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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Maryam and Marziyeh: Lights in the darkness of Iran.

"But those that know their God shall be strong
and do mighty exploits."
                       (Daniel 11:32)

Two years ago, I published my second book, "Shining star: a light in the darkness of Iran."
 I had no idea at the time that this book would forever change the course of my life.
There were two pivotal events that inspired me to write about the struggles of the underground church in Iran. The first event came on June 20, 2009 when I sat in front of my tv, horrified, watching a young Iranian protester, Neda Soltan, murdered in broad daylight in an alleyway in Tehran. I could not get the image out of my mind. It haunted me day and night.
The next event was watching a news report just two months later about two young Iranian Christian girls, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, on death row in Evin Prison, for sharing their Christian faith in Tehran. I was gripped by their courage and faith and knew instinctively that I had to write about it.
A few months later, I sat down at my computer and begin to write, "Shining Star" telling the story of Muslims who converted to Christianity in Iran and had to meet secretly to protect their lives.
In the middle of writing my book, I was overjoyed to hear the incredible news that Maryam and Marziyeh had been miraculously spared from the death penalty and released from Evin Prison.
Their release was an amazing answer to my prayers and I remember crying tears of joy sitting at my computer when I first heard the good news. I finished writing, "Shining star" and put their names on the dedication page, thanking God for their new freedom.
Just a few weeks ago, another life-changing event occurred in my life. God in His marvelous providence connected me with Maryam and Marziyeh on Facebook. I was astonished and overjoyed! I had finally met the two Iranian Christian women that had inspired my life and caused me to write about the underground church in Iran. Ironically, Maryam and Marziyeh had just finished writing their book, "Captive in Iran," and were preparing to go on a nationwide book tour.
I asked Maryam if she would like to read my book, "The Rose of Nowruz," which is the story of a woman freedom fighter in Iran, and she enthusiastically agreed. In a beautiful gesture of kindness, both Maryam and Marziyeh posted a picture of my book on their Facebook page.
The incredible story of Maryam and Marziyeh is an amazing story of God's Grace and favor.
After being arrested for evangelizing and handing out thousands of New Testaments all over Tehran, the Iranian government was convinced they had put an end to their preaching.
Wrong! The dark and cold cells of Evin prison could not silence my dear friends. God transformed their tiny cell into a church pulpit and for 259 days, Maryam and Marziyeh boldly preached Christ to everyone who would listen. In the midst of their suffering and pain, God turned their captivity into an incredible opportunity for being a light in the darkness of Iran.
The story of Maryam and Marzieh is the story of two courageous women who "know their God and do mighty exploits" for the glory of His name. Just like the title of my book, Maryam and Marzieh, truly are "Shining Stars," illuminating the darkness and bringing hope and freedom to Iran.

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