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By Cheryl Hill

This year as COVID-19 raged here in Japan, the doors to one of the facilities for the intellectually disabled where the three of us volunteer closed to us for the duration. We knew God was not locked out of that facility, so we ramped up our prayers for those dear friends in that facility, praying for them by name and praying for the staff in this challenging time.

After some time, we decided to take in home-baked cakes, so they knew we had not forgotten them. The first time we did this, we called from the parking lot and explained, and a staff member came out to get the cakes. Then a couple months later, when it appeared this situation would continue for a while, we again took in baked goods. In our daily prayers for the clients, I cried out to the Lord that I would give anything for an Asami hug.

Asami is strong and does not know her strength. When she gives you a hug, you pray that your bones survive. She really hugs you hard when she is happy or as a sign of love for you. She always asks when we go if we remember her. Who could forget? Painful as those hugs are, I so missed them. So we started off to the facility, baked goods in hand.

As we entered the parking lot, we discovered our friends were heading out to do a work project, and we got to see them as we handed off the treats. Asami came up to me and asked the familiar question, “Do you remember me?” She was working so hard to keep her social distance and yet be sure she was noticed.

I answered her, “Yes, Asami, I remember you. I have been so lonely for you.”

She looked me in the eyes and said, “Oh, well, then.”

The next thing I knew, God had answered my prayer, and I was enveloped in a bone-crushing, Asami hug. It was even sweeter than ever before because Asami gave me this hug because she wanted to minister to my need. After all, I was lonely for her.

Asami did not like to see me hurting, and she did what she could. Asami is definitely intellectually challenged, yet she knows the words to a gospel song she learned at an event at our church when our friends visited. Asami has a tender heart, and perhaps she already believes. But I will never forget that day when God answered my prayer amid COVID and gave me an Asami hug. And, of course, God protected us, so neither of us got COVID as a result.


Discussion Questions:

On your social media or in the comments, answer this question.

  • Have you helped in a facility that housed those who are intellectually disabled? How did you see God at work there?


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