The Point Fall 2019

kendalljarboe

The Point Fall 2019
Theme: Ascent
Editor-in-Chief: Kendall Jarboe
Managing Editor: Mads Pae

THE POINT

Ascent

Fall 2019 | Vol. 15 | Issue 1


Editor-in-Chief

Kendall Jarboe

Managing Editor

Mads Pae

Visual Director

Caitlin Gaines

Photo Editor

Thecla Li

Design Editor

Faith Dederich

Faculty Advisor

Tamara Welter

Social Media

Manager

Hannah Miller

Business

Manager

Megan Josep

Story Editors

Grace Horvat

Judy Lee

Logan Lusk

Madisyn Steiner

Writers

Emily Bontrager

Amanda Frese

Rachel Gaugler

Angela Hom

Lily Journey

Photographers

Julianne Foster

Haven Luper-Jasso Ventura

Olivia Tan

Designers

Timothy Green

Rose Nickols

Trisha Porter

Caylie Smith

Copy Editors

Brianna Clark

Sophia Silvester

Fall 2019 | Vol. 15 | Issue 1

We are a student publication of

Biola University. Contact us at

point.editor@biola.edu.

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Associated Collegiate Press: Magazine Pacemaker 2008, 2019

Associated Collegiate Press: Magazine Pacemaker Finalist 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019

Associated Collegiate Press: Design Of The Year 2017

California College Media Association: 1st Place Best Inside Page/Spread Design 2019

California College Media Association: 3rd Place Best Magazine 2019

Evangelical Press Association: 1st Place Cover Design 2019

Letter From

the Editor

Dear Beloved,

I am perpetually amazed by the lives of those around me.

No matter how ordinary someone thinks their life is, I believe

that everyone has a story, experience and perspective worth sharing.

Not only do people have stories to tell, they are all worth listening to.

For many years, I believed that I had to face life’s challenges alone. In an individualistic

society, someone will listen to my problems, but I must figure out how to solve them on

my own.

I could not have been more wrong.

Ascent is the act of rising upward. Every day we face varying degrees of challenges;

some seeming more manageable than others. Whether it’s financial, spiritual, physical

or relational, the difficulties we face can be unbearable.

The Point staff and I have the incredible honor of presenting to you the stories of those

who are in the midst of their ascent at Biola University and around the world. The

journeys included in this issue show that ascending requires endurance, resilience and

community.

Topographic maps are featured throughout this magazine. A topographic map employs

elevation contours to show the shape and depth of a land’s surface. The topographic

maps used on the cover and in each of the articles are of Butembo, Congo, and Myitkyina,

Myanmar, which are the hometowns of two individuals in this issue who share the

difficulty and triumph of their ascent.

My hope is that reading the following stories will help reveal the ascent that you are

either currently on or need to begin. What journey must you embark on in order to

overcome the challenges you face? By recognizing our own ascent and learning about

what those around us are ascending to, we will see that the climb is never as lonely as

it seems.

Kendall Jarboe



Table of Contents

Ascent

4

8

14

18

24

28

34

40

Miracle Man

Not in the Mood to Pray

“Good but Tired”

Conversations Between Generations

Return to Myanmar

Battling the Demons

Forget This Network

Life Without the Five



Miracle Man

One man’s missional living overcomes all odds

By Lily Journey

a Kenyan embassy

official shouted as

“Next!”

yet another anxious

person shuffled up to the

ominous Immigrations window.

Documents shuffled under

critical eyes. The air crackled

with electric emotion. The

hopeful sound of an approval

stamp smattering against crisp

travel documents mixed with

the anxious gasps of despair at

rejection. Some people survived

the onslaught of questions and

were rewarded with a curt nod

and wave of a uniformed hand

showing they’d been approved.

However, many others seeking

visas were simply denied.

Undaunted by the steady flow of

rejects in front of him, Néhémie

Kasereka squared his shoulders

and stepped forward, resolutely

clutching a few dollars between

his fingers. Rich or poor, he was

sure that his God would provide.

This was not the first time

Néhémie had taken a risk in the

name of faith.

funding at precisely the right

moments through extraordinary

circumstances.

