Publicado em: 12/09/2012 Categorias: Articles in English

In light of what we have learned in the previous article, how should we proceed? There is a lot that depends exclusively on God’s intervention. He will come suddenly; we cannot bring this about ourselves. We cannot produce the refiner’s fire or the launderer’s soap. We cannot purify ourselves. No matter how badly we want it, we can’t make it come to pass. We can only wait on the Lord, since he is the solution. So, isn’t there anything we can do?

There are some things that God has given us to be done now that can be used as instruments in his hands to hasten the process. The messenger will come suddenly to those who wait for him, that long for him. We don’t need to stand around with our arms folded, nostalgically wishing or asking – we can act in other manners too.

Cornelius is a good example of this. He was not a Jew, a part of the people of God, but an angel appeared to him suddenly and told him, “Your prayers and your alms have risen to my presence and touched my heart. That’s why I want to save you and all your relatives (Acts 10:1-6 – my paraphrase). So it’s not just our prayers that touch God’s heart; our financial offerings also move him! God can be touched by us! Do you believe that? Your life can be a walking prayer! You can act in such a manner that God will look upon you and say, “There he comes again – I already know what he (or she) wants!” Isn’t that wonderful?

It’s not just a question of a random prayer. It’s an incarnate prayer, because we are living it, we can’t think of anything else. We pray for a certain period during the day, but the rest of the time, while we are working, studying or talking, that’s all we can think of. There is a fire burning constantly inside us, getting more intense with each passing day. On the outside, we are involved in other activities, but inside the pressure is growing.

When we pray, we say, “God, I am going to pray for an hour here, but the rest of the day, I am going to be troubled by this. So, every time you look at me, remember that I am not just talking about this momentarily, this isn’t something for tomorrow or the next day – for years I have been in your presence to deal with this issue. All that I do, not just my prayer time, but everything I’m involved in are also attempts to knock until you open, of asking until you answer, of seeking until I find.”

There isn’t only one way to “push the envelope.”  We’re going to lay out ten different ways, or strategies, but there are certainly many other forms. We are going to treat each one in a very brief manner, just to stir up your interest. We want you to check and see where your life fits into all of this. I recently heard the testimony of a sister who said she had “found her life mission” in prayer. This is wonderful! It is awesome when you find your calling, but I know that there are other people who will find their mission in different things that are just as valid. So always be very attentive. The church is made up of many different types of people, and for each one, God has a special combination that needs to be discovered.


The first way to seek God is through prayer. This is a vast subject, and we don’t have the space to deal with it here. Suffice to say that the Church is called to be a house of prayer, a place where prayer is as constant and natural to people as the very act of breathing.

God wants to lead us to a new place in prayer. I have compared this to the process of digging a well. Most of the time spent in prayer makes us feel like we are removing earth and stones – and this is not a very pleasant task. The air becomes impregnated with dust and it can get almost impossible to breathe at times. However, the purpose of digging a well is not simply to remove earth and stones, but to find water. And if it’s an artesian well, our expectation is to find so much water we won’t even need a rope, a bucket, or a pump, since the pressure will make the water well up like a fountain.

You know what this water is that we are seeking  in prayer for? It’s the prayer that comes from God himself, the prayer of the Holy Spirit, the cry of God on behalf of the Bride of Christ. It’s the prayer of Jesus at the right hand of God. When we find this kind of prayer, we will begin to pray on a completely different level and our prayers will become contagious.

Do you want to push the envelope in prayer? To pray more than you have been praying? To pray in a much deeper way? To pray more intensely than you have ever prayed before? How can you achieve that? By praying! On our own, we will never be able to get much farther than we have already gone. But keep on pressing in. Tell God, “It’s good to pray, but I’m not satisfied yet. I want to go farther; I want the prayer of the Holy Spirit; I want the prayer that comes from your heart.”

There was a brother I knew who prayed like this, “Lord, give us a prayer that hasn’t been prayed yet; give us the prayer of the Spirit; the prayer that comes from the heart of God.” There are prayers in the Bible, prayers that were prayed over 2 thousand years ago, like the prayer of Daniel (Daniel 9), the prayer of Jesus (John 17), the prayers of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1 and 9), and the prayers in the Psalms – prayers that never get outdated. They came from the heart of God. They are the word of God. It was a man who was praying, but, at the same time, God was speaking.  That is awesome!

