The two Iranian female converts that rights groups have been campaigning for were not freed Monday as expected.
Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad were supposed to be released Nov. 16, according to news received by Elam Ministries, a group that supports the church in Iran.
But Elam was later informed that their release was delayed due to "legal procedures." The families of the women, however, remain hopeful that the two women will soon be freed.
Rostampour and Esmaeilabad were arrested in March on the charges of "acting against state security" and "taking part in illegal gatherings." At a court hearing in October, the judge dropped the anti-state charge – a rare act that boosted the hope of supporters and family members. The women still face charges of propagation of Christianity and apostasy.
Despite mental abuse and hardship from health problems, the two converts have refused to denounce their faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam.
At an Aug. 9 court hearing, the two women told the judge they "love Jesus" and will "not recant their faith," according to Elam. As a result of their response, the judge sent them back to prison "to think about it," according to Compass Direct which spoke with the family members.
Earlier this month, Open Doors, a group that supports persecuted Christians, launched a campaign to free the two women. Campaign efforts include urging people to send messages to Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee and to the Iranian government requesting for the women's immediate release.
Open Doors has also urged Christians to pray.