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The curious case of Gospel for Asia

GoaChronicle reports on one of India’s largest Christian missionaries organisation – Gospel for Asia and its branches in India that are under the watchful eye of the Indian authorities over allegation of FCRA violations and concerns over national security…

Earlier this year, Gospel for Asia (GFA) reached a USD 37 million (Rs 261 crores) settlement to a class-action law suit filed in 2015 that accused the global Christian organisation of fraud, misappropriation of funds and financial mismanagement.

Donations which were earmarked for charitable purposes within its mission field were syphoned off to build personal residences and headquarters in Texas.

GFA was expelled from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and National Religious Broadcasters after details of its financial mismanagement came to light.

Here are some interesting insights into the class-action law suit filed against GFA:

GFA claims to be a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity and a “religious order” recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (under IRS Rev. Proc. 91-20, 1991-1 C.B. 524, Sec. 3),11 and it therefore is not required to publish its financial statements (IRS Form 990) as is otherwise required of a 501(c)(3).

In India, however, as a foreign charity, GFA is required to publicly account for all funds it spends in the country, pursuant to the Indian Foreign Contribution Regulation Act of 2010. Financial analysis of the reports submitted to the Indian Government (“FC-6 forms”) for Believers Church, Gospel for Asia-India, and the related limited liability companies Last Hour Ministries and Love India Ministries demonstrates just how little of the money GFA sends to India is actually spent on the projects and items U.S. donors designated.

For example, in 2013 (the most recent year for which audited financial data is available), GFA worldwide collected around USD 115,000,000 in donations (more than $90 million from the U.S.), but spent only USD 14,644,642 on services and relief under GFA’s mission to support the poor and needy of India—directly contrary to donor designations and GFA’s promises.

Here is an overview of what GFA did with donated money in 2013 (as an example of its practices), derived from internal GFA financial documents and FC-6 forms:

GFA’s national offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany dispersed a total of approximately USD 118.6 million in the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013.12 Of this USD 118.6 million:

Gospel 4 Asia

USD 37.8 million was spent on the administrative needs of the various national offices (GFA spent USD 24.3 million of this on the continuing construction of GFA’s headquarters in Wills Point).

USD 76.3 million was provided to Gospel for Asia-International (USD 58,482,900 from GFA-USA; USD 11.4 million from GFA-Canada; and $1 million from GFA-Germany).

GFA-UK, GFA-New Zealand, and GFA-Australia sent a combined USD 5.3 million directly to GFA affiliates in India (as reflected on FC-6 forms).

Of the USD 76.3 million GFA-International received from GFA entities in the United States, Canada, and Germany, almost USD 43 million went missing, no longer accounted for in GFA financial documents nor received in India per FC-6 forms.

Here is another example of questionable actions brought to light during the law suit:

“GFA advertises that through its “Bridge of Hope” program it will provide a child in India with “Jesus’ love; quality education; a daily meal; and medical care” in exchange for a monthly pledge of $35.13 Bridge of Hope is one of GFA’s most popular donation options, receiving millions of dollars annually from tens of thousands of donors in the United States, many of whom sponsor multiple children over multiple years: child in Bridge of Hope was less than INR 500 (roughly $8.20) per month.14 In 2013,
GFA received over $15 million in donations specifically designated for “Bridge of Hope,” but spent only $6.3 million on “child welfare.”

In yet another, GFA represents that it constructs “Jesus Wells” to provide clean, potable water to underserved villages in India. In 2012, GFA collected more than USD$3.5 million in donations designated for Jesus Wells, but spent only USD 500,000 on that project. In 2013, GFA collected more than USD 4 million in donations designated for Jesus Wells, but spent only USD 700,000 on that project. Accepting GFA’s representation that it is able to drill a well for only USD 1,400,15 in real terms, this discrepancy between donations received and money spent in India means that in 2012 GFA received funding sufficient to establish at least 2,500 wells, but its actual spending in India was sufficient to establish only 350 wells, while in 2013, GFA received funding for at least 2,800 wells, but only spent enough in India for 500 wells.

Here are the details when GFA-India donations were used for work in GFA Texas:

USD 20 million used to develop the land in Wills Point had come to GFA from GFA-India, on the direction of Believers Church. Specifically, that $20 million came from the cash reserves of GFA-India, which consisted of donations to GFA solicited under the promise of GFA’s 100% to-the-field guarantee and subject to the designations of donors. Thus, money donated from the United States designated for specific charitable purposes in “the Field” in fact was spent in the United States to develop the Wills Point compound.

