Times of Unrest and Trials in America & Kenya

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

In times of unrest and trials in America and in Kenya, what do we do? The best that I can offer is to trust God and pray, knowing that God sees all and that he knows our plight and that he is for us.

While you all in America are going through turmoil, we in Kenya (myself and the Kenyan people) are learning to trust and pray too. For a long time, Kenyans have lived with political unrest, government and police oppression and mistrust, and economic disaster. They also need to be directed to trust God and pray.

I have had one lady and her daughter that has recently started attending our worship services at the Chapel.  She has had no work lately because of the changes that have occurred as a result of Covid. Her daughter was supposed to go back to school this month because the government has reopened schools after a 10 month Covid hiatus (that’s right, the schools have been completely closed for 10 months). Unfortunately, her daughter did not have everything she needed in order for her to return to school.  After our services at the Chapel the lady would approach me and begin this rehearsed speech: “I am sorry we were late this morning. My daughter delayed me because she was crying. She doesn’t have everything she needs to return to school. I don’t have a job and I don’t have any money. How can she return to school without the things she needs? Covid has really been hard on us. I don’t know what to do. What am I going to do? Do you have any suggestions?” This is the cultural way of asking for a handout without explicitly asking for a handout.  I told her I was sorry, that times really were hard, that Covid has effected many people but that God is still in control and that we should pray that God help her with the things she needed. This only caused her to repeat her speech again, which she repeated many times during this conversation.  Each time I told her I would pray for her (I can’t actually give her the money she is asking for because of the many, many problems it would cause not only with her but also with the rest of the Chapel members and with the overall health of the Chapel). When she returned to worship this week (which I didn’t think she would) she was rejoicing in the fact that she not only was able to purchase her daughter’s necessities, but she also landed a job that would bring her some steady income. She told me it was all because I prayed for her and blessed her and that God must really listen to me and how thankful she was that I had blessed her. Of course, at this point I had more lessons for her that she needed to learn in order to dispel the myth of my magical praying powers.

Moving in a more positive direction, I have another regular attender at the Chapel who also regularly has no money and is also always in need of school fees, rent and clothes for his children. And yet he is always helping out others who are in need. I tell him all the time that I know times are hard and that I will pray that he gets everything he needs. He always tells me, “Roger, God always takes care of me. He always provides everything I need and that’s all I need”. I tell him that I agree but that maybe he should not give so much away to other people and then he will have more to take care of his own needs and necessities.  He always tells me: “Roger, if I give all my money away and then I need something, then God will take care of me and provide what I need”. 
 
So, you see, sometimes I have something I can help others learn and sometimes they have something to teach me that I need to learn.

May God bless my Kenyan people and my American people with his presence, his Spirit, his love, his grace, and his mercy. 

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.




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Praying in the Wilderness

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

What should you do when things are not going right? When you are struggling over a great many things? When you have a ministry in Kenya, but the ministry is not going where you want it to? When you are striving to make the gospel relevant in people’s lives, but no change is taking place? When you don’t know what to do next? Well, I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I do know one thing you can do – head out into the wilderness and pray. So, that’s exactly what a number of my missionary buddies and I did this past month.

Our closest wilderness is Mt. Elgon, so 6 of us piled into a couple of Land Rover’s and headed to the top. We were all needing time to reflect, to get out of civilization, to seek God, to find guidance and direction for our respective ministries, and to contemplate on where God is right now. A number of men in the Bible did this (to a much greater extent than we did), and I found it to be helpful. And so while I can’t speak of all the great things that are happening in Kenya, or the great progress that is being made in the ministry, or the great growth of the Chapel (things I wish I could write about), I can at least write that God is making progress in my own heart.

About a three-hour drive from Kitale, the peak of Mt. Elgon sits at approximately 14,000 feet. To get there you have to drive on roads and paths that don’t look much like roads and paths.  It is adventurous, and I am not the most adventurous person in the world. We had to dig, push, pull, chop through fallen trees, work together, think, strategize, and trust. But in the end, we got there even though we had to drive through the forest at night to get back to our cabin. In the morning, before heading back to civilization, I got up before the sunrise and took my coffee out into a small field near where we had slept. I spent time with God and prayed – mostly by watching the sunrise, listening to the birds sing, and watching the zebras, water bucks, and impalas graze (my life is rarely this adventurous or exciting, really). I returned with renewed strength and determination to seek and serve God, and to love and serve His people.

