Posts

Seven Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Coach

by Larry Sharp

When I was a collegiate hockey player, it never dawned on me that I might not need a coach. Not only did the coaches help me with personal skill development like skating, passing, shooting, and checking, but also how to develop my team play so together we could be successful.  Although I had good coaches and poor coaches, I always knew that I needed a coach.

Why then did it not dawn on me that I needed a coach when I was supervising 120 employees just months after graduating from university?  It was not like I had a super-mentoring boss because I did not, and I don’t think I was arrogant and thought that I knew it all.  Why did I not think I needed a mentor?

While it is true that my management career began long before Bill Gates affirmed that “everyone needs a coach”, I have often reflected on why it is that people still today think they don’t need a mentor, or a coach or consulting help?  These few thoughts are intended to help encourage business owners and managers to seek a coach, mentor or consultant.  Read more

Five Essential Reminders if you are Managing a Crisis

by Larry Sharp

I was responsible for matters related to a crisis for many years as the VP of a mid-sized mission agency. During that time I faced the challenge of evacuating an unconscious child from a high risk country, rescuing an imprisoned employee in East Asia, a mega-earthquake in Haiti, famine in Africa, automobile death of an employee in France, child abuse situations, among other similar critical incidents.

Our English word crisis comes from the Greek krisis which was defined as a “separating, distinguishing, discrimination, decision, judgment”. The sense of “decisive moment” in reference to crisis is first recorded in English in 1627 as a figurative extension of the original medical meaning. Crisis historically signified “a turning point in a disease; a sudden change for better or worse.”1

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020, as with all crises, indicates a sudden change and a turning point and has many components; however only one is treated in this article. 

A response to crisis is dependent on company policies, risk assessments and contingency training and planning, all of which prepares one for the actual crisis. Once the crisis “hits” comes the actual management with functional team roles to include the crisis manager, information officer, financial officer, consultants, and others. So then, when it comes to managing a crisis such as COVID-19, what are the managerial components, especially in light of the “decisive moment” for all of us?  Read more

Three Things I Learned During the Epidemic of 1974 That Apply to BAM in the Pandemic of 2020

by Larry Sharp

In the early 1970’s I was living, along with my family, in the Brazilian Amazon port city of Belem where I was the administrator of a school for children of expatriates. The Amazon Valley Academy is a K-12 school following an American curriculum but also in the 1970s and 80s taught a German program for grades 1-10 and tutored British O-level classes.

In the spring of 1974, we noted children getting ill in unusually high numbers and eventually it was determined that Hepatitis A had struck the community. We were forced to close the school and it did not re-open for five weeks.

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.

But in those days, the doctors did not know any of that. In fact, they theorized that the condition might be caused by a mosquito. And so the government epidemiologists set up tests in the community and on campus to capture and test mosquitos; meanwhile the children from our three boarding homes and others from the community were required to stay home and rest since there was no known cure and no vaccination.

After five weeks had passed most students seemed to be returning to normal health so we decided to re-open the school and most of the children returned. But then another emergency – most of the teachers got sick – yes – Hepatitis A. What should we do now?

There were a few teachers and myself (I was the high school principal at the time) who had escaped infection. As we sat around one evening thinking and praying through some options, one of the math teachers came up with an idea. “Let’s take high school seniors and juniors and use their strengths to teach the middle school students” he said. We settled on Charles to lead the science teaching team, John to lead the history team, Bruce to lead the math team and Anita to lead the English language team.  Read more

A Business as Mission Crisis: How Can We Pray?

by Larry Sharp

During these days of uncertainty due to the worldwide coronavirus, business startups are hurting, and many of them will fail due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This is particularly true of BAM startup businesses, which are affected in many ways.

Just today as I write this, I received an appeal from a Freedom Business in India to encourage others to buy their product on-line.  I also received a note from a person who works as an HR-disciple making person in a business in Cambodia. She is losing her visa and needs to return to the USA within 30-days due to new regulations connected to the virus.

Here are some ways to PRAY based on what we know right now:

1. For wisdom for business owners who have very little margin or capacity for downsizing and will ultimately need to make hard decisions.

