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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.


Jordan Update #5


2017 07 12 Petra1When something is hyped to the max, reality usually disappoints. Occasionally expectations are met. But rarely does an actual experience surpass sky high anticipation.

Well, yesterday it did.

For years the ancient site of Petra has been on my bucket list. A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new seven wonders of the world, it's no surprise that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas couldn't settle for any other location for their blockbuster film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Despite several visits to this part of the world I'd never seen Petra with my own eyes. Until yesterday.

The pictures we took don't do it justice and there's no need for me to compete with Trip Advisor in persuading you to go. I wouldn't recommend visiting on a 100° day like we did, but if you ever have the chance to go -- do it.

My main reason for telling you about our visit to Petra is because it serves as the perfect metaphor for this entire week of ministry.

Everything significant about this trip has exceeded my very high expectations.

*The two Walk Thru parter couples who came with us to experience our ministry up close and personal have been delightful. I have an aversion to traveling with high maintenance people, but I'd welcome the chance to go anywhere with Steve & Tina Hood and Brian & Vicky Burgess.

*Michael & Molly Gunnin as well as Ashley Mosteller have performed their duties with excellence and grace. With the help of videographer Isaac Deitz, we have captured great stories of our work in some very difficult places. If you're not already receiving our free quarterly magazine, Pathways, send me your address ASAP. Make sure you also follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram.

*Ellen has been my constant friend, encourager, and lover for over 36 years. There's no way I would have wanted to make this trip without her.

*The response to our new course Revolution on the life of Josiah vastly exceeded my expectations. My apprehension about how this course will work in other cultures has totally vanished. This new resource is a winner that God is going to use big time in lots of places. Every workbook we printed was purchased by a delegate from one of the 16 countries represented and they can't wait to teach it to others.

*Our partners from Middle East Leadership Training Institute (MELTI) were amazing. Even though Wahid & Laila Wahba couldn't be here, the conference was five star. Thank you Wafaa, Esther, George, Maged, and the rest of your team.

*And YOU have exceeded my expectations. Your level of engagement through emails and texts has been off the charts. I've never felt such tangible support before. Thank you for traveling with us through the miracle of prayer.

Though Walk Thru the Bible was founded 41 years ago, there's no doubt in my mind that God birthed this ministry for now. Igniting people's passion for God's Word, equipping under-resourced pastors, and encouraging believers in hostile locations have never been more needed than today.

So thank you again for your generous financial investment and your faithful prayer support. There's never been a better time to be part of our Walk Thru the Bible global family because the adventure is just beginning!

2017 07 12 Group

Jordan Update #4


Today's update is from Ashley Mosteller, our Donor Engagement Manager. Ashley is our newest and youngest employee but she totally gets the essence of our ministry. You're going to love this one!

Group ShotOn the bus ride to the Dead Sea today, I was listening to the movie soundtrack from the Prince of Egypt as we dipped in and out of the desert valleys that the Israelites wandered for 40 years. One of my favorite lyrics from the score is this one: “A single thread in a tapestry, though its color brightly shines, can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design.” Over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, interview, and worship with Christian brothers and sisters from 16 countries. It’s been extraordinary to see how each one is contributing a unique thread to the gorgeous tapestry that God is weaving together in the Middle East. They come from radically diverse backgrounds. Some are wealthy and some are barely scraping by. Some enjoy religious freedom while others face severe persecution on a daily basis. Some are university students while others are serving God in their old age. But as they learned from the life of Josiah this week, each one has a vital role to play in the advancement of His kingdom in the Middle East. And when they come together as one, their colors are dazzling.

As Walk Thru the Bible’s resident storyteller, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many of the conference participants, both on and off camera. Yesterday I talked to two people in very different seasons of life. Both left the conference full of new biblical insights and encouragement. Their names are Nabil and Luna.

