We, a small group of three moms, were standing outside on a warm autumn day. Our children fully engaged in their group tennis lessons.
One mom introduced herself. She was from Oklahoma and was visiting the area for some time while her husband completed some research.
The other mom told us, "I am from Iran." Only she didn't say it like I do. She said it more like Ee-ron. Being quite unfamiliar with Eron, I silently determined to check the map when I got home. Thankfully, I remained quiet, nodded my head, and smiled. To my defense, as her story unfolded, I realized she was speaking about Iran.
These two women would become my companions and friends while weekly we watched our children's tennis skills increase. When they both moved away sometime later, I would miss them.
It's funny how proximity and time can foster friendships which wouldn't happen any other way. Honestly, I would have never met either mom except for the fact that we all signed up our children for the same parks & rec tennis class. We didn't have the same friends, co-workers, or community involvement.
Yet, for that time, that place, the Lord brought us all together. It was His timing.
In January, I saw Captive in Iran was available for review. Because of my friend from years ago, I was intrigued by the title. Reading the synopsis, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.
Told from the first person perspective of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, Captive in Iran is about their real life experiences of being arrested, imprisoned, and eventually released in Iran. Their charges? Believing in Jesus Christ.
The narrative switches speakers often. For each chapter, Maryam and Marziyeh both share from their hearts. This is clearly marked within the text. Though it may seem choppy, it actually flows together nicely.
The book begins with their arrest, but includes flashbacks of their salvation experiences and ministry work within Iran. As the narrative unfolds, we follow them from one holding cell to another. Eventually, they are placed within Evin Prison for over 200 days. Their future was always unknown. In fact, according to the Iranian law, they could have been executed or endured life in prison for their beliefs. Miraculously, they were released and able to leave the country.
In the afterward, we learn they both have made America their home.
Perhaps you followed their case as it unfolded a few years ago. I did not. Reading the book, their story was new to me. I was aghast at their treatment, living conditions, and subhuman status. By any account, the prison conditions were horrendous. However, I marveled at how the Lord used them and spread His Kingdom into the lives of the other prisoners, because Maryam and Marziyeh were willing to be used by Him regardless of where they were.
Two thoughts that stand out to me are:
"another reminder of how God had moved us on from what we thought we should be doing
to what He wanted us to do." p.185
"At the same time, there was something genuine about the pain and suffering
and the fight for truth inside Evin that was entirely absent from the scene on the street.
The outside world seemed so superficial and lifeless by comparison." p. 159
As I read Captive in Iran, I was challenged to really live out what I believe to be true, to stand in the security of knowing God is in control, and to trust Him despite the outward appearance of situations.
I highly recommend this book.
Fine Print: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.