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  • Russia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church

    Update (July 8): This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism.


    Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates, the Kremlin announced Putin’s approval yesterday. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20.


    Though opponents to the new measures hope to eventually appeal in court or elect legislators to amend them, they have begun to prepare their communities for life under the new rules, reported Forum 18 News Service, a Christian outlet reporting on the region.


    Protestants and religious minorities small enough to gather in homes fear they will be most affected. Last month, “the local police officer came to a home where a group of Pentecostals meet each Sunday," Konstantin Bendas, deputy bishop of the Pentecostal Union, told Forum 18. "With a contented expression he told them: ‘Now they're adopting the law I'll drive you all out of here.’ I reckon we should now fear such zealous enforcement.”


    “There are potentially very wide-sweeping ramifications to this law,” Joel Griffith of the Slavic Gospel Association said in a Mission Network News report. “It just depends on, again, how it is going to be enforced, and that is a very huge question mark.”




    Earlier reporting (June 29): Christians in Russia won’t be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes if Russia’s newest set of surveillance and anti-terrorism laws are enacted.


    The proposed laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.


    To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.


    This week, Russia’s Protestant minority—estimated around 1 percent of the population—prayed, fasted, and sent petitions to President Vladimir Putin, who will have to approve the measures before they become official.


    “Most evangelicals—leaders from all seven denominations—have expressed concerns,” Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia and a former Moscow church-planter, told CT. “They’re calling on the global Christian community to pray that Putin can intervene and God can miraculously work in this process.”


    Following a wave of Russian nationalist propaganda, the laws passed almost unanimously in the Duma, the upper house, on Friday and in the Federation Council, the lower house, today.


    “If this legislation is approved, the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated and many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith,” wrote Oleg Goncharov, spokesman for the Seventh-day Adventists’ Euro-Asia division, in an open letter.


    Proposed by United Russia party lawmaker Irina Yarovaya, the law appears to target religious groups outside the Russian Orthodox church. Because it defines missionary activities as religious practices to spread a faith beyond its members, “if that is interpreted as the Moscow Patriarchate is likely to, it will mean the Orthodox Church can go after ethnic Russians but that no other church will be allowed to,” according to Frank Goble, an expert on religious and ethnic issues in the region.


    Russian nationalist identity remains tied up with the Russian Orthodox church.


    “The Russian Orthodox church is part of a bulwark of Russian nationalism stirred up by Vladimir Putin,” David Aikman, history professor and foreign affairs expert, told CT. “Everything that undermines that action is a real threat, whether that’s evangelical Protestant missionaries or anything else.”


    Sergei Ryakhovsky, head of the Protestant Churches of Russia, and several other evangelical leaders called the law a violation of religious freedom and personal conscience in a letter to Putin posted on the Russian site Portal-Credo. The letter reads, in part:


    The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions.

    Soviet history shows us how many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God. This law brings us back to a shameful past."


    Stalin-era religious restrictions—including outlawing religious activity outside of Sunday services in registered churches and banning parents from teaching faith to their kids—remained on the books until the collapse of the Soviet Union, though the government enforced them only selectively.


    Some have questioned whether the government could or would monitor religious activity in private Christian homes.


    “I don’t think you can overestimate the Russian government’s willingess to exert control,” Aikman told CT. If history is any indication, the proposed regulations reveal a pattern of “creeping totalitarianism” in the country, he said.


    The so-called Big Brother laws also introduce widespread surveillance of online activity, including requiring encrypted apps to give the government the power to decode them, and assigning stronger punishments for extremism and terrorism.


    The proposal is an “attack on freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the right to privacy that gives law enforcement unreasonably broad powers,” the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch told The Guardian.


    If passed, the anti-evangelism law carries fines up to US $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.


    Russia has already moved to contain foreign missionaries. The “foreign agent” law, adopted in 2012, requires groups from abroad to file detailed paperwork and be subject to government audits and raids. Since then, the NGO sector has shrunk by a third, according to government statistics.


    “In Moscow, we shared an office with 24 organizations. Not a single foreign expatriate mission is there now,” Rakhuba previously told CT. “They could not re-register. Missionaries could not return to Russia because they could not renew their visas. It is next to impossible to get registration as a foreign organization today.”


    While Russia’s evangelicals pray that the proposed regulations are amended or vetoed, they have gone underground before, and they’ll be willing to do it again, Rakhuba said.


    “They say, ‘If it will come to it, it’s not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith,’” he wrote. “The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”


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  • Why Disciple‬?