NabilNabil is an Egyptian man in his late 70s who attended the conference with his son. He shared with me that for many years he viewed younger generations in a negative light. They were vacuous, shallow, lured away from the Lord by technology and media and all the trappings of this world. Church leadership should remain firmly in the hands of the wiser, more committed generations, he believed. But over the years, God has changed his heart. He became involved in high school and college ministry at his church, where he was encouraged to mentor passionate young believers. This week has confirmed what God has been teaching him, Nabil said. He had many opportunities to worship alongside millennial participants and hear about their ministries. He realized that technology served to connect them and spread their gospel message. Learning about Josiah’s life under Phil’s teaching filled him with confidence that his church could and should entrust more leadership responsibility into the hands of the millennial generation.

LunaLuna is an effervescent Jordanian woman in her late 20s who was attending a Walk Thru the Bible conference for the first time. God has placed a burden on her heart to serve and mentor younger women who have experienced abuse, divorce, and other hardships. As she seeks to expand her ministry by founding a safehouse for the women, she’s run into countless barriers. She came to the conference hungry for hope and guidance. After only a few sessions, she called a local pastor and told him excitedly that every young person in Jordan should hear this message. As I spoke with her, she could hardly formulate words fast enough to express everything that she felt. Though she’s still praying for the Lord to open a door in her ministry, she left in a fiery blaze of joy at the ways God was using her generation to change the culture.

These are only two threads of the tapestry. Even if I interviewed every participant twice, I’d have a hard time capturing all the stories of struggle, loss, redemption, hope, and transformation that these brothers and sisters brought to Amman. I wish that you could be here in Amman to hear their stories firsthand, but I’m looking forward to sharing the next issue of Pathways and the video we filmed.

Stay tuned!

Jordan Update #3


Today's update comes through the eyes of Steve and Tina Hood, long term Walk Thru the Bible partners who live in Indiana. They traveled with me to Ukraine and Russia years ago, but this is their first time in the Middle East. Enjoy!

The HoodsChristianity is ALIVE here in the Middle East! The day began with worship and praise from the heart! We Americans might not have known the words to the songs or the words that were lifted in prayer but we did know they were filled with love and sincerity to the Lord.

What an amazing day of teaching and sharing for us as first timers to the Middle East with a bit of culture shock. To be able to talk to, worship, and learn together with such a diverse group of God fearing Christians has been a blessing. As Americans, it has been easy for us to stress over the current political and economic climate in the U.S., but it was evident after just a short time today that most of the attendees are facing much graver situations each and every day but still their love and commitment to the Lord is tremendous!

As Phil went through the lesson today on Josiah, it was obvious that the complaints and issues that are expressed at home about the Millennial generation are not just restricted to the U.S. Phil briefly defined the Millennials as a group of young adults ranging in age of 17-37. They tend to be cause oriented and passionate about correcting problems from the past with a balanced view of the ministry where both physical needs as well as spiritual needs are met. He showed us that Josiah would be considered a Millennial based on his passion and age in his reign when he sought God in 2 Chronicles 34.

As the generations were defined today, it was easy to see how the tension between Millennials and the older generations are a global concern. (With the discussion one would have thought we were in the U.S.) However, we were able to witness today a group of people representing four generations willing to work together to help spread the Word of God through encouragement to make God's church even stronger for the next generation. There was a wonderful time when about 20 Millennials were lined up across the front of the room and the older participants were asked to go up front also, choosing one young person that they could encourage and pray with. It was a very touching time to see young and old together, encouraging and supporting each other. Tina talked with a young lady from South Sudan who it turns out, had never received any words of encouragement before. I, Steve, was able to pray with a second generation pastor from Pakistan that is able to come along side his father and help the lost Millennials of their country. It was a Holy Spirit driven period this afternoon.

Finally Phil challenged us all to be changed by studying God's Word. Josiah was changed and brought Israel back to God through hearing God's Word. The reading and study of God's Word can change anything and we were all asked to share how consistently and joyfully we are currently in the Word. The responses varied I am sure, but a solid case was made about how change doesn't occur without God's Word involved.

Today was a time of problem solving, encouragement, and challenges. How can God's people, no matter what age, work together to strengthen and advance God's church whether here in the Middle East or at home in America? We saw how solid biblical teaching placed in the hands of committed followers of Jesus, no matter what their age, can truly change the world.

