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phil-tuttlePhil Tuttle: Welcome to my blog! For those of you new to the site, I am the President of Walk Thru the Bible, an organization based in Atlanta, GA, dedicated to igniting a passion for God's Word—here in the U.S. and throughout the world. In this blog you'll find a crazy blend of random thoughts, bizarre humor, and even an occasional deep insight.

Please jump into the discussion because, as we all know, a conversation is way more fun than a monologue.


Update #5 From The 2015 MENA Conference

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Rob and Susan Turner, two of our American delegates to the Middle East/North Africa conference, just sent us this update:

We met this amazing man and his wife and children from northern Iraq. He is a Chaldean, like Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans.

As a young man, he began to pray about a deeper fellowship with Jesus. God spoke to him in multiple dreams and visions and through these he became a believer in Jesus Christ. This was sometime around the first Iraq war in 1991.

He married began to raise a family while worshipping in Christian churches in the area. God's protection of his family and him was displayed in 2004 when Al-Qaeda attacked his car with 200 shots. They prayed during the entire time and no one in his car was hurt, not even a scratch.

God has opened several doors for ministry during the ensuing years. One of his primary ministries is church planting through small home churches. There is currently an eight church alliance with four more about to expand the alliance. God's Word is spreading through the work and testimony of our new friend. He told us about four occurrences of Muslims calling him to hear more about Jesus.

Recently ISIS came within 10 miles of their home, and although many people including some of his relatives fled, he and his family chose to stay in their home with a complete sense of peace and faith in God. The next morning, ISIS had been pushed back by the local army.

Today ISIS occupies a region within an hour of their home, yet they continue to rest and rely on the peace of God and power of Christ to fulfill his plan to reach people in a place desperate for a Savior.

It is evident despite many challenges past and present in Iraq, God is spreading the gospel through servants like this brother and his family. We can only say we are blessed and encouraged beyond words by their deep commitment and sacrifice in following God's calling.

Please keep praying for our family working throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Update #4 From The 2015 MENA Conference

by Phil Tuttle

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"Oh Lord, I have no idea what to say and I really need you to tell me what to talk about."

That was my prayer immediately after I found out I would be speaking to a room full of refugees – mostly from Syria and Iraq.

And did I mention that nearly all of them are Muslims?

I repeated that prayer all through the night when I woke up at annoyingly frequent intervals.

The next day I learned that some have embraced Jesus as their Savior, while many are seeking truth to help them make sense of their disrupted lives.

So why would a bunch of Muslim refugees start attending church anyway?

For some, they're just trying to find their place in their overwhelming new surroundings. Others come because they're disillusioned with Islam having witnessed enough violence for ten lifetimes. And nearly all of them are attracted by the genuine love that believers from this small church have lavished on them without expecting anything in return.

And come they did! Every seat was full and extra chairs were added to accommodate latecomers. And this was only the people who come on Sunday night. Similar groups meet five other nights each week.

So I begged God to give me the right words to share with this unique group.

And he did.

I began by talking about how our news networks tell us we have nothing in common. Americans and Syrians, Iraqis, and Lebanese live in such different worlds that conflict is inevitable. Our governments sometimes magnify our differences to create fear so we will allow them to control us.

2015-07-01 image-2But as I travel all over the world as the leader of Walk Thru the Bible, I experience something very different.

I meet people everywhere who are really much the same. Parents in every country wonder whether it was wise to bring children into a world that is so violent and dangerous. Wives everywhere ask why their husbands only pretend to listen without ever truly hearing what their hearts are saying. And husbands in every corner of the world fear their mothers-in-law!

The powerful blend of tears and laughter assured me my words were connecting. A supernatural bond was established in less than three minutes.

Another truth that connects us all as humans is our love of home. In my country we often say, "There's no place like home." And nearly all of them nodded in agreement and one older woman to my right began to openly weep.

But that has been yanked away from them by the threat of ISIS (or Desh as they call it here) or other powerful forces beyond their control. Economies have collapsed, local governments have ceased to function, tranquility has been shattered, and they had no choice but to run for their lives.