Néhémie is living proof that

obedience invites miracles.

In 2013, Néhémie left his church,

family and home city of Gomo

in the North Kivu province in

Butembo, Congo, and embarked

on his journey to Biola’s doctoral

program. All of this was inspired

by an act of faith: downsizing

from a gigantic leadership role to

a humble mentorship position.

Néhémie went from working

as the Youth Coordinator of the

Baptist Church in Central Africa,

which includes about 600

churches with congregations

ranging from 500 to over 2,000

members, to mentoring a group

of just five students for one

year. He found that kids were

asking tough questions that

they felt society, parents and

schools were not addressing. In

a culture where extremist groups

increasingly target young people,

Néhémie hopes mentorship will

act as a catalyst for missions

in the Congo, the continent of

Africa and the rest of the world.

“That is how we’re going to lift

Africa,” Néhémie said. “The

Gospel is the only thing that will

change the world. Nothing else.

Because the Gospel transforms

the mind [and] transforms the

human being. And not only the

Gospel, but people who are

mentored and embedded and

rooted in God’s Word. If we live

according to what Jesus said...we

will be transformed.”

After witnessing the

transformational power of

discipleship, Néhémie’s passion

for equipping gospel-minded

youth led him to pursue his

master’s at Africa International

University in Nairobi, Kenya.

He felt so compelled by his vision

for mission-minded mentorship

that he left his home in the

Congo, his family and his position

as a pastor in faithful pursuit

of discipleship. Fearless in the

face of huge financial limitations,

numerous personal sacrifices and

constant unknowns, Néhémie

plunged forward in complete

confidence that God would

make miracles happen for His

kingdom. Time and time again,

God has blessed Néhémie’s

obedience by providing exactly

the right connections and

“From that vision I prayed,

‘God, train me to

train others.”’

4 5



“From that vision I prayed, ‘God,

train me to train others,’” he said.

And he has already witnessed the

fruits of his faithful work. Many

of his mentees have committed

their lives to gospel-centered

expansion and have themselves

become mentors to others.

In 2013, during his first year at

AIU, he met Rosemary Mbogo,

a Kenyan who graduated

from Biola with a doctorate

in education that very year.

Néhémie thrived in the

intercultural learning program,

and it was then that he became

determined to continue pursuing

his education at whichever

English-speaking school Mbogo

had attended.

But why Biola? Why not attend

an English-speaking university

in Africa? That’s exactly what

Immigrations asked Néhémie.

“Jesus is sending me to different

cultures,” Néhémie explained

matter-of-factly. “I thought I

would meet all nations here [in

America]. I know already the

French culture, which is in my

country...I told the people at

the embassy, ‘Hey, I’m going

because America is, I think, the

only land I can meet different

cultures [and] people from all

over the world.’”

His reply was so moving, the

embassy officials immediately

approved his visa request.

However, he needed to pay an

additional $150 for the actual

visa. Néhémie only had $40. The

officers were completely baffled

that he’d come to the embassy

nearly penniless. Néhémie,

however, was unruffled by this

sudden surprise. His God would

surely provide! The officers gave

him an exception, telling him

that they would hold his visa

acceptance for one hour.

By faith Néhémie hurriedly left

the embassy with no plan but

high hopes. Time ticked away.

He walked around the city. He

prayed. Through providential

circumstances, he met with

an acquaintance, someone he

describes as little more than a

stranger, and immediately the

man seemed to understand his

situation and simply handed

Néhémie the exact $150 sum

needed to pay for his visa.

Once again, God rewarded

his bold faith by providing the

exact funding through a timely

connection in an unknown place.

Néhémie did not know how

he would afford a ticket to the

U.S. He did not know a single

person, except for admissions

counselor Joshua Esau who had

been praying with him over the

phone through the admissions

process. In fact, he didn’t even

know about Biola’s enrollment

fees or where he would be living

once his plane touched down on

American soil.

But Néhémie did know the only

thing that truly mattered: God

was sending him here.

Instead of allowing these obvious

barriers to create panic, he

prayed. He waited. He prepared.