It was a wonderful day. It was a day of igniting passion for God's Word for lasting global impact! For us it is a privilege to be involved in this ministry!

Blessings from Amman,
Steve and Tina Hood

Jordan Update #2


Today's update is from Brian Burgess. He and his wife, Vicky, live in CA and have partnered with Walk Thru for many years. Here are Brian's thoughts after the first evening of our conference.

2017 07 07 BurgessGreetings from Amman. To visualize where we are, Jordan is just across the Jordan River from Israel. 

What a privilege for Vicky and me to be with such wonderful believers from these sixteen countries. It’s like meeting long lost relatives and immediately being bonded together. Vicky was pleasantly surprised seeing more than fifteen women that she will be getting to know, encourage and pray with.

Phil shared yesterday that we on this team are getting to meet people that we don’t deserve to know and seeing things that we don’t deserve to witness.

The goal of the conference is for our team to be a blessing to these church leaders who are continually putting their lives on the line in these battlefield countries, and for Phil to equip them with a Bible curriculum that they can use to disciple others.

As expected, Phil already has them laughing (after they hear it from the translator) and actively responding to his teaching.

How appropriate for this year’s study to be about the life of Josiah. Josiah became king of Judah when he was eight years old and during his thirty-one year reign, initiated a countrywide effort to reform the nation of Judah, by returning to the Word of God.

Yousef from Kuwait Yousef, who directs The Bible Society in Kuwait, shared that so many churches in his country receive very little Bible teaching, and thus there is such a hunger for the word taught by these courses.

It is expected that Josiah will be retaught through the multiplication process to 36,000 people from this region, just within the first year. The leaders will also be provided workbooks and supplies in their own native language.

If you want to join in this study with Phil through this Sunday, you’ll find King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34-35 and 2 Kings 22-23.

MENA Conference 2017


Here they come! The 75+ delegates to our Middle East / North Africa conference here in Amman Jordan are arriving from 16 different countries. Some have traveled alone as the single representative of their entire nation while others arrive as part of a team.

They've come from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey.

They are a very diverse group. But their shared commitment to Jesus and their intense hunger for God's Word bind them together.

I've met about 2/3 of these men and women before so this conference feels as much like a family reunion as a training event. The hugs are long and strong, and the kisses cover at least both cheeks!

Josef, who directs The Bible Society in Kuwait, immediately starts telling us how Chosen, the course on Mary he learned last time we were together, has opened up new doors of opportunity with Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Others share reports of how they've been teaching Crucible (David) or Detour (Joseph) since we saw each other last.

Phil and George

Wafaa, Esther, and George (pictured here) from the Middle East Leadership Training Institute (MELTI) in Cairo have done an amazing job putting all this together.

And yet I feel an emptiness without Wahid and Laila Wahba who built MELTI from nothing. They couldn't travel with us from Atlanta because they're still waiting for their permanent U.S. visas to be approved and their attorney is concerned they might not be allowed back into the States if they leave the country right now. Ellen and I are grieving their absence and they are hurting deeply to not be here.

Two donor couples, Brian & Vicki Burgess and Steve & Tina Hood, are with us along with Michael & Molly Gunnin, Ashley Mosteller, and Isaac (a videographer from Atlanta). Rather than writing all the updates myself, I'll probably ask several of them to share their personal experiences.

Our new course, Revolution on the life of Josiah is ready to go. The workbook and PowerPoint have been translated into Arabic and I'll be working with Ali and Rand, two excellent translators that I have great chemistry with.

Everything and everyone is prepared. The only thing missing is your partnership in prayer. Unless God makes His presence known in supernatural ways we will have just had another meeting, and nobody needs another meeting!

Will you commit to pray for us every day for the next week? If so, please comment below and send us a few words to encourage our team? I can't wait to see and share with you what God is going to do with this amazing group!

India Update #4

2017 01 17 1

Thank you, friends—I truly appreciate your partnership through prayer this week. It's been a joy to share some of what God has been doing at our South Asia regional conference in Hyderabad, India. Today I'm going to yield the floor so you can see what things look like through two sets of younger eyes. Enjoy!

