Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Captive in Iran - Rostampour & Amirizadeh

This summer, I have been casually participating in Tyndale Media Center's summer reading program.  If you read five books from their list and review them online, you can get one book free.  Not a bad deal.  The first book I read for the challenge was Still LoLo.  I am avoiding reading anything from the fiction section of the list because, well, Christian fiction is not my genre of choice.

On the other hand, I do not read nearly enough Christian nonfiction.  Captive in Iran reminded me of that fact.  Last year, I read a memoir from revolution-era Iran.  Before then, I knew very little about the country.  Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh offer perspective on modern life in Iran as a Christian.  The country, unsurprisingly, is very dangerously for followers of Christ, particularly those who were born to Muslim families.  Rostampour and Amirizadeh spent years sharing the good news of Christianity with nearly everyone with whom they came in contact.  Then, without warning, they were arrested and sent to Evin Prison, they main facility in capital city Tehran.  The book chronicles their journey through the prison and judicial systems in Iran.

From the first pages, I found myself stunned by their attitude and outlook.  These women have faith like I cannot even comprehend.  Their devotion to sharing Christ in spite of real dangers puts me - and most American Christians - to shame.  They continually expressed their honor to be suffering for Christ.  What an incredible thought.

The woman take turns sharing the story of their near-year of imprisonment.  At times, the narrative is a blur of characters.  They share the tales of many fellow inmates.  This parade of despondent women, can become confusing at times, particularly since their names are culturally unfamiliar to the Western reader.  Still, every story they share made it to the book for a reason.  Beyond the religious persecution Rostampour and Amirizadeh endured, the Iranian persecution of woman can be seen here for the overwhelming and devastating problem it is.  My heart broke to read of women imprisoned with their young children, isolated from their families, and even executed for crimes they either did not commit or would not be considered crimes at all in other nations.

One amazing and, yet, somehow unsurprising aspect of the story was the multitude of chances Rostampour and Amirizadeh had to share Christ with those around them.  Despite their "betrayal" of the national religion, the women became beacons of light to their peers.  Fellow prisoners and even guards came to them asking for prayer.  Many came to know Jesus.  What a beautiful reminder that God sends His love even to those who have been outcast by society through whatever messengers He deems fit.

This book served as a solemn reminder for me of the persecution going on around the world.  We are so complacent here and I believe our faith suffers for it.  The faith needed to endure such oppression is incredible.  We could do well to follow the examples of Rostampour and Amirizadeh.  

Pages: 296
Date Completed: July 3, 2013

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