About Gospel for Asia, CBS 11 News Dallas Asks "When You Give, Do You Know Where Your Money Goes?"

CBS 11 News in Dallas followed up today on their earlier expose’ on Gospel for Asia. Watch

The iTeam picked out a couple of big items from the ECFA report (large cash reserves, smuggling cash into India), posted here on December 2 after being released by former GFA board member Gayle Erwin.
Earlier today, I reported that GFA could face sanctions from the Office of Personnel Management.
GFA doubled down on their contention that the $20 million from Believers’ Church/GFA-India was not a related party transaction. Instead, near the end of the clip, GFA’s statement to CBS News calls it a “donation.” It is beyond belief that GFA maintains this stance in the face of overwhelming evidence that K.P. Yohannan is in charge of Believers’ Church and all “field partners” in India.

What Happened to Gospel for Asia's Combined Federal Campaign Page?

As recently as a week ago, Gospel for Asia touted participation in the Combined Federal Campaign (Google cache).
Combined Federal Camp
Not any more. Now if you go to that same page, one sees a “Page Not Found” message and a frown. Once, GFA boasted about their participation in the CFC (Google cache), but mention of the program is now missing at that page.
I have been aware for several weeks that the Office of Personnel Management was reviewing GFA’s status as an approved charity. Recently, I learned that GFA may be sanctioned by the OPM due to failure to meet requirements for participation in the CFC. Today, I learned from an OPM Spokesperson that OPM contacted Christian Charities USA about GFA. Christian Charities USA assists charities by submitting and certifying the accuracy of application for acceptance into the CFC and is managed by the same group that manages Independent Charities of America. CCUSA submitted GFA’s original application for the CFC to OPM.
In early December, OPM notified CCUSA that its member charity GFA may be in violation of CFC regulations. According to the spokesperson,

CCUSA contacted GFA, and gave them ample opportunity to provide evidence they were not in violation of CFC rules. However, CCUSA did not get an acceptable response from GFA. CCUSA then decertified GFA.

The decertification by CCUSA may be the reason GFA has pulled the CFC page. The next possible step for GFA would be a sanction from OPM. I have been informed by the OPM spokesperson that GFA has been notified that OPM intends to sanction GFA if GFA is unable to prove that they comply with OPM standards.
By statute, sanctions may involve expulsion from the CFC program. The removal of the CFC page and any mention of participation in the CFC may indicate that GFA has been removed although the OPM spokesperson has not commented on that point.
Prior to the termination of membership in the ECFA, GFA had touted ECFA membership, ICA membership and participation in the CFC as indicators of financial integrity. Now there is nothing to independently verify that GFA is abiding by financial promises.

Seattle's Music Scene and the Ghosts of Mars Hill Church

Today, Kathleen Tarrant in the Stranger brings us a beautifully written tour of the Seattle Indie music during and post the Mars Hill Church years. She makes the case that the early Mars Hill era had an influence on Seattle rock which endures today. Some of that persistence isn’t necessarily to be celebrated as many Christian artists were disillusioned by Mars Hill. For those, who want to understand the bigger themes of the Mars Hill story, I highly recommend this article.
A couple of short segment will give a taste:

The expansion continued in the years that followed. Mars Hill would nearly triple in size between 2006 and 2014, with 15 satellite franchise churches in five states. Driscoll’s fame and influence were expanding, too, and the cracks began to show. He doubled down on his anti-feminist, anti-gay agenda and was soon called out for spiritual abuse, bullying, plagiarism, and generally being a fraud. He was caught leaving abusive comments on internet message boards under a pseudonym. Church funds that had been designated for global outreach and a music festival disappeared. In 2012, a company called ResultSource was paid a reported $200,000 to bulk-buy copies of Driscoll’s book Real Marriage in 2012 to send it to the top of the best-seller list. Acts 29, the “church planting” network that Driscoll cofounded, removed his name from their materials. Members left in droves. A group of 21 former Mars Hill pastors filed formal charges of workplace abuse against Driscoll with the church’s elders.

The rise and fall of MHC has left a, um, mark.

