Earlier this year, Ted Sherwood did a charity review of Gospel for Asia Australia. Recently, he updated it. As a part of the update, Sherwood evaluates a rather amazing claim made by an Australian association of Christian ministries called Mission Interlink. In essence, Mission Interlink claims that GFA Australia is independent of GFA in the U.S.
While technically accurate, it is clear from the evidence Sherwood supplies that GFA Australia wouldn’t exist if there was no GFA in the states or in India.
About Mission Interlink’s position, Sherwood wrote:
GFAA is a member of Missions Interlink, the closest we have in Australia to the ECFA:
Member use of the Missions Interlink logo implies high standards of governance and financial accountability, giving the Christian public assurance of their integrity[iii].
On 27 August 2015 I sent a link to my review to the National Director, Pam Thyer, suggesting that GFAA was in breach of one or more of their standards. On 3 December 2015, in response to my suggestion that donors should be alerted to GFAA’s misrepresentation when soliciting donations, Pam said that she had discussed the matters I raised in the review with GFAA and had concluded that ‘they do not contravene the MI Standards’.
Sherwood disagrees and provides evidence that GFA Australia is indeed in violation of some MI standards.
Furthermore, it is incredible that MI sees GFAA as separate from GFA. The only real reason GFAA exists is as a conduit to GFA in India. GFAA is sending money to GFA in India in ways that may or may not align with donor intent. Donors in Australia should be aware that their donations may be used to purchase or develop for profit businesses under the control of Believers’ Church.
Australia blogger Ted Sherwood has filed a complaint with the Australian Charities and Not-for Profits Commission regarding Gospel for Asia Australia’s contributions to India. Money GFAA claimed went to GFA in India also went to Believers’ Church. Sherwood’s disclosure is in a footnote to a detailed analysis of GFAA’s financial reports.
In the analysis, Sherwood says:
I have confirmed, from Indian government records (go here and select the year and Kerala), that approximately $2.1 m arrived in India.
- The expense recorded below is $2.2 m, but without the exact transfer dates and translation rates, I cannot be more accurate.
- But, equally as important, the same records show that not all this $2.1 m was sent to Gospel for Asia as Monica says here – 52% went to Believers Church[x]
This is a similar issue in the American audit. GFA-US said they sent $58.5 million to GFA-India in 2013 but only $6 million showed up on records filed by GFA-India. Another $22.5 was sent to Believers’ Church and two other NGOs affiliated with BC.
In his analysis, Sherwood raises many questions about the use of funds in India and how Australian donors can trust that their funds are being spent as intended. For instance, Australian donors aren’t told that a substantial portion of funds are being sent to Believers’ Church. Rather, GFAA says:
As with the U.S. audit, GFA doesn’t tell donors that the lion’s share of the donations actually go Believers’ Church. In India, GFA says it is “a community development arm of Believers’ Church.” Why is the role of Believers’ Church obscured?
There may be good reason to wonder if BC or GFA-India will spend funds as intended. BC and GFAI have faced scrutiny in India over use of funds with one Indian court asserting that
It is not in dispute that substantial income of the assessee trust was not used by both the assessees for the purposes for which they were formed.
It is a huge red flag when audits and organization documents fail to include material information and when a court says an organization isn’t spending donation for the intended purpose. It is even more troubling when an organization refuses to comment or clear up what appears to be discrepancies in public records and their claims.