2. For the poor who desperately need the jobs that BAM companies are providing, and now face job loss.

3. For innovative means of providing capital. Some of the ways may include increased donations or short-term low-interest loans to BAM businesses.

4. For God’s people in the west who have expertise and can provide a helpline; that they will make themselves available and know where their help can be best applied.

5. For innovators and inventors to have their creative juices unleashed to develop solutions which will help BAM businesses in this difficult time.

6. For leaders connected to many BAM/B4t businesses who are right now considering options for how to help – RN, PL, CS, MT, JP, RB and others.

7. That all believers will respond toward the most vulnerable in ways similar to how Christians responded in other pandemics. Check out this link.

 

Mats Tunehag has also adapted St. Patrick’s prayer to use during this time, either as a BAM company leader or to pray for others in the BAM community.

Read more

Unleashing the Whole Body of Christ to Reach the Whole World

Matt was thrilled to finally share with his Southeast Asian neighbors all the opportunities to serve them through his social work. He described how he could dig wells for access to clean water, build schools, or hold food and clothing drives to bless their community. To his surprise, his friends told him he was wasting his time. They didn’t want any of that. Instead, they desired access to western markets through Matt’s connections. One friend said, “In this way we can produce a product, sell it to the West, and make money for ourselves. Then with our own money we can choose how to meet the needs of our community such as food, clothing, shelter, and education, instead of having you westerners tell us what we need.”

Matt took this curt response as a sign of genuine friendship and prayerfully considered their advice. Sensing this was the Lord’s will, Matt and his wife Amy left their social work behind and set up an essential oil distillery to harvest local Southeast Asian plant oil; a product highly sought after in the West. This small for-profit manufacturing business provided employment to many farmers throughout the rural countryside and as a result, positively impacted the lives of hundreds of indigenous unreached people. To date, nearly a thousand of these precious people have responded to Jesus Christ in an area that previously had not known His name!

Business for Transformation

God orchestrated this wonderful story of redemption through the dynamic combination of both spiritual and economic ambition. Matt had a background in agriculture, Amy knew chemical engineering, and they both longed for salvation to come to the unreached. All they needed was the candid response of a local friend to help them put all the pieces together into the beautiful concoction of what we at OPEN call Business for Transformation (B4T).

B4T is the strategic use of business and professional skills for the purpose of bringing economic and spiritual transformation to communities among least reached peoples. B4T is the glorious mixture of apostolic zeal to preach the gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20) together with the ancient understanding of work (Genesis 2:15), a God-imaging activity that He receives as worship. (See more here, here, here, and here). 

Every day, nearly 60,000 people1,2 are born into cultures and nations around the world that have little or no access to the Gospel. The vast majority of these nations do not grant visas to Christian religious workers, and even if they did, traditional sending methods could only produce a tiny fraction of the workers needed for the task. Our current efforts to gather worshippers for Jesus from every tribe, tongue and nation must be seriously reevaluated, to include the 99% who do not relate well to the traditional missions approaches for proclaiming the Good News. God’s fame and the eternal destinies of the largest population of lost people in history hang in the balance. 

God is at Work!

Thankfully, with God there is always hope. The rise of many wonderful Faith, Work and Economics (FWE) networks3, Business as Mission (BAM) organizations4, and almost inexhaustible resource libraries and blogs5 on the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of work have greatly multiplied in the past decade.

As a result, many in the Church are being mobilized toward real, practical and spiritual initiatives to bring transformation to their local communities via the marketplace. 

Professionals and business people who have been trained to ask fundamental questions like, “What tangible needs in the market are being overlooked?”, “What are the possible solutions to these needs”, and “What resources, skills, and relationships do I have that could provide for those needs?” are now also starting to ask questions like, “How is God present in my work?”, “In what ways can I incorporate prayer for my co-workers while also modeling Christ’s love towards them?”, and “How should I operate my business so as to glorify God and bless my employees and community?” 

Church leaders are increasingly calling out the unbiblical cultural norm that teaches us to segregate the “sacred” parts of our lives from the “secular” parts. They are commissioning their marketplace congregants as they would their global workers. They are teaching about the priesthood of all believers and expecting them to actually make disciples in their workplaces. Once staunch denominational boundary lines are being traversed as a result of faith and work partnerships.   