Butcher, a former member of Mars Hill, plays drums in the band Copeland. While a member of the church, he was the drummer for the local Christian indie folk band Ivan & Alyosha, and worked as a designer at Tooth & Nail (his design of the band Underoath’s box set was nominated for a Grammy in 2010). His exit from the church lined up with his exit from the band, and he remembers the stigma of association with the church that followed. People rescinded offers for drumming gigs and cast uncomfortable glances at each other when they found out about his former membership.
“I get it,” he says now. “What happened at Mars Hill hurt so many people, including me. There’s a lot of healing to do, and the more transparent I can be and the more I can listen to people who have concerns about the church and what it did—the same concerns that I have—the better it will turn out.”

I doubt Driscoll will try to reprise the edgy young prophet role he played in Seattle. He seems headed for more of a father figure profit role in Phoenix.

WND Markets The Jefferson Lies

Some readers will see what I did there with the title of this post.
WND is rolling out pre-launch publicity for David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies, including a new website and a trailer. Watch:
The new website features endorsements for the new book. I wonder if they have any idea what they are endorsing. Only one teaches history (John Swails, Oral Roberts University). I wonder if Swails was a professor at ORU when Barton played D-1 basketball there (I mean, didn’t play basketball there).
This should be fun.
jeffersonbookcoverIf you want to get a head start on the facts regarding Barton’s claims, a great Christmas gift for yourself or that history lover on your list is Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President by yours truly and Michael Coulter.
Also see Thomas Kidd’s articles in World on the Barton controversy from 2012.
Earlier today, I responded to World Net Daily’s absurd contention that The Jefferson Lies fell victim to political correctness.

World Net Daily and David Barton Claim Political Correctness Doomed The Jefferson Lies

On Friday of last week, World Net Daily published something called “Anatomy Of An American Book Banning.” Believe it or not, World Net Daily and David Barton are hoping to convince readers that Barton’s book was pulled from publication due to political correctness. The subtitle of the article is:

How New York Times bestseller was resurrected after falling casualty to political correctness.

Joseph Farah and Barton deserve each other; both engage in historical revisionism. Farah says at the end of the WND article.

Farah added: “Think about all the books that are published every year in America – many tens of thousands. Only one book that I know of in my lifetime has been censored by its own publisher after becoming a bestseller. Only one history book was so banned in the United States, to my knowledge – pulled from the shelves to ensure Americans couldn’t read it and make up their own minds about it. Many books published in America as non-fiction are made up out of whole cloth – and that includes history books with the most preposterous speculation and fantasies. In a free society, that is to be expected. What should never be expected is that controversial books with premises some might disagree with should be banned, spiked, burned or shredded. That’s exactly what happened to this book. And that’s why WND Books is bringing it back into the marketplace.

Is it possible that Farah thinks he is telling the truth? I can’t see how. The book was never “censored,” nor was it “banned in the United States.” The book was not destroyed. WND is not bringing it back into the marketplace. The Jefferson Lies has been available from Wallbuilders since the rights reverted back to Barton after Thomas Nelson stopped publishing it (see this Wayback Machine link for February 2013). It is available now on Amazon and has been for years.  In fact, it has been available since at least June 15, 2013 from World Net Daily’s Superstore (see this Wayback Machine link). Let that sink in. Farah said the book was banned and implied it was somehow not in the marketplace. He has been selling it since early 2013.
There is two critical problems for WND’s theory about political correctness and Thomas Nelson: Thomas Nelson publishes many other conservatives and no other books have been pulled from publication during the same time period.
I left a comment after the article and in it named several conservative authors which Thomas Nelson publishes, including a couple published by WND.

Regarding WND’s accusation that Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s book due to political correctness, please consider that Thomas Nelson currently publishes books by Jerome Corsi and Ben Shapiro. Thomas Nelson publishes Eric Metaxas’ highly regarded book on Bonhoeffer. Other conservatives published by Thomas Nelson include Richard Land, Judge Napolitano, Tom Coburn, William Bennett, Kevin McCullough, Star Parker, Sam Brownback and others. It makes no sense that Thomas Nelson publishes these authors but removed David Barton’s book due to Barton’s conservative ideas.

The politically correct theory fails when one considers there is no pattern, no other book which was removed. Thomas Nelson conducted an internal review and came to the same conclusion as many external critics. No amount historical revisionism by Barton and WND will change what happened.

Happily, there is an antidote to this revisionism.

