More than a year after Iranian authorities arrested Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh for apostasy-a capital offense in the Islamic nation-an Iranian judge acquitted the Christian women of all charges on Saturday. The judge warned the women not to conduct any further Christian activity in the country.
The pair left Iran after the hearing, bound for an undisclosed location to ensure their safety. The Christians spent 259 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison last year, accused of anti-government activity, apostasy, and propagating Christianity. As their health deteriorated in the prison's grim conditions, court officials exerted intense pressure on the women to recant their faith. Their reply came in an August hearing: "We love Jesus. We will not deny our faith."
In November, a judge acquitted the women of crimes against the state, and released the pair from prison without bail. They waited six months for Saturday's hearing, where the judge dropped all remaining charges.
The women thanked supporters from around the world for their prayers, and they thanked God for their freedom. "I believe our arrest, imprisonment, and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory," said Rustampoor.
When Sam Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries told the women that their courage inspired Christians around the world, Yeghnazar said they replied, "We are frail human beings with many weaknesses. The honor and glory go to God who has kept and used us."
Amirizadeh said she and Rustampoor were unsure of their next steps, but that they remained determined to serve Iranian Christians in some capacity: "We hope to eventually share some of what the Lord allowed us to go through to highlight the need and opportunity for the church in Iran, but right now we will take time to pray and seek the Lord for His will."