[Image from World Mag]
By: Gabriela Yareliz
How many of us believe something so strongly that we’d die for it? How many of us have an integrity that allows us to stare death in the face and not flinch?
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh met in 2005, while studying theology in Turkey.
After completing their studies, they returned to their native Iran and began spreading Christianity. This is a crime punishable by death in Iran. They passed out Bibles to at least 20,000 people and helped home churches grow.
In 2009, both women were arrested in Tehran and sentenced to execution by hanging. Both spent 259 days in the notorious Evin Prison. This prison is known for its torture, rapes and executions. Both women were interrogated for nine hours at a time, each week, and they were often placed in solitary confinement. While in solitary confinement, they would pray for each other.
The women turned the prison into a place of healing, and they shared their faith with fellow prisoners. They would sing and share with the other prisoners how God’s presence was there with them.
Some prisoners scoffed and asked the women why they didn’t just renounce their faith. Denying their beliefs would have gotten them out of prison.
Marziyeh said, “Our insistence on our faith is not our stubbornness… He [God] is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without Him. I love God so much that denying Him would be denying my own existence…”
Later in 2009, the worldwide church engaged in prayer and spread awareness, and as a result, international pressure mounted. The women were then cleared of all charges and released.
Both women are the writers of Captive in Iran. Why are they featured, you might ask? These women have an integrity that defied even death. Their faithfulness to their belief served to promote, not only their faith, but the concept of freedom of conscience, which is a human right and fundamental part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And in the end, their faith and the faith of others led to their miraculous release.
What mattered the most was clear to them. They made an unbreakable vow. Their courage is memorialized in their famous words, “It was an honor for both of us to suffer for our faith.”
[A special thanks to David Limbaugh, who featured this story in his book, Jesus on Trial, pg. 101-103].