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  • Psalm 1


  • Relevant Docs: "Cookies"


  • Psalm 23


  • Relevant Docs: "Art"


  • Relevant Docs: "Coffee"


  • Relevant Docs "Legacy"


  • Acting Like a Tourist?


  • Trust


  • What About Change?


  • The Last Presentation


  • Signs


  • He Is


  • Just Thankful?


  • The Longest Christmas Journey


  • Relevant Docs: "Iron"


  • The Soldier Makes a Difference


Featured Articles

Fall Concert Line-up Sprinkled with Doves

Jon Foreman of SwitchfootJon Foreman of Switchfoot in his July 31 performance at Frederik Meijer Gardens (photo by Mario Centeno)."We sing these songs because we believe hope deserves an anthem," said Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman at the band's recent concert at the Meijer Gardens amphitheatre.

Christian music artists with a similar outlook are preparing their West Michigan concerts for this fall. And many of those artists are coming freshly adorned with 2017 Dove Award nominations.

The 48th annual Dove Awards are sponsored by the Gospel Music Association and are considered one of the top awards for faith-based music artists. Nominees were announced August 9 at a Nashville news conference, with award ceremonies set for Oct. 17.

Evangelicals Must Adopt Christian View of Leisure to Influence Culture, Says Scholar

Acton Institute Speaker Seth Bartee cutline No. 1 Seth Bartee: “One of the ways we can change the culture is taking this concept of leisure seriously.” Seth Bartee is confident Russell Kirk is not a household name for many Protestant evangelicals, which is one reason he believes the United States' Christian moorings in floundering.

Bartee, who teaches intellectual history at East Tennessee State University and is a visiting scholar at The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Mich., spoke recently at the Acton Institute's Lecture Series, said despite all the good works evangelicals perform in the U.S. and world (international adoptions, volunteering at churches and political activism, for example), they have failed at changing America's predominate culture.

UNITY Poised for a Festive Experience

Powell Mac soloMac Powell, lead singer of Third Day, performs at Unity at 7:10pm Saturday Aug. 12Kevin Newton has part of the Unity Christian Music Festival since year one. And it's been quite a ride.

"We certainly didn't know back in 2001 that it would become not only an annual event, but one of the largest Christian festivals in the U.S.," said Newton, Unity director and part of Alive on the Lakeshore, the umbrella organization sponsoring the four-day event.

The festival draws tens of thousands of fans each year and showcases today's top Christian music artists, as well as offers various other faith-related opportunities.

Educator Tills Education’s Soil With Biblical Botanical Roots

AMDG Architects Speaker Series cutline No. 1David Smith: “The Garden of Eden is an image where society is working, before everything gets destroyed.”David Smith sees a strong bond between the Garden of Eden and education. Apparently, John Amos Comenius also understood the connection, even though he lived centuries before Smith was born.

Smith works the dual role as director of Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and director of Calvin College's graduate studies in education. He recently spoke at AMDG Architects' July Speaker Series about the relationship between gardens cultivating people's moral, spiritual and virtue through education.

Digging Deeper With Lifehouse

Lifehouse jw 2nd from rLifehouse (l. to r.) Ricky Woolstenhulme Jr., Bryce Soderberg, Jason Wade, Steve Stout Singer-songwriter Jason Wade of the band Lifehouse never dreamed his song "You and Me" would become a wedding standard.

"That's a song I wrote when I proposed to my girlfriend when I was 19 years old," recalled Wade during a conference call from the band's Los Angeles recording studio.

"It didn't show up until our third album six years later."

The melodic song was one of mainstream radio's top hits of 2005 and re-established the band's impact made with its 2001 debut smash, "Hanging By A Moment."

"You and Me" still echoes at nuptials around the country. "We've played it ourselves for at least three weddings," said Wade. "And we've been asked to help guys propose on stage when we play it at shows.

Hudsonville-based International Needs Serves as Jesus’ Hands, Feet Worldwide

International Needs Cutline No. 1 International Needs president/CEO Michael Cooper stands on a rooftop in Nepal last November. Michael T. Cooper gets around.