Things I am learning that God kind of reiterated to me while I was on the mountain and that I can try and help the people that are around me learn too:

  • Let God be God – Roger, don’t place your own expectations of what YOU THINK God should or shouldn’t do upon God. Don’t force God into your own image and get disappointed when He doesn’t do what you thought He should have.
  • Trust God, and when you don’t know how or when you don’t understand God, trust Him anyway – Roger, it is very presumptuous of you to think that you can understand God or to figure out all His ways. And when He doesn’t seem to make sense, trust Him anyway.
  • In quietness and rest shall be your strength (See Isaiah 30:15) – Roger, don’t always question, question, question but instead sometimes just be quiet. Don’t always run, run, run but sometimes just rest. Learn how to trust and rest in God in quietness and peace and joy.
  • When God feels distant in your heart and when the love of God feels cold in your soul, God will oftentimes shower you in His love through the love of other people – Roger, remember those many people in Kenya and in the United States that stand with you, pray for you, challenge you, support you, cry with you, encourage you, lift you up, teach you, and carry you to Jesus when you can’t walk (See Luke 5:17-20). Remember, that this is God loving you.

Is God doing nothing? It sometimes seems like it. But, really, He is just doing HIS thing in HIS own time.  Roger, can you rest in that?

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.


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Mired in Traditions

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

As I write this a traditional circumcision ceremony is progressing just outside my fence. The boy who is to be circumcised (usually between about 10-15 years old) strips himself pretty much naked, paints himself all over with a grayish-white body paint and collects a number of his close friends and older “brothers”. They collect a drum and then start proceeding through the streets beating the drum, dancing, and chanting. If you try and stop them (which I wouldn’t dare) they will “throw insults at you” as my friend would say (and probably rocks and sticks as well). You just have to wait until they go away.  Then the boy/young man is circumcised in a more private (but not completely private) ceremony and a circumcision party will be held for him. He has to face the final event as a man, with courage and with no crying or showing any pain. It becomes his rite of passage into manhood. 

This circumcision is most likely just a traditional ceremony with not a lot of other implications in the boy/young man’s life. However, a lot of Kenyan people are still mired in traditional religion, traditional practices, and traditional superstitions. This includes such things as witch doctors, curses, spells, and magic. If you want to curse someone, make them sick, make their business or their marriage fail, or even kill them you can go to a witch doctor and get this done for a small fee. And, yes, many people here really believe this. If a series of bad things happens to them, they will seek to find who has cast a spell on them and then seek to get themselves out from under its curse. This seems hard to believe in our day and age, especially since Kenya is not an uncivilized nation and most of its people are literate and educated. What is even more devastating is that these beliefs and attitudes permeate the churches and Christian community as well. There is much superstition and traditional mentality in our churches here in Kitale. Many Christians still live in fear of curses and witch doctors, attributing sickness and suffering to it – and many of their pastors encourage this mentality.

All of this is a contributing factor to my having started the Upper Room Baptist Chapel. Here in Kitale we need more Biblical teaching and training in the gospel and in following and loving Jesus as the Son of God and King of the earth. I fear too many Christians here are Christians simply as an alternative to traditional superstition, following Jesus for the power over the spirits that he can provide for them. At Upper Room Baptist Chapel I am still trying to teach and preach Biblical messages that will help those who will come to know the Bible, know Jesus and how to follow Him, and know God in a real way. I only wish that more people (even my own Chapel people) would come to learn about Jesus with me. Our numbers are still few and I am not able to compel any others to come. We have had a couple of new visitors over the last month, though, so that is good. But even when times are tough, we can still sing and praise God and trust Him with our ministries, our families and our lives.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

Click here to give online.


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Questioning God

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

Have you ever questioned God’s character? Have you ever questioned his goodness? Have you ever questioned his justice?  Have you ever asked him, “Hey, God, why are you doing this”? or “Why did you allow that to happen”?

You say:  “Roger, good Christians and good followers of God don’t ask those kinds of questions” (At least, good missionaries don’t, right?). And I suppose you are right.

But I have been asking God some of these questions lately. “God, why won’t you let anything I do in your name succeed”? “God, why do you allow false teachers, false prophets and false pastors to thrive with seemingly no effort”? “God, why do I not have any energy or strength to do your work”? “God, why do you allow things to start well only to allow them to die a slow death”?

