on April 2, 2013
How strong is your faith? Could you withstand torture, living in filth, the threat of execution and still proclaim Christ your Savior? In Tehran, just a few years ago, the authors were arrested for proclaiming themselves Christians and for distributing New Testaments written in Farsi to people in Iran. Supposedly, it was not a crime to be Christian, but it was a serious crime to evangelize...the crime of apostasy. Charged, the two women were imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran for over nine months. While many would shiver in fear and deny their religion, Maryam and Marziyeh saw their experience as a chance to witness to Christ among the murderers, thieves, prostitutes, angry guards and others who were there. Many women were charged and imprisoned unjustly. We learned of their stories and of the laws which denied women any basic freedoms in Iran. The authors became friends to many of the prisoners because Maryam and Marziyeh were humble and generous and prayed with anyone who requested it.
The authors endured numerous intense interrogations and poor health because of the lack of adequate medical care and the filthy living conditions, yet they remained firm in their stance for the right to share the story of a forgiving, loving and merciful God. Many conversions were made as they prayed with those who seemed to have little hope.
Eventually, they learned of the outside world's notice of their imprisonment and the pressure being placed on the Iranian government to release them. It was a delicate matter as the Iranians wanted to save face, but eventually the acquittal was obtained and Maryam and Marziyeh were set free. They never gave in to the pressure to deny Christ to save their own lives, even under the threat of execution.
It was amazing to learn about the ridiculous laws that govern a woman's life in Iran - so out of touch with the modern world. How could anyone not be influenced by the strong faith of the two authors who, while protecting their Christian friends, would not deny their own Christian beliefs and their right to witness to others? Truly an inspirational story!
This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers for my review. The opinions in the review are solely my own.
on April 2, 2013
The Apostle Paul
Those names, and more, are pretty familiar to those who follow the church, especially the persecuted church. I have something more pressing I ask every time I read of a past martyr or a present martyr for the cause of Christ.
One Question haunts me: Could I take the stand these and thousands of others have? If I was arrested for my faith, put under intense scrutiny, suffering extreme persecution, could I would I be able to remain strong?
My answer? I hope so. But really, how would I know? I won't until or unless I come under that type of fire!
Enter Captive in Iran, a book by two Iranian ladies who became followers of Jesus and were arrested for their faith. Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh converted to Christ from Islam; met at a theology school in Turkey in 2005; then decided to work together by returning to Iran in order to share Jesus. All was going well until one day they were arrested for promoting Christianity. The charges were for apostasy, anti-government activity, and blasphemy, for which they faced execution by hanging. They languished in a detention camp enduring endless questioning and impossible conditions, until being transferred to the dreaded Evin Prison (ironically a prison they could see from their apartment window). They then endured 259 days in Evin while awaiting their "day in court." They were pawns in a very broken and biased court system. Their case garnered international attention thanks to the internet and other media. Appeals were being made by all corners of the world (except the Muslim world) for their freedom. Finally, their freedom became a reality. Eventually, the two moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
This is a story of a faith that haunts me with the questions I asked above. They made it through totally deplorable conditions only by the strength and grace of God. Along the way, they show their faith is more than words. They befriend women of all ilk, status, political persuasion, and beliefs. Some are hostile, but most come to them for prayer, encouragement, help, and friendship. Even guards and government people realize there is something that holds these two together. Their faith moved from the streets of Iran to the prison of Iran.
While I had a few minor issues concerning beliefs, that would not stop me from recommending this book. I learned of two women whose faith was tested and found real under horrendous circumstances. Along the way, I learned a lot more about Islam, its beliefs, the lopsided court system, and the oppressive regime many believers languish under. It is well worth your read.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to give a good review.
on April 19, 2013
This account of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh's 259 days of captivity in Evin's notorious prison in Iran will open your eyes to the real threats and persecutions Christians still experience today for their faith.
These amazing two young women send a strong message to the rest of the world the Christian faith is alive and strong in Iran, growing still despite the horrific conditions, bringing hope and love to believers and non believers alike.
"Witness" said Christ...
Locked away but not silenced...
In reading this book you will follow the amazing, often frightening journey of these two Christian friends who found themselves imprisoned in one of the most notorious detention center in Iran. Witnessing and praying for the other inmates trapped inside Evin, they gather those too often invisible almost forgotten faces, lost souls to reveal Christ's true love for his brethren.
To this day, there are hundreds of men and women still held captive in Evin, living in unbelievable conditions, persecuted for their faith and for demanding their rights as citizens of the world.
It is ironic that in being jailed, both friends realized they were "in the best place they had ever been for bearing witness to people hungry for Jesus' gospel". God's will? One for God, zero to the jailers!
In three years time, Maryam and her friend Marziyeh placed New Testaments into the hands of twenty thousands of their countrymen, started two secret places of worship before being detained in Evin in 2009.