So far, he's journeyed to 14 or 15 countries since becoming president and CEO last October of Hudsonville-based International Needs.

In the future, the ministry's big tent goals will take him to various nations in the world, including Turkey, Nepal, Burkina Faso in West Africa and Columbia.

That's to be expected when you're head of a multi-prong ministry like International Needs, founded in 1974 by Ray Harrison.

"I love being around folks from around the world," said an enthused Cooper. "We have staff and national workers spread across the globe, where we pray and dream with them in how they're going to reach their countries and fulfill their vision to spread the gospel."

Band Members Testify To New Life

Adams Road Joseph Warren (left) and Adam’s Road Joseph Warren and Adam's Road are on a new mission.

Warren and his fellow band members are all former Mormons. And now they're presenting their musical testimonies of a newly-found gospel salvation message.

"We're just trying to put the gospel to music and to share our stories," said Warren, 32, by phone from a concert stop in rural Vermont.

The ex-members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as Mormons) have carved out their own path as they've embraced Christian orthodoxy and proclaimed it publically. And it has come at some personal cost.

A Mile In Your (old) Shoes

dan seabornLet me tell you, we're talking about a really big "if."

If I think about it long enough and hard enough, I can remember what it was like—what it was like long, long ago—to be a kid.
If.

For starters, the piano practice was torture. I'd be sitting there, plunking out tunes on black and white keys even though I thought my fingers looked much better on the orange of a basketball.

And my mom, the human metronome, would sit beside me on the bench, tapping the end of a pencil against the piano to help me keep rhythm. It drove me crazy.

If it wasn't piano lessons that had me in misery, it was homework—hours of multiplication, history, and grammar keeping me away from the South Carolina skies that were calling my name.

Radio Team Now In New Ministry Pursuits

mcAce McKay (left), and Jeff Veley"Yes... Jeff and I are saying good-bye to you," JQ-99 (WJQK-FM) radio personality Ace McKay told listeners on their June 29 afternoon show.

After two and a half years as on-air teammates, McKay and co-host Jeff Veley both left their duties on the local contemporary Christian outlet at the end of June. Breaking the surprising news proved difficult.

"Don't you make me weepy," Veley warned McKay during their bittersweet announcement which both said was made with "heavy hearts."
"You guys (listeners) are family," Veley added.

CeCe Winans Showcases Long-Awaited Album

winansEver wonder how a music artist with a 30-year performing career chooses songs for a concert tour?

“Some people may be shocked,” advised gospel singer-songwriter CeCe Winans. “But I’m singing every one of the songs from my new album on this tour. I want people to hear all these new songs.”

“Let Them Fall in Love” is the veteran artist’s first all-new collection in nine years. She calls them “songs that everyone can learn something from.” It’s another milestone in a decades-long inspirational-gospel career, which included many years in a successful R&B-gospel duo with her brother BeBe Winans.

Cece, 52, brings her music to DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids on July 13.

Bethlehem Lutheran Opens Intergenerational Center

b1Pastor Jay Schrimpf is Bethlehem Intergenerational Center’s executive director and Susan Davidson is its director.Senior adults and children can significantly benefit from one another, but too often don't get the opportunity to interact. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is helping to bridge the generational gap thanks to its recent opening of the Bethlehem Intergenerational Center (BIC).

The BIC offers combined and enhanced day care for young children and seniors, building on the church's 46 years of experience in child care and education.

Truth, True Truth, Truthiness, and Post-truth in America

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. Rogers American culture is actively forgetting what it used to believe.

That truth is objective and knowable reality – that truth is not defined by gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, partisanship, Left or Right political philosophy, culture, might, I.Q., riches or poverty, beauty or brawn, feelings or preferences, or even religion per se.

In the 1970s, the late Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer coined the intentionally redundant phrase "true truth" to remind the emerging morally relativistic culture that truth is not subjective. It is not something we can pick and choose. Truth is absolute. Truth stands outside all of us.

A generation or two hence, American culture is racing pell-mell toward full-on relativism. Now, no one, no entity, nothing can be trusted because everything is reduced to power and rights, not truth.

