(Photo courtesy VOM)
Iran (MNN) ― In March, officials incarcerated Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh in one of Iran's worst prisons. Their health has deteriorated in the harsh conditions.
"Neither one are in good health," reports Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs. "They both have had health difficulties since they've been in prison."
Nettleton explains that there is a "method to the madness" of forcing these believers to endure horrible circumstances.
"The goal of the justice system there, using the term ‘justice' very loosely," he explains, "is to pressure them and force them and make them so miserable that they will deny their faith in Christ and return to Islam."
On March 5, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh were accused of "acting against state security" and "taking part in illegal gatherings." Currently they are incarcerated at Evin Prison, known for its notoriously harsh treatment of prisoners. Maryam and Marzieh share a cell with 27 other women; illness is spreading rapidly in the prison, VOM states.
According to a recent VOM report, Marzieh and Maryam are suffering from sore throats, irregular painful stomach aches, and intense headaches. Marziah needs prayer for a critically-infected tooth.
"Right now, they're simply treating her with pain medication instead of treating her with anything that would fight the infection," says Nettleton. "There's a very real fear that the infection could spread and cause even more trouble for her."
These women have stood boldly for Christ in many interrogations and trials. Click here to see details of the August 8 interrogation. In that case, both women were ordered to deny their faith in verbal and written statements. Standing firm, they both declared, "We love Jesus. We will not deny our faith." They have been sent back to prison to await the judge's verdict.
"The judge is basically saying 'OK, well we'll send you back to prison and try to make you so miserable that in fact you will take a different course and you will decide to renounce your faith.," Nettleton interprets.
He says prayer and urgent action are both needed to make a difference in this situation.
"Obviously, we need to pray specifically about their health, and particularly I think for this toothache. The Lord could touch and bring healing in a dramatic way, and I think that would be an incredible testimony to their faithfulness and to the fact that God is in control and is working through this situation."
"You can literally send an e-mail to his office and say 'Listen, Maryam and Marzieh are not a threat to the Iranian government. They're simply two ladies who want to follow Jesus Christ, and they should be released.'"
Nettleton also urges believers to write letters of encouragement to Maryam and Marzieh. In doing so, "they'll know that people around the world haven't forgotten them," he says. "They're part of our family...and their family around the world remembers them and is praying for them."
Ask others to join you in praying for these Christians by posting "Prisoner Profiles" in your church or Christian school. Find these profiles at PrisonerAlert.com.