They have become refugees.

Both the Koran and the Bible tell us there's nothing new about becoming a refugee.

Father Abraham and Mother Sarah became refugees when they left the comfort of Ur and followed the call of God without even knowing their destination.

Moses and his huge following lived as refugees for 40 years after their exodus from Egypt.

And Joseph undoubtedly qualified as a refugee after his brothers betrayed him and sold him to Midianite merchants heading to Egypt.

But the greatest refugee of all is the prophet in the Koran named "Isa," or "Jesus" as he is called in the Bible.

But Jesus was a voluntary refugee.

He chose to leave his perfect home in heaven to come live in the chaos of earth. The Bible says he "tabernacled" among us, which literally means he "pitched his tent" in our midst – for 33 years!

Why? What would cause someone to choose to be a refugee when they didn't have to?

The only possible explanation is that he loves us more than we've ever been loved by anyone else.

Then we looked at the profoundly simple words of John 14:1-6. Together we marveled how Jesus took on refugee status by coming where we live so he could ultimately take our wandering souls to live with him in his eternal home.

But how do we get to his perfect home? That's the same question Thomas asked in confusion and frustration.

Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. There is no other path that leads to the Father." A statement of crystalized truth that we repeated several times together as I taught them the words in English and they helped me struggle through it in Arabic.

Suddenly we were all refugees together in awe of the Ultimate Refugee who came to lead us home.

We talked about the cross, where Jesus paid the price to purchase our eternal citizenship.

And we rejoiced that Jesus understands every emotion we feel right now because he knows what it feels like to live in foreign surroundings, be separated from those we love, or ache for the home we left behind.

And then we prayed. Together as one.

A band of hurting refugees, who 30 minutes ago believed we had so little in common, had discovered that we really are very much the same.

As we hugged and kissed each other's cheeks I smiled in my spirit. God had answered my plea for help.

He had spoken. And he had not stuttered.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

Update #3 From The 2015 MENA Conference

After the first day of the Middle East/North Africa conference one of our board members, Lisa Geeting, sent us this amazing story of one of the families at the conference:

He is an Anglican priest. She is a teacher. They lived in Tunisia until seven months ago when some unforeseen circumstances moved them to Lebanon where they found themselves in limbo, waiting for what's next.

As this situation unfolded they found themselves frustrated at God for moving them away from the churches they had started. The believers there are young in their faith and really need more guidance and mentoring. Didn't God know that they weren't ready to be on their own yet? Why would he take them away from this ministry?

In Lebanon they live in a small town. Every day as they look out the window they notice many children in the streets, not going to school, with no parents taking care of them. They found out these are Syrian children–the unwanted people of Lebanon. These range in age from 4 to 15 years old, and some have lost a parent in the fighting.

This couple told me about the needs these children have and how they might be able to meet some of those needs. The husband encourages his wife to follow God's leading by going regularly to the streets and ministering to these children. So off she goes every day, meeting children in the streets, asking them if they would like to hear some stories, gathering them under a tree in a nearby field. She teaches them Bible stories and the children are eating it up.

One day she asked the children if they would like to learn to read stories for themselves and they told her they do not even know how to write their own could they ever learn to read stories? So the next thing she knew she was meeting with children in the field every day teaching them how to read and write. She also found out the children don't have many basic life skills such as knowing how to brush their teeth and wash themselves properly. So she teaches them these things as well.

The children's families are thrilled that she is investing in their children; the villagers are making fun of her. "Why do you waste your time on these children?" they ask. "After all, they are just Syrians." Her response was that somebody will invest in these children...ISIS, Hezbollah...or she could, and if they were to help her, maybe they could help stop the violence that plagues this region of the world. Some of the villagers now help her by providing clothing and school supplies for these children–after all, she now has 52 that she is investing her life in.

Her husband and children are also involved in the lives of these kids nobody wanted to be bothered with. She has seen God moving in the hearts of the people of the village; they don't mock her anymore. They see the difference in these children in just a few short months. And although they do not know how permanent their life in Lebanon will be, they now see how God has used them here to make a difference in lives. Their church plants in Tunisia are doing well also in their absence–maybe God does know best.