'Captive in Iran 'is the triumphing story of Christian love in a deep pit of hell, one I hope you will read to honour those who have lost their life for the faith, for those who are still jailed, persecuted because of their beliefs and for the handful who escaped and are trying to raise awareness to the ply of their brethren left behind!
Complete with pictures, this is a chilling yet hopeful book not to be missed! Due to thematic contents however, for mature readers only.
I received this book free from TYNDALE as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
on May 2, 2013
Wow! Captive In Iran by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh is an absolutely incredible and riveting read. I love memoirs and learning more about the Church and believers in other countries. Captive In Iran is my favorite one I have read! The story alone is so remarkable, it will draw you in on the first page. It's even more unbelievable that it is all true. It is amazing to read what the Lord does for them and through them. You gain access into one of the world's most notorious prisons and see what actually goes on there.
Maryam and Marziyeh are imprisoned for sharing the Gospel and sharing Christian literature in Iran. They end up spending 259 days in Evin Prison and now they are sharing their journey. You will not be able to put this book down. I felt every emotion reading Captive In Iran and it was so encouraging to see the authors truly live out their faith even in the most awful of circumstances. They are an inspiration and show how the Gospel is able to be spread in even the worst of situations.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. You will be challenged, encouraged, and learn so much.
I received this book for free. These opinions are my own.
on April 8, 2013
In 2009, two young single Christian Iranian women were caught evangelizing Muslims and imprisoned in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Their "crime" could easily have gotten them executed, but instead, God gave them an incredible ministry to Muslim women inside the jail, and such international publicity that the Iranian government eventually released them to save face.
Captive in Iran is their story.
Maryam and Marziyeh's boldness touched me when I first read of them in VOM's 2009 newsletters. My mother had special seasons of prayer for them. I shared about them in my 2009 IDOP message, and then was delighted to tell my church a few weeks later of their release. So it was a great joy to finally read the all the details of their 259 days of incarceration.
It turned out to be a different book than I expected.
At first I thought it might be like Dan Baumann's Imprisoned in Iran. He, too, spent time in Evin for evangelism. But he experienced far worse physical and emotional abuse than these women did (they had regular access to a telephone and were not beaten or kept in solitary confinement like he was) and consequently his emotions dipped much lower than theirs, to the point where he attempted suicide. Maryam and Marziyeh, on the other hand, remained relatively strong even in their darkest hours.
It isn't like Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place either. No warm, lengthy story of their upbringing; no truly three dimensional characters whom you feel like you know afterwards; no struggle to forgive; no contrast of personalities (Corrie and Betsie were clearly different; Maryam and Marziyeh seem like spiritual twins). I doubt you'll see a movie made of this book.
Nor does it match Richard Wurmbrand's Tortured for Christ for brilliant passion or In God's Underground for depth of suffering. Their suffering (although terrible) was just a fraction of Wurmbrand's, and their writing is not as spiritually profound as his.
Although they distributed 20,000 New Testaments in Tehran before their arrest, there is a surprising scarcity of reference to specific Scriptures in the book. I wanted more mention of particular passages that encouraged them during their suffering, or that were helpful to share with the needy Muslim women around them in prison.
Perhaps most worrisome, the gospel is not altogether clear in the book. In some of their conversations with Muslim women, Maryam and Marziyeh encouraged them to pray to Jesus about their family or legal problems. Did they think people can "test drive" Jesus to see how "effective" He is, before turning from their sin and trusting Him alone? The only prayer God hears from a non-Christian is a prayer of repentance and surrender to Jesus. They seem to hope that their Muslim friend Shirin (who was tortured and executed) made it to heaven. ("Now, by the grace of God, at least she was at peace." "[S]he loved Jesus in her heart, though she would never say so".)
So with all these lacks, why did I still find this book well worth reading?
First, in a world sorely lacking in positive role models for singles, these women model well what it means to have "undistracted devotion to the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:34-35). Their passionate love for Jesus oozes out in everything they do and say. They led an exemplary lifestyle of simplicity and devotion to evangelizing Iranian women. Their book contains many stories of sexual perversion, but they are careful to avoid sensual details.
Secondly, sufferers do not always see the fruit of their suffering immediately, or even in this life. God's trees ripen at different speeds. But in the case of Maryam and Marziyeh, He seems to have chosen to vindicate His name more promptly. In many cases their enemies became their friends, their convictions became widely respected, and their prayers were frequently sought. God gave them courage to publicly and clearly confess their allegiance to Jesus, despite repeated threats of death and opportunities to compromise. They had more freedom to evangelize in the prison than they did before their arrest or after their release. It is rightly encouraging to read a modern story of God moving for His children in such dramatic and obvious ways, something like Daniel in the lion's den.
The book also is very helpful in showing how to support and pray for the Christians who are in Iranian prisons now. We must not forget them. There are at least four (three of them in Evin):Farshid Fathi, Behnam Irani, Alireza Seyyedian, Saeed Abedini.
