Esther is a beautiful young woman from a well-respected Iranian family. Four years ago, her parents married her to the mullah of the most influential mosque in Tehran. The mullah is a learned scholar, and has influence among powerful figures in the regime. After being invited to a secret house-church by Maryam, her cousin, Esther has recently become a follower of Jesus Christ. She is therefore guilty of ‘apostasy’ (abandonment of Islam), and Esther’s safety now depends upon the concealment of her faith. But when she overhears her husband talking with the Head of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, General Haman, about an upcoming wave of persecution of Christians, Esther's resolve to stay hidden is put to the test. Her cousin and pastor, Maryam, encourages her to go to her husband and plead for mercy. Esther refuses out of fear: her life is at risk if she speaks out. But her fellow believers are at risk if she does not. Remembering the loving, selfless sacrifice of Jesus, Esther’s heart is finally swayed. She realises that God has put her in this situation for this very time, for this very reason: to be the voice for her voiceless people.
In the book of Esther, the heroine Hadassah has to hide her Jewish identity in order to survive. Her real name is stripped away. Life decisions are made on her behalf and, though she is part of the household of the king, this does not make her safe. She is a disempowered young woman. When her people are threatened with genocide, a choice is put to her: continue to hide, and stay safe; or reveal her true self, and risk her life for the sake of her people. After an initial refusal, Hadassah is given the courage she needs to willingly sacrifice herself for her people: a pre-echo of the loving sacrifice that Jesus would later make on the cross to rescue lost and broken people. Esther is ultimately the story of a downtrodden girl who is finds the courage to be her true self when it matters most, and costs the most. We root for her. Everyone wants to know that courage can come to the most unlikely of people. We want to believe that in her situation, we too would find the courage to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.