Exclusive Interview with Lily Meschi, Director of Iran Alive Ministries

Iran Alive Ministries is a Christian broadcast ministry spreading its message to reach 130 million people in Iran and the Middle East. iBelieve had the exclusive opportunity to talk with Lily Meschi, Director of Partner Relations, who shared her testimony as a born-and-raised Muslim who was forced to flee a hostile climate in Iran and find restitution in Germany. A short time later, Lily immigrated to the United States, and at 18 years old, she was forced into an arranged marriage that followed Isalm’s traditional marriage custom. Her husband was 14 years older than her and grippingly abusive. 

When Lily found Christ, she found freedom from the shame, derogation, and manipulation she lived under, and since, she has devoted her life to sharing the gospel with women trapped in the same abusive, dominating culture. Lily is outspoken against the arranged marriage custom in the Middle East and believes women were not created to live under the thumbs of corrupt men. 

Lily knows that Iran doesn’t merely need a political revolution but a spiritual revival to overturn the manipulative Islamic culture that has been instilled in her home country for far too long. 

What was it like being born and raised in Iran? Does today’s media accurately interpret what Iranians face each day? 

“I was born into a very kind and loving family. Mom was a stay-at-home mom; Dad was a clothing factory owner. Life was good as I knew it. [A] Compulsory hijab became mandatory when I started elementary school at age 6. We had to wear hijab and not show a strand of hair while in an all-girls school. (Boys and girls go to separate schools in Iran).” 

Did you connect with the Muslim religion, or was it more of a family/cultural custom?

“I tried to connect with the god of Islam and emulate my parents, who practiced Islam to the best of their ability to be God-honoring. Allah was the only god I was introduced to at home and in schools. However, there were no connections or personal relationships. My image of the god was a mad supreme being who was only watching us from heaven to have a mishap to punish us. He was not a loving god but a punishing god, so I, out of fear, had to do all the rituals so I wouldn’t make him mad to curse me and destroy my life.” 

Tell us how you came to live in the United States. 

“When I was 16, my mom, my younger sister, and I moved to Germany, where my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived. My dad and my older sister stayed in Iran as my dad was dealing with his bankrupt business. After about two years of living in Germany, my dad, who had migrated to the US in pursuit of better life and opportunities, reunited our family in the US for the launch of his restaurant in Austin, Texas.” 

Once your family moved here, your father planned an arranged marriage for you. Can you tell us how that process made you feel and what the marriage was like? 

“When I was in Germany, six months prior to my move to the US, my dad introduced me to his business partner who had shown interest in getting to know me for marriage. When my dad put his stamp of approval on his business partner, it was as if my dad gave me permission to date this man. Little did I know he was 14 years older than me. When I moved to the States, I felt as though a marriage was already promised to him. I felt trapped and taken advantage of. The marriage was extremely toxic and abusive.” 

How did you find Christ?

“One day, when I was at the lowest point of my life, my mom invited me to their house to visit a few of their friends from Oklahoma, and when I entered their house, I felt a sense of joy and love that I wasn’t familiar with. They were watching the Jesus Film, so I watched the movie with them. It was very strange because they referred to Jesus as God in [the] flesh, yet that was contrary to what I knew of Jesus. 

Then one of the women there said to me, “Lily, when you believe in Jesus, all your past will be gone, and all things will become new.” That statement resonated with me as, in my utmost despair, I had pleaded with god to give me a do-over in my life and to allow me to have a fresh start. I had no hope for the future and felt that my entire life was wasted. Then when I got up to leave, one of the girls that were there asked me if she could share a passage from the Scripture with me. She read John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then she turned to John 1:14 and read, “The Word become flesh and dwelt among us.” At that point, the impact of the movie, the seed that the other woman planted in me from 2 Corinthians 5:17, and the last two verses from the book of John led me to Christ. Without knowing much about Jesus, at that point, I knew that I knew that I knew Jesus was my Lord and Savior. 

Even though all things in the natural remained the same in my life, I became a new creation. I read the Bible; I went to Bible studies; I went to church, and I pressed into His presence and grew in my faith.”

What inspired you to create Iran Alive Ministries, and how can others aid this organization? 

“Dr. Shariat is the founder of Iran Alive Ministries. I serve with him as an executive leader. Dr. Shariat was compelled to share the Good News with multitudes of his fellow Iranians and Farsi-speaking people through satellite TV. God has been using Iran Alive Ministries to reach millions of Iranians and Farsi-speaking people since its inception in 2001. When I came to faith in 2002, I began to watch Iran Alive Ministries’ evangelism and discipleship-orientated programs. And now, I have the privilege to serve with him to share the Gospel with the unreached people groups of Iran. Others can pray for Iranians’ minds and hearts to open up to receive Christ and be transformed.” 

Iran Alive’s 24/7 broadcasts and a 24/7 helpline for Iranians are serving as a lifeline of sorts at a time when many Iranians are fighting for their basic human rights and feeling cut off from the rest of the world. Lily encourages us to receive updates and testimonies and be encouraged by the revival that’s happening in Iran by becoming a ministry insider

Meanwhile, follow Iran Alive Ministries on Facebook and Instagram to share their stories and raise awareness about what the Lord is doing through this ministry. Encourage others by the boldness of the Christians in Iran, one of the most persecuted churches in the world.

Text “Iran” to 85789 for periodic updates and stories from inside Iran.

For more interview access with Lily, check out her video testimony

Photo Credit: ©Patrick Schneider/Unsplash

Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves helping others find beauty from ashes despite OCD, burned bridges, and perfectionism. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow, even in dry seasons. 

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