Her father was a Muslim convert who became the first indigenous Persian Bishop in Iran – where Guli was born, and lived until the age of 14, when the terrifying and chaotic upheaval of the Islamic Revolution led to an assassination attempt on her father, when gunmen broke into the house at night and shot him in his bed, and the kidnapping and murder of her brother soon after – which meant the rest of the family could no longer stay in the country. They arrived in the UK as refugees in 1980.
These traumatic early experiences mean she has a particular understanding of what it means to feel the deep pull of home – across continents, and across many years. It’s clear her experience as an immigrant deeply impacts her ministry, giving her a real sense of understanding of what it is to be on the margins, to be persecuted, and the work it takes to find a sense of belonging.
In her new book, she reflects on Christ’s last words from the cross, drawing on the riches of Persian culture and her own dramatic story. And its title, ’Cries for a Lost Homeland’, sums up how it must feel for her and so many others in our world, living with the sadness that they might never be able to return to the place they call home.