And God is just getting started in that small town in Lebanon. There are also 45 Iraqi children who are in need of schooling and this family is trying to figure out how they can minister to them. They are praying for God to show them clearly what they are to do.

This couple could have just waited out their time away from home, but they saw a need, allowed God to move their feet to action, and lives are being changed because of their willingness to obey.

They are tired. They give so much to so many. But this week it's our turn to give to them. To provide fresh ideas from the life of Mary. To offer a safe, quiet place to rest and hear from God. Because you have invested in Walk Thru the Bible, you are really investing in this couple, and ultimately investing in the forgotten children they love and serve. It's an honor to serve God alongside you.

Update #2 From The 2015 MENA Conference

Today's update from the MENA Conference is from our Vice President of Advancement, Michael Gunnin.

It is late on Saturday night and we are just wrapping up the day at the MENA conference. It has been a long, full day. Phil has taught several sessions of Chosen, his new course on the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is being received with such enthusiasm!

Many of the people gathered at the MENA conference are enduring great personal struggles. Chosen is a reminder that God is faithful and we can trust him even when we can't understand the circumstances happening around us.

I've also been reminded today that Walk Thru the Bible is such an important global ministry.

2015-06-29 image-3This is a picture from today that I'll cherish for a long time. Second from the right is Wahid, our international director. His influence and legacy throughout the entire Middle East is so so apparent. With Wahid's help as a translator, I had the privilege of interviewing the two men on the far right and the far left.

One is a pastor and the other an emerging leader of a church that is completely made up of former Muslims. They are persecuted. ISIS is completely surrounding their town and even threatened this week to overtake it. But the church is thriving! They have services 5 days a week. Many are coming to believe in Jesus. The faith of these two men is indescribable, and the have an unwavering commitment to sharing the Gospel in one of the most difficult places despite great personal risk.

I asked them how Walk Thru the Bible resources could serve them. They talked about the need for quality resources to teach new believers, especially those who know very little about the Bible. There are 20 small groups that meet in the church that will participate in God's Grand Story when we can get program to them. They are desperate for the materials that Walk Thru has available - we just need the resources to ensure they can get them. I am more convinced than ever that Walk Thru the Bible is critical ministry in serving the local church - even in the most challenging places around world.

Both of these men said more than resources they need prayers from others. Would you join me in praying for the two men standing with me in this picture? God is using them both in an amazing way.

Walk Thru the Bible is making a significant different around the world. Thank you for your friendship and partnership in ministry.

- Michael

Update From The 2015 MENA Conference

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Websters defines anticipation as:

  1. a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen
  2. the act of preparing for something

That's the perfect description of what I'm feeling right now. Getting here to our Middle East North Africa (MENA) conference in Lebanon was a long process that included a 2 hour storm delay on the runway ramp in Atlanta, an 8 hour flight to Paris, a 3 hour layover, a 4 hour flight to Beirut, long slow lines at immigration and baggage claim, and a 90 minute wild ride in rush hour traffic.

After a sweet reunion and delicious meal with our regional directors, Wahid and Laila, and our local hosts, Ali and Rania, I enjoyed a great night's sleep after a 30 hour marathon.

And now it's a new day and our conference delegates are starting to arrive. Curnelius and his 24 year old son Shakeeb from Pakistan. A couple from Iraq, another couple who are old friends from Jordan, and a mother and daughter from Syria.

2015-06-29 image-2They are the first wave of 110 participants on their way from 11 different countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We usually have more countries represented, but political tensions have made travel a lot more complicated.

Each of these folks carry a fascinating story, and I hope to share some of them with you this week. Most are carrying heavy burdens and they desperately need this conference.

Nearly all are experiencing the greatest persecution of their lifetime. For many it's the systemic kind of discrimination that denies educational and career opportunities to them and their children. For others it's full blown physical danger as church bombings, beatings, imprisonment, and even martyrdom are real possibilities.

