Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh spent a harrowing eight months in one of Iran's most notorious prisons because of their Christian faith. Born and raised as Muslims, both women grew unsatisfied with the teachings of the Koran and converted to Christianity after personal encounters with Jesus.
Sensing a call from God, Marziyeh and Maryam spent several years in Tehran passing out Bibles and talking about Jesus. They were arrested in 2009 for promoting Christianity, and were ordered to renounce their faith or face execution. Refusing to turn from Christ, the women spent almost a year in the women's ward of Evin Prison, where they saw the harsh effects of Islamic law on women and, consequently, found hearts that were open to the hope of Jesus.
After international pressure from the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other human rights groups, the women were released in November 2009. They left Iran to continue ministry through writing and speaking in the United States, and they are currently seeking U.S. citizenship while living near Atlanta, Georgia. Freelance reporter Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra spoke with both women about their memoir, Captive in Iran: A Remarkable True Story of Hope and Triumph Amid the Horror of Tehran's Brutal Evin Prison (Tyndale Momentum).
For several years you passed out Bibles and talked about Jesus in Iran, which is illegal there. Was it inevitable that you would be arrested and imprisoned?
Marziyeh: We both had the same vision from God for evangelizing Iranian people by distributing Bibles. God showed me how Iran is like land that needs seed. He told me, "I will raise and grow this." Maryam also had a dream about this, so we became sure it was God's will.
We decided to cover all parts of Tehran. ...