    Worldwide Challenge® writer Jess Fong asked Cru staff members Jennifer Hu and Gary Padgett for their advice on discipleship, a commonly used term yet vaguely understood subject.

    WWC: What is discipleship?
    Jennifer: It’s walking alongside someone; challenging them to study and live out the Bible in their life, and to influence others with the gospel.

    Gary: Discipleship is meeting people where they are. It’s [an invitation to] someone who relishes carrying the cross: suffering, sacrifice, service, submission. It’s the highest calling, being a disciple of Jesus.

    WWC: Where can I find someone to disciple?
    Jennifer: I think a good place would be your church. Talk to the pastor and find out if there is a need. If you are a mom with older kids, maybe connect with a mom with young kids. If you are a young adult, maybe you can disciple someone in the youth group. If you are near a campus, connect with the local Cru staff members and ask if you can help.

    WWC: How do you ask someone to begin a discipleship relationship?
    Jennifer: I always like to ask the question, “How would you define discipleship?” Some people think it’s just counseling. Some women think, I just want to talk about the boy I have a crush on. I explain the Great Commission in regard to discipleship [Matthew 28:18-20] and 2 Timothy 2:2, about entrusting the ministry to reliable men. Then I say, “I’ve had people pour into me in a discipleship relationship and found it really beneficial. Would you be interested?”

    Gary: I say, “We need to have a good understanding of who Christ is and how He wants us to associate with Him and one another, both the church and the unchurched. We’re going to do a Bible study, and get out and talk to others.”

    WWC: How do you pick a disciple?
    Jennifer: The acronym we use is F.A.T.: Are they faithful, available and teachable? If you are going to be investing time in this person, you want to make sure they are going to show up to the appointment. When you have conversations about what the Bible says, you want to know they will strive to walk in obedience.

    Gary: I also say “T” is “telling others.” Even if they are scared [about doing evangelism], or don’t want to, they have a heart for people or want to have a heart for people.

    WWC: Should you disciple members of the opposite sex?
    Jennifer: No. Discipleship is too intimate, and you get into each other’s business too much.

    WWC: What is your commitment to your disciples?
    Jennifer: My expectation is you wouldn’t take this information and keep it to yourself, but you would be pouring into other people’s lives.

    I sign a covenant with my disciples, which includes [these words]: “I commit to meet at our agreed-upon time. I commit to come prepared and offer you three things in our relationship: grace, truth and time. Grace: I accept you. You don’t have to perform, you have the freedom to fail, and you can be honest with me. Truth: I love you for who you are and too much to let you stay that way. I’m committed to the Bible and will use it. Time: Growth takes time, we are both in process, and neither of us has arrived. I agree to keep things confidential that we have discussed together.”

    Gary: I tell them what they are getting into. Like their classes or their guns, we’re not just going to talk and look at pictures. We’re going to do it.

    WWC: What would you say to someone who doesn’t think they need discipleship?
    Jennifer: We need to be sharpened and poured into by other people. As you read the Bible, [you see that] people were in community together. We all have our blind spots. We are all susceptible to temptations. I’ve been walking with Jesus for a long time, and I need people to refine me. I need people to tell me how I affect them. I need to know when I’m not being fully humble and when I’m not being completely loving.

    WWC: What should a discipler never do?
    Jennifer: Do not act shocked. When the person is sharing something they are tempted in or did, they’ve just poured out their heart to you. Help them understand God’s best and extend a lot of grace with truth.

    Gary: I never tell them [walking with God] is easy. The battle of the heart is the ongoing thing we live with. And maturity just takes time, and is sometimes a painful lesson. Following Jesus is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and the most rewarding.

    WWC: Should there be a life span to discipleship? How should we stop?
    Jennifer: Set up a short time initially, maybe three months, and a time you can re-evalute, even just to make sure if the other person is appreciating it. Be a good steward of your resources and time.

    Gary: I have no problem saying, “You graduated, and it’s time to move on, and you and I can continue to encourage each other, but we don’t need to be a group forever.”

    WWC: How can one be a good discipler?
    Jennifer: We have to be teachable. We have to be willing to ask for help. If most of us are honest, the first time we do this, we don’t know what we’re doing. Be available to be used by God.

    Gary: It’s the same as being a good disciple. I suffer with pride. It’s hard to follow Jesus, so to humble myself makes me a better disciple.