I've been looking forward to this conference for months. I'm well prepared to share Chosen, our new course on Mary. The PowerPoint and workbooks are all translated and ready to go.

But suddenly I feel terribly inadequate and unprepared.

As Wahid said at breakfast, "These brothers and sisters need us to wipe away their tears and transfuse their faith before we send them back into the battle."

So I'm spending most of today alone.

I'm asking God to give me his heart so I can weep with those who weep. I'm asking God to give me supernatural discernment so I know what parts of Mary's story are most needed by this unique group. And I'm asking God to fill me with compassion so I can connect deeply with each participant and be a channel for transfusing their faith.

Will you commit to pray for us every day this week? I mean really pray. Our team is gifted and well prepared. But unless God chooses to show up and display his power, this will be just another conference that comes and goes.

These brothers and sisters need this week to be so much more than that. And so do I. And so do you.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

A Lasting Legacy

Greetings from KLM flight 566 somewhere over the northern part of Africa. By the time you read this, I'll be in Atlanta. Thanks so much for taking this journey with me and praying our global team all the way home.

2015-05-06 image-1Warning: This update is longer than usual, but I'm certain you'll find it worth the read.

On more than one occasion my favorite professor in grad school, Dr. Howard Hendricks, issued a sober warning.

Prof, as we called him, would stare us down with his beady eyes and say, "Someday when I come to evaluate your ministry, don't bother showing me your attendance figures. I'm not going to ask about the size of your budget or the square footage of your building. All I'm going to ask is where are your guys -- the leaders you're equipping to multiply your personal impact and outlive you. That was job one for Jesus, and it better show up at the top of your priority list too."

The threat of that final exam has been lodged in my brain for over 30 years.

In the midst of hectic schedules and competing priorities, that vivid memory has been my North Star. It's helped me say no to good opportunities in favor of the best. And it's brought me back to what matters most when I've been distracted by what feels the most urgent.

The last couple days have been part of the fruit of the vision Prof planted in my brain. Here's what I mean.

As part of our time in Africa our Kenyan Director, Steven Mairori, asked me to help his team launch Crucible, our course on the life of David. They worked hard to bring together about 150 pastors and church leaders for a Friday and Saturday event in Nairobi.

Those of you who know me even a little, know that I love to teach--especially a roomful of influencers. It's the kind of opportunity that makes my heart beat fast and drives me to my knees in prayer.

But this time we decided to do something different. I would teach sessions 2, 4, and 6. Three of our global leaders would teach sessions 1, 3, and 5.

We hoped this would show that this material is easily transferable and motivate a lot of the pastors to sign up for training. It would also show that the truths in Crucible are not just American or African, but biblical. Fully transcending cultures, centuries, personalities, and teaching styles.

Elvis Mvulane from South Africa launched us with a great session on Image vs Character. His passion and fresh insights into cultural details I had read right by reminded me how much more the world of the Bible is like Africa than America.

After I unpacked the theme of Fear vs Faith in session 2, Philip Tutu from Ghana lit up the room with session 3 on Circumstance vs Truth. His fresh transparency pulled all of us into the cave when David passed up the perfect opportunity to eliminate Saul and seize the throne.

Then I taught session 4 on Deception vs Integrity as we explored the account of David and Bathsheba and the great coverup that followed. But something was different. I wasn't tired. And neither was the audience. Even after a long day everyone was locked in, and I sensed unusual power and freedom as I taught.

Even more people showed up Saturday. Sathyabal from India delivered the most insightful presentation of Nathan's confrontation of David I've ever heard. None of us will quickly forget his masterful delivery of session 5 on Arrogance vs Humility. Plus, he even spoke proper British English, much to the delight of the crowd!

Then I finished our day with session 6 on Disappointment vs Expectancy as David processed the news that he would not be allowed to build God's temple. Rather than losing his joy, David devoted himself to set Solomon up for success and transition the vision to the next generation.

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All in all, the event couldn't have gone better.

Of course, the goal wasn't merely to teach Crucible, but to launch it in Kenya. So how did we do?

