Connections: Pervez Khokhar
A Vision for America
Pervez Khokhar, 63, is pastor of Sutun-e-Haqq Assembly of God in Queens, N.Y., and vice president of the Southern Asia Fellowship, a coalition of 23 U.S. AG congregations. Khokhar, a native of Pakistan, recently met with Pentecostal Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy.
evangel: Talk about your decision to become a follower of Christ.
KHOKHAR: I had attended a church in Pakistan that was all rituals, and I had a fake Christianity.
When I was 20 years old, an evangelist from Jordan came to an outreach meeting at our college auditorium and he was preaching the Word. He made the point that not many people know the victorious Jesus. He said if the living Christ comes into your life, He will make a change.
That really struck me. I started sobbing. I wanted the living Christ to come into my life. I was so desperate. I was fed up with religion. I said, “Living Christ, I want You to come into my life and transform me.”
After the meeting I was full of joy and peace like never before. In 1970, at age 20, I briefly met Assemblies of God missionary Calvin Olson. He put me on his mailing list. This is how I started receiving the Pentecostal Evangel.
evangel: And the Evangel provided biblical instruction for you.
KHOKHAR: Exactly. I learned so much through the magazine. This was the first Christian literature that I read besides the Bible, and it has always been a great source of encouragement and strength. It provided tremendous growth for me as I was very keen to learn the language and English words in the Bible.
evangel: How did you receive a ministry calling?
KHOKHAR: I kept reading the Word of God day and night. I was thinking about Jesus as I read Matthew 28. The words “go therefore” struck me. I felt impressed to go, but I didn’t know where. That night I saw a vision of crossing the ocean, like Philip in the Book of Acts flying after meeting the eunuch from Ethiopia [see Acts 8:26-40]. When I shared this with some of the brothers, they laughed and said, “You are always dreaming because you read the Pentecostal Evangel.”
evangel: You ended up in the United Arab Emirates.
KHOKHAR: I went in 1974 and stayed until 2000. I planted the first Urdu-Hindi-speaking Pentecostal church in the U.A.E. A group of new converts from India and Pakistan became committed members and true disciples. In due time, when they went back to their respective homelands, they planted new churches there.
evangel: Why did you want to come to the United States?
KHOKHAR: It was God’s divine plan. My wife, Sakina, and I filled out a simple form with the immigration lottery visa and forgot about it. One day in the mail I received, “Congratulations! You are randomly selected for the immigration lottery!” Within a couple of months my wife, my son, Joshua, and my daughter, Maria, all came with full resident visas.
evangel: How did you end up in New York?
KHOKHAR: A Muslim friend said I should come to New York. I prayed for him while he was in Dubai, and he was healed from cancer. In return he wanted to be kind to us and put us up in an apartment for two months. I didn’t know anyone else in New York. God gave us Jeremiah 29:11, and such a peace came to us.
evangel: How did you go about planting a church in a foreign land where you really didn’t know anyone?
KHOKHAR: I called Jai Paul Singh, the pastor of Calvary Assembly of God — the church where we are meeting now — and shared my vision. In a couple of months we planted the first Urdu-speaking church in Queens with five people. The district has been very supportive. God has given me a faithful team, including my family. Today we have about 100 committed members. We are in the process of buying a church building.
evangel: What is your target audience?
KHOKHAR: Our church is Urdu speaking — the language spoken in Pakistan and North India. But I preach using PowerPoint in English, and the youth worship is in English. I teach those in church that they are the ones who must reach out to people. They witness in the Laundromat, the workplace, the stores. They are reaching out to Hindus and Sikhs from India and Muslims from Pakistan. People are so influenced by their culture, but Christianity is not any particular culture. It is a culture of following Christ. We have great freedom to evangelize in this country.
evangel: What are your hopes?
KHOKHAR: I challenge other American churches that we are all the kingdom of God. If the Assemblies of God becomes more supportive of the ethnic churches, it will really give a boost to reach the unreached peoples. Sometimes the ethnic community doesn’t have a place to meet or any support. I am so grateful to the Lord for Calvary Assembly. We sent our children to their Sunday School. Today we have enough trained people. If churches adopt us and really support us it will be a good thing.
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