Iranian Prisoners Maryam and Marzieh’s First Interview Since their Release

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Iran Prisoner - Maryam and Marzieh

Enduring weeks in solitary confinement, and endless hours of interrogation by Iranian officials and religious leaders, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh tell Sam Yeghnazar, Elam’s Founder and Director, what life was like in prison. In their first interview since their 259 day ordeal in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison in 2009, the women share how they survived months of harsh living conditions and debilitating sickness, and how they strengthened themselves in the Lord to overcome the fear of execution or life-imprisonment and maintain peace and hope through very dark days.

The Shadow of Execution

Sam Yeghnazar: What was the worst thing that happened to you?
Marzieh: One of the worst was the execution of two of my fellow prisoners. I had never experienced such a thing. One of those killed was my roommate. We had spent a lot of time together. And one day they took her to be executed. For a week I was in shock that killing a human being was so easy. She lived among us, a fellow human being; I saw her every day, and we said, ‘Hello’. The next day she is not there. After these executions, the spirit of sorrow and death hung over the prison. There was deadly silence everywhere. We all felt this. There was nothing we could do. Everyone was under pressure. The sadness was overwhelming. We stared at each other but had no power to speak. This was the worst experience. It was horrifying and tangible. (Marzieh is heard weeping)
Maryam: The worst thing for me was the execution of Shireen who became a close friend in prison.

Sam Yeghnazar: Did you ever fear execution?
Maryam: I never thought about execution; I thought we might be sentenced to life imprisonment because that is the punishment for women convicted of apostasy. I just thought this was something we would have to bear.
Marzieh: Before prison we talked about execution, but when we got to prison and experienced the fear of it - our way of talking changed. The very first night that we were arrested, when they threatened us, we were really frightened. We never imagined we would be so frightened; we had talked about these things before. But the atmosphere there and what happened to us frightened us beyond our expectations. We were confined to a dark and dirty room and paralyzed with fear. We could see the fear in each other’s faces. We prayed and what calmed us was the presence of God and the peace that He gave us.

I just want to add, it is easy to say that I give my life for the Lord and I will do anything for Him, even die. I always thought it would be a privilege to give my life for the Lord. You say these things. I know for sure that if this would happen to us we would rejoice ultimately. But human fears gripped us. The power the Lord gave us helped us to overcome these fears, just as when we prayed in the police station, God banished our fear and renewed our strength.

From ‘Unclean Apostate!’ to ‘Please Pray for Me’

Sam Yeghnazar: How did the guards treat you?
Maryam: When we were arrested most of the guards treated us badly, especially when they knew we had been involved in evangelism. They would curse us and would not let us drink water from the public tap or use the wash basin. But this changed and eventually they asked us to pray for them.

Sam Yeghnazar: How did the other prisoners treat you?
Marzieh: Some called us ‘Dirty, unclean, apostates,’ but their opinion changed, and they asked for forgiveness. We had become an example to them and they would take our side.
Maryam: At Evin Prison the well-educated political and business prisoners called us ‘Mortad Kasif’ (Unclean Apostates). In less than a month everything changed. As they got to know us, they were curious about our faith, they respected us and called upon us to sort out arguments they had between themselves.

Sam Yeghnazar: Did any other prisoners come to faith?
Yes. There were those who accepted Christ. When we were in Vozara (the first prison the women were taken to) we prayed the sinner’s prayer with many of the prostitutes. They prayed themselves and we prayed for them. But there were others who were too frightened to confess their faith. There were many who were impacted.

Letters ‘Gave Us Hope’

Sam Yeghnazar: What message do you have for the thousands who prayed for you when you were in prison?
Marzieh: I would like to thank them for their prayers and support, and the letters they sent us. During this time it wasn’t just Maryam and Marzieh who were imprisoned, but all these prayer warriors. This was a great encouragement for us. We felt their presence alongside us. So please keep praying for those who are in prison for their faith, believers in Afghanistan and Pakistan and other places. Don’t think that your prayers are unimportant.

Sam Yeghnazar: What happened to the thousands of letters you were sent?
Marzieh: We heard that people sent us letters in prison, but we didn’t get any of them; just hearing that people sent us letters, was a great encouragement to us. And what’s interesting is that the guards who opened our letters read the Bible verses and the prayers, and were impacted. We know this because they told us and mentioned some of the verses from the Gospel. I can’t thank them (those who sent letters) with all that is in my heart; I can say ‘thank you,’ but this is not enough.
Maryam: I thank them. It’s true we didn’t see the letters they sent, but we knew there was a large group supporting us. This was a huge encouragement to us and helped us to stand firm. We heard from our guards that forty to fifty letters were coming every day. They saw how Christians stood together to support their own. This was something that gave us hope.

Source: Elam News

 

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Comments

  • Grace Kwon
    Jul 15 2011 on 05:18
     

    How we praise God for these beautiful, brave, faithful heroes in Jesus! Thank God our sisters were freed! It's truly a great encouragement to know that the Holy Spirit sustained them and works in the darkest place of the human evil! May God continue to bless, keep and guide the suffering Christians.

  • Yura
    Jul 15 2011 on 06:24
     

    Praise God!!!!!Thank you for such beautiful encouragement to read about..how great is our GOD.... hallelujah!!!!!!

  • mathews
    Jul 15 2011 on 11:01
     

    I thank God for what he has done in the lives of these sisters mariyam and marziehs only God has power to show his might and he is able to perform what he has promised in our lives.I praise God for this miracle which he has shown.our God answers every prayers of his people.this is his victory praises and Glory and honour to his name Mathews India

  • loza
    Jul 16 2011 on 10:43
     

    i praise God for His faithfulness. I am sure he is proud of his faithful daughters- will pray for grace, healing, and power for the days to come.

  • junenor
    Aug 09 2011 on 03:25
     

    wow!! my sisters in Christ!! it is really amazing..,,praise God about your blessed stories I hope i could see you and talk about that... How Jesus worked in such an amazing ways... I will pray and continue to pray for you and all our family in Iran,,, and other middle eastern countries to stand in faith!! To our LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD I PRAY... AMEN AND AMEN..

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