Former Iranian prisoners speak in IWU chapel

As part of Global Awareness Week at Indiana Wesleyan University, two Iranians— who were imprisoned and sentenced to death in 2009 because of their Christian faith— shared their testimonies in chapel on Wednesday, Nov. 15.   

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were raised in Muslim families but converted to Christianity and began to share the Gospel with those around them. They continued to live in Iran where the only accepted religion is Islam. Despite the possibility of serious punishment at the hands of Iranian authorities, they began placing Bibles in mailboxes and started two churches— one with a group of prostitutes and another with a group of young people.

“Jesus really changed our lives, and that’s why we wanted to share Him with other people,” said Amirizadeh. “Despite the danger of being caught, God really protected us during that time.”

However, in March 2009, they were arrested after being accused of evangelism and apostasy. They were told they would be executed by hanging.

“The guard said he would beat us until we vomited blood,” said Rostampour. “We just prayed and hugged each other because we really thought we would die. But we felt the presence of God, and we saw how He was strengthening us in the midst of that.”

Despite the dreadful conditions the women experienced in prison, they took advantage of the opportunity to share Christ with their fellow prisoners.

“We felt freer in prison than outside of it because we could talk about Jesus,” said Amirizadeh. “Every prisoner really became our church. We learned anywhere can be a church—even a dark and brutal prison.”

After 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, Rostampour and Amirizadeh were released from captivity due to pressures the government was facing to appear religiously ‘free’.

“Today we give all the glory to God,” said Rostampour. “He was the one and the reason we could stand on our faith during those nine months.”

To learn more about Rostampour and Amirizaden’s testimonies, check out the book they published in 2013 called “Captive in Iran.”

Global Awareness Week, which occurs every year at IWU, seeks to provide programming and activities that inform and educate students about global events, cultures and traditions. The theme for this year’s weeklong event is “Hearts of Fire,” which references Jeremiah 20:9. Chapel on Friday, Nov. 17 will feature IWU alumna Amber Livermore ’07, who served as a long-term Global Partners missionary in New Zealand for four years.

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