We can find this prayer, and God wants us to find it. But to find it, we have to push the envelope in prayer. This means each one praying harder; it means more people praying; it means praying deeper prayers, more intimate prayers, prayers increasingly inspired by God.


The second way to seek God, to push the envelope, is by the Word. It means reading the Bible like someone who hasn’t had anything to eat in a week – when they smell the delicious fragrance of freshly-baked bread, they can’t even take time to say the blessing before gobbling it down. Some people, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, start reading the Bible all the time, in their moments of leisure, day and night. My mother, at over 90 years of age, continued memorizing portions of the Bible, even though she already knew the Bible very well.

We can never stop hungering and thirsting for the Scriptures. God reveals himself in his Word. If you don’t  read the Bible, you will never push the envelope. You can’t say you’ve already read it all, or that you already know it. You have to read it as if it were the very first time. It was while reading the word that Daniel discovered, in the book of Jeremiah, the prophecy that their captivity was going to last 70 years. This moved him to pray the prayer (Daniel 9) that is still having effect for well over two thousand years. It was his reading of the Scriptures that generated this prayer. The level of the preaching of the Word in our days is far from satisfactory. Every time I read Watchman Nee’s book, The Ministry of the Word of God, I feel deeply ashamed. He says that the genuine ministry of the Word must make people forget the preacher, make contact with God and leave the meeting transformed. When does that happen today? Rarely; almost never.

I am ashamed to minister the word of God the way we have been doing it. God wants us to push the envelope in this area too. He wants our words to cut people in the deepest, most intimate part of their being. God wants people to touch him. May the preacher disappear, and may the very presence of God reach his audience through the Word and change their life radically.

Pray for that! Pray for a new ministry of the Word to appear on the face of the earth, like that of John the Baptist. When people ask the preacher, “Who are you?”, he will answer, “I am nobody; I am just a voice… Pay attention to what I am saying, forget me, because this is the Word of God.” Pray for God to raise up this kind of ministry. The Church and the world need it!


The third method God uses for us to push the envelope is doing mission outreach. In this context, we are not using the term only in the sense of transcultural or international mission work. This type of mission work is certainly included, but it is much more far-reaching. You don’t need to go to another country; you can reach the needy neighborhoods in your city, your neighbor’s house, or another destitute region in your own country. Mission work is seeking out the impoverished and needy – both spiritually and materially speaking.

I recently heard the testimony of a sister who is doing a traineeship in the speech pathology course at one of the country’s most prestigious universities. She wept as she told us about the people who go there seeking for help. We need to look in the eyes of the needy, of the destitute. God is in the poor. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

On the same occasion, another sister told us how she had been praying one day, weeping and feeling a great void inside her heart, and had started complaining to God. Then a short time later, she had to take someone to the hospital. When she got there and saw the precarious situation of the hospital, totally abandoned, without any medical supplies or equipment, the callous attitude of the doctors and the poor and destitute people, the Spirit of God pierced her heart like an arrow and she wept with compassion.

We can’t lock ourselves up in our little prayer rooms, without any contact with the needy. God has a burden for the world, and we too need to feel this pain. The brethren that recently went to Haiti on a short-term mission were very privileged. They were able to get a close-up view of the utter impoverishment of the people there. We need to open our hearts and understand that when we do mission work, the needy are not the only ones blessed. We should do mission work because we want to feel the pain that God feels, we want to shed his tears, we want to feel his love for a perishing world.

There is no other way – the Church needs to be mission-oriented, and to do social work. We must go out in search of the needy, to look in their eyes and feel their pain. Otherwise, we will never be the intercessors that God wants us to be. Mission work is not just an activity for the Church to bless the world. Mission work is incarnate prayer, powerful prayer. When we are involved with mission outreach, our prayers become more intense and more anointed.