I am especially asking God about that last question, especially concerning the Chapel. Things were going so well at the Chapel to the point that I had begun to teach and preach about what constitutes a church and what is a church and what does it mean to organize and start a church. I was thinking the people of the Chapel were ready to hear these things and maybe we were ready to proceed to organize into a church. However, since we shut things down in March as a result of Covid the whole ministry has (in my estimation) imploded. Only three or four people show up to our services each week, some of those an hour late. Those that come have an apathetic spirit about worship and service. Others offer lame excuses for not coming. I can’t even seem to get electricity and water at our new venue. 

I so much want this ministry to grow and thrive. I so much want the Kingdom of Jesus to grow in this place. I so much want Jesus to be loved and followed by those here who are called by his name. But every time it seems like we are heading in this direction it also seems like everything eventually falls apart.

So, yea, I’ve been asking God some of those kinds of questions, even though I know I am the problem and not him. But I am not alone in asking these kinds of questions. Various psalmists asked these kinds of questions. And most recently I noticed how Habakkuk asked these questions about God’s justice. Habakkuk looked around at his nation, Israel, and cried “ah, violence, iniquity, strife and wickedness everywhere. God, why won’t you do anything”? So God said, “I will send the unrighteous Babylonians to judge and destroy Israel”. Habakkuk responded, “Hey, wait a minute, God. That doesn’t sound right either. What are you thinking”?

See, others question God’s goodness sometimes too. So, starting this Sunday we will embark upon a study of Habakkuk at the Chapel – to see what God has to say to Habakkuk and to see what Habakkuk learns and how he responds to God. This study isn’t mainly for the three or four people who are attending the weekly service, but is mainly for me. If you haven’t read Habakkuk in a while, go check it out. It’s only three chapters long and has some good insight that you (and especially I) might need.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

Click here to give online.


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Chapel Resuming Services; Celebrating Chloe’s Birthday

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

September 17, 2020

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

It has been an interesting month to say the least. For the last few weeks Julie has been in the United States on a much-needed trip to visit family. Since we haven’t had a furlough since 2013, we do not get back home very often to visit parents and children. So, it is good that Julie be there for a little while to see our very missed family members. So that means that I have been here in Kenya alone with Chloe.  That, I guess, is what is making this month so interesting. But Chloe and I have been surviving and getting along OK. I have learned to pick my battles with her. The day I am writing this update is actually Chloe’s birthday. She turned six years old today. That is hard to believe! She didn’t come home to live with us for another month after her birthday but I was contemplating this today: Six years ago today an unknown Kenyan girl, from an unknown Kenyan village gave birth to a 2 pound baby and this event would change my life forever. I didn’t know it yet, but God knew it and His plan was to bring her to our home. Chloe would change our lives, we would change hers, and we would be linked together forever.  All according to God’s plan (which he would unfold for us in the weeks following her birth).

Ministry at the Chapel has started up very slowly. Our first week after restarting from the Covid shutdown we had 5 in attendance. The second week we had 6. The third week 7. The fourth week 8. Seeing a trend here? Well, we were going in the right direction as far as attendance is concerned but then we hit the fifth week. On the fifth week we had 2 – myself and Victor. So, I thanked God for Victor.  Victor faces some mental challenges but he loves Jesus, is a humble and loving man and he rarely misses a service at the Chapel. In fact, he usually shows up an hour early to clean and help me get everything set up. As far as I know, Victor has no job and no income but I have on multiple occasions seen Victor take a loaf of bread or a bag of chips that I have bought for him and immediately open it and give half of it to people on the streets. He has a big heart. So, on week 5 I thanked God that Victor was at the Chapel, even though there was no one else there. Victor and I sang a few songs together, talked about God and some things in the Bible, prayed for a while, and finished our service. Week 6 we then had ten in attendance. We will see where the trend goes from there. My goal is to get back to where we were before Covid hit. I am not referring to numbers in attendance but to closeness, to relationships, to spiritual growth, to glorifying God together, to the Kingdom of Jesus, and to the overall desire to see the ministry develop and progress.

Please keep our Chapel in prayer and pray that my wife gets back here soon.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

Click here to give online.




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New Venue for the Chapel

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

August 19, 2020

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

Fortunately, not every newsletter that I write is filled with gloom and woe. Fortunately, again, this one (unlike the last one) will not be filled with gloom and woe. 

