Watching a beautiful and vivacious Iranian woman being interviewed in Israel for the Christian Broadcasting Network, you would hardly believe she has endured torture and imprisonment for her faith.
But the face of Marziyeh Amirizadeh lights up with joy as her eyes glisten with the love she has experienced from Yeshua (Jesus).
Speaking with Chris Mitchell in Jerusalem, Marziyeh shared how blessed she was to be in the land of her Saviour, which was an answer to prayer. As the strict Muslim regime regards the Jewish state as a mortal enemy, it is not easy for Iranian citizens to gain visas.
Marziyeh has been forced into exile from her home country which forbids conversion to Christianity. Her journey to faith began with a dream of a white horse from which she felt overwhelming love. A friend then explained how it was symbolic of Jesus who had died for her sins, and she soon gave her heart to him.
“The day that really changed my life,” she added, “I received the fire of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, I raised my hands and started worshipping God in other languages I had never learnt. I had a vision of Jesus in front of me in white clothes. I could experience his love and feel his presence all around me.”
There was no way she could keep quiet about it and so, with her best friend Maryam Rostampour, she shared the gospel with her people by distributing 20,000 Bibles in Tehran! They also started home-based churches, but were reported to the police, arrested and sent to jail where they were threatened with execution by hanging if they didn’t recant.
Israel Today also had the privilege of interviewing Marziyeh. You can see that interview here: “Christians Must Stand Up,” Former Iranian Prisoner Tells Israel Today
Suffering humiliation, insults, being stripped naked and tortured, they had every right to complain, but instead shared the love of Jesus with their oppressors and fellow inmates, including prostitutes. “We tried to show them who Jesus is by loving them,” Marziyeh told CBN.
With nothing to keep them warm on a freezing cold concrete floor, they were forced to use blankets wet with urine. They witnessed a friend being beaten for hours until her skin began peeling off her. She was finally hanged, with her family even denied her body for burial.
Marziyeh said it was not so much a jail as an underground dungeon with their food thrown at them. But their defiant response was to start a church in the cells with many of the inmates giving their hearts to Jesus.
“I felt freer inside the prison than outside it,” Marziyeh confessed. And when offered release by denying Jesus, she boldly declared: “Go ahead and hang me. I’m not going to renounce my faith.”
So with courage undimmed, they demonstrated that Jesus was more precious and real to them than their lives.
Meanwhile Christians around the world were praying for them and, with the help of international pressure for which she is very grateful, they were finally released.
Though now living in exile, they continue reaching out to their people as they travel the world sharing a faith that is stronger than death and are much encouraged by the rapid growth of the underground church in their homeland.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
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