  • NASA Found That Everything the Bible Says Is True

    NASA’s recent discovery shed new light on what the Bible says, thus confirming that these biblical stories are in fact true. In the words of Mr. Harold Hill, the President of the Curtis engine Company in Baltimore, also a consultant in space programs: “One of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Maryland”.


    As scientists were inspecting the positions of several space objects including the Sun, the Moon and the planets and their positions in 100 and 1000 years – this is done regularly in order to prevent our satellites from colliding with the orbits of the planets. The orbits have to be determined on time so that the space projects do not interrupt their course. During the computer calculations, a red signal put everything at a standstill, meaning that something was wrong, either with the data or the results. After the intervention of the service department, the scientist concluded that somewhere in space a day was missing in elapsed time!Nobody could solve the issue until one Christian explained that in Sunday school they were told about the Sun standing still. Of course, no one believed, but when the man took the Bible, he opened the book of Joshua and a pretty absurd statement made a lot of sense.
    They read the passage when God said to Joshua: “Fear them not, I have delivered them into thy hand; there shall not be a man of them stand before thee.” (Joshua 10:8).

     Joshua was worried because he was surrounded by the enemy, and if darkness fell, he’d be conquered. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That’s right – “And the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is this not written in the book of Ja’-sher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hastened not to go down about a whole day.” (Joshua 10:13).The scientists soon concluded that this was the missing day. They examined the computer calculations and found that the time missing was in fact 23 hours and 20 minutes, which doesn’t make a full day like in the book of Joshua.

    After reading the Bible again, they saw that it said “about (approximately) a day.” Although the Bible was true, they were still missing 40 minutes which had to be accounted for, because if not, it could create problems 1,000 years from now. The Christian then remembered something in the Bible which said that the Sun went backwards. No one believed again, but then they opened the Bible and were proved wrong.

    Hezekiah was visited on his deathbed by Isaiah the prophet, who told him that it’s not his time yet. Hezekiah asked for a sign, and Isaiah asked if the Sun would go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? Hezekiah answered: “It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; nay, but let the shadow return backwards ten degrees.”

    And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” 10 degrees equals 40 minutes! The 23 hours and 20 minutes from Joshua and the 10 degrees (40 minutes) in the 2 kings accounted for the missing


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  • ‘Tomatoes are Christian,’ Egyptian Salafi group warns

    A Salafi group called the “Popular Egyptian Islamic Association” has warned Muslims against eating tomatoes on the grounds that the fruit is a “Christian food,” has reported.


    The group based its claim on the fact that a shape resembling a cross is revealed when one cuts a tomato in half.


    The association published the warning on its Facebook page with a photo of a tomato cut in half, revealing a cross-shaped interior.


    A message posted on the page read, “Eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are Christian. [The tomato] praises the cross instead of Allah and says that Allah is three [in reference to the Holy Trinity].”


    The message went on to say, “I implore you to spread this photo because there is a sister from Palestine who saw the Prophet of Allah in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating [tomatoes]. If you don’t spread this [message], know that it is the devil who stopped you.”


    The message caused outrage among Facebook users, which prompted the group to clarify their warning, saying they did not tell people not to eat tomatoes. “We said don’t cut it in [such a way that it reveals] the cross shape.


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  • Muslim Woman Offers Terrifying Warning to Americans

    A letter allegedly written by a Muslim woman warning the United States and other Western countries about the dangers of Islamic immigration is making the rounds online once more.  

    Originally published in 2014, the letter claims to be written by an Egyptian woman who writes under the name Magda Borham.  

    She writes, in part:  


                  Muslims are in your country, but they live not to integrate or to be part of your society or at least to be equal with others, but to                             dominate and to be the only privileged group. Muslims achieve this by turning you into a second-class citizen in your own country.


    They immigrate to your countries holding the same belief system that turned their lives into hell on Earth. This same belief, same religion made their lives unsupportable in their original societies. It is the same religion that transformed their countries into war zones of endless conflicts. Muslims now homeless want to apply this system and live and apply the same destruction in your own country.


    Muslims are not in your country to help build it or to make it prosper. Many believe this, including politicians. Muslims are in your country to drain its resources and to suck the blood out of society.


    In light of the recent Orlando tragedy where a radicalized Muslim man shot 49 dead and injured dozens more, her words strike the hearts of many wondering how to move forward.  

    Since her words were written, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has called for a Muslim ban while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton maintains Islam is not the enemy.  

    But Borham writes that many Muslims are "superficially knowledgeable" about their own religion, especially the rituals. Borham says they are programmed to recite rather than investigate.  

    In media, "radical Islam" is used instead of "Muslim," which Borham identifies as worrisome.   