Unleashing the Whole Church

Through the increased activity of the faith and work movement across many streams of the Body of Christ, the latent potential of the faithful, job-working, church-volunteering, financially-sustaining majority is slowly being realized. This move of God is laying the groundwork for an enormous and unprecedented surge in potential cross-cultural workers. In this way, God has provided the perfect solution to meet the needs of the world who are not only starving for relationship with God through Jesus, but are often just as impoverished materially as they are spiritually6

In God’s wisdom, He has equipped the Church with virtually every skill, resource, and relationship required to bring both spiritual renewal and economic flourishing to the world through a growing number of men and women who know how to intentionally live out their faith in the marketplace. 

There’s just one problem, at least in the Western Church, most of the faith and work efforts have yet to crossover to the global marketplace, focusing instead on the flourishing of communities where the church already exists. The understanding and application of faith and work as a means for discipling all nations has barely scratched the surface of where it could go. There are various reasons for this but none of them are due to the lack of a working model. 

How OPEN Seeks to Multiply the Impact

Speaking in business terms, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has already been established and it is effective! B4T stories like Matt and Amy’s in Southeast Asia are happening in many places. Throughout the OPEN Network – a network comprised of faith-filled professionals and business owners living and working in almost every Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist country – there are many successful B4T initiatives resulting in economic and spirtual transformation. B4T as a model in the Church simply needs to be scaled. 

As far as OPEN is concerned, we believe we are strategically positioned to serve the Body of Christ for this purpose, not for the sake and name of OPEN, but to steward the gifts God has given us for His glory. For the last 20 years, B4T practitioners in the OPEN Network have been learning from Jesus how to live this out and help others who desire to do the same. Experienced OPEN Mentors are caring for the next generation of workers through holistic discipling in submission to local sending churches. Yearly gatherings of B4T workers on the field enable field relationships to deepen, establishing community, equipping and sharpening professionals while at the same time enabling the longevity of the work. 

OPEN also serves local churches as they send their professionals to the ends of the earth. OPEN provides internship and apprenticeship opportunities, investment capital, business coaching, cross-cultural discipleship training, networking, and hosts B4T Expos around the world. 

Want to know more? Contact us so we can build a relationship and find ways to serve you and your church as you engage in B4T. Together, let’s be the generation that unleashes the whole body of Christ to reach the whole world. 

For more information about OPEN go to:

www.OPENworldwide.net

OPEN is a network of 300+ people starting businesses and working for both local and international companies in least reached areas. B4T is a growing movement within the BAM world that stresses the two bottom lines of financial success and spiritual impact. OPEN prioritizes the following things:

1. Least-reached people: We establish in areas and with people where there are no or few churches.

2. Profitable and sustainable businesses: Our business owners and all employees draw a salary/paycheck, and bigger businesses have a bigger impact.

3. Jesus’ name: If the authorities, co-workers and community do not know that we love Jesus, then why are we there?

4. Holistic transformation: We impact our local communities in reproducible and measurable ways—first spiritually and economically; then socially and environmentally.

 

 

1 Andrew Scott, Scatter (Moody Publishers, 2016), 11

2 Some global statistics show a world average of 220,000 new births per day.  Joshua Project estimates the populations of all unreached peoples make up 41.6% of the world population, resulting in greater than 90,000 new people added each day to unreached populations.

3 Made to Flourish, Acton Institute, Denver Institute for Faith and Work, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, At Work On Purpose, Center for Faith and Work

4 Business as Mission, Transform Our World, Scatter Global, OPEN

5 Theology of Work Project, B4T Blog, Faith Driven Entrepreneur

6  What is the 10/40 Window? Joshua Project

 

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

 

 

Making a Positive Impact on the World Through Business: Where to Start?!

Have you ever felt an urgency to make a positive impact on the world, but not known where to start? On the one hand, the Scriptures confront us with eternal realities; yet on the other hand, the news is packed with statistics and updates, challenging us to be global citizens. It is easy to be overcome by the amount of information there is to digest. Do we choose to rescue the damned from hell? Or the slaves from Boko Haram? Should we focus on eliminating poverty? Or educating the under-educated? The problems can seem daunting; the deluge of options overwhelming.