The fourth way to push the envelope is to seek the unity of the Church. We know several Brazilian church leaders who have had wonderful experiences in this area. They have been meeting regularly with Catholics and other brethren from the most varied backgrounds. Many of us are prejudiced against these people. We think they are not part of God’s people, but when we start meeting together and spend a little time together, we begin to feel God’s divine grace reaching us through them.  Then our theological mind goes into a tailspin. “How can this be possible?” And God answers, saying, “I accept you with all your imperfections and doctrinal errors. How come I can’t accept them too and use them for my glory?”

Why is unity a part of this effort to push the envelope? Because if we really want to push the envelope, we need to understand that there are things God is not going to give us directly from heaven, because he has already given them to a portion of his Body here on the Earth. Now he wants us to humble ourselves and receive these things from them! If our biasesdon’t allow us to receive these brethren, we will simply be left without the gifts, the insights and the contributions that they have been given! God says, “If you can’t get off your high horse and seek the grace that I have granted those brethren, you will never receive the portion I have given them.”

Unity is something that comes from the heart of God. He is going to knit his Church in such unity here on the Earth that people we don’t see eye to eye with will be used to bless our lives, and we will be used to bless their lives too.  The Church will be edified and the errors that we have or that they have will be dealt with by the Lord. We need to learn to accept people, but not their errors. We have to accept them, because God accepts us in spite of all the wrong things we still have in our lives. God will have to deal with their errors just like he has to deal with ours. Just like we hope that a year from now many of the errors in our lives will have been eliminated as a result of progress in our spiritual walk, we must believe that the same thing will happen in their lives.

To push the envelope, we need each other. Unity is extremely important. When we pray to push the envelope, or for God to work in our local church, we have to understand that we are not just asking for our particular congregation or community, but for the Church as a whole in our city. Who knows, our prayers might have an effect on another congregation we don’t even approve of, and we will have to go there and ask them to bless us! God is sovereign and acts according to his own agenda. This is great to keep us humble. It would be so easy to fall into the error of saying, “We prayed and God visited us. We are at the top of our game.” No, we are nothing, God is everything, and if we don’t have a vision of unity, we will certainly be left behind.

We need to have a vision of unity. Close your eyes, pray and think of God. Then go out and open your eyes and look at your brethren. Receive what God has given them. It’s crucial, not only to pray, but to watch, as well.


The fifth means of pushing the envelope is called Israel. We will not go into this at much length, because we have already published several  articles on the subject, including some written by Asher Intrater, who always speaks about this. We will never be the perfect bride of Christ without Israel. They need us, and we need them.

For many years, this was a mere theological truth for us. Lately, as we have built relationship ties with Asher and other Messianic Jews, God has been giving us concrete faces and subjects. God is creating a bond between us that is very tangible – a real partnership. They have asked us to represent them in Brazil and to invite thousands of Brazilians to love Israel and to pray for them. This has ceased to be a theory; now it is a reality. God doesn’t want the word Jew to be a virtual term for us. He wants the wordto have a face, a name, a real meaning. So, we, the Brazilian Church, are going to bless the Jews and the Jews, by means of ministries such as Revive Israel (Asher’s ministry), that have already been blessing us, are going to bless us much more.

 “Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!!” (Romans 11:12)

“For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11.15)

Therefore, if we want to push the envelope, we have to understand that the Messianic Jews are going to bring us revelations of the Word that we don’t have yet. We need them and must pray for them. The blindfold that is over our eyes, keeping us from seeing the Lord Jesus clearly, making us think we are fine when we are not, has to be removed. As that begins to happen, we will be filled with the life of Christ. This will provoke many of the non-Messianic Jews to jealousy and the blindfold will be removed from their eyes too. This is the word of God. There will be no perfect Bride without the Jews; we will never see the work of God consummated without Israel.


Another form of pushing the envelope is when our church leaders acknowledge their weakness, admit they don’t know what to do, and spend more time with their faces on the ground before God than in administrative meetings. The strongest men in the Bible were Moses in the Old Testament and Paul in the New; both were very weak men. Paul declared: For when I am weak, then I am strong “(2 Corinthians 12:10) and: “When I came to you… I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom … I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:1,3). God uses the weak things, the things that are not, to bring to shame those that are (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

In more than one passage, we find Moses lying with his face on the ground before God. I think he must have always walked around with dust on his face! He was always at a loss as to what to do. The strongest men in the Bible were weak men, but take a close look at what kind of weakness it was. They weren’t weak in the sense of being cowardly, walking away from their leadership posts or leaving the people of God without support. Their weakness consisted in the fact that they were not self-sufficient or self-confident. They felt a constant need for God and his intervention.