2017 01 17 3Hello, we are Josh and Abbey Griffin from Detroit, Michigan. We had the privilege of attending Walk Thru the Bible’s South Asia Conference! Both of our families have supported Walk Thru for our entire lives, and we recently became financial donors and prayer partners with the ministry after we got married three years ago.

This year, we are traveling throughout Europe and Asia and realized we would be in Hyderabad, India the same time as this conference. Phil, Ellen, Sathyabal and Anitha graciously welcomed us to attend the marriage conference.

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with many smiles and handshakes! We met the pastors and their wives and children from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. We heard Phil and Ellen teach godly marital practices and encourage the people in their faith walks. We listened to worship songs led by the different families from each country—praising our one, global God in many languages.

We felt the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of all of the people there. We saw husbands and wives nudging each other as Phil and Ellen taught this new material. The Tuttles clearly shared the needed Biblical insight for these couples. They called for action to be taken and the couples responded with enthusiasm! The wives shared their true feelings with their husbands (which is very unique in this culture) and learned how to be effective supporters for the ministry. The husbands learned how to listen and care for their wives and prayed over their families for strength and wisdom in how to love them like Christ loves the church. There is no doubt that the ministries represented in that room will be stronger and more effective for Christ because the marriages of the people were challenged and grew deeper!

During the breakout sessions, Ellen encouraged the ladies in their roles as pastors’ wives. One day, she taught the ladies the importance of being mentored by a Christian and mentoring others. Many of the women do not have Christian friends on the field. At the end of her session, Ellen opened the floor for questions and concerns. Several women shared intense burdens with the group. The other women offered advice and prayer for each situation. It was beautiful to see her teaching immediately applied and to witness the women cultivating a network of trust and friendship.

Meanwhile, the men shared their statistical results from 2016. They displayed their numerical goals and actual results for the pastors trained and seminars held over the past year. In 2016, Sathyabal and his team of equippers taught 1.25 million people across South Asia! What’s more, they all set goals of the same numbers or higher for 2017! God is clearly using these families for His Kingdom work!

We heard testimonies of God’s mercy and grace as the people shared about their ministries and about how this marriage conference forever impacted their lives! One man shared:

“I met with a pastor a few months ago and begged him for a marriage conference/class because I needed it badly. I also met with another pastor and told him that I really needed to attend a marriage conference. But the pastors don't think that marriage is an important topic in Hyderabad. When pastor Phil began speaking on Monday, it was like he knew our hearts. He spoke about everything that we needed to hear. These lessons have completely changed our lives and marriage. This is the first time I am with my wife during a lesson. From this course from Pastor Phil and Ellen, we now know how to raise our children and how to be godly spouses. I have not received this kind of teaching from our parents. I am now about to teach other pastors how to live godly marriages and how to raise their children.”

After hearing the stories from these pastors, the joy that they feel, the persecution that they face, and the passion for evangelism that they share, we are proud to be connected to Walk Thru the Bible. Meeting these families has helped us to understand more clearly the vision of Walk Thru and how they are equipping pastors to ignite a passion for God’s Word across the globe!

~Josh and Abbey Griffin

India Update #3

2016 01 13 1

Something happened on day two of our conference. I've seen it before. But never quite this profoundly.

Our ministry couples all chose to engage with the material on a much more personal level than on day one. It's not that they were unresponsive the day before; they just weren't all in.

"The Most" is subtitled "The Five Conversations Most Couples Most Need to Have." It's definitely tilted much more toward process than content, though each session includes plenty of Scripture. The teaching time is designed to set each couple up for an honest discussion as they answer a specific question about their marriage.

I knew there would be some resistance to this level of openness in South Asia. A few comments and a lot of nonverbal cues said, "This is not our way, Pastor Phil. You Americans speak freely about your marriages, but we do not." They weren't rebellious about it—more just politely going through the motions because I'm in a position of authority, and they respect and trust me.

During couple time, few husbands and wives touched each other. And some of the guys actually started talking to each other rather than their wives! Sathyabal firmly teased them about this and they awkwardly laughed like school kids whose teacher had caught them passing notes.