The Gathering Follower Ed Cash Sent Reporter a Dear Bob Song

What about the Bob song?
Ruth Graham got Bob Smietana to play the song Ed Cash sent to him in place of an interview about Cash’s involvement in The Gathering.  Go read about it at The Atlantic.
And if the above sentence didn’t make any sense, then you need to read this and then Bob’s article on The Gathering.
Perhaps, Cash meant the song to come off as whimsical but it actually is more like creepy and very odd.
I will say again, it is troubling to me that Chris Tomlin has allowed Wayne Jolley to place his name on songs Jolley didn’t help write.

After Lengthy Investigation, Grace Church Amarillo Stops Support for Gospel for Asia

In an emotional explanation to his church on December 16, Grace Church’s (Calvary Chapel Amarillo) pastor Bill Gehm disclosed that the church will no longer support Gospel for Asia. Gehm repented to his church for asking them to support GFA for 17 years. Pastor Gehm personally stopped supporting GFA and advised the congregation to stop supporting GFA. Gehm expressed that his money had not been spent the way he believed it was being spent.
The 18 minute video is an extraordinary message disclosing that he has spent many hours investigating GFA, including several hours with GFA COO David Carroll. Gehm specifically prayed for K.P. Yohannan.
For those interested in this issue, this is must see TV. I appreciate the serious tone with which Pastor Gehm approached the magnitude of the problem.

grace church gfa
From Grace Church http://www.calvaryamarillo.org/gospel-for-asia.html

What Gospel for Asia/Believers' Church Spends on Bridge of Hope: An Update

David Carroll, Gospel for Asia’s COO, told World magazine that Gospel for Asia’s field partner in Asia (i.e., Believers’ Church) requires $33 million to take care of 78,000 children via the Bridge of Hope program. Here’s the quote:

Carroll offered statistics, including that GFA’s field partners in India and elsewhere in southern Asia support some 14,000 national missionaries at a cost of approximately $30 million a year. He added that the ministry provides for 78,000 children through GFA’s “Bridge of Hope” program, which requires another $33 million a year…

After that article came out, I compared David Carroll’s statement to conflicting statements by K.P. Yohannan and Believers’ Church’s own budgets for Bridge of Hope centers. The costs stated by Yohannan to sources in India were about a third or less than Carroll’s numbers.
As an update, I want to provide another authoritative sources which contradicts Carroll’s statement to World.  During the week of January 4-11, 2015, Believers’ Church conducted their General Assembly in India. As a means of commemorating the event, the church published a collection of letters from government officials and a report of how the various BC ministries were doing. One page dealt with the Bridge of Hope program and proclaimed that the program spent “approximately Rs 70 crore” on 72,000 children. See below:

Bridge of Hope BC program
Fair use of photo from Believers’ Church 2015 Annual General Assembly program.

See the sentence in the yellow oval above (click on the picture to enlarge it). In January 2015, Believers’ Church said it spent Rs 70 crore (about $11 million USD) to fund a program serving 72,000 children. This works out to nearly $13/month/child. This is dramatically less than David Carroll told World. It is also much less than the $35/month/child GFA tells American donors is needed for sponsorship.
The ECFA report made it clear that GFA had not honored the pledge to send 100% of donor support to the field. In India, Believers’ Church owns over 100 schools and several state of the art hospitals. Is that where the extra donations ($22/month/child) have gone?

Teen Mania Puts Out the Fire; Letter from Ron Luce to Honor Academy Alums

Screen cap from You Tube. MSNBC documentary on Teen Mania
Screen cap from You Tube. MSNBC documentary on Teen Mania

Christianity Today is on a roll. After solid articles by Bob Smietana on Gospel for Asia and The Gathering, Morgan Lee scores an interview with Ron Luce on the end of Teen Mania. I am impressed that Lee got Luce to talk about the Honor Academy. What emerges is a study in self-justification and blame shifting. Essentially, Luce blames the kids for being soft. Luce told Lee that kids changed over the years.

Luce said coaches and military leadership used to be able to motivate young people by verbally threatening them. “Don’t you dare demand something hard out of me,” gets construed as “you’re abusing me,” he said.