New Music Review: Close

msaapGrand Rapids pastor and national music artist Bishop Marvin Sapp has released a brand new song from his forthcoming album.

"Close" is the type of gospel ballad which has faithfully delivered his musical testimony in years past.

Sapp, 50, is co-founder and pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church on Madison Ave. SE in Grand Rapids. But he's also a nationally renowned, award-winning gospel music artist.

A keyboard-based anthem, "Close" takes advantage of a live setting and a background singing choir as the verses and chorus positively point beyond current troubles to a fulfillment of a divine plan.

After Graduation, Remember This

dan seabornIt's another season of diplomas, of caps and gowns, of students marching across a stage and into a new life. So whether they're on to college, a career, the military, or just a bit of wandering, it's time to hail the graduates!

Today, this message is for you, Graduate—yes, you, with your education in hand, your tassel freshly flipped, and pink Silly String on your shoe. As you take your next steps into this ever-changing world, your brain has been packed with information, facts, trivia, and far too many essay questions.

Get on Your Bikes and Pedal: RIDE GR Opportunity to have Fun, Pray Alongside Fellow Bikers

Stockbridge GR Ride Cutline No. 1 RIDE GR is an interdenominational prayer bike ride around Grand Rapids. Bicyclists often pedal around the city to burn calories, take in the sites and work off some stress. Stockbridge Boiler Room's (SBR) June 24 RIDE GR is no exception, but there's more to its 20-mile trek than enjoying the great outdoors.

RIDE GR is an opportunity for bikers to stand in agreement and prayerfully intercede on behalf of churches' and the neighborhoods they are based in, said Tim Collier, overseer of the local SBR.

Actress Shares Her Real Life Story

fatherknowsbestThe original cast of “Father Knows Best” (Lauren Chapin in lower right) Actress Lauren Chapin has a surprising description of her six years on the 1950s TV sitcom "Father Knows Best."

"It was my saving grace," said Chapin, who portrayed Kathy "Kitten" Anderson, the youngest child of the family depicted in the heart-warming series.

"I believe God had me in that (show) for a purpose, because my real family life at home was so contrary to that of the Andersons," recalled Chapin, 72.

Summer Praise Series Underway

praiseintheparkMembers of the Grace Fellowship Church Praise Team lead music at Praise in the Park in RockfordRichard Moll has a pleasant predicament with the weekly Praise in the Park series in downtown Rockford. "We're running out of summertime Sundays," said Moll, founder and coordinator of the music series now in its sixth season.

There are so many area church worship teams – and other inspirational artists – interested in participating that Moll can't accommodate them all in a single summer.

For 2017 there are nine churches, two bands and one solo artist leading the worshipful music Sunday evenings in Garden Club Park.

Princess Party, Local Author Put Focus on Girls

love lettersThe popular Princess Party at Baker Book House (10:30 am Tuesday, June 13) is more than a dress-up opportunity for author Glenys Nellist. While she'll wear a tiara, she'll also read from her new book "Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart" (Zonderkidz).

"Because this is an event specifically for girls, it seemed appropriate to read from this book especially designed for girls," said Nellist, who lives in Rockford.

Justice Conference Founder to Speak on White Privilege

kenKen Wytsma, founder of The Justice Conference and author of the new book "The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege," will speak at Baker Book House on Wednesday, June 7.

The event, titled "Privilege is Real," is free, though tickets are required. Copies of his new book will be available for purchase at the store.

"We're so pleased to have Ken Wytsma in the store to talk about these important issues," said Darron Schroeder, assistant manager. "These are topics than need to be addressed, especially by Christians."

Zondervan and Gazelle Sports Welcome Legendary Female Olympic Track Star to Grand Rapids

chasing GraceZondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, and Gazelle Sports have partnered to host one of the fastest American women in history, Sanya Richards-Ross, on Friday, June 2, for a book signing at the Gazelle Sports store in Grand Rapids from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event precedes the release of the Olympic gold medalist's new book, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me About God and Life, and her children's book, Run with Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion, both available on June 6.

