In 2009, the Iranian government was trying to track down a large Christian organization that was evangelizing in their capital city. Little did they know the culprits who had distributed 20,000 Farsi New Testaments were two young women working out of their apartment. Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amiridazeh converted from Islam when they "met Jesus," as they say, and ever since, they've been bursting with the need to share the message of Christ. They began distributing Bibles methodically through the neighborhoods of Tehran, and started two house churches that met in their small apartment.
When Maryam and Marziyeh were arrested and taken to Tehran's notoriously brutal Evin Prison in March 2009, it seemed their ministry was about to come to an end. They spent the following nine months in filthy conditions subject to maltreatment and neglect. Yet, in a truly Genesis 50:20 kind of way, what man meant for evil, God intended for good: Not only did their ministry take on a new form in prison, but it blossomed as their reputation grew behind bars. As they gained attention from human rights organizations who were outraged at their arrest, an international outcry eventually led to their release.
Even since, their ministry has continued to expand as they were able to chronicle their experience in a new book, Captive in Iran (Tyndale Momentum, April 2013). Today, the two women live in the Atlanta area, and they have been traveling to churches around the U. S. sharing their inspiring testimony. When they visited Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois, in late July, they spent some time with TCW to share about evangelism, prayer, and what it means to have a lifestyle of faith.
Meeting Jesus in Evin
When Evin Prison became their home, everyone who met Maryam and Marziyeh also met Jesus. "When we were talking to people and praying for them, we tried to show them who Jesus is, what his teachings are, and what the truth is by our behavior rather than our words: by respecting them, loving them, and understanding their situations. Our behavior changed those people," says Marziyeh.
It's true that Maryam and Marziyeh are gifted evangelists, but more than that, they are women who have found Jesus as the lover of their souls. "When we became Christians," Marziyeh says, "we didn't just convert to the Christian religion—we were both in love with Jesus."
They can't help but share the love of Christ because it is something so central to their own identity.