Once, a Christian leader confessed to me, “What made me fall into sin was that I thought I was real strong. If I had felt a little weaker, I wouldn’t have fallen into the enemy’s trap“. God needs to raise up leaders that will not flee from their responsibility, that will take their position in the forefront of the battle, that will not allow heresy or false workers to contaminate the church, but will not, on the other hand, dominate or manipulate the Church with their own strength. Leaders that will allow the Holy Spirit to act and that will fall on their faces before God.

Pray for that! Pray for a new generation of leaders on the face of the Earth. The most pressing priority of the Church is not for preachers with more television programs, with more titles, with more power, who know what to do. Unfortunately, people in general like strong leaders.  With a strong leader, nobody needs to hear from God; the leader already knows what to do. People like to outsource their responsibility. They like to have someone they can fall back on, saying, “Please, tell us what we should do.”

Nobody likes weak leadership, people who answer “I don’t know!” to the question “What should we do?” When the people of Israel found themselves in a predicament, with the sea ahead and Pharaoh on their heels, they asked Moses, “What shall we do?” What was Moses’ answer? “I have no idea! Let me fall on my face until God speaks to me!”

Leaders that acknowledge their weakness feel the need to pray, to cry out, to depend on others, because they know how insufficient they are. We need God and we need our brethren. Does your heart long for the raising up of leaders that will acknowledge their insufficiency and depend on God?  The problem with self-sufficient leaders is that they are governed by their soul, and not by their spirit. Aren’t you tired of seeing men lead the church by their own strength? Away with self-sufficient leadership! We’re fed up with it!

During the inauguration of Solomon’s temple, when the priests tried to get inside to minister, they were unable to, because the glory of God filled the place.  I am not advocating the absence of leadership; that would be anarchy. I am speaking about leaders who acknowledge their insignificance and their need of God and their brethren, since that is the only basis upon which the Holy Spirit will regain control of the Church. God’s divine order was for the priests to carry the ark. God needs leaders; he needs people who will carry the ark of his presence on their shoulders. The goal is not the absence of leadership, but leaders that will keep their faces in the dust. That’s what God likes. If you don’t like the term “weak leaders” then call them “leaders with faces covered in dust.”

When God called Moses, how did he react? “Call someone else.  I am too old; I am 80 years old already. I don’t even know how to talk. I’m not very clever…” But God insisted: “You’re the one I want; I’m not taking no for an answer.” That’s the kind of leadership that we want to see rising up in the Church during these last days.  Leaders that will never let their soul gain the upper hand but will allow the Holy Spirit of God to be in constant control; leaders who know their own anointing will only go so far. When they feel their anointing won’t take them any further, they will not go on, because they refuse to trust in themselves. When their anointing runs out, they stop ministering, because they know the mantle is on someone else, who will pick up where they left off. When we have leaders like that, the Church will truly be the community of the Holy Spirit – she will finally be what God wants her to be.


We will never push the envelope if we don’t learn to raise up those who have fallen. I’m fed up with seeing the devil attack pastors and leaders. A brother or sister falls into sin, is bedridden by an infirmity, gets involved in a scandal, or has a nervous breakdown, and nobody does anything.  Nobody comes to their rescue; nobody has the strength or the anointing to raise them up. We are targets for the devil’s arrows, and when someone falls, instead of helping them, we help the enemy:  accusing, attacking, criticizing, and slandering them.  If we want to push the envelope, we need to learn how to raise up our fellow servants that have become backslidden, bitter, depressed or sick.

This problem is more flagrant when it involves leaders, but it is just as serious when it happens to people in general. How many people you know are far from God, feeling bitter and hurt? That is not God’s will. We can receive God’s anointing to bring reconciliation. Pray for this; ask God to grant you this anointing.

