrinal errors that are hurting people.

“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”

Additionally, we sought out pastoral counsel to ensure we had not violated scripture’s guidance but had handled this process in a godly manner. We invite you to read our notes from the counsel of Pastor Bruce Morrison.

For further clarity on the issue, we invite you to read When a Pastor Sins, written by Pastor Bruce. The following are a few quotes we thought were helpful in clarifying this issue:

“If a pastor wrongs a person and the wrong done does not affect the whole church, the pastor is in a position to resolve the matter privately. Once the same type of behaviour is experienced by two or three people it becomes a public matter. In this case the whole church is to be told what the sin was and the pastor needs to publicly take responsibility….”

“Depending on the nature of the sin, and the contriteness of the pastor, a determination of future ministry needs to be decided. If the sin is habitual, meaning there is an obvious need to mature in one of the character requirements for ministry, the pastor needs to take time to mature in that area before returning to ministry.”

“When any of us sin, including a pastor, a restored conscience only comes through confession of the sin, acknowledging the damage done to others, and true repentance. A pastor who meets the qualifications for ministry, but then sins, will, by the very virtues he has developed that qualifies him for ministry, be the first to want to stand before a congregation, acknowledge the sin, and ask forgiveness.”

“Through a public rebuke the church is taught a healthy fear of the Lord. A good example is thereby set before the congregation, that when any one of them sins they should take responsibility for it. The public rebuke of a pastor is not punitive, but restorative. It is not about vengeance, it is about correction.”

“…elders…who are in a position to correct a pastor who sins, but fail to do so, “share” in the sin. They…become party to the sin. The same applies to church members who know that a minister has sinned but do nothing to address the sin by not taking the matter to other leaders.”

“I determined in my heart, no matter what, I would not leave GFA.”

Pledging lifelong allegiance to a man or a group requires following that man or group into sin and error if they stray from the Lord’s ways.

Instead, our allegiance should be to the Lord alone, following Him and working with different saints in different places as He leads over time, perhaps sometimes in full-time work and sometimes as a “tent-maker”.

“The Diaspora are bitter ex-staff trying to tear down God’s work.”

Love for God, love for the truth, and love for His people—these are the reasons we bring our concerns to you.

If you look at all we say on this website, it should become clear that we are neither bitter nor against the work of the Lord. Rather, we are for His work being done in His ways. We are for honesty and transparency. We are for leaders loving and serving His sheep as Jesus loved and served His disciples, not lording authority over them.

We neither want to tear down GFA nor seek any type of vengeance. We know God will do what is fitting. As a result, we are free to love and pray for GFA leaders as we confront their errors in hopes of repentance and restoration.

“GFA is truly my family. I am so blessed to be a part of staff.”

We agree that GFA is family! It was a wonderful blessing to fellowship there with you, our fellow staff members and families. It was also a privilege and honor to pray for the lost with you.

The love of God is apparent in the staff in many ways. So when the leaders severed some of our relationships with you through unbiblical shunning, it was quite painful to us!

We are not against the people of GFA or the fellowship there; we are against the ministry’s man-made system of authority and lack of transparency with donors.

“The Diaspora is hurting GFA staff support.”

We recognize that one way or another, there may be fallout for KP and his entire ministry as the truth becomes known. It grieves us to know that you, our friends on staff, are affected as churches stop their support when they see how GFA has been dishonest with them. Please remember that we deeply love each leader, staff member and student, and we stand ready to help as needed.

If a donor drops support because of GFA’s unrighteousness, please don’t blame us. We simply followed through on our moral obligation to reveal how supporters have been misled. If GFA can demonstrate that they are above reproach, then donors can make their own decision to continue.

However, we’ve not yet seen any evidence to refute our claims despite GFA leadership having more than 9 months to produce it for us.

We invite you to read Psalm 15 and evaluate whether we are the ones slandering, or whether leadership is slandering us. This also requires reading and listening to what we have to say—hearing both sides of the story—before making your decision.

“The Diaspora is trying to get staff to leave.”

It is not our intention to pull staff away from GFA. Rather, our goal is that leaders wholly turn back to God’s ways, that the board and donors hold them accountable, and that staff know and walk in the truth.

If staff know the truth and feel called to stay, they can be agents of change as they help the ministry walk in the light. And then the Lord can be pleased as the Gospel reaches the unreached of Asia through righteous means.

On the other hand, there may be some staff who sense God is calling them on from GFA to partner with others to serve the Lord, whether though full-time ministry or “tent-making”. We know by experience the challenge involved regarding finances, housing, and procuring a new job—not to mention the process of discerning the will of God in all of this. In fact, these things caused some of us to remain on staff longer than what we sensed was God’s will. Yet He faithfully provided for each of us.

May God accomplish His work through each person as He sees fit for His kingdom.

“If your personal offense is between you and any other fellow believer, then hearing those stories is none of my business.”

Thank you—good comment. We should not gossip. Gossip is speaking of private things to others, without permission, outside of the bounds of the immediate relationship—often with speculation and judgment. Doing this is unbiblical and betrays the trust of the immediate relationship and tarnishes—perhaps falsely—the reputation of the person being spoken about.

However, after attempting the first two steps of Mat 18:15-16, the Bible then instructs us to tell it to the church. (Mat 18:17). Also, after sharing our accusations against an elder with multiple witnesses (1 Ti 5:19), we are then to rebuke in the presence of all. (1 Ti 5:20).

Our hope was to avoid having to do so; yet because our concerns were not legitimately addressed by GFA after giving them generous time, we needed to follow the next step and share with the church (which we first limited to GFA only) the reports of systemic sins that go beyond personal offenses as evidence to disclose all that has transpired.