In November of 2017 I was privileged to travel with a small group of ECO Presbyterians on a fact-finding trip to meet with Iranian Christian ex-pats who fled from Iran to London when the Ayatollahs took over in Iran. The PARS Theological Centre in London has produced a Persian translation of the Bible and is providing study materials sent in to Iran by various means.
The overall mission of Pars is to strengthen the foundations of the Persian-speaking Church. Since the Revolution of 1979, more Persian-speakers have become Christians than in the previous 1,300 years put together. God is pouring His grace upon the region in a remarkable way and the result is a thriving house church movement that is growing amid great persecution. PARS is celebrating this growth, but is also very aware of the tremendous need to invest in the leadership development and theological education of the emerging leaders who are at the frontline of this great movement.
Dr. Mehrdad Fatehi is the founder and Executive Director of the Pars Theological Centre. He is a second-generation Iranian Christian. He is also Senior Pastor at the Iranian Christian Fellowship in London, now the largest Iranian church in the diaspora.
Mehrdad entered full-time ministry in Iran as a youth pastor and Bible School teacher in 1987 and later served as the General Secretary of a council of Churches superintended by the martyred Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr. Mehrdad was the Coordinator and Chief Editor of the New Millennium Version translation of the Bible in Persian.
Known as the “Michaelian Project,” this translation took 20 years and reached completion in September 2014. It is published by Elam Ministries and is now the most widely distributed Bible in Iran. Mehrdad has been teaching theology to Iranians worldwide for the last 20 years, and was the Academic Dean at Elam Bible College for nearly 10 years. He has written three books and over thirty published articles. His major study of the Trinity is widely read in Iran. Mehrdad has a BA, MA and PhD (Distinction) in Theology from the London School of Theology, where he is currently an Associate Research Fellow. He is married to Mojdeh, and together they have three grown children. Their daughter, Shadi, is in charge of Public Relations for PARS.
After spending the better part of a week in London with these brothers and sisters, we traveled on to meet with other Christians in Dubai. That is another story for a later time.
When I arrived home in Minneapolis, I went to the post office to pick up my mail. It contained several copies of COMMENTARY magazine. I noticed an unfamiliar but very Persian-sounding name on the cover: Sohrab Ahmari. I began to read his articles and was blown away by a new, very intelligent voice on my right-wing table. I read everything I could find by this author and then began seeing book reviews on his upcoming autobiography. My copy arrived last Monday & I finished it in 2 days – while recovering from double pneumonia in the hospital.
His book, “From Fire, by Water,” by Sohrab Ahmari, tells the story of a young Iranian born in 1985 who was born into a very secular semi-Muslim family, whose parents grew up under the Shah & then were persecuted when the Ayatollahs came to power. It is a history of the last 35 years from the pen of an Iranian secular Muslim, turned atheist, turned Marxist and who found the Biblical worldview while ready Robert Alter’s translation of the Torah & Benedict 16’s Jesus of Nazareth. Buy copies for everyone you know – it is funny, heart-wrenching & brilliant!