The army of David started out with 400 men and then grew to 600. It was made up of bitter, debt-ridden men – veritable castaways. With this army, he survived all his adversities and rose to the throne of Israel. How many people, in your town alone, have been a source of blessing to many and today aren’t any longer? Pray for the restoration of these brethren. Mention them by name in your prayers. Say, “God, I refuse to see them continue in this condition. The church needs them; restore them and bring them back.”

We want to push the envelope in the ministry, not just to bring the lost to Christ, but also to heal those among us who have fallen by the wayside. The Church needs to learn how to do this.


There is a very great difference between a house church, a cell group and a church that truly lives as a family. We urgently need the restoration of healthy relationships between parents and their children, both natural and spiritual. A lot has happened in this sense all over the world, but there is still a long way to go.

The spirit of adoption needs to descend upon the Church. Let us pray for people to stop depending on bottles of milk thrown from the pulpit, and find people close to them, in the intimacy of the home, who know how to help at the right time, in the right way. May the Church be like the army of Israel – organized by families. May each one know who their father is, who their mother is, where their home is. May there be no orphans, no solitary individuals, nobody suffering alone. May all the people of God find and fit into their own spiritual family.

This needs to start happening among the leaders. Paul mentioned “tenderness and compassion” (Philippians 2:1). When something affects my brother or sister, it should affect me too. If we act like this, the devil will never be able to attack one without attacking all, and our strength will increase. The wall of the city will be restored, and there will be no breaches for the enemy to penetrate. That is what I long for.

It is so easy to say, but so hard to make it come to pass in practice. May the Lord transform our hearts and fill them with tenderness and mercy that will heal relationships and free us from our bitterness. May there be provision for all and may we experience what fellowship in the Holy Spirit really means.

If someone asked you, “Who are your spiritual friends? Who takes care of you? Who protects your rearguard? Who has the courage to stick their finger in your face and say, ‘Cut that out, you’re wrong!’?”,would you know how to answer those questions? Where are those people? Do you know who they are? Do you give them freedom to correct you and help you? When this begins to happen on a large scale, the Church will truly begin to push the envelope. We will begin to have the strength of the Lord and the devil will lose his free pass to move among us at will.

9. HONORING OUR SPIRITUAL FATHERS (written by Angelo Bazzo)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12). “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2)

When we read these passages, we perceive God’s concern with establishing a culture of honor that extends the life of each generation. We are taught to honor in the present those who were here before us, and this is the key for achieving success in the future.

Today there is a great gap between generations. Have you ever stopped to observe how many people, in our generation, have been trying to do something new, but all they can do is repeat the same old things?

This abyss between the past and present, or, to tell the truth, between History and our life, is the reason why we have been walking in circles most of the time. One of the reasons for not achieving new things in God and pressing forward to maturity is that we forget the past. Although Paul wrote in Philippians: “Forgetting the things which are behind me, I press toward the mark,” he wasn’t saying we have to forget our history.

See, for example, the principle that God taught the nation of Israel after they had crossed the Jordan, in Joshua 4:4-7. Joshua told them to get some stones from the middle of the Jordan and build a permanent memorial. What was the purpose for doing that? To make them remember the past, in the present. Whenever the new generation asked what that pile of stones meant, they would be told about the crossing of the Jordan. We see here that God didn’t just command that parents be honored, but also provided the way for this to be done. The way was the “memorial” – the stones taken from the riverbed.

Jesus likewise established the Lord’s Supper as a way to constantly renew the memory of his death (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). One of the keys of life and power in the church in Acts was the importance they gave to this order (Acts 2:46).

When we talk about pushing the envelope, we are not saying something like, “Abandon your past for the sake of the future”. On the contrary, we mean that our hearts are set on building the future today based on what God did yesterday. Just like the crossing of the Jordan with Joshua, there are “memorial stones” in Church History.

The generation of the Protestant Reformation (Luther, Calvin) and that of the great preachers (Wesley, Whitefield) were memorial stones of faithfulness to the Scriptures and the Gospel. Therefore, when we talk about pushing the envelope, it doesn’t mean we should abandon, for example, the doctrine that states that the Bible has the same authority today as if we were hearing God’s voice calling out from Mount Sinai.