Most importantly, the book shows how hungry the people of Iran are for the gospel. The law (even the flawed Sharia law of the Quran) awakens the sinfulness of the human heart. By strictly enforcing Sharia law, the Iranian government has created a generation of people enslaved to sin, desperately wanting a Savior. It has made its people sick of Islam. Praise God!
This book stirred my heart with compassion for the people of Iran. In some ways, it seems that was the goal of Maryam and Marziyeh in writing the book; they focus more on the stories of the women they ministered to in prison than they do on their own feelings and sufferings.
These two women made Jesus look good. They represented His character nobly both among the dregs of society (predatory lesbians, drug addicts, murderers) and the elite of society (judges and other government officials). Perhaps Maryam and Marziyeh could have shared the gospel more accurately. But even so, their evangelism has borne remarkable fruit, a reminder that even weak lights make a great difference where the night is very dark. May the Lord use Captive in Iran to bring many more evangelists to the streets of Tehran.
I received this book for free from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for writing a review. My review was not required to be positive.
on June 1, 2014
After reading this book, I have never been so grateful to be a US citizen.
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were arrested and held for 259 days in one of the world's most terrible prisons - Evin Prison in Iran. They were arrested for "advertising and promoting Christianity" as well as the more serious charge of apostasy, which can result in a sentence of death by hanging. Because the justice system (if you can call it that) in Iran is very subjective and quite corrupt, there was much confusion and a roller coaster of emotion for the women that they suffered throughout their entire experience. Their own experiences are difficult enough to comprehend, and they also tell story after heartbreaking story of other women inside the prison, many of whom should not have even been there in the first place. The conditions were so deplorable that they spent essentially the entire time dealing with varying illnesses; malnourished, as the food was laced with formaldehyde and most was contaminated or inedible; not enough beds, bathrooms, showers, etc. and more. However, because they were able to share the very thing they had been imprisoned for - Jesus - the lives of just about everyone they came into contact with during this time period are now forever changed, and Maryam and Marziyeh will tell you that it was worth it all.
Maryam and Marziyeh's love for Jesus, and their commitment to their faith even under such adversity are certainly remarkable. I feel sure they would tell you it was only by God's grace that they were able to be strong, never changing their commitment to the truth. This book was extremely compelling - I am so grateful to have heard their story, and I will recommend this book to everyone I know.
***Disclaimer I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed below are my own and not a product of Tyndale Blog Network.
Captive in Iran tells the story of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh who were arrested under Islamic laws in Iran for sharing their Christian beliefs by providing copies of the New Testament to people throughout Iran, starting house churches, among other activities. They were playing with fire and were eventually arrested by the police and sent to Iran's infamous Evin Prison where they underwent a series of interrogations and intimidations where the authorities promise leniency if they renounce their Christian faith.
Where most people would lose their faith or renounce their faith in the hopes of saving themselves from a brutal punishment, the two women take their confinement in prison as an opportunity to introduce their fellow inmates to the joys and mercies of the Christian faith. Through their stay in the notorious death factory that is Evin Prison, they reach more people in confinement than they ever could on the outside.
I was quite inspired by this book, that two people would hold onto their faith and actually grow stronger inside prison. These two women embody the faith and love that the Christian faith should be about. It moved something deep within my soul and encouraged me to reexamine my own life and the choices I've made. This is essential reading for people of faith and people looking for inspiration in their daily life alike.
on October 8, 2013
Our book club read this book. I didn't think I would enjoy it, but was I mistaken! I learned so much about the culture of Iran. Very interesting and enlightening material. Great for compare/contrast material (religion, ways of life, culture, gov't) for Iran & USA. My heart goes out to all women prisoners in jail in Tehran. These two girls were a real blessing to the women in Evin prison, even in these harsh conditions in their home country.
on September 20, 2013
The authors are so humble and give all the glory and honor to God. They actually presented the information about Christianity and handed out the Bible in a very hostile, dangerous environment. Makes what I need to do for rewards in heaven look puny by comparison. These two risked their very lives and they would have counted it JOY to die for Christ.
I would love to meet these two brave, blessed women of grace. I hope that someday they will make this book available in Farsi, since there are many Muslim Iranians here in the USA that need to know. I personally know of two deaf Iranian Muslims, but I can't present an in-depth assurance to them about salvation in Christ, in English. They won't fully understand. This book would be so perfect for them, in Farsi!
on May 11, 2013
This is an amazing story of faith and of God's faithfulness to His followers. I appreciate that both authors repeatedly stated that everything was in God's hands, not theirs. Especially heartening was their view that women in Iran are glad to hear the word of God. This is how Christians can spread the gospel; we know that educated women change their villages with far greater impact than men.
Thank you to both of these women for their testimonies. May God continue to use them to inspire others in missions.