But all that changed on day two. Couples chose to honor each other by giving each other their full focus. The women especially seemed to blossom as their husbands opened up on a whole new level and created a safe environment for their wives to do the same.

There's not much emphasis on family-work balance in this part of the world. And even in ministry, many wives end up getting their husband's emotional leftovers.

So what caused this breakthrough?

  • A good night's sleep after several days of grueling travel?
  • Well designed material that started with a couple easy topics on day one to break down walls?
  • High transparency from Ellen and me as we openly shared positive and negative experiences from our 36 years of marriage?

Maybe a little of all three. But the dramatic change we witnessed can't be explained even by the combined impact of all those factors.

What we witnessed was supernatural. God opened their His Word and to each other.

And that kind of change only happens as the result of prayer. Lots of prayer. Your prayers for us from wherever you are in the world. Before our 25 South Asian leadership couples responded, God responded. And I saw the unmistakeable transformation with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears.

So thank you. Ellen and I are enjoying the holy privilege of helping couples give birth to fresh commitments, rekindled passion, and clearer priorities. We may be the ones here to witness the delivery, but it is your prayers that set the labor in motion.

So rest well tonight, and whatever you do, don't stop praying now because the best is yet to come!

India Update #2

2017 01 09 1

Day one of our South Asia conference is in the books and it was wonderful. It was also intense.

I suppose that shouldn't surprise me since everything in India is intense. The traffic patterns are intense. The colors in the beautiful, flowing saris are intense. The cacophony of honking horns, Muslim calls to prayer, and one billion people doing life in a space one third the size of the U.S. is definitely intense. And maybe most of all, the delicious spicy food is intense -- even when they look Ellen in the eye and promise her it's mild!

So even though today was our first day together, it was intense. The hunger to learn what we came to share about marriage was palpable and so motivating. This group loves stories, and they crave transparency.

Remember, the talks we are sharing are not primarily to communicate new content, but to motivate and facilitate vulnerable conversations between each husband and wife. That's pretty counter-cultural but so very needed in this part of the world. Usually it would take a couple days to break through such cultural resistance, but they made huge progress on day one.

2017 01 09 3Ellen's time with the women in the afternoon also went very well. She and her translator had excellent chemistry, which is always a big answer to prayer. People bond so quickly with Ellen wherever we go and I love to watch it happen. When she gave each woman a picture of our family you would have thought she was passing out 1,000 rupee bills. It's so humbling to hear people on the other side of the world say they pray for our ministry every day. Now they are also promising to pray for our family. What a precious gift to us!

While Ellen was with the women, Sathyabal and I listened as each national and zonal Equipper shared their numerical and spiritual results of the past year. God gave me a major insight as I listened to their reports that I'll share with you tomorrow.

It's late here and we have a similar schedule tomorrow so I better get to sleep. Please continue to pray with intensity. No other kind of prayer seems appropriate in a land where everything is intense. 2017 01 09 4 2017 01 09 5


India Update #1

Mumbai AirportEllen and I are cruising along on Jet Airways #348, our third of three flights. Atlanta to Paris. Paris to Mumbai. And now Mumbai to Hyderabad. Thankfully this flight is only about an hour long.

We've already been traveling 23 hours, and since we left in the evening we've been up almost 36 hours straight. Unfortunately, sleeping on airplanes is one of those useful life skills I never developed.

Even though I am bone tired, I'm energized and filled with anticipation because of what we get to do this week in India.

We'll be helping lead our annual South Asia regional conference. This group of about 25 trainers comes together once a year to learn a new Walk Thru the Bible course. They travel from throughout India as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. Within a couple months that course is available in the top 10-12 languages of the region. Then they spend the year training pastors and other leaders to share that course with others. In 2016, more than 1.2 million people in South Asia attended a live Walk Thru course. Talk about the miracle of multiplication!

I think this is about my eighth time here, and it's Ellen's third. That means this coming week will be as much a family reunion as a training conference. That's especially true because this year our trainers are bringing their spouses and children to the conference. We did that back in 2012 and it was epic!