"As a dedicated runner myself, I'm thrilled to host Olympic track star Sanya Richards-Ross in West Michigan," said Tom Dean, VP of Marketing, Zondervan Trade Books. "Runners and non-runners alike can learn from Sanya's dedication and perseverance."

Baker Book House Offers Summer Reading Programs for Kids, Adults

bakerBaker Book House jumps into its Children's Summer Reading Program with a bang this year. The Adventures in Michigan program runs June 1-August 26 and features a wide array of activities and prizes.

"The program is all about promoting literacy at an early age, to encourage kids to read and love books," said Darron Schroeder, assistant manager at Baker Book House.

This year's program puts special emphasis on the state of Michigan, with at least seven Michigan authors visiting the story for special programs. Authors include Glenys Nellist, Crystal Bowman, Gary Bower, Laurie Keller, Tracy Madder, Kenneth Kraegel and Katie Newell.

GRIL Grads Include First Group From Emerge Program

gri1A graduation ceremony for the 2017 GRIL graduates was held at Calvin College.Seeded throughout Greater Grand Rapids are a new crop of leaders dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and others.

GR Initiative for Leaders' (GRIL) 2017 graduates include its first class from its Emerge program, a nine-month curriculum for adults who want to take their leadership skills to the next level and become leaders in their community, according to Denise Fase, GRIL's executive director.

Festival of the Arts Includes Faith-Based Options

perryGerald Perry (center) and United Voices of Worship The annual Festival of the Arts in downtown Grand Rapids is celebrating its 48th anniversary June 2-4. And the huge volunteer event comes with a variety of chances to hear a full stylistic range of inspirational music free of charge.

And of course, there are also those church-hosted booths which sell luscious food items while raising funds for their various ministries.

Local gospel singer-songwriter Gerald Perry knows the festival well. "I've sung there for a long time – from my days with the Bethel Pentecostal Choir," said Perry, who in his formative years sang with the noted church group.

Musical Inspiration To Fill the Summer Air

jasonJason Crabb sings Aug. 13 in Grand HavenCampgrounds, conference facilities, and other venues in West Michigan are finalizing preparations for their summertime inspirational concert series.

Maranatha Bible Conference in Muskegon, Worship On The Waterfront in downtown Grand Haven, Sandy Pines Lakeside Chapel in Dorr, Gospel Music Barn in Hudsonville, and the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds on Lakeshore Dr. between Holland and Grand Haven all feature weekend concerts that are open to the public on a free-will-offering basis. (Details below).

And for Memorial Day weekend, the music is already underway.

Walk For Life Opportunity to Band Together in Prayer, Support Local PRC

prcwalk1Previously, Walk for Life started at Cathedral Square; this year’s begins at La Grave Christian Reformed Church. The Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) invites the pro-life public to take a walk with them over Father's Day weekend.

The PRC's annual Walk For Life on June 17 is an opportunity for people to band together in prayer, raise needed funds for the pro-life nonprofit founded in 1985 and experience the contrast between light and darkness.

"The Walk is about building awareness and saying to the community, 'We're here,'" said Jim Sprague, the PRC's chief executive officer.

Singer Brings Life to Her Music

plumbTiffany Arbuckle Lee (better known as Plumb) watched her best-known song take on a completely new meaning.

Plumb's 2012 power ballad "Need You Now (How Many Times)" - with its Psalm-like longing for God's help - was originally written about her struggles with anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

"But it was soon afterward that my husband and I separated," she recalled of the tumultuous period which her marriage eventually survived. "The meaning actually turned around for me and I became a listener to my own song. I now needed God more than ever before."

Plumb and her band perform Saturday May 20 at Rock the Coast, a two day Christian music mini-festival at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds also featuring David Crowder, Josh Wilson and others.

Molly Klimas Wraps Arms Around Women Caught in Unintended Pregnancies

prc 2017Molly Klimas: “I can’t imagine life without her. I have no regrets.” Molly Klimas was 20 years old and on the cusp of starting her senior year at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana when she felt the need to keep a white-knuckle grip on the hope she wasn't pregnant.

That was 31 years ago.

Raised in a Roman Catholic family where she is the oldest of eight siblings, Klimas was engaged to her fiancé, Paul Klimas.

