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Former Iranian Revolutionary now Ministers to Americans and Iranians

As a devout Muslim teenager in Iran, Mansour Khajehpour sought out a church to burn down—but instead came face to face with the Gospel

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In December 2017, Pastor Mansour Khajehpour was asked to take on a difficult task—he would help the members of a small congregation near Seattle to close its doors and aid the congregants in finding new church homes.

Pastor Mansour Khajehpour / Video screenshot via @crossroadslakestevens2581

The Iranian-born pastor had been a pastor in Seattle before but in a different denomination. His ministry in America had started in 1998 as the founding pastor of a Persian church in the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA).

Khajehpour’s faith journey began in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad in a Presbyterian church. He was 13 years old when the Iranian revolution took place. As a young, eager Muslim, he wanted to do his part to aid the revolution.

He and his friends had burned down a bookstore owned by those condemned by the Ayatollah. Now, he decided he would burn down a church. He was shocked to learn there were three churches in his very devout Muslim city.

The first church he visited, a Roman Catholic parish, was too easy of a target, Khajehpour decided—the priest had died and only an elderly lady was present there. Fighting an old lady and burning down the church didn’t seem like the right plan, he told MinistryWatch.

He moved on to a nearby Presbyterian church where he was greeted, given a free New Testament and invited to come back with questions on Sunday. Khajehpour read it cover to cover in three days.

“When you meet Muslims, give them the Scriptures. They will read it and Jesus Christ will grab their hearts,” Khajehpour encourages Christian believers.

He returned to the church on Sunday and knew he could help the Christians understand that their Scriptures were corrupt. The pastor answered him patiently every Sunday for three months.

But what finally won his heart for the Gospel was the hospitality shown by the three French ladies, sisters from the Roman Catholic church who came to worship with the Presbyterians because their priest had died.

They would bring tea, plates, and pastries each week and serve them with smiles.

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Their hospitality was counter cultural—elder serving younger and foreigners serving locals. Khajehpour couldn’t believe it.

“It wasn’t logic or argument that the Holy Spirit used; it was hospitality,” Khajehpour said of his conversion at that Presbyterian church in Mashhad.

Being a Christian in a devout Muslim city and within a devout Muslim family was not easy. His father learned of his conversion about 18 months later and kicked him out. Eventually he was allowed to return home if he didn’t speak of religion.

At age 18, he moved to Tehran to study business and theology. He was arrested several times for proselytism while living in the city.

After his wife Nahid and he had a young daughter, Khajehpour’s pastor admonished him to leave the country. So in 1996, he and his family fled Iran and became refugees in Greece.

He wanted to go to Germany, but the United Nations refugee agency sent them to Salt Lake City instead.

Khajehpour said his family prospered in Salt Lake City, but he began to get calls to help with Iranian churches in Maryland, California, and Washington.

He felt the Lord leading him to start a church for Farsi-speaking refugees in Seattle. He ministered there for over eight years, but theological drift within the PCUSA caused him to transfer his ordination to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church.

For seven years, Khajehpour served as a missionary in the ARP, engaged in a television ministry to Farsi speaking people. He also established the Persian Crossroads ministry in 2016.

Providentially, the congregation in Seattle that needed someone to help them work through their grief and close down was also named Crossroads.

It was a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), so Khajehpour transferred his ordination from the ARP to the PCA and went back to Seattle.

What he found was a “small, vibrant community of believers.” Instead of closing the doors, he challenged the congregation of mostly older people to go out and share the Gospel in the community. He was very encouraged to see them accept the challenge.

Khajehpour said instead of closing, Crossroads PCA is now a thriving multicultural congregation with a heart for missions. On Saturdays, a Farsi-speaking group meets at the church to worship also.

Through Persian Crossroads, Khajehpour is still actively supporting believers in Iran. He and his wife lead evangelism trips, including ones aimed at greeting vacationers from Iran who come to Turkey, Georgia, or Armenia during the Iranian New Year in March. Just last week, an Iranian family converted to Christianity after engaging with the team.

In April, Crossroads PCA will commission five members to minister on a two-week trip in Turkey and Armenia to those who were traumatized by the earthquake there last year and also to refugees.

Khajehpour also coordinates a daily 60-minute program on Instagram TV that offers to pray for Muslims and their needs. Hundreds of people watch and many have come to faith, he said.

After Iranians convert to Christianity, Persian Crossroads engages them in three years of biblical training. After several are ready to be baptized outside of Iran, they are then encouraged to meet and start a house church.

“Please pray for the safety and security of the army of believers who are hand delivering Bibles in Iran,” Khajehpour asked. And also for his health and that of his wife, which has been a major factor affecting their ministry the last few years.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.