“[We were] trying to appear confident on the outside but [were] petrified with fright on the inside.”
Imagine coming home from a dental appointment on an ordinary day in March. You have the apartment to yourself since your good friend, who is also your roommate, has been asked to go down to the police station about a problem with her car’s registration. You feel tired from the medication you were given and your mouth is still feeling numb from the dentist office, so you turn on the TV and start to doze on the couch. A knock at the door startles you. As you answer the door, you realize that it is your roommate, but she is outside with three others — police officers.
On Mar. 5, 2009, this is the way that Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirzedeh started their afternoon. It was a day like most others for the young women, though the women are not like most Iranian women. These women shared their faith in Christ boldly in a highly restrictive Islamic society. While Iran’s constitution says Christians and other religious minorities are allowed to practice their faith and meet, it is illegal to convert from Islam or promote one’s faith.
As the officers dragged them to the police station to be interrogated, Maryam and Marziyeh wondered if they would face torture, a lifetime in prison or even death. They prayed that they might be given strength to continue to stand for Christ and not to reveal the names of other believers
In their book, Captive in Iran, Maryam and Mariziyeh recount their 259 days in prison. Most of their time was spent in Evin Prison, a place equally notorious for holding political prisoners and its squalid conditions. The women endured severe illnesses without proper medical care. Food was scarce, often inedible or laced with formaldehyde. Guards mistreated them, prisoners shouted at them.
Even as abuses were piled on, both Maryam and Marziyeh took opportunities to befriend those that seemed unapproachable. They used it as a chance to listen to the stories of both inmates and guards and took every chance they had to offer prayer and then pray with those that wanted prayers. They shared their reason for believing in Christ.
The women acknowledge being scared and frightened by the situation beyond what they even expected. Yet, Marziyeh said of the experience, “The power the Lord gave us helped us to overcome these fears; just as when we prayed in the police station, God banished our fear and renewed our strength.”
Today, it is reported that at least 42 Christians are being held in Iranian prisons and 45 are awaiting trial. They need encouragement to stand strong for their faith. To send a letter to a Christian in prison for his or her faith, go to www.prisoneralert.com.
YOUR TURN: When has God helped you overcome fear to remain confident in Christ?
“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.