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Iranian Christian Women Acquitted


May 28 2010

Two high-profile Christian women were acquitted by judges in Iran in May after they were arrested in March of 2009 on charges of anti-state activity, spreading Christianity, and apostasy.

Maryam Rostampour, 28, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 31, are both Iranian converts to Christianity. The women, who evangelized and passed out Bibles, were jailed after authorities raided the apartment they shared and found Christian literature. They spent about eight months in prison, and another six months on conditional release while waiting for their trial.

Iran acquitted the women on the charges of spreading Christianity and apostasy. (The anti-state activity charge had been dropped earlier.) But the women were warned that any further actions would be dealt with severely.

The two fled the country, and were reunited with Sam and Lin Yeghnazar, their spiritual parents and founders of Elam Ministries, a ministry to Iranian Christians.

"It was very emotional when we first saw them," Lin Yeghnazar said. "Now, we want to see them rest and recover."

The women said they were grateful to everyone who prayed for them. "I believe our arrest, imprisonment and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory," Rostampour said. "But the prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal."

The ordeal included pressure to recant their faith, repeated interrogations, weeks in solitary confinement, and unhealthy prison conditions, according to Elam Ministries. Both also became seriously ill while imprisoned and did not receive proper treatment.

"We have seen the Lord do miracles over and over again," Amirizadeh said. "He kept us and gave us favor in prison, and sustained us during a very difficult period of waiting for our final trial." The women could have been sent back to jail, or even sentenced to death, for apostasy.

The women did not deny Christ while in Iran, and their mentor Sam Yeghnazar told them their example had encouraged countless people around the world, according to Elam.

"We are frail human beings with many weaknesses," the women said. "The honor and glory go to God who has kept and used us, although we don't know why He has chosen us. All the glory goes to Him."

Organizations such as Elam Ministries, Open Doors USA, and International Christian Concern have been active in drawing attention to the women and demanding their release.

"Praise the Lord for the great news of their acquittal and freedom in another country," said Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "Literally millions of Christians around the world have been praying for them."

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.

Related Topics:Iran; Religious Freedom
From: May 2010
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