Over three dozen pastors and church leaders signed up for training. Others asked Walk Thru Kenya to send someone to teach it in their church. And Steven Mairori laughed his contagious laugh as he said, "That doesn't even count all the pastors who just decided to launch their own sermon series on David starting this Sunday!"

Along the way, we discovered a brilliant new strategy I plan to use in every region each time we launch a new course.

Even though Elvis, Philip, and Sathyabal have been blessed with some great models and mentors through the years, I have a joyful sense of satisfaction that God has allowed me to make a small but significant contribution to their lives and ministries.

So Prof, if you were looking down from Heaven over the weekend, I hope you liked what you saw. Those are three of my guys, and because of your challenge three decades ago, my greatest priority is to equip and empower men and women just like them. They'll serve people I'll never meet, impact places I'll never visit, and likely live in decades I'll never experience.

I hope you're proud of them, Prof, because they're your grandkids--part of the global incarnation of your personal legacy.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

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Meet the "Class of '58!"

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At least that's what Chae Lee, our East Asia Regional Director calls us.

We were all four born in 1958 so we're within a few months of the same age.

We may be from different continents -- Chae Lee from Korea in Asia, Alex Colombo from Argentina in South America, Philip Tutu from Ghana in Africa, and me from the US -- but we are a band of brothers with one heartbeat.

We've grown up in ministry together, each being stretched by leadership roles much bigger than we ever dreamed of.

We've encouraged each other as husbands and fathers too, navigating several life stages together. And we've rejoiced and grieved together through triumphs and tragedies along the way.

We've shared a rare passion to communicate God's Word effectively no matter what it takes. None of us are content to just present content. We all aim for life change every time we teach, even though we all fall short more often than we wish.

And we've all committed to finish strong over the next couple decades of serving Christ together. Loving accountability is part of our conversations as we ask each other the tough questions about our marriages, egos, finances, and sexual purity. We're committed that there will be no dropouts in the Class of '58.

There's nothing exclusive about our little fraternity. We don't play favorites, and most of our global teammates probably don't even think of us as a group.

But there's something special about belonging the Class of '58. So many leaders become isolated as their influence expands. The Class of '58 has rejected that path. We started together, and we plan to finish together.

The great news is that the Class of '58 is currently accepting applicants for honorary membership. Joining has nothing to do with your birth year and everything to do with your heart's desire. We're looking for some Pauls to lead us, some Barnabases to walk beside us, and some Timothys to pour ourselves into.

Why not found your own chapter with some men or women in your personal sphere of influence? It may just change your life as much as it's changed mine.

A View Through Fresh Eyes

A Quick Update from Michael Gunnin

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Today's update is from Michael Gunnin, our new VP for Advancement. Many of you haven't met him yet, but he's a great addition to our team. This trip to Kenya is Michael's first opportunity to interact with most of our global leaders, and I love seeing what our worldwide ministry looks like through his eyes. Enjoy. ~ Phil

Dear Friends in Ministry,

Greetings from Kenya! We are just wrapping up our second full day in Kenya.

I'm sitting outside under a cool, Kenyan night sky reflecting on the day. I could sum up what I'm feeling with one word - overwhelmed.

I'm overwhelmed by the teaching and learning that we've experienced the past two days. Phil Tuttle has been teaching Chosen, his new course on Mary the mother of Jesus. The discussion and sharing with people from over 20 various countries has been remarkable. Our international leaders are excited about the opportunity to use Chosen to build bridges and extend the ministry opportunities around the world!

I'm overwhelmed by meeting the remarkable men and women who lead Walk Thru the Bible's international team. Being the new team member, I'm meeting many of them for the first time this week. They are passionate and courageous. They love Walk Thru the Bible. They are deeply devoted followers of Christ. Their desire to help people ignite passion for God's Word is indescribable.

I'm overwhelmed by the fellowship happening in Kenya. We've laughed. We've cried. We've dreamed big dreams. We've prayed for each other and been able to encourage several enduring real challenges. God is doing something special in Kenya.

