From Death Row in Iran to at Home in Israel | Nashville Christian Family Magazine September 2023 issue - free Christian magazine

This is the second of two articles, see the August issue for the first

It’s not every day that you get to meet a new friend who is an Iranian dissident, much less an Iranian dissident who was sentenced to death by hanging, and lived to tell about it. Two months after hosting Marziyeh (Marzi) Amirizadeh on the Inspiration rom Zion Podcast, she was in Jerusalem, and we became fast friends.

After Marzi came to faith as a Christian, she was branded by the Iranian regime a “filthy infidel,” a title reserved for Jews and Christians. But in becoming a Christian, she also realized that despite the regime branding Israel and the Jewish people enemies, if Israel and the Jewish people are special to God, they were to her.

Coming to Israel for the first time is significant all Jews and Christians. “Israel is precious to me as a Christian because Jesus was a Jew, and this is the Land of the prophets and the Bible.  God loves Israel and the Jewish people, and I love Israel because God loves Israel.” For Marzi, coming to the Land of Milk and Honey was something she dreamt about, a pilgrimage and spiritual homecoming. She developed an intense love for the Land, and people.

I host Christian guests in my home for Shabbat often.  But when Marzi came, it was transformative. I was the first Jew with whom she became friends. This was the first time she observed Shabbat. Over our meal, Marzi shared many details of her suffering in prison. When she spoke of her closest friends being tortured and executed, Marzi paused, unable to speak, tears rolling down her cheeks, reliving the horrors.

Her first Shabbat was powerful. “I had never been in a situation where a family gathers together, eats together, prays together and to be committed to that every week. It’s honorable as a family and to God.”

She was impressed seeing everything closed. On Saturday morning when she walked to the café that she became accustomed to, and realized that it was closed.  That impressed her. “Seeing the whole country and people resting was inspiring.”

Marzi found herself suffering from a PTSD she had never experienced in a dungeon-like structure under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the first time since her imprisonment that she’d been in a place that was nearly identical to her cell in Tehran.  Marzi felt her breathing and demeanor change.

Marzi had dreamt about coming to Israel for years.  As a Christian, Israel is significant to her in many ways.  In every way, her trip was a spiritual pilgrimage. As the Land where Jesus and the prophets lived, it was exhilarating. She felt at home immediately.

On our first day together, Marzi joked about being arrested again. If that were to happen, now she would surely be tried as an Israeli spy. The irony of this was two-fold. Surely the Iranians would do it, but as a woman born in Iran, even with her US passport, her arrival raised eyebrows.

Marzi related how upon arrival she was asked to go to a room off the passport control area.  A uniformed woman asked if she had ever been back to Iran since she left, obviously looking for someone with ill intent.  Marzi simply stated that she had been tried and sentenced to death by hanging, and that it would not be safe for her to go back.

Immediately after leaving the airport, Marzi went to the Western Wall. “It was hard to believe I was actually in Jerusalem. I was so tired, but it was so exciting. I just started praying.”  She said, “There’s a very good spirit you can feel surrounded by people also with pure intentions praying. I felt God’s presence deeply. The country and people and the history are precious for me.”

On her last day in Israel Marzi visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial.  While trying to comprehend the murder of six million Jews, the evil behind it, and how more Christians didn’t protect the Jews, she wept multiple times, choking back tears at others. She was confronted with a reality about her own faith that she never knew: not only did people who called themselves Christian conceive and implement the Final Solution, but tens of millions stood idly by, allowing the Jews to be massacred, even participating. She had no idea of Church history of persecuting Jews. This caused her tremendous distress, adding to the incomprehensible persecution and mass murder of the Jews.

She wept over the terrorist execution of Lucy, Maia, and Rina Dee, murdered during her visit. Driving by the scene of a terrorist stabbing attack in Gush Etzion, she struggled aloud about how and why it is that the Jews, God’s chosen people, are endlessly attacked.

As much as Marzi wanted to come to Israel to be uplifted spiritually herself, she wanted Israelis to know that Israel and the Iranian people have the same enemy: the Iranian regime. Through several media appearances she expressed this openly. She says most Iranians do not hate Israel. She prays for the day that warm relations that used to exist between Israel and Iran will be restored. 

Marzi is sure that the Islamic regime is on its last legs. One year ago this month, protests began after the killing of Mahsa Amini, spearheaded by women resisting Iran’s “morality police” which subjugates women and girls as second class. She is praying that Iranians will take back their country soon.  

Marzi emphasize the shared values, culture, and even history, going back to King Cyrus and Darius, “These Persian leaders helped the Jews return to Israel to rebuild the country, and Jewish honor.  They understood that the Jewish people were chosen by God. Most Iranians don’t know the history, or about Esther and Mordechai. It will take some work to undo the evil brainwashing by the regime, but Marzi wants to be a positive voice and part of making that happen.

Marzi shares more in depth on the Inspiration from Zion podcast. But now, she is deeply and intimately connected to, and at home, in Israel and among the Jewish people.  You can get her book and find out about speaking engagements at

Jonathan Feldstein, Founder and President, Genesis 123 Foundation –

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