Out of the blue, a contact in

Kenya asked Néhémie for his

email information. On Saturday,

a mobile ticket appeared in his

email for a flight leaving that

coming Wednesday!

Thanks to a miraculous donation

from his church for tuition fees,

a donation he received the night

before he was scheduled to

board his flight, Néhémie was

finally in the U.S. and his

dream seemed to be within

grasp. He began working with

Biola’s admissions counselors,

immigrations team and financial

aid to sort out payment details

when a new roadblock appeared.

The 2018 campaign in the Congo

destroyed the economy and left

citizens reeling in financial shock.

The person who had signed his

affidavit of support to come to

the U.S. was suddenly unable to

provide for his tuition and could

only afford to give him $2,000.

Once again, Néhémie’s humility

grew as he completely depended

on the generosity of others to

fund the vision God had so

clearly laid out for him. This

was not the end; it was simply

another opportunity for God to

show his steadfast provision.

Néhémie anxiously pondered

his options. Questions swirled

in his mind: How could he

afford to attend school? If this

was what God truly wanted

from him, why were there so

many financial hardships that

seemed completely out of his

control? That exact month, a

Biola representative approached

Néhémie and voluntarily decided

to give him a special full-tuition

scholarship for the entirety of his

education.

“That is a miracle!” Néhémie said

excitedly. “That is God.”

In many ways, Néhémie

is Africa’s Abraham. He is

operating out of complete faith

in God’s promises by leaving his

homeland and all that is familiar,

and while God clearly continues

to bless him in his journey,

things are not always easy. His

submission to the call of the

Great Commission requires ongoing

personal sacrifices.

Néhémie balances his doctorate

studies with working two oncampus

jobs. His paycheck from

facilities and the cafeteria total

about $800 a month, which is

just enough to pay his monthly

rent and send the remaining

$250 back to his family to pay

for his kids’ school and living

expenses.

“It’s tough, life will never be easy.

It’s tough. But when it’s tough on

us, we get strong and efficient;

we can help others efficiently,”

Néhémie said.

“Tough” seems like an

understatement. According

to the current World Health

Organization statistics, Ebola in

the Congo has killed 2,187 people

since the outbreak was declared

in August 2018.

Néhémie has received texts from

fellow pastors in his hometown

with sombering images of friends

who have fallen victim to the

disease. Néhémie is nervous

for his family, which has added

another level of stress to his

studies.

“As I am here, it has been

troublesome. I have been praying

for them to come,” he said.

Néhémie was not there to

congratulate his wife Neema

when she finally graduated from

medical school last month. He

has not hugged his nine-yearold

son Nathan or seven-yearold

daughter Natalie in over a

year, and he does not know

when he will see them next. He

is sacrificing all of this because

he wants to show others that

God’s kingdom still expands in

the midst of personal setbacks,

because “nothing is impossible

to those who believe.”

“I came here by faith. I know that if

God has given that vision He has

also given provision under that

vision,” Néhémie said. “But the

provision is often hidden.”

For him, being a follower of Jesus

means following God’s call with

excellence, integrity, sacrifice

and humility, even when the path

is obscured by pain, financial

stresses and constant unknowns.

“We need faith to see that

provision, even when we don’t

see that provision with our eyes,”

Néhémie said.

Story Editor: Madisyn Steiner

Photographer: Thecla Li

Designer: Timothy Green

Photo courtesy of Néhémie Kasereka

“We need faith to

see that provision,

even when we don’t

see that provision

with our eyes.”

6 7



Not in the

Mood to Pray

Navigating the aesthetically-driven church

By Rachel Gaugler

exciting sermons and

colorful lights. However, once

they leave those doors, what

are they left with? Are they

met with radical believers,

consumed by a craving for

Christ, or are they met with

more lights, loud music and

a big stage? Driven by the

contemporary desire for

“more” and “new,” it seems the

church is more excited about

worship nights and conferences

than communion and

prayer meetings.

In May 2019, Francis Chan

spoke on this issue during

the Awaken Conference in

Dallas, Texas. He believes that

this trend began in the ’80s

when pastors responded to

low attendance by seeking

ways to make church more

exciting. The unfortunate

result, Chan expresses, is that

a generation of fast-paced

and aesthetically-driven

individuals is more focused

on the production of a church

service than the execution of

its theology.

