Born in Iran to Muslim families, Marziyeh and Maryam were both desperately seeking for the truth and meaning for their lives. Whilst reading the Koran, Maryam never felt the presence of God, and struggled to find the answers her heart longed for.
Maryam’s sister came home one evening and gave her a booklet, which contained a portion of Luke’s Gospel. Her sister, having her own doubts, told her to read the book but not the last page, as it was a conversion prayer to Christianity. Maryam remembers being exhausted from all the searching for the Truth. As she started reading that little book, she said: “I believe that Jesus revealed the truth to me that day, because every word I was reading I felt it talking to my heart.” Maryam and Marziyeh both found hope in Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity. Their story is told as part of a collection of stories in the new release of Jesus the Game Changer 2: To the Ends of the Earth by Olive Tree Media.
Seeking to learn more, they both separately moved to Turkey in 2005 to learn more about their faith in Jesus. This is where the two women met for the first time. From the first day they met each other, the women instantly became great friends, with an interest in sharing their faith with the Iranian people. With that, they moved back to Iran to start their journey across the country, sharing the Gospel with thousands of people. Their journey started in Tehran. They started in the North of the Province, giving out over 20,000 New Testaments until they had covered the full area. During that time, they had to run literally for their lives and hand out Bibles under the cover of darkness.
The women were eventually caught, arrested and held for nine months in one of the most horrifying prisons. They recall sleeping under urine-soaked blankets, being threatened, and feared they might be tortured to death. Maryam recalls: “I remember we had to sleep on freezing and filthy floors…when we did find blankets, most of them strongly smelled of urine.” On more than one occasion, the women were pressured to convert back to Islam and deny their faith in Jesus.
Eventually they were transferred to Evin Prison, notorious for raping, torturing and executing many innocent people. Marziyeh recalls her time there. “They told us if we wanted to insist on our faith, that we would face execution by hanging. We had long hours of interrogation, whilst having to listen to the sounds of other prisoners being beaten and tortured.”
Despite everything, the women were determined to share the Gospel, and they started to view their prison as a church. They brought many people to Christ, and made friendships that would last a lifetime. Maryam states: “We believe that it was God’s plan for us to be in that prison for nine months… We had great opportunities to share the message with many prisoners.”
Eventually the United Nations’ Amnesty International enabled their release from jail. Maryam says: “God had a purpose. He wanted us to see those injustices, and to bring awareness about the situation of many people in Iran – especially women… that we have a great heart for women that they are victims of, you know, the Iranian government and, in Islam especially, women have no rights. And we believe that, you know, God wanted us to see all those injustices and to just share that with the world.”
The above story is featured in ‘Jesus the Game Changer 2: To the Ends of the Earth’, which is filled with stories of inspiring and courageous people of faith, like the one above, who risked danger and death to ensure people heard the message of the Gospel.
Through the production of various programmes and resources, Olive Tree Media is seeking to introduce people to Jesus; communicate a Christian worldview, and transform beliefs, attitudes and lives. Resources can be viewed and purchased online; on various television networks around the country; heard on radio, and in many Christian bookstores. ‘Jesus the Game Changer 2: To the Ends of the Earth’ is the title of the second season of the award-winning documentary. Host Karl Faase interviews over 50 guests about how the message of Jesus travelled across the world over the centuries, looking at the key people and moments that made this happen.
‘Captive in Iran’, writtenbyMaryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, recounts their 259 days in Evin. It’s an amazing story of unyielding faith – when denying God would have meant freedom – and can be purchased on Amazon.