I can't wait to see Sathyabal, Palaskar, Solomon, Samuel, Thomas, Baiju, Lincoln, Lawrence, Prem John, Athanasius, and all the rest of my old friends and their families. Plus I'm sure we've added some new trainers since I was here two years ago.

Mumbai Airport

This year Ellen and I will be sharing a new marriage series we developed for the WinShape marriage cruise we led for Chick-fil-A last summer. (Yes, that was a grueling assignment but somebody had to do it!) The five-part series is called "The Most" and focuses on five conversations most couples most need to have. Our primary goal is to help strengthen the marriages of our leaders here, rather than giving them an additional course to teach others.

Ellen will also be sharing a couple of talks with the women on "The Relationships that Carry You Through the Storms." She'll focus on building stronger relationships with husbands, female friends, and God. She'll be fully adorned in a sari they gifted her with last time we were here.

I'll send some more updates and pictures as the week unfolds. My main goal right now is to beg you to pray for us this week. There is a lot of spiritual oppression in this part of the world. It's a tough place to live and a very tough place to serve as a Christian leader. These couples need to be loved and encouraged. They need to hear God's ideas about their relationships, not Ellen's or mine.

We often tell you that our ministry would be impossible without your partnership. That's always true, but this week we feel much more desperate than usual. So if you're up for it, please respond with a quick email and let us know that you're coming with us to India through the miracle of prayer. Your partnership will be a huge encouragement to Sathyabal and his team too.

Update #5 from West Africa

Philip Tutu and I made it safely to Lomé Togo for the final stop of my West African training tour. Samuel Eklou and his team graciously received us and tonight I was blessed to preach at the church Samuel pastors. But before we focus on Togo, I need to tell you one more story from Ghana.

One of my favorite points from our Detour course comes in session one about Joseph and His Family. The point says "By trusting God, Joseph refused to be defined by the dysfunction of his family."

After all the mistreatment at the hands of his brothers, we might have expected Joseph to pursue payback when he finally had all the power. But Joseph chose forgiveness rather than revenge, integrity rather than deception, loyalty rather than betrayal.

2016 04 14 image 1When Philip Tutu presented this part of the course, he opened his heart and shared the story of his own childhood. Then God showed up and the rest of us acknowledged our own personal pain and begged God to set us free.

Philip described his parents' divorce when he was four. Then he shared how his alcoholic father went on to "marry" four other women. Each time, he would wake Philip up in the morning and introduce him to his new step-mother with a stern warning that he better obey her every word.

Even though Philip was very compliant, each of his mothers told his father lies about his terrible behavior. Then Philip's dad would take him into his bedroom. On the bed was a belt, a long narrow cane, and a shorter thicker stick. Philip was ordered to choose the tool for his severe beating.

This physical abuse continued day after day for years, but it was the psychological abuse that left the deepest scars. He was constantly told how wicked and worthless he was.

After Philip's father lost his job, Philip supported the family by gathering firewood and carrying into the village to sell it.

One of his mother's sisters recognized his work ethic and strong character. She took him to her home in the city and brought him into her business.

She was right about Philip. Like Joseph, God gave him success in all he did. It was in the safety of his aunt's home that Philip was introduced to the unconditional love of his Heavenly Father.

Philip worked his way through business school and later Bible college. Despite being far behind because of his early years, Philip not only kept up, but finished at the top of his class.

He eventually surrendered to God's call to ministry. After pastoring for a number of years, Philip found his long term home with Walk Thru the Bible and International Christian Ministries about ten years ago.

After decades of estrangement from his father, God brought them back together. But what would Philip do?

Like Joseph, Philip chose forgiveness rather than revenge, integrity rather than deception, loyalty rather than betrayal.

He lovingly supported his father in his final years. He also reconnected with his mother. At her funeral earlier this year, God used Philip to bring his eight siblings from four different fathers together as one family.

Yesterday Philip didn't just share the material. He stepped into the story. We were all overwhelmed by the power and grace of our Lord. It was one of the most inspiring messages I've ever heard. And like most of the pastors who were there, I will never be the same.

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