Affirmation Is Never Too Extreme

dan seabornI remember a night when one of our sons was sixteen-years-old and had told us that he would be home by 10:00. At 10:10, he was nowhere to be seen, and I was starting to get nervous. With every second that ticked on the clock, I worried more and more.

The typical parent, I assumed the absolute worst. I wonder how bad the accident was. Which hospital would he be in? I hope the other kids weren't hurt too.

Concerned, I dialed his cell phone. He answered right away, to my relief. Keeping my voice calm, I addressed the situation. "Son, it's a little later than you said you'd be home. Where are you?"

He hesitated. "Do I have to tell you?" he asked.

New Music Review: Forrest Wakeman

messesWest Michigan's multi-talented Forrest Wakeman has a new worship recording featuring a host of area musicians.

"Messes to Miracles" is a polished effort filled with contemporary ballads and anthems suitable for corporate or personal worship.

Wakeman, who has several advanced music degrees and is music director at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, wrote all the songs and co-produced the CD with long time area worship leader Andy Ferris.

Access of West Michigan Annual Hunger Walk Celebrates 40th Year of Supporting Good Food!

EVENTSTie up those shoe laces and grab your friends, the Access of West Michigan 40th Annual Hunger Walk is coming to downtown Grand Rapids on Sunday, May 7. Registration and food festival - including live music, a food truck, activities for kids and more - begins at 1:30p.m. at Park Church, 10 E Park Pl NE, Grand Rapids. The walk begins in stride at 2:15p.m.

Since 1977, the Hunger Walk has raised over $6 million for local and international organizations promoting a thriving food system through the support of thousands of individuals, businesses and congregations.

Chonda Pierce on May 5

EVENTSEmmy®-nominated comedian Chonda Pierce is set to bring her "Happily Laugher After" tour to Wyoming's Grand Rapids First Assembly of God (2100 44th St SW) on Friday May 5 at 7:00 PM. The best-selling female comedian of all time, Pierce will deliver an uplifting and encouraging night of joy and laughter, armed with her unpretentious Southern charm and laser sharp wit. The evening will also feature special guest acclaimed singer/songwriter Karyn Williams.

Church Planter Makes 137th Trip to Ukraine, Sees Revived Hunger for Gospel

rich c Rich Correll: “I look for people who have dirty hands and dirty feet.”There are a handful of reasons why Rich Correll is an unlikely person to make his 137th trip to the Ukraine to establish new churches.

By his own admission, when he launched Church Planters' Training International (CPTI) in 1992 as founder and president, Correll had no prior theological or church planting experience. In his earlier years he worked for Bethlehem Steel as a sales manager (1967-1988), selling the alloy to some of the area's largest manufacturers in West Michigan.

Plus, he doesn't speak the East Slavic native language, Ukrainian, nor does he dialogue in Russian that nearly 30 percent of Ukrainians speak, nor does he know any of the 40 minority languages and dialects spoken in the Eastern European nation.

Singer Doesn’t Mind Role as “Opener”

Feliz JordanJordan Feliz Since his childhood days, singer songwriter Jordan Feliz was aware of million-selling Christian music artist Michael W. Smith.

"My parents own every record he ever made," said Feliz, 28, of the veteran Smith. "I never thought I'd ever be able to share the stage with him."

The relative newcomer Feliz is an opening artist on Smith's current tour, coming to downtown Grand Rapids at 20 Monroe Live on Sat. April 29.

"I feel like my childhood experience of listening to CDs in my parents' car is being lived out right now," he smiled.

Smith, 59, needs no introduction to Christian music fans. More than two dozen albums, nearly three dozen No. 1 songs, and various collaboration projects have left an indelible mark for the Gospel Music Hall of Fame member.

Authors Record Year-long Experiment in Radical Change

year of small thingsThe Arthur and Wasinger families spent a year changing their lives a bit at a time; and together they recorded that year in the new book "The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us" by Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger. The authors will speak and sign books at Baker Book House at 7 pm Thursday, April 27.

Arthur, author of several other books, originally pitched the book as one family's year-long practice of new monasticism in suburbia. Then Tom and Sarah Arthur met Erin and Dave Wasinger and asked them to be part of the journey.