GFA is now headquartered in a 350-acre compound, including a massive headquarters building, a multi-million dollar chapel, and 80+ single-family residences for members of the GFA religious order.

Gospel for Asia US Law Suit

The India ‘Watch’ 

In October 2017, Indian authorities cancelled the FCRA registrations of four NGOs linked to foreign funds originating out of Texas.

1. Believers Church India
2. Last Hour Ministry
3. Gospel for Asia – India (later termed Ayana Charitable Trust)
4. Love India Ministries

Prior to the cancellation of the FCRA registrations if you look into the foreign donations in the Financial Year 2015-16 on FCRA Online Ayana Charitable Trust received over Rs 826 crores. Believers Church India received over Rs 342 crores. Last Hour Ministry received Rs 103 crores and Love India Ministries received over Rs 76 crores.

When GoaChronicle spoke Ito an intelligence officer who was investigating the foreign funds inflow into India from Texas, he expressed that, “The government of India had initiated a crackdown on foreign NGOs acting as vehicle to push anti-national and foreign-related agenda in India. In the course of our investigations we noticed the immense fund flow through foreign donation into Christian missionary and charitable activities in India. Interestingly many of the large funds were following into GFA related NGOs in the country. On investigation we released that some of their activities violated FCRA norms, hence their licenses like most NGOs were cancelled. We are keeping a close watch on the activities of GFA and its partners.”

The Indian government cracked down on the four NGOs directly linked to Gospel for Asia.

However, LLCs from Texas directly linked to GFA are now routing the funds through NGOs in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Chandigarh. These LLCs at Carrollton Texas are In His Steps LLC, Cup of Blessing LLC, Voice of Love, Way of Hope LLC, Peace Givers LLC, Unfailing Love, Road to Peace, Sheppered Care LLC, Grace in Action LLC, Unconditional Love and Teaching Skills LLC.

 

If you search the listed LLCs on the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – you notice that all these LLCs now come under the mailing address 1116 St Thomas Way Wills Point and the registered agent name is Brain Kirik who is senior leader of the Gospel for Asia team

1. Shekina Prophetic Mission Trust – FCRA Registration Number 075850295 had a total foreign contribution of Rs 25,42, 69,791 for year-ending March 31st 2018.

shekina

2. New Hope Foundation – FCRA Registration Number 075901313 had a total foreign contribution of Rs 23,21,76,620 for year-ending March 2018.

new hope foundation

3. Rehaboth Indian Gypsy New Life Trust – FCRA Registration Number 075850280 had total foreign contribution of Rs 22,52,78,744 for the year-ending March 2018.

rehaboth

4. Holy Spirit Ministries – FCRA Registration Number 094421256 has a total foreign contribution of Rs 24,18,38,332 for the year-ending March 2018.

holy spirit

5. Growth in Fraternity Trust – FCRA Registration Number – 094421319 has total foreign contribution of Rs 19,79,08,746 for the year-ending March 2018.

fraternity

6. Holy Berachah Ministries – FCRA Registration Number – 094421606 has a total foreign contribution of Rs 12,85,45,416 for the year-ending March 2018.

Holy Berachah Ministries Karnataka

7. New Lifeline Charitable Ministries – FCRA Registration Number -291420068 has a total foreign contribution of Rs 31,24,00,344 for the year-ending March 2018.

New Lifeline Charitable Ministries Chandigarh

8. Arun Shelter Home Trust – FCRA Registration Number 075850216 has a total foreign contribution of Rs 8,89,42,636 for the year-ending March 2018.

Arul shelter trust

9. New Life Charitable and Educational Trust – FCRA Registration Number 231661079 has a total foreign contribution of Rs 38,29,66,273 for the year-ending March 2018.

NEW LIFE CHARITABLE AND EDUCATIONAL TRUST

While the Indian government has cancelled the registration for four NGOs directly linked to GFA, it has however only touched the surface of the intricate financial web spun by the leaders of the Gospel for Asia between US and India.

Intelligence sources have told GoaChronicle that investigations into Gospel for Asia and its leaders continue and the agencies are keeping a watch on its financial transactions and Church-related activities.

GFA claimed that all allegations made against them during the US class-action suit were false. It however chose to go for a settlement of USD 37 million in the RICO law-suit which accounts of 10 per cent of the amount that the petitioners demanded.

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