Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh.
These two beautiful young women are Iranian Christians. On 5 March 2009, their apartments were searched by Iranian security officers, their Bibles were confiscated, as well as other items and they were arrested. Their arrests were followed by interrogations and sleep deprivation. I cannot even imagine what interrogation of Christians by Islamic security forces must be like.
Subequently they were sent to the notorius Evin Prison in Tehran where they spent much time in solitary confinement and both became very ill, never receiving decent medical attention. In October 2009 they appeared before a Revolutionary Court. The anti-state charges against them were dropped and their case was transferred to a General Court for the charges of "Propogation of Christianity" and "Apostasy".
In November 2009, they were released on bail due to pressure from various international groups and communities and sometime in May this year, they were both acquitted on all charges. On their release their comment was: "We are frail human beings with many weaknesses. The honour 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."
This is their story in a nutshell and you could ask what is so special about their story, surely this kind of thing happens to Christians everyday in may countries all over the world. Yet it is a story that shook me to my core. Look at these girls. They are young and beautiful. They should be out in the world having fun as millions of other young people are doing. Yet they ended up in a feared Islamic prison for their faith.
I cannot help wondering how I would have reacted. I live in a country where religious freedom is embedded in our Constituion. I can attend a dozen or more religious gathering every day of the week without even thinking of being pursecuted, by anyone. In fact, I take religious freedom completely for granted... a given... a right. Yet these girls had to practice their faith always in the shadow of persecution. They knew that they could be arrested and prosecuted for following the Christian faith and yet they did just that. They followed their Saviour. They spread His loving grace on a daily basis and even when arrested, they refused, before the Revolutionary Court, to recant their faith.
To me these to girls are an inspiration. To me it is obvious that they live in the shadow of the Most High. I want to thank and praise God because He is so true to His Word for He speaks through the psalmist in Psalm 91 and promises:
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."