On a Wing and a Prayer

Minister to despots across the globe, evangelist K.A. Paul just needs a few tons of jet fuel--and a safer plane--to keep up Godís work

Chaos erupted when crowds surrounded the church, and authorities were dispatched to maintain order. Things turned ugly, and the missionaries were whisked off to jail. Fearing arrest, Kilari caught the first plane to New Delhi, and from there he flew to the States. Beckett spent the next 24 hours calling every embassy he could to get the men released.

After the prisoners were released, an e-mail from Helen Collings in the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv detailed Kilari's actions.

"Please advise Mr. Beckett that K.A. Pal [sic], the organizer of this religious meeting, fled to the U.S. and no one, repeat no one, in India ever darkened the doorstep of the prison from Pal's religious group until I was finally able to get a hold of Pal's brother...Unfortunately, we feel that Mr. K.A. Pal has been spreading a number of false rumors in the U.S. to the families and to some of the Congressmen...It could have been a lot more difficult if we hadn't found out about the 9 when we did, since [Kilari's ministry] never contacted us about the arrests."

Dr K.A. Paul can talk at great length about how humble he is. Ask a tough question, though, and you'll see another side.
Dan Kramer
Dr K.A. Paul can talk at great length about how humble he is. Ask a tough question, though, and you'll see another side.
Kilari's ministry, which has boasted supporters such as Dallas millionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, has its headquarters in Houston.
Dan Kramer
Kilari's ministry, which has boasted supporters such as Dallas millionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, has its headquarters in Houston.

Two years after the Becketts compiled their information, Kilari used his Forrest Gump-like power of ubiquity to finagle an invitation to a Southern Baptist pastors' conference in Dallas. No one really knew who he was, other than he had been vetted by McCartney and others. But when he took the stage, he broke Southern Baptist Convention protocol by asking for donations.

According to a subsequent Associated Baptist Press story, "Several [Convention] leaders exchanged a flurry of letters and phone calls questioning Paul's background and criticizing his selection for the Pastors' Conference program."

Afraid they'd looked like they'd endorsed Kilari, and afraid his ministry was not financially accountable to any independent authority, the Convention's International Mission Board issued a vote of no confidence regarding Kilari's ministry.

Kilari denied the claims, calling them lies "from the pit of hell." He told The Dallas Morning News, "There's a jealousy involved...among people trying to take credit for my work."

More criticism followed. In 1999, the National Council of Churches of India issued a warning, calling his promotional material "extremely exaggerated" literature that provokes "apprehension in the minds of the public as well as our Government about the intentions and credibility of all churches in India."

At the time the letter was issued, Indian officials were in the village of Manoharpur, investigating the murder of an Australian missionary. Despite the council's request, Kilari whisked into town, scooped up three murder investigation witnesses in a helicopter and used them as publicity tools in a rally.

The letter concludes, "The churches and missions are advised not to associate with his activities."

And in 2005, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an accrediting organization of more than 1,100 ministries, terminated Kilari's membership. The council stated that Kilari's ministry did not have a fully functioning board of directors and there were no "adequate controls in place to provide reasonable assurance that all resources are used to accomplish the ministry's exempt purposes."

In July 2005, Kilari's last excursion in his private plane drew even more heat.

For that trip, Kilari gathered 10 girls he claimed were from his orphanage in India and flew them to the United States for two scheduled fund-raisers. These were to take place at the governor's mansion in Little Rock and at the home of Cincinnati millionaire philanthropist Carl Lindner Jr.

Things went awry when one of the 11-year-old girls took ill and wound up in the District of Columbia's Children's National Medical Center. The girl suffered from undiagnosed diabetes, but she was ready to be released within 72 hours, says Mindy Good, spokeswoman for the district's Child and Family Services Agency. It is not clear if the other nine girls ever went on to Little Rock and Cincinnati.

Good's agency got involved because, after that 72 hours, no one from GPI was there to take the little girl home. That's because they were flying to Ontario.

Not knowing what to do with the girl, since no one wanted to claim her, hospital lawyers decided to sue for custody. Washington City Paper, which obtained court transcripts from the sealed file, quoted the hospital's lawyer as saying, "We have no idea of how this charity has these children."

Meanwhile, Kilari supporter Evander Holyfield showed up at the U.S. State Department with eight of the orphans at his side.

"One of the little girls has diabetes and is in critical condition," Holyfield told The Washington Times. He said the girl needed her Indian caretaker, who could not get a U.S. visa. He said that without the caretaker, the girl's outlook was "kind of bleak."

Doug Dodson, the international director for Kilari's ministry, told the Times that the caretaker was the orphan's de facto mother.

That may have upset the girl's actual mother, who was alive and well, as hospital translators soon found out, according to Good. The girl said she didn't live with her mother because she was attending "boarding school."

When a judge decided the hospital had no case, the girl and her friends wound up in the three-bedroom apartment of a woman named Norma Juarez. When Juarez was contacted at her suburban D.C. home, she would not clarify her relationship to Kilari's ministry. But she did say the girls stayed with her and her husband for a little more than a month.

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