    You are not required to kill to be called violent or "extremist"or "radical"or "terrorist." You can be violent, extremist, radical or terrorist even if you don't kill with your own hands. That's what the West is unable to understand. ... In Islam, there is many forms of "Jihad" other than killing in the battlefield. ... The vast majority of Muslims are sympathizers with terrorists. They believe in the same ideology and share their goals even if they do not hold arms themselves. That's why this vast majority is silent and don't show any opposition to their fellows who kill in the name of their religion. 


    To prove her point, she highlights the rising war in the Middle East, which is quickly falling to extremist groups.  

    For Borham, though, there is nothing "extreme" about these leaders. Rather, they are following their religion. She worries political correctness will promote a violent take over.  


    Muslims use your own democratic laws and values against you and they do it successfully while you keep sleeping as if as in a deep coma. This is why the leftists are the people who are worthy of  the title "useful idiots." They are in a perpetual state of shame and self-loathing and will be the first victims of Islam once it takes over. ... Muslims use them as a stick to beat you with, but even they will never ever be accepted as friends to the Muslims after, and they will definitely be their first victims. Leftists, Liberals, progressives, Antifa, Code Pink etc. are all appeasers of Islam. Appeasing evil is cowardice. They are fooled people who feed crocodiles hoping they will eat them last. They are the enemy within your countries.


    Your country is like your house; you expect visitors who come to your house to respect you and respect your rules, not the opposite. Visitors must appreciate your kindness and your generosity for receiving them into your home and not imposing their own rules on you. This is your house, you own it, so you have the obligation to protect it and defend it.


    If the visitor doesn't like your rules, all he has to do is to leave. Nobody obliged him to visit you, and nobody will prevent him from leaving. As he came to your house by his own choice, he can leave your house freely or by force, if required.


    For more than 1,400 years, Islam has been protected from criticism. Nobody has dared to question this belief system lest to be condemned to death. Islam is surrounded by very high walls, and Muslims are not allowed to see beyond that wall. The idea of questioning Islam is unthinkable to Muslims, so they are unable to accept the fact there is some people start to break this wall and allow rays of lights to pass through. They are unable to bare the fact that Islam is beginning to be exposed like a nude person and people are snow seeing its true form As a reaction Muslims fight to shut  mouths and to close everyone's eyes. 


    Borham begs the West to listen to the cries of persecution under the hands of an Islamic regime. She says it is worse than Nazism or fascism of dictators past.  


    No doubt, no doubt; the Islamic immigration is the deadliest mistake ever the west has ever made.


    Nobody else in the world knows Islam and the mentality of Muslims more than those who have suffered by having Islam as a part of their life.


    If you listen to the cries of the Copts of Egypt, the Christians of Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan and all the other Muslim countries you will hear the descriptions of the horrors of Islam.


    See and feel the tears of the minorities in every Islamic society. These tears will tell you the true stories of Islam. Hear the blood of the ex-Muslims pounding. It's their blood that is shouting out every single second asking the rest of the world to "Wake up!"


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  • Justin Bieber's mom prays to Holy Spirit to enlighten her son as video appears to show him fighting during NBA Finals

    Pattie Mallette, mom of singer Justin Bieber and a bestselling author, is asking the Holy Spirit to reach out and enlighten her son.  The look to God for help is timely as a video appeared to show him fighting on the night of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio.

    "Holy Spirit come and teach us each who you are. Amen," Mallette posted on Twitter alongside a graphic of her son. The post has been retweeted more than 9,000 times and liked by over 13,000 users.

                                      Holy Spirit come and teach us each who you are. Amen.

     The video, obtained by TMZ, was supposedly taken at the lobby of the hotel where Bieber was staying in Cleveland. It appeared to show Bieber and a man fighting. No charges were pressed.

    Last March 1, Bieber celebrated his 22nd birthday and Mallette posted a prayer on Twitter.

    "22 years ago I was 18yrs old, pregnant & scared. But God. Lord encounter @justinbieber for his bday! Give him all I couldn't, in Jesus name," she wrote.

    For the past two years, Bieber has been in the limelight over his behaviour.

    In 2014, he was accused of assaulting a limousine driver, egging his neighbour's house and ended up paying $80,000 in fines, and getting caught for DUI in Miami.

    Bieber told Billboard last year that it was his mother who introduced him to music and religion.

    "When I was 7, she wouldn't let me listen to anything but [Pastor] Judah [Smith]'s tapes falling asleep," he said.