Yet you want to make a difference, so where does an eager change-maker start? And in starting, which of the issues – spiritual or worldly – are the most urgent to address? Can one person, really, truly make a difference?

Working to solve both Gospel and global issues doesn’t have to be that confusing or complicated. Business, the workplace, offers solutions and can impact each of these issues and answer most of the questions.

Consider:

The number of hungry people in the world has actually increased the last few years. One in nine people in the world habitually go hungry. Food security is the biggest threat to the overall health of the human race – more so than malaria, tuberculosis, or HIV. But it’s 2020. Are people really still going hungry? The problem is not that we aren’t producing enough food; rather, people lack access to food.  Many people simply do not have enough money to purchase food or the seeds and fertilizers to grow their own. OPEN workers are creating jobs in 43 countries. We are not a charity that gives things away for free. We don’t give people food, medicine or an education; we give them a job—the empowerment to earn their own living. With a job comes dignity, and with dignity follows questioning, as they seek out the purposes behind our willingness to come and meet most of their basic needs. In that questioning, that seeking, we are invited to tell them the reason – Jesus.

Business moves us beyond talking about issues with people to engaging people with the issues. Through business, we are providing real, impactful solutions.

Consider:

Over the past decade, there’s been a huge upsurge in conflicts which have greatly increased the number of refugees in the world. Farmers need to abandon their land to save themselves and their families. Then once these farmers reach a safer location, they have no land rights, which means they can’t grow crops. These refugees then need to purchase high-priced imported foods. When they don’t have enough funds to do so, families don’t eat. OPEN businesses that create jobs are meeting basic human needs. When OPEN workers fulfill people’s needs via the workplace, the people respect not only what we do, but who we are. This respect readily transfers over to questions seeking to understand the motives behind our lives and work – Jesus.

Consider:

Poor sanitation is a major factor in the spread of transferable diseases. OPEN businesses are modeling good sanitation practices in their workplace as well as in the streets and neighborhoods of their surrounding communities. This modeling is not only showing the community there is a better way to dispose of garbage and maintain good health, it is also giving people examples and tools to improve their own health, hygiene, and physical well-being. OPEN workers are transforming their neighborhoods, impressing on locals a concern for their outward living conditions. This concern regularly leads to a questioning and a seeking out from us what inward motivation leads us to do these things, resulting in their asking us to tell them about Jesus.

Consider:

Children are key to our future success, yet many across the world do not have some of their most basic needs met. OPEN businesses have built orphanages and shelters for abused women and enslaved people. OPEN workers have established numerous schools which are creating hope and new opportunities for better jobs, which lead to better futures. Even more fundamental than food and water is the basic human need for hope.  Hope, not a handout, often leads people to seek out the reason for our caring for impoverished children—Jesus.

Creating jobs, living and working 40+ hours a week with people is a solid solution for reaching the least-reached peoples of the world for Jesus and solving the problems of the world.

Consider:

Women make up roughly half of the world’s population, yet historically there have been social barriers to economic and personal freedom for women. Often women are disempowered from a young age; they are held back from attending school because of financial reasons or because of the perception that their education does not matter. Globally, women earn less than men, and women with children earn even less. [1] Empowering women has far-reaching benefits for communities. For example, the United Nations estimates that if women farmers could be given the same resources as men, 150 million more people could be fed, effectively achieving the goal of zero hunger. [2]  Women across the world are often the caretakers of household health, which means that if all women are taught effective healthcare practices, global well-being statistics could be altered dramatically. OPEN businesses are creating thousands of jobs for under-educated, under-empowered women, and previously-enslaved women. These jobs provide income for needed food and healthcare and expand opportunities for children to receive a good education. OPEN businesses are learning ways of supporting women in achieving their goals. When women are given opportunities to excel and experience God’s touch on their lives, they come to us yearning to know “Why?” Why do we do these things? Of course, the answer directs them to Jesus.