One can watch an MSNBC documentary on Teen Mania and decide for yourself (part 1, part 2, part 3) Teen Mania is still in debt to several groups and individuals. Luce claims to be working on that. World magazine brought much of the financial concerns to light.
In a letter to Teen Mania Honor Academy alumni sent last night, Luce includes the pastoral staff at Gateway church as encouraging the end of the ministry. As an aside, is there some workshop or course where flamboyant, controversial ministry leaders learn to overuse the word “season?”

Dear Alumni Family,

First, may we wish you and your family a blessed Christmas season as we celebrate our Savior’s birth. We hope that you and your family will be blessed in the coming New Year.

Katie and I wanted to make sure that you heard the latest significant news regarding Teen Mania directly from us. You may remember for most of you as you were getting ready to graduate, I talked about seasons of our life and the changes we all encounter. I referred to a passage where Jesus was talking to Peter and He said to Peter “Simon, Simon behold, Satan’s desire to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Luke 22:31  There are seasons in our life when everything looks like nothing could possibly go wrong and then there are other seasons in our life when it looks like every single thing has gone wrong. We talked about during those seasons of grace when God’s favor is so strong upon you that you build yourself up in your faith and get strong, so that when the seasons of sifting come, which Jesus seemed to promise would come here, you will be strong and able to stand.
Over the course of the last 30 years, we’ve experienced many seasons of extraordinary fruitfulness. You all know the story how Katie and I started with just a few hundred dollars and a little car and a big dream to build an army of young people who would change the world. Over these years, we wrestled, we have fought, and we have prayed together with thousands of intern alumni, hundreds of staff and tens of thousands of youth leaders and have impacted millions of young people at Acquire the Fire and over a million souls through Global Expeditions mission trips. At that time, little did we know that God would allow us to be a part of launching a new era in youth ministry and witness the movement of ministry to young people here in America.
The fact is that in life there are seasons and when the birth of a new season comes change is inevitable. After talking with our board members and pastoral leadership at Gateway, we have decided that the season of Teen Mania as an organization has come to a time of conclusion.
I personally feel so grateful to the Lord for all that we have been able to do together. We saw a new era of youth ministry launched and a world-class youth conference propel innovation into youth ministry culture and traveled 24 tour seasons, making what I believe is the largest and longest running youth conference in America’s history to date. Together we saw nearly 80,000 young people travel around the globe seeing more than 1 million people coming to Christ. Together, we have seen countless ministries blossom, youth ministries explode with growth, youth leaders become pastors, mission organizations started, entrepreneurs creating businesses and many of these businesses have grown to become multi-million dollar companies helping to fund missions around the world. My heart is so full of gratitude to God.
In spite of the challenges and the Great Recession, we were still able to struggle and continue to push forward to reach hundreds of thousands more during those challenging times.  You might know that up to 80% of businesses started end within the first year, and about 80% of those businesses that survive end within the next seven year period. Here we are nearly 30 years later thanking God for a fruitful ministry every single year.
When we started in 1986, it would have been terribly hard to imagine that we would have regular television programs being aired in 190 countries around the word being viewed by 200,000 people monthly, literally affecting countless millions of people, that we would have been able to survive such financial difficulties and have thriving ministry each weekend at Acquire the Fire. Think about it this way, since 1986, think of the bands that have come and gone, and the tours that have come and gone, but by the grace of God we kept going and going.
Our hearts are grateful and I want to thank each of you Alumni for being a part of this legacy. As you may well imagine, these last few years have been almost unbearable as Paul described of ministry in some of his writings. It has been heartbreaking to know that some of you have been hurt either while you were an intern or sometime in the aftermath, please forgive me for that. Please note that we have tried to learn from each comment we have read or any notes we have received even those that are very critical. We personally have not dismissed any of these, but asked the question, “Is there a thread of truth in this and how we should respond as a result?”
I want you to know that over this past year, Katie and I have done everything we know to do in regards to the financial situation of Teen Mania. As you can imagine, running a ministry with the scope and size of Teen Mania costs millions annually to operate and can become excruciatingly difficult to manage effectively when a huge part of revenue is cut off (especially due to canceling a tour) while maintaining a large amount of the operating expenses for ministry outreaches and operations. One thing we did to try to offset these losses, was to take out a significant mortgage on our home and put this money into Teen Mania to pay staff salaries, pay vendors and refunds to youth pastors, believing that we could keep operating and keep the ministry moving forward. The fact is that- season’s change, economies change, youth ministry changes and many of the fluctuations that have happened in our culture, we simply were not prepared for. I’m sure many of you could think of the things I could have done better, and I probably would agree with you as I seem to be way more harsh on myself than anything I’ve read regarding my leadership.
However, I can say that through the sweat, love, and prayers of all of us together (all interns, staff and volunteers), that we all worked as hard as we knew how and did our very best to stay the course put before us to reach as many kids as possible with the message of the Gospel and love of Christ. I’ll look back at the last 30 years of this amazing season with gratitude at what God allowed us all to participate with Him to accomplish.
At the encouragement of our board and pastoral leadership, Katie and I are going to be taking a season off from public ministry. We will be spending time refueling our hearts and our minds preparing for the next assignment God has for us. We will be unplugging from social media during this season. After carrying the mantel of this organization, which at one point had 200 staff, multiple volunteers and hundreds of interns and traveling nearly every weekend for nearly 30 years, we believe it’s time to call a time out and get refreshed and refocused for what will probably be the final chapter of our lives.
I want to encourage you to think about seasons in your own life. You might be in a season of blessing right now or you might be in a season of challenge. The hope is that if you are in the middle of winter and it is cold and it feels dark, that springtime is coming. Seasons don’t last forever. If you are in as season of flourishing, thank God for that, but spend that time while you are flourishing preparing for the next season, just as Joseph did as he prepared for the years of hardship that are sure to come. It is just part of the nature of life. God gives us wisdom to prepare for the seasons of winter and grace to deal with the hard times in the midst of that season.
God bless you, your families, your businesses and your ministries. It has been an honor to serve the King together.
Still Consumed by the Call,
Ron and Katie
P. S.  To be a true season of restoration, we have been advised to essentially unplug for a true season of rest, so you will not hear from us personally or publicly.  Although we cannot write back, we would like to stay connected with you all and so if you have anything we can pray for, or just an update on your life, family or challenges you can write us at ronandkatie123@yahoo.com