“I believe the Word of God

is enough, and I believe

the Word of God should be

enough, but if we’re honest,

we know it’s not enough to

draw a crowd,” Chan said.

Chan concentrates on two

aspects of the church that are

seemingly dying in today’s

generation: Bible reading and

prayer meetings. He explains

that if a church advertises a

conference where the whole

book of Revelation is read and

the congregation is expected

to sit there and tremble, not

many people would show

up. But bring in a well-known

speaker or singer and add a

few bright lights, and people

will flood the room.

The strategy to make the Bible

“less boring” is to make the

church more exciting. Is that

wrong if it fills the pews?

Lee Coate, executive pastor

over ministries at The Crossing

Christian Church in Las Vegas,

explains how preaching the

Gospel through aesthetics

invites more people in.

“We communicate our values

through the environments that

they experience,” Coate

says. “We use

“If you want to know how popular a church

is, you go Sunday morning. If you want to

know how popular God is, you go to the

prayer meeting, and He loses every time,”

said English Christian evangelist and author

Leonard Ravenhill. During the second half of the

20th century, Ravenhill preached largely on the

topic of revival.

With an increasing concern about the aesthetic

of the church, there is a parallel concern that

Christians in today’s social media and technology-driven

society are missing the main message

of the Gospel. In contemporary Christian

society, many churches seem to focus on the

aesthetic appeal rather than theological content

of their worship. Newcomers who flood into

such churches are enticed by the production,

8



and amplified music, it’s not

the same,” Redman says. “This

is the people of God in the

presence of God pouring out

the praise of God. We’re the

vibrant worshipping church.”

If aesthetics in a worship

service are not inherently bad,

why is there so much controversy?

The answer is found in

the intention behind the lights.

“This is the people of God

in the presence of God

pouring out the praise of God.

We’re the vibrant

worshipping church.”

theatrical lighting to set

moods, to direct people’s

attention, not to be cool or be

slick but to help people focus.”

Coate explains that his church

focuses on accessibility rather

than attraction. Their mission

is to make their Sunday mornings

visually appealing so that

both newcomers and regulars

will be drawn into a familiar

space of worship.

“We create spiritual environments,”

Coate says. “We want

to open people up and create

a space for God to move

wherever they are in their life.

So we use music, visuals

and lighting.”

Coate explains that production

can be used to guide people

through a service, pointing the

congregation to Christ. By using

aesthetics to create an ambiance,

the church becomes

more inviting and Christ’s

name is made known.

Matt Redman, Christian worship

leader and author, helps

give insight into how production

can be used to glorify

Christ. Specifically focusing on

worship aesthetics, Redman

comments on how a stage can

be used for God’s glory.

“Even though it can look so

much like all the other music

in the world with the stage

Revive is a ministry on Biola’s

campus that seeks to experience

God’s presence as a

community through prayer

and worship. With few aesthetics

creating a more simple

atmosphere, Revive seems

to collide with the aesthetics

argument posed by Coate.

Co-leader Aaron Lewis sheds

light on this issue and why he

believes the church needs to

focus less on aesthetics and

more on intention. He references

a church he used to

attend which focused largely

on the production.

“I asked one of my leaders why

we had all the lights and he

said, ‘Well, for some people, it

gives you a better worship

experience.’ I thought about

that and that seems wrong to

me,” Lewis says. “First of all,

the statement ‘better worship

experience’ focuses on us, but

the focus is supposed to be on

God. A ‘better worship experience’

only comes from us

focusing on God. You can’t

10 11



“The theology

drives the aesthetic,

not the attendance.”

have a good or authentic

worship experience when you

focus on yourself.”

Lewis goes on to explain how

the lights and production give

temptation to steal God’s glory.

As more people are focused

on the looks and performers,

the intention behind the production

is lost.

Koinonia Campus Missions

is a ministry committed to

raising up college students

for missions. Part of their

commitment is gathering in

small groups for prayer.

