Obituary for K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan)


Metropolitan Yohan

K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), founder and director of GFA World and Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church, departed in the presence of God on May 8, 2024. He was a missionary statesman with an undying call to share the love of Christ with this world and to inspire others to follow in his footsteps. He reposed in Dallas, Texas, due to a sudden cardiac arrest while receiving treatment after being struck by a car while on his morning walk on May 7, the day prior.

His life was a ceaseless effort to live in light of eternity, sharing love and the hope of Christ with the masses and the individual. Millions across the globe were touched by his words and his example. Thousands experienced his personal care for them as he invested in their lives.

As director of GFA World for nearly 50 years, K.P. Yohannan led the missions organization to become a significant bridge to fulfill the Great Commission, which is deeply committed to seeing communities transformed through the love of Christ demonstrated in word and deed.

He was also the Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church, an indigenous church spread throughout 57 dioceses and more than 12,000 congregations throughout the world in 18 nations.

He had been crisscrossing the globe, challenging the Body of Christ to pick up their cross and follow Him. His call to a radical lifestyle—with an all-out commitment to Jesus—left its impact on nearly every continent. Yohannan’s life message was a fresh word to this generation, and yet as timeless as the scriptural mandate itself.

Born in South India in 1950 in one of the villages where Apostle St. Thomas planted one of his seven churches in 52 A.D., Yohannan was the youngest of six sons. His mother dedicated each of her children to the Lord and longed to see one of them commit their lives to ministry. She secretly fasted each Friday for three and a half years, praying, “Oh God, let just one of my boys preach!” Even as she prayed, her children were growing up, going into different kinds of work. Finally, the youngest, little “Yohannachan,” was left.

After Yohannan finished his schooling, he heard stories about mission fields from missionary statesman George Verwer, who was to become his lifelong mentor and friend. Yohannan’s heart was gripped and never the same. His mother’s faithful prayers were answered as he immediately decided to join a mission movement and go faraway from his home to help bring the Good News to the multitude of villages that had never heard of Christ. While preparing to go with this mission team, he was challenged by George Verwer again to live a life abandoned to Christ in radical discipleship. That night, Yohannan couldn’t sleep. What if God asked him to preach publicly in the streets? What if he was stoned and beaten?

Suddenly, God’s presence filled the room, and he knew he was not alone. “Lord God,” he prayed in surrender, “I’ll give myself to speak for You—but help me to know that You’re with me.”

The next morning, he awoke with a supernatural love and burden for the people around him. The Lord gave him courage to speak to the crowds he saw that day, and he continued to preach for the next seven years in that mission field.

In 1974, the Lord led him to the United States, where he received his theological training at Criswell College. He and his wife, Gisela, were married after his first term.

As a theology student, Yohannan began pastoring a local church in Dallas, where he served for four years.

Remembering the Millions in Asia

As the Lord reminded Yohannan of the millions in Asia still waiting to learn of His love for them, he resigned his pastorate, and he and Gisela began taking steps to start an organization to support national missionaries, which eventually became known as GFA World. They began meeting together each Tuesday night with a small, faithful group of believers to pray over world maps.

Because of Yohannan’s and Gisela’s faithful commitment to God and their passion to see others transformed by Christ’s love, GFA World is today one of the largest missions organizations in the world, coming alongside thousands of national workers in Africa and Asia through prayer and assistance as they bring hope to the neediest. GFA World is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers, and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through GFA’s Child Sponsorship Program, children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.

On February 6, 2003, he was consecrated as the Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church. Under his leadership, the church has grown over the last two decades, with more than 12,000 parishes established in Asia and Africa.

In honor of Yohannan’s decades of demonstrating the heart of a father to the fatherless, the members of the Christian Men’s Network’s Global Fatherhood Initiative awarded him the Reggie White Fatherhood Award in 2016. In 2003, he was awarded Alumnus of the Year from Criswell College for his influence in the work of God. He served on the executive committee of World by Radio from 2004–2012 and as a board member with the National Religious Broadcasters Association (NRB) from 2013–2015. In recognition of his service, NRB presented Yohannan with its Individual Achievement in International Broadcasting award in 2003.

Yohannan was a prolific writer with more than 250 books published in Asia and 12 in the United States. With more than 4 million copies in print, Yohannan’s landmark book, Revolution in World Missions, has helped change the course of missions history in our generation. Yohannan’s other titles include The Road to Reality; Come, Let’s Reach the World; Living in the Light of Eternity; Reflecting His Image; Against the Wind; Touching Godliness; Destined to Soar; No Longer a Slumdog; Dance Not for Time; Little Things that Make a Big Difference and Never Give Up.

Yohannan is survived by his faithful wife, Gisela; son, Daniel; daughter, Sarah; and seven grandchildren (David, Esther, Jonah, Hannah, Lydia, Naomi and Noah); along with the millions of believers around the world whose lives are forever changed because of his tireless passion and service on their behalf.

There will be a public viewing on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 from 4-8pm, at Restland Funeral Home, 13005 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75243. Following, the funeral will be held in Thiruvalla, India. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a special fund, “In Memory for Eternity”, to support the ministry projects that were closest to Yohannan’s heart these last few months.

K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), a faithful servant of the Lord, ran his race faithfully and with much endurance to the very end. His life bears testimony to all of us of what Jesus said to us in St. Matthew 16:24, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” While our hearts are broken over the sudden loss of our beloved mentor, friend and leader, we rejoice knowing his love, example, faithfulness and joy in being received into the long-awaited presence of his loving Savior.