So I think in the place I left off last month in this story of church building missionary work in Kitale, I was relating to you that we had lost our place of worship again and I was looking for a new location. No place seemed perfect and each place had its pros and cons. But one place, in particular, seemed to offer the best possibilities and potential, albeit with the higher price. Thus, I snatched it up and signed a two-year lease on the accommodations. In the new venue the Chapel will have its own house with a larger living room in which we will worship and preach the Word of God. The house also has other rooms where Sunday School or children’s church can also be conducted. It will be refreshing having the building completely to ourselves so that we can use it however we wish. I got the place all set up and announced we would be worshiping together again on August 16, 2020 (the year of total unpredictability and chaos).

August 16th rolled around and, indeed, we held our worship service. Only four other people showed up. This is uncharacteristically low attendance for the Chapel. In fact, it is the lowest attendance in the history of the Chapel, since I started it in October 2018. I was anticipating a low attendance but not quite this low. But I did expect this. I knew that a family had moved out of town and that the government is still not allowing children under the age of 13 to attend (which includes most of the families attending the Chapel). So, I am not discouraged, yet. The four who returned were all very excited about returning and starting things back up. Since we were so few, I asked them if we should just spend some time praying together and reading a portion of Scripture and discussing it. They said, “No”, they wanted a normal time of singing and the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Elphas said, “There are lots and lots of churches in Kitale but none of them actually teaches the Word of God”.  While this is not exactly accurate it does show you the importance of the Chapel and the reason we exist in this place—Teach the Word of God, make disciples, start churches, spread the Kingdom, show and share the love of Jesus. So, we did that. We sang. We prayed. I taught about Jesus being the “God you can see and touch”. We discussed the Word of God together. Now we pray that more of our Chapel friends will make it back over the next couple of weeks.

In personal news, Julie will be visiting the States for a month, leaving only a few days after the writing of this report. We have not had an official furlough since 2013 because we are not able to leave the country with Chloe and Julie very much needs a short break from Kenya. So, she will be spending the month of September hopefully resting and visiting our stateside children and parents in Michigan. Chloe and I will remain in Kenya. Please pray for a safe and beneficial journey for Julie.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

CONTACT INFO

Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com


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Seeking a Place to Meet; Update on Josiah

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

July 20, 2020

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ,

As you read through my newsletter for this month you will probably say to yourself “haven’t I heard this before”? Well, even to me some of the things I will write about in this newsletter sound like a broken record – skip, skip, skip. I definitely feel like we have been through this newsletter before.

The reason for the broken record this month is because, once again, we are definitely looking for a new location to worship in for Upper Room Baptist Chapel. We started the Chapel in 2018, meeting in a room on the top floor (the “Upper Room”) of a building in town. In August 2019, while I was in the States taking Amy to college, we encountered problems with another church that had moved in across the hall and greatly disturbed our services with their amplifiers and speakers and loud music and screeching preaching. Not being able to resolve the problems with this other church we decided to move out.  In September of 2019 we moved into a house, sub-renting the place from a school that also met there. It was an excellent venue for the Chapel, and we all enjoyed meeting and worshiping there. The Chapel began to grow numerically and spiritually. Then, in March of 2020 the big boom hit – Covid19. The Kenyan government shut down everything as I mentioned in previous newsletters – schools, churches, government offices, etc. This shutdown ultimately caused the school from whom we were sub-renting to financially implode and subsequently go belly-up and shut its doors for good.The shutting down of the school left URBC in a quandary. Now we again needed a place to worship.  Because we liked the location so much, we considered taking over the entire rent of the premises and just using it entirely for the Chapel. We approached the landlady proposing the idea. It would cost us a lot more money, but it would cause the least disruption to the Chapel and since the Lord’s work is more important than money, we thought it was a deal worth pursuing. It turns out, however, that the owner of the building is a Somali lady. Now, I am not disparaging Somalis or putting them down at all, but the end result was not surprising. Somalia is 99% Muslim and the Somali owner is a Muslim. She was not mean about her decision and she was not discriminating against us because we are Christians but she felt like renting her place to a “Jesus church” was against her Muslim beliefs. She thought that her Somali community here in Kitale would persecute her if they found out she was renting her property to a church and decided not to rent it to us. That is her prerogative. But this did leave us in a familiar position – once again looking for a place to worship.