Business moves us beyond talking about issues with people to engaging people with the issues. Through business, we are providing real, impactful solutions. OPEN businesses are moving local thinking forward on key issues including corruption, upholding the law, paying taxes, and general human rights. Business levels the playing field. Business forces people to come together. Business enables people no matter their race, nationality, religion, or gender to face one another and experience each other’s differences. Business empowers and provides resources and opportunities to support people to learn more about their own rights, including the right to worship the King of Kings – Jesus.

Business for Transformation (B4T) – creating jobs, living and working 40+ hours a week with people – is a solid solution for reaching the least-reached peoples of the world for Jesus and solving the problems of the world. Business done for the glory of Jesus adds real and lasting value to the communities and the individuals’ lives.

For more information about OPEN go to:

www.OPENworldwide.net

OPEN is a network of 300+ people starting businesses and working for both local and international companies in least reached areas. B4T is a growing movement within the BAM world that stresses the two bottom lines of financial success and spiritual impact. OPEN prioritizes the following things:

1. Least-reached people: We establish in areas and with people where there are no or few churches.

2. Profitable and sustainable businesses: Our business owners and all employees draw a salary/paycheck, and bigger businesses have a bigger impact.

3. Jesus’ name: If the authorities, co-workers and community do not know that we love Jesus, then why are we there?

4. Holistic transformation: We impact our local communities in reproducible and measurable ways—first spiritually and economically; then socially and environmentally.

 

 

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap

2 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/

 

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

 

 

7 Markers for a Kingdom Business: A Framework for Entrepreneurs

TOP 5 BLOGS IN 5 YEARS

This month we are celebrating 5 years of publishing weekly blogs on The BAM Review and sending out bi-weekly emails!  To celebrate, we are re-posting the TOP 5 most read blogs from the past 5 years for your reading enjoyment.

by Courtney Rountree Mills

A quick framework to help entrepreneurs learn how to integrate their faith life with their business life in a practical way.

Let’s face it. Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur. The whole world always seems to be resting on your shoulders. The pressure to succeed is immense. After all, if you don’t, you let down not only yourself and your family, but also your staff and their families! What gets you through the pressure? Mainly prayer and the passion you have for your business. You love the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It energizes you more than almost anything else. Sometimes thinking about your business becomes more like an addiction – you could work on or think through challenges you face all day, every day and never feel like you are completely caught up.

The only thing you care about more than your business is your relationship with Jesus and your family. Still, it seems your business ends up taking over your prayer life and family life, too. You keep hearing about how you should live an integrated life, but you have no practical idea how to achieve this. You hear people around you using the phrases “Kingdom Business” or “Missional Business.” These sound great to you, but you don’t even know what the definition of a Kingdom Business is. Measuring your business’ Key Performance Indicators is easy, but how do you measure your KPIs when it comes to integrating your life as a believer and business owner? This article provides a quick framework to help entrepreneurs live out their faith in their business. This is a topic that resonated most with the 450 entrepreneurs we have accelerated who were asking the same question. Most of this is not material I wrote. Rather, it is a compilation of some of the best material I have found on living out business as mission.

Kingdom Business: The Definition

First, what is a Kingdom business? The best definition I found is one I slightly adapted from Acton School of Business in partnership with Gateway Church:

A kingdom business is an enterprise directed by the Holy Spirit and managed by a godly leader that uses its time, talent, and money to meet the spiritual and/or physical needs of the community around them to advance God’s purpose.

Ok good. We’ve defined it. Sounds pretty simple right? Now, let’s break apart this definition piece by piece to define the characteristics of a Kingdom Business. From this definition, Acton matched 6 characteristics they believe a Kingdom Business should exhibit. Each one has an associated question you can use to evaluate yourself and your business. I have slightly modified this framework to add a seventh dimension (“Reflection of God’s Character”) that I think is quite helpful. Read more

Discipling Marketplace Leaders: The Power of Church and BAM Partnerships

by Renita Reed-Thomson & Dr. Phil Walker

A Kenyan pastor approached us following our workshop and said, “Church begins on Monday. Sunday is ‘garage/maintenance time’ to prepare for that.” The lightbulb had gone on. It is the lightbulb that reminds pastors and church leaders that the Church gathers on Sunday for the purpose of being equipped to be scattered on Monday, shining the light of Christ everywhere they go. Unfortunately, the Global Church tends to be inward focused, defining itself as a building or by programs, rather than the people. While the majority of adult members in our churches spend the majority of their time in their workplace, we do not disciple them to the purpose of doing their work as an act of worship. Discipling Marketplace Leaders is seeking to remedy this as it brings the work of Business as Mission into the Church.