"We formed a covenantal relationship with the Wasingers," said Sarah Arthur. "It's a whole different thing when close friends know what you're doing and challenge you, asking you the hard questions."

The goal was to engage in the 12 marks of new monasticism, a lifestyle espoused by the likes of Shane Claiborne and others.

Vander Kolks Leave for Lebanon to Alleviate Pain, Serve Local Church

vanderkolk8Rosa and John Vander Kolk are making their third trip to Lebanon. Dr. John and Rosa Vander Kolk will soon make the 24-hour flight to Beqaa Valley, Lebanon where they intend to alleviate the physical pain of refugees who've fled their war-torn homeland of Syria.

This will mark the Grand Rapids couple's third medical mission trip to the Middle East country when they leave April 28 and return May 6. John will head up the dental aspect of the medical Christian humanitarian trip, with Rosa serving as his dental assistant. Joining them will be two dentists, a nurse, two assistants, an emergency room doctor, an obstetrician, a physician's assistant, an epidemiologist and two interpreters.

Summit Addresses Needs of Single Parents

mattMatt HavilandMatt Haviland knows all about being a single parent. He's one himself, non-custodial parent to his 10-year-old daughter. He also knows parents like him have struggles that other parents don't.

Now single parents can find help and encouragement at the inaugural Midwest Single Parenting Summit, created by Haviland, founder of A Father's Walk, and Dawn Blocker VanderWerf, founder of Single Parent Missions. The summit takes place at EverGreen Ministries on May 12-13.

"We want single parents to know how loved and cherished they are by God, and that God hasn't forsaken them," said Haviland. "We want them to find encouragement in the sessions and through the people there and the teaching."

Heartside Ministry’s New Executive Director Knows Homelessness Firsthand

heartsideTendai Masiriri: “We subscribe to radical hospitality. In other words, we meet people where they are and try to improve their lives.” Tendai Masiriri personally knows what it's like to live on the streets, fending for himself day in and out in his homeland of Zimbabwe. His unsettling days of survival serves as a motivating reason for becoming Heartside Ministry's new executive director.

Masiriri was 15 years old when his father died in 1985, leaving him no other choice but to try to care for himself, he said.

"I didn't have anything," said Masiriri. "I know what it means when people are struggling and want to get out of it. They have the same desires as anybody else. They hope like anybody else.

Outcry of Worship Voices Comes to West Michigan

outcry2Kim Walker-Smith (3rd from l.) and Jesus Culture It may be hard to believe, but Jesus Culture singer-songwriter/worship leader and recording artist Kim Walker-Smith was kicked out of her high school choir.

"My teacher thought I was really rebellious and would not let me re-join again at any point in high school," said the singer of the incident during 9th grade. "So all the musical things I did was with stuff outside of school," she recalled.

In college when the hopeful singer first auditioned for the school worship team...she was turned down.

Easter and the Southern Cemetery

dan seabornWhen I was growing up as a boy in the South, there was a cemetery on a little hill beside the country church my family attended. It was an old cemetery, with sunken squares of grass and crooked headstones popping out of the ground, creating a scene you'd expect to find in a Frontier novel or something.

To me and most of the kids I knew, that cemetery had an eerie mystery about it—the kind only a graveyard can offer. It was exciting in a spooky sort of way.
Still, my friends and I taunted our fears in that place. We played games there because it always made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up a little. And every time we were in that cemetery, we were constantly aware that death was just beneath our feet.

Every time, that is, except for one day each year, when we all lost sight of the graveyard's creepiness for a few minutes.

President of Colson Center for Christian Worldview Warns Against Tsunami of Social Change

stonestreet1John Stonestreet: “Without the image of God you have no grounding for anything approaching universal dignity.” Pop quiz: What does it mean to be created in God's image and likeness?

The average churchgoer might reply people resemble God because of their abilities, including the knack to be rational and to communicate. This is known as the functional viewpoint.

Others might says that we don't resemble animals' behavior and thus must be a reflection of the Almighty, also called the relational perspective.
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