Barnabas Fund and Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo
Following the recent resignation of its founder and International Director, the Barnabas Fund which works with the persecuted church has recently published serious allegations of attacks upon Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo.
Many will be aware that Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, the founder and former International Director of the Barnabas Fund was, in May 2014, formally charged with sexual assault (sexual ‘touching’) on a woman. In February 2015 he was found guilty by a majority 10-2 verdict.
Dr. Patrick Sookdhdeo
Though continuing to plead his innocence Dr. Sookhdeo was advised and, after prayerful consideration agreed, to accept the perceived ‘injustice’ rather than embark on an expensive, lengthy, emotionally and financially draining process of an appeal procedure.
However a further charge of sexual misconduct in late November subsequently persuaded him that he should, after all, proceed to challenge the previous verdict and the most-recent allegations.
On 15 January 2016, the Barnabus trustees published a booklet entitled ‘Hard Pressed On Every Side’ (HPOES; cf 2 Cor. 4:8) both in paper and electronic form. The booklet details a history of alleged antipathy against Dr. Sookhdeo emanating both from within the Barnabus organisation and from external Christian agencies and individuals. Of the other main Christian organisations which work amongst the persecuted church worldwide, the report stated:
“Open Doors regard Patrick Sookhdeo as an extremist because of his views on Islam. They have briefed against Barnabas Fund, encouraging the Evangelical Alliance to exclude Barnabas Fund from persecuted Church initiatives.
At a Lausanne meeting in the Netherlands in March 2005, Johan Companjen of Open Doors approached one of the Barnabas Fund trustees, Rev. Albrecht Hauser, and tried to turn him against Patrick Sookhdeo and to persuade him that Patrick should be removed as leader of the continuation track on the persecuted Church.
This was probably a response to Dr Sookhdeo’s action at the previous Lausanne meeting to insist that representatives of the persecuted churches should take the dominant role in shaping Lausanne’s policies on the persecuted Church, rather than Western agencies creating the policies.
From time to time
[Open Doors, Release
and Christian Solidarity Worldwide
] come together for joint initiatives on the persecuted Church, but never invite Barnabas Fund to participate. One of the negative results of this for Barnabas Fund is that we are often criticised for standing aloof from [these] organisations and not cooperating with them, when the boot is on the other foot: it is they who exclude us from what they are working on together.“
Regarding the Evangelical Alliance (UK), Barnabus Fund had withdrawn from membership, not least the report stated because “the EA’s earlier General Secretary Joel Edwards had urged churches to open their pulpits on Sundays for Muslim preachers, which Barnabas Fund and Patrick Sookhdeo disagreed with as a policy.”
Barnabas Fund's 50-page document alleges:
"In early November 2015 Dr David Landrum, Director of Advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance UK, wrote to an arm of the World Evangelical Alliance. He referred to some .... articles
[highly critical of Patrick Sookhdeo
] published in Christian Today, and urged the organisation to break its partnership with Barnabas Fund despite a contractual agreement to acknowledge publicly our already-given financial support. The EA UK approached the WEA arm at least twice on this. The WEA arm responded by repeatedly asking the EA UK to contact Barnabas Fund direct to discuss their concerns. Two months on
[January 2016], the EA UK has still not been in touch with Barnabas Fund.”
The HPOES document concluded:
“Patrick Sookhdeo and we the Barnabas trustees are very grateful to the many Christians, of all denominations and backgrounds, who have taken the trouble to make contact to affirm and encourage us, to those who have prayed diligently, and to those who have written articles, blogs, letters or emails to the press in our defence.
“There had been a concerted move to take Patrick Sookhdeo down and destroy Barnabas Fund”.
We are encouraged by the church leaders (many of them from the non-Western world) who have accepted the findings of our internal investigation and continued to invite Patrick Sookhdeo to speak and teach, just as they did before.
A special meeting organised by Canon Vinay Samuel and Canon Chris Sugden on 22 April 2015 at the London offices of Christian Concern brought together twelve senior Anglicans including a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The meeting (at which Patrick Sookhdeo was not present) considered the court judgement against Dr Sookhdeo and after much discussion concluded that he was innocent and had been targeted. It also accepted that “there had been a concerted move to take Patrick Sookhdeo down and destroy Barnabas Fund”.
Since the publication of the HPOES booklet, an American Anglican missionary in Tanzania has apologised for circulating a story amongst the Western missionary community at high-profile international conference that “Patrick Sookdheo is a paid CIA agent”. That accusation will have brought Dr. Sookhdeo, as a former Muslim, into very real danger in his travels within the Islamic world.
Jerrry Kramer, an American Anglican missionary in Tanzania issued the following statement on 15/02/16:
“To whom it may concern
To the very best of my knowledge, Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo has not worked with, been paid by the CIA or any other similar entity. The statement made was in error and it is humbly and apologetically withdrawn. I sincerely apologise to Dr. Sookhdeo for this error.”
At the time of writing it remains to be seen whether other apologies will follow.
Enquiries lodged with the Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, Release and Christian Solidarity Worldwide revealed that none of these organisations have, thus far, formally responded to the Barnabas Fund’s allegations.
If the allegations made by the Barnabas Fund can be substantiated then the charges made in its HPOES document raise very serious questions regarding the integrity and honesty of the organisations and individuals named within the document.
Alternatively, if the accusations are false then it might seem be in the interest of those named to challenge the statements contained in the Barnabus Fund publication.
If the alleged attacks of Dr. Sookhdeo and Barnabus Fund can be substantiated, it is difficult to see, from the viewpoint of the prescribed Biblical procedures on such matters, why one Christian (organisation or individual) to behave in such a manner towards another.
"However....there is an 'unseen' world which drives human behaviour, and in all of this the spiritual dynamic must be considered"
Patrick Sookhdeo is a Guyanian and racial prejudice could be a factor. Jealousy regarding the growth of and support for the Barnabas Fund could be an alternative motive.
One further possibility is that there is, in the Christian world, and increasing fear of or deference towards the religion of Islam. Some time ago Wycliffe Translators, a respected Christian organisation, stood accused of compromising the Bible's message in order to avoid offending Muslims.
However the Bible clearly states that there is an 'unseen' world which drives human behaviour, and in all of this the spiritual dynamic must be considered. It would seem in recent years that all manner of corruption, malpractice and unrighteous behaviour by individuals and organisations have been exposed to the public gaze. Given that 'judgement begins at the house of God' it is naive to consider that the professing evangelical church is immune.
Whilst the receipt of the above-mentioned apology from and by the American missionary is good and proper, the situation illustrates the general problem relating to gossip, slander, innuendo and false statements.
Regret may be expressed by the wrongdoer, but the story is never the less ‘out there’. The words cannot be retrieved and there is no control over their ‘reach’ and longevity. They will no doubt still be circulating; doing their defamatory work.
Meanwhile an America-based website serving the worldwide Anglican community has published a very interesting article: Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo: The Story Behind the Story, the Trial, Guilty Verdict and Public Vilification
Addenda and Footnotes:
The online copy of the HPOES document is being updated as and when required. It now contains the above-mentioned apology from the Anglican missionary concerned.
At the time of writing it remains to be seen whether other apologies will follow.
Recent enquiries with the Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, Release and Christian Solidarity Worldwide suggest that none of these organisations have, thus far, formally responded to the Barnabas Fund’s allegations.
The Editor, 26/02/2016