Finding Common Ground

In 2012 Dr. Phil Walker (President and co-founder of International Christian Ministries) was conducting a leadership seminar in Accra, Ghana. Renita Reed-Thomson (Regional Director for a BAM ministry) was attending the seminar with her team. At the break, she began sharing with Phil about the challenges of the BAM movement. While successful in helping Christian business owners grow in their ability to operate successful businesses, she was concerned about their spiritual journey (Deuteronomy 8:18). It was easy to see financial growth, but hard to know if they were growing in their walk with the Lord. Phil discussed his frustration with the local church and its inability to substantially impact the community by empowering members to be light and leaven in the community. Phil invited Renita to Kitale, Kenya, to teach a course on Church-based Business as Mission at ICM’s Africa Theological Seminary.

Over the initial months of teaching pastors, Renita saw a dramatic change in their perspective regarding business and work. Teaching business as a calling, supported theologically, pastors shifted from business as a “necessary evil,” to business as calling, contributing to fulfilling the Great Commitment of Genesis 1:28. Renita shared with other BAM practitioners about integrating BAM formally with the church. They said BAM and the local church could not find common ground for working together. Some stated that the church is “too difficult” to work with and therefore should be side-stepped. Renita decided on a research project to test whether the faith and work movement was possible within the local church. From 2013-2015, Renita conducted an 18-month research study, in three cities with six churches and 260 businesses.  Read more

Four Constituencies in the BAM Movement: Business and Beyond

It is stating the obvious to say that a major part of the international BAM community is made up of businesses and business people. This is business as mission. We see the great commission and the great commandment to love our neighbour fulfilled in the daily context of company life; lived out through business men and women faithfully sharing the love of Christ in word and deed. Businesses and business people are a core constituency of the BAM movement.

However, these companies and business people will not thrive outside of a healthy ecosystem made up of many types of individuals, skills, perspectives, and institutions. We will not reach a tipping point for macro impact through business as mission unless our business constituency is connected to and supported by a much broader network. Therefore, we see that the BAM global community is made up of four major constituencies; leaders from business, mission, church and academia.

BAM thought-leader Peter Shaukat expresses this same idea as the 4 As: 1

  • Academy: scholars and educational institutions
  • Agency: mission agencies, yes, but also other kinds of entities with specialist functions
  • Assembly: local churches and congregations
  • Actualizers: the business people who run business as mission enterprises

The Four Major Constituencies in the BAM Movement

 

At the same time, we are part of a broader movement of God’s people following Christ in many arenas. The BAM movement should also be more broadly connected to, and overlapping with, like-movements, such as ‘Justice as Mission’, ‘Education as Mission’, ‘Art as Mission’ and so on. Business as mission is not a “silver bullet” and we should see our place among those that the Lord is raising up in all spheres of society.  Read more

So What Shall We Do Tomorrow? How We Have Endured

One day down

Sleep deprived, stressed, hiding in the office to cry, then pulling it together and working hard physically, attempting to speak a foreign language, smiling at potential customers, doing everything for the first time, from start to finish, from nerve-wracking open to exhausted and exuberant close. We did it! There was cash in the drawer to prove it. Success!!! We made it through… Day one.

We arrived home near midnight, our three small boys in tow. As we straggled through the door, my husband turned to me and said, “So what shall we do tomorrow?”

I stopped. I stared at him. Then I’m pretty sure I laughed. Barely.

All the focus for years and months had been to start a business. Now it was started. We were worn out, but the real work had just begun.

Later we learned that starting a business is like having a baby. In so many ways. One moment it appears unbelievably fragile. The next moment it’s screaming its lungs out in a show of robust strength. Helpless. Demanding. Exceedingly needy!

There was one American woman who understood this business-baby analogy before we did. She visited us the first day at the shop, congratulated us, and gave us a lasagne. Read more

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