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I'm overwhelmed by the ministry opportunities for Walk Thru the Bible. I wish you were here to listen to our global leaders share the strategic opportunities God is providing for WTB to grow in its current ministry areas and expand into new ones. I'm convinced some of our best days are ahead.

I'm overwhelmed by knowing all that Walk Thru's financial partners have provided. WTB has such generous partners who faithfully support the ministry. Listening to the stories of life change the past two days remind me again that God has and is continuing to use Walk Thru the Bible in significant ways.

Please keep praying for us. This week is an important and strategic time for our global ministry.

Thank you for your support, your prayers, and partnership in ministry.

You are changing the world!

Michael Gunnin

Where you sit says a lot about what you believe.

At least that's my personal unscientific theory.

Always sitting with the same people or clustering with folks "just like us" shows a lack of comfort and often causes us to miss out on vital new relationships.

Preferring to sit in the middle of a group reveals a person's personality type a lot faster than taking the Myers-Briggs or the DISC inventory.

So what does all this have to do with our Global Consultation (GC) here in Nairobi, Kenya?

Plenty! Here are three powerful pictures that prove my point.

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Paul Keeys and Bazaks Kovacs have chosen to sit together at every session so far. Paul, who leads our ministry in the UK, is our first second-generation Regional Director. His dad, Cliff, launched our work there, and Paul attended his first Walk Thru the Bible live event as a young boy 31 years ago. Bazaks is from Hungary and this is his first GC. Watching Paul usher Bazaks into our group is encouraging to watch. And seeing Bazaks' fresh enthusiasm reminds all of us how blessed we are to be part of this global family.

A few seats down you'll find Sathyabal from India next to Curnelius from Pakistan. To a casual observer that may seem perfectly logical considering the proximity of their home countries. Wait a minute. Aren't India and Pakistan political enemies struggling to maintain a fragile peace? Precisely. Which is what makes it so thrilling to watch as Sathyabal and Curnelius' brotherhood in Christ trumps their earthly citizenship. Their friendship must make Jesus smile, and I'm guessing he'll find some strategic ways to leverage their supernatural bond to showcase the true power of the Gospel.

The third picture is me next to Grace Awori. Grace leads our ministry in Uganda and is our first female National Director. It can't be easy being the only woman in the room, but Grace lives up to her name in everything she says and does. This is her second GC, and I was delighted when she asked if she could sit next to me. At her first GC she seemed cautious as she no doubt wondered how she'd be accepted. That's no longer a question in her mind or anyone else's, and her joyful presence right next to me shows she is 100% comfortable and now free to fully invest her leadership gifts in our movement.

I hope these pictures pop up in your mind as you're scanning your church auditorium deciding where to sit. Or the next time you walk into a departmental meeting at work. Or even look for a seat at your favorite coffee shop.

Because whether you're in Kenya or Kansas, where you sit really does say a lot about what you believe.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

Prayers Needed for Kenya Conference

2015-04-21 image-1We need your prayers this week.
Big time.

Sunday night nearly all our 14 Regional Directors plus a few key National Directors and five of us from our Atlanta office arrived in Nairobi, Kenya for our annual Global Consultation.

There are 30 of us all together, and though our agenda is well planned and full, our conference feels more like a family reunion than a business meeting.

Kenya has been in the news a lot lately. Especially the massacre of 150 Christian students at Garissa University.

That's four hours from here, so we feel relatively safe here at the Desmond Tutu Guest House and Conference Center. We follow the U.S. State Department warnings carefully and don't believe we are taking an irresponsible risk by meeting here.

2015-04-21 image-2Still, we need your prayers for safety, focus, and productivity. And please pray that Ellen and all the other family members the 30 of us left at home will have peace and not be filled with fear.

I'll try to send regular updates along with a few pictures during our week. If you have a minute, please respond by commenting below so I can assure our global team of your interest and prayer support. That kind of support means more than you'll ever fully understand.

None of the amazing reports we'll hear this week would be possible without your generous and consistent partnership. Thank you so much for traveling here with us through the miracle of prayer.

I've attached a picture of Stephen Mairori, our Kenyan National Director, and host for this year's Global Consultation.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

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