Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

July 21, 2019: Faithful Listeners

From Sandra Rooney


The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the July 1 car-bombing and militant attack in Kabul that killed at last 40 people and injured dozens of children in a nearby primary school – a stark reminder of the seemingly intractable situation in Afghanistan. But there are also other stories of a very different kind, including one from a region that has been cleared of the Taliban. When the Taliban ruled, girls’ education was banned and women were generally confined to their homes, especially in rural areas.


Today, Rustam School in Yakawlang district, located in a mountainous region in a remote corner of Afghanistan, tells one of those other stories. It is the only high school in the area, with grades 1–12. The school has an enrollment of 330 girls and 146 boys, many of whom walk an hour more to arrive by 7:45, when they gather for assembly in the courtyard, where the principal, Mohammad Sadiq Nasiri, gives his morning pep talk. He reminds them that getting into university is going to be difficult and they must work hard.


Rustam might seem an unlikely place to encourage such a dream. Six big tents supplement the seven crude stone classrooms. There is no electricity and no heat; there are no working computers or copy machines. There aren’t even enough books to go around. But for students at Rustam, college is not just a dream. Sixty of the 65 students in the 2017 graduating class were accepted into public universities, and two thirds of them were girls.


Though most of the students’ parents are subsistence farmers and few of them can read or write, they encourage the dream. They want a better future for their children and encourage them to get an education. The local passion for education, especially for girls, is, in fact, a reaction to the Taliban period, when it was forbidden. The fourth grade math teacher, Ms. Joya, who is 28, said she had to start from zero, when she was 11and the Taliban fell. She did not know how to read or write. “We tell them [the students] about the Taliban and what they did to us, and that they have an opportunity now,” she said. “They’re listening. They hear about it at home, too, from their mothers and aunts.”


The girls at Rustam are highly motivated. “Honestly, girls are better than boys, they are more serious,” Mr. Nasiri said. “These kids all know that you can’t make a slave out of someone who is educated.”


Explore…Luke 10:38–42

  • Why do you think Jesus spoke to Martha as he did?
  • When is it important to listen?
  • To whom do you listen for guidance, for encouragement, for hope for a better future?
  • Name examples that illustrate the importance of listening?
  • What does listening sometimes require of us?



God of Wisdom, help us discern from all that is placed before us – the many voices and demands that call for our attention, the life choices we must make – what is truly important. Empower us in the midst of our longing and striving to live as embodiments of your love and grace. Amen.


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