Since then I have been looking for a new place to worship but the available places are severely limited and expensive. I just looked at a place today that could meet our needs and be an OK place to meet but I feel like the property is overpriced.  I hope to look at another place tomorrow but I’m not sure how that will turn out either. Please be in earnest prayer that God would lead us to the right place, a place that would meet our needs at the right price and that could be used to glorify His Name, spread His kingdom here on earth, and provide spiritual and physical growth for the Chapel.

In other news, we were able to get Josiah on an evacuation flight out of Kenya and to the States. He needed to get back to the States in time to quarantine for 14 days before school starts but there have been no international flights out of Kenya since March, and none scheduled until sometime in August.  This didn’t give Josiah enough time to make it to school. Then on Friday, July 10th, we received an email from the embassy about the evacuation flight leaving on Monday, July 13th. Julie and I thought about it for two minutes and decided to get him on the flight. We booked the flight that day, Friday. Saturday, we spent getting everything ready for him to leave Kenya and get back to the States. Sunday, Josiah and I drove to Nairobi. Monday afternoon I put him on a plane leaving Kenya forever. This all happened very, very quickly, much too quickly for his mama and me. One day he was here at home with no idea of when he would be leaving and the next day, literally, he was gone – Flying from Nairobi to Qatar to the United States, flying for the first time by himself, and heading to America to start his new life without the help of mom or dad. Very hard for Josiah. Very hard for mom and dad. Please pray that God would be with him in a very special way, strengthening him, giving him courage, and filling him with His Holy Spirit.  Pray for mom and dad too.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

Contact Info:
Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.


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With Bad News All Around, the Good News Still Stands

The Tates served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

June 19, 2020

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

Unfortunately, this month’s newsletter is mostly just bad news. I wish I could say otherwise but the truth is the truth – Corona is wreaking havoc on our ministries here. Churches, schools and government offices are all closed so you can imagine what effects that is having on us.

Bad news #1: Government offices still closed. My work permit officially expired back in March. I had already filed to renew it and it was “accepted”. However, the offices closed before I could receive my paperwork. Where is my paperwork now? I don’t know. What does that mean for my status as a resident in Kenya? I don’t know that either.

Bad news #2: Schools are still closed. If you’ve been following our newsletters on a monthly basis you know that for the last two years Julie has been working diligently and feverishly as the Head Teacher of the newly started Milimani Christian Homeschooling Community (MCHC), a project started by some of our dear Kenyan friends here in Kitale. We didn’t start this school, nor does it belong to us, but Julie especially has been very instrumental in getting it off the ground and keeping it running. It obviously means a great deal to us. When Corona hit Kenya, this school was also shut down. The implications of this are grave. With no school fees coming in the teachers cannot be paid and the rent for the property has not been paid for months. While the directors of the school are trying to get extensions for the lease, the landlady has not been compliant and is demanding all back payments as well. I do not see how the school as a business survives this Corona Virus. There is simply no cash flow and the property almost certainly will be lost unless something miraculous happens. The imminent demise of the school is a source of much pain for Julie especially.

Bad news #3: Upper Room Baptist Chapel will lose its meeting place. Yes, you may have guessed it – URBC rents the facilities from MCHC and holds its weekly worship services there on that property.  When and if MCHC loses its property then URBC loses its venue for worship and ministry. URBC cannot officially meet right now either (although I am in the process of getting special permission to do so) but when our services do start back up it looks like we will have to also start looking for a new location in which to meet. This is very depressing to me, as you might be able to imagine. I liked our current location very much as it was very conducive to the way we wanted the Chapel to run and operate. Now it looks as if we almost certainly will lose this venue as well.

Bad news #4: It just seems like Satan is against us at every turn. Our ministries are in disarray; Our main grocery store in town closed down; Our landlord will not allow any of our friends to come onto our compound; Josiah cannot get out of the country to get back to the U.S. and start college; I keep getting arrested by corrupt police officers who are not arresting me over legalities or infractions but simply to extort bribes from me because I have a target on my back. Ever feel like nothing is going right? 

Good news: God is still on the throne; God is still in control; God still loves us; Jesus is still King; Jesus’ work on the cross still stands; Our salvation is sure; Jesus will come back and will triumph; God’s work will progress. In this we stand. In this we trust. In this we move forward.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe

Contact Info:
Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
rojuta@gmail.com

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.


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