Christianity Today on Wayne Jolley's The Gathering

On December 14, Bob Smietana at Christianity Today posted a must read article on what appears to be a mind control splinter of Christianity called The Gathering.
I read the CT article about The Gathering just after I posted yesterday about Mark Driscoll’s beliefs in spiritual parenting being a part of apostolic gifting. The notion of one’s minister being one’s parent is, in the modern context, fertile ground for authoritarian teaching making the minister into a tyrant. Smietana’s article provides a troubling look at one expression of this teaching from one Wayne Jolley.
In addition to the spiritual parenting teaching, Jolley is painted as a controlling figure (e.g., church boards are demonic) who preaches a lot about spiritual warfare (e.g., the Jezebel spirit) and prosperity. You must go read the CT article to get the full effect.
Worship Leaders, Reconsider Your Set Lists
One of the reasons The Gathering is of interest to the broader church is the fact that one of the authors of “How Great is Our God” is a member of The Gathering. Ed Cash, Nashville producer whiz, is co-author with Chris Tomlin of the massively popular worship song. Tomlin wrote most of it and Cash added the bridge. It appears that some of the royalties from this song have helped fuel the emergence of The Gathering.
According to the CT article, Cash has actually added Jolley as a co-writer to some of the worship songs co-written and performed by Tomlin (e.g., “The Table” and “The Roar”). Tomlin issued a statement distancing himself from Jolley saying he has never worked with him. However, I was troubled that Tomlin did not see more of a problem with adding Jolley as a songwriter when in fact, has has never worked with Jolley on the songs. The arrangement is obviously a deception for Wayne Jolley’s financial gain. Jolley gets royalties from Tomlin’s success.
All of a sudden, I am a lot less interested in playing Tomlin’s songs. In fact, I hope all over the country, there are worship leaders rethinking their set lists for Sunday.
The Website Cleansing Is Underway
It is so predictable. After an expose, an organization takes down the website for “updating.” That is now true for The Gathering’s and Wayne Jolley Ministries‘ websites. They were up on December 14 (see the Google cache). Just yesterday, a You Tube uses uploaded a collection of Wayne Jolley’s sermons. Seems like it should be a red flag when a Christian ministry hides instead of proclaims what it is about.
Show Wayne the Money
Wayne says it isn’t that he wants your money, he wants you to be blessed. What a guy!