    Bieber said in the last two years, his relationship with his mom was "pretty nonexisting."

    "I was distant because I was ashamed. I never wanted my mom to be disappointed in me and I knew she was. We spent some time not talking, so it takes time to rebuild that trust. She's living in Hawaii now, so it's hard, but getting better. She's an amazing woman and I love her," he said.

    When he was 19, Bieber reconnected with Pastor Smith, of City Church in Seattle, Washington.

    "I'd come and listen to him and try to hear him out. I had all these questions and things were not adding up. 'Well, why is this, then? How did all those animals fit on Noah's Ark, then?'" he said, adding that he now understands faith.

    "That's what it's all about—not questioning it," the Canadian star said.

    Smith previously said, "We text almost daily, and it's not just me sending him Bible verses anymore. He'll send them to me, along with encouraging thoughts or an encouraging emoticon. I'm committed to helping him and protecting him, but it's fair to say we're there for each other."


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  • Muslim Leader Plans on Turning 5,000 Christian Churches Into Mosques in France

    France’s top Muslim official has suggested turning empty or abandoned churches into mosques, saying as many as 5,000 are needed for the country’s Muslim population – the largest in Europe.

     “It’s a delicate issue, but why not?” Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris and the president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, told Europe 1 radio on Monday.

     There are currently about 2,500 mosques in France with another 300 under construction, but the number falls short of what is needed, he said. With roughly 5 million Muslims in France, at least 5,000 mosques are needed, Boubakeur said.

    During the interview with French radio he gave an example of the transition of a church into a mosque in Clermont-Ferrand, which was welcomed by the local religious community. The church had been abandoned for more than 30 years and the building was given to the Muslim community in 2012.

    “It’s the same God, these are neighboring rites, fraternal, and I think that Muslims and Christians can coexist and live together,” he said.

    It’s not the first time the lack of places of worship for millions of Muslims has been brought up in France. In April, Boubakeur called for doubling the number of mosques.

    His remarks were welcomed by the Christian community as a “legitimate” demand.

    “Muslims should, like Christians and Jews, be able to practice their religion,” Monseigneur Ribadeau-Dumas, spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of France, told French radio station Europe 1.

    However, this suggestion has been criticized by the far-right National Front party. In April, Florian Philippot, its vice-president, argued France doesn’t need more, because “100 percent of places of radicalization are mosques.”

    The party’s leader Marine Le Pen called to stop the construction of new mosques in March.

    We must today freeze the construction of new mosques while we verify the origin of their financing,” she said in an interview to France 24.

    The question of building closer ties with the Muslim community was discussed at the talks between the French government and about 150 Muslim leaders in Paris on Monday.

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stressed there was no link between extremism and Islam.

    “We must say all of this is not Islam,” he said. “The hate speech, anti-Semitism that hides behind anti-Zionism and hate for Israel… the self-proclaimed imams in our neighborhoods and our prisons who are promoting violence and terrorism…

    “Islam still provokes misunderstandings, prejudices, and is rejected by some citizens,” he added. “Yet Islam is here to stay in France. It’s the second largest religious group in our country.”

    The first conference between the government and Muslim community leaders comes five months after the Charlie Hebdo and kosher store jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 17 people.

    The terrorists responsible for the attacks “belong to a different world than we do,” said Boubakeur, speaking at the conference.

    There has been a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents in France following the Islamist attacks in Paris. A report issued in January by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said that over the month there has been an 110-percent increase in attacks.



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  • Egypt asks Israel to help solve Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is reported to have asked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and help solve his country’s dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam crisis.

    The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper reported Arab diplomatic sources as saying on Monday: “Sisi has recently asked Netanyahu to help Egypt resolve its dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam, due to Ethiopia’s intransigence and refusal to respond to the Egyptian calls to coordinate efforts during the construction and storage stages.”

    The sources added that al-Sisi’s move came after Ethiopia rejected all pressures exerted by Arab parties, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because Addis Ababa believes “the national project will help lift its deteriorating economy”.

    The sources said that Egypt has finally resorted to asking Israel for assistance, a strategic ally of Ethiopia and a number of Nile Basin countries.

    Speaking to the newspaper, an Egyptian diplomat warned against al-Sisi’s move, saying it could lead to the transfer of the Nile water to Israel, explaining that current and former Israeli leaders have been calling for this since the signing of the Camp David agreement.

    Addis Ababa and Tel Aviv enjoy close ties on the economic side, with Israel having provided a range of grants to Ethiopia over the past years.


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