Nor does it mean that we should write off the Pentecostal experience as mere emotionalism, or discard the Charismatic movement for the sake of something “deeper”. I say this because many of those seeking the restoration of the Church start “questioning fundamental principles”. Sometimes this is actually necessary, but we must be careful not to fall into the philosophical error that C. S. Lewis calls “cutting off the branch you’re sitting on.”

Many want God to release something new and powerful upon the church without even honoring what has already been restored. We need to remember that a way has already been opened; we just need to follow it. If we want to push the envelope, we have to honor the generation of the Reformation that left us the legacy of the Bible, which shows us where we should go. Likewise, we need to honor the Pentecostal/Charismatic generation that gave us the power to know how we can push the envelope. Honoring means to continue believing what they believed in, learning from their mistakes and broadening their way of thinking – pushing the envelope.

It is impossible to push the envelope without believing that “the Bible is the sufficient, inspired, inerrant Word of God”;  that “grace alone is sufficient to save us, to the glory of God for salvation”; that “the preaching of the Word is the means that God uses, by grace, to save us; that “God, not man, is the center of the divine plan”; that “all believers are priests, with no distinction between clergy and laity”; that “the baptism in the Spirit is our inheritance”; that “we just need to ask and he will give us his Spirit”; that “all can prophesy”; and that “God can heal by the laying on of hands”.

Therefore, as we feel God’s call to push the envelope, we have to move forward without denying the footsteps of those who preceded us. May we “climb on the shoulders of the giants who went before us,” honor the fathers of the Reformation and the fathers of the Pentecostal Movement (among others) and understand that moving towards the future is not denying the past, but rather honoring it.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Although the focus these days is apparently more on the corporate aspect than the individual, we cannot go to the other extreme and forget the importance of a personal walk with God. The glorious Church will not be formed by mass, wholesale actions, but rather by a personalized work of the Holy Spirit within each one of the millions of believers that it comprises.  It doesn’t help much to have gatherings with thousands of believers singing with angelical voices if each individual is not living an authentic Christian life. We will never push the envelope as a Church if we are not pushing the envelope in our own personal sanctification.

Sanctification involves much more than deliverance from sin. Sanctification means that God is in full control of our being. It isn’t just an issue of not doing wrong things, but includes the positive aspect of doing the “works prepared for us since before the foundation of the world.” Sanctification means being a living sacrifice and thus experiencing in practice the “good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” And it doesn’t stop there: besides the issues of doing or not doing certain things, it involves the deepest motivations and attitudes of one’s heart.

David killed Goliath with smooth stones (1 Samuel 17:40). Solomon built the temple with stones cut down to the millimeter, in such a way that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard as they were put into place (1 Kings 6:7). Today, we have serious leadership problems, and in every area of church life, sharp and rugged edges abound. We have gifts and ministries, but unfortunately a lot of poison flows out with them. Our personal bitterness and frustrations have been contaminating our message and hurting people.

However, there is no need to get discouraged: the Holy Spirit has been untiring in his mission of “chiseling,” “sandpapering” and “polishing” us.  If we acknowledge this and accept his reprimands and special agents (our family members, friends, brethren and co-workers in the ministry, besides the adverse circumstances we face), we can cooperate with him in this difficult but wonderful mission.  As this work of sanctification plays out in our inner being, all the sharp edges of our natural personality are removed, and we become mature, broken, humble and loving people. Even when we need to rebuke someone or give them a serious warning, there will be no trace of anger or human impatience. God will be properly represented by our actions and words.

Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth, but because of a “sharp edge,” he was unable to enter the Promised Land. He lost his patience on just one occasion, but it was enough to disqualify him.

At the same time as we seek with all our heart to press forward as a Church to experience increasingly deeper things in God, we must not forget to tune our ears to what the Spirit is saying to each one of us in our private times with the Lord. Let us submit ourselves willingly to the lordship of Christ and allow him to transform us into stones that are fully smoothed, ready to be used by our beloved “David” (the Head of the Church) to cast down “Goliath” (the satanic system of this world) and bring his Kingdom upon the Earth!

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