May 26, 2010
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Open Doors) - Acquitted and free.
That's the report this weekend from Elam Ministries regarding Iranian Christians Maryam Rostampour, 28, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 31.
Fourteen months after they were arrested for their Christian faith and activities, they have been acquitted of all charges by Iranian judicial authorities. But they were warned that any future Christian activity in Iran will be seriously dealt with, according to Elam.
On Saturday they left Iran and arrived safely in another country, reported Elam.
"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.
"We must continue to keep these two brave women in our prayers...that they will have time to heal and seek how God will use them in His Kingdom. And we need to continue to lift up to the Lord all the believers in Iran who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ."
During their ordeal, Open Doors had urged supporters to pray for the women and launched an email advocacy campaign on their behalf. Open Doors' World Watch List ranks Iran as the No. 2 persecutor of Christians with North Korea holding the No. 1 position.
Maryam and Marzieh were eager to thank Christians who have been praying for them. They told Elam: "We are most grateful to everyone who prayed for us," Marzieh said, "I have no doubt that God heard the prayers of His people." Maryam added, "I believe our arrest, imprisonment and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory. But the prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal."
Maryam and Marzieh were first arrested in March 2009. Both women refused to recant their faith in Jesus Christ despite harsh treatment. They faced repeated interrogations, weeks in solitary confinement and unhealthy prison conditions. They were detained in Tehran's Evin Prison, considered the worst prison in Iran. Both became ill during their imprisonment and did not receive the treatment they needed, which greatly increased their suffering. Senior judges and officials also intimidated them.
After their conditional release from prison in November 2009, they had a trying six months waiting for their case to be heard in an Islamic court, where they could have been sentenced to prison again.
"We have seen the Lord do miracles over and over again. He kept us and gave us favor in prison, and sustained us during a very difficult period of waiting for our final trial," Marzieh told Elam.
Now they are determined to serve the Lord and the Iranian church. "We hope to eventually share some of what the Lord allowed us to go through to highlight the need and the opportunity for the church in Iran, but right now we will take time to pray and seek the Lord for His will," said Maryam.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.