Jessica Yi, a prayer leader

for Koinonia, talks about her

concern for the intentions behind

the aesthetics.

“It’s not bad to turn off the

lights or turn on the music, but

it’s when you think, ‘The only

reason why no one was praying

is because our music was

too soft.’ You can’t say things

that we can control serve to

move God,” Yi says. “Say that

you don’t have lights. Are you

just going to cancel the prayer

night? Then it becomes more

about you and the people and

less about God.”

Although many students

attend larger events, Yi also

explains how difficult it is to

bring the same people out on

Monday mornings to pray.

In these difficulties, it is

tempting to wonder how

ambiance might invite more

people in. It is a natural response

to want to make prayer

nights more “exciting.” However,

adding “more” does not

necessarily solve the issue.

By relying on an aesthetic that

builds ambiance, the mission

can become less God-focused

and more people-focused.

Younga Kim, who attends and

leads a prayer group with

New Life Presbyterian Church

of Orange County, responds

to this.

“I feel like the lights can be

helpful as long as their goal is

to create a place of worship

and not performance,” says

Kim. “Some people will be

drawn to [the ambiance], but

maybe God can use that to

bring them to church. But I

can’t say that this is wrong or

this is right [because] I don’t

know how much of a role the

people have in creating that

space of worship.”

Kim suggests that a heavy

emphasis on the atmosphere

can be dangerous because it

seems to say that ambiance

gives evidence to how well

God is moving in the room—as

if God can’t move in a room

of four people bent over His

Word.

Returning to the earlier question,

is it wrong to add lights,

a bigger stage, exciting videos

and better music if it draws

more people to the pews?

Daniel Jansson, lead pastor at

Imago Dei Church in Downey,

does not think so. He argues

that attendance should not be

the goal of aesthetics.

“I think that the aesthetics and

the ambiance ought to fit the

moment and the attendance

probably shouldn’t affect it,”

Jansson said. “So if you think

about the lighting, just in terms

of creating an atmosphere to

pray, that should be the same

whether there’s five or fifty

or five hundred. The theology

drives the aesthetic, not

the attendance.”

The consensus appears to be

a true desire to be in God’s

presence—a craving for the

truth of the Gospel, not born

from the ambiance on a Sunday

morning, but a goal of being

wholly consumed by Christ.

“We sing about the truth of

God. There’s no point in having

all the lights and the fancy

stuff if you’re not really singing

about deep truths that line

up with Scripture and honor

God in the best way you can,”

Redman says. “In the very best

worship, you don’t have to

hype anything up, you don’t

have to manipulate anything.

You just present who He is.”

Story Editor: Judy Lee

Photographer: Olivia Tan

Designer: Caylie Smith

12 13



“Good but Tired”

You may know how to love your neighbor,

but do you know how to love yourself?

By Emily Bontrager

“I

was up till three in the

morning reading ‘Symposium’

in the center of

my room barely able to read the

words, and yet I just had to press

through it because I was too

scared to ask for an extension,”

sophomore English major Kaleigh

Carrier said. “I felt like I wasn’t

allowed to not get things done.”

Most college students have been

here: teetering between burnout

and productivity. Practicing

holistic self-care means building

habits that steward the body,

mind, soul and emotions.

Everyone needs to develop

self-care habits to avoid burnout.

However, some self-care habits

can venture into the territory of

selfishness. Between Christians

and non-Christians, there are

always one of two motivations

behind actions of self-care: worship

of God or worship of self.

On Instagram, #selfcare has over

20.5 million hits, and #selfcarehacks

has over 99.3 thousand

hits. Scrolling through these

feeds, there are countless makeup

product advertisements,

quotes about growth on pastel

backgrounds, quick tips to being

successful on social media and

enter-for-a-chance-to-win giveaways

for face creams.

On the surface, self-care appears

to be anything that will make

people feel good and increase

productivity. The most popular

answer to “Why should I take

care of myself?” is “Because I

deserve it and it will make me

happy.” Christians, however, are

called to a higher standard of

spiritual self-care.

For both Christian and

non-Christian college students,

self-care often takes a back seat

to the busyness of school and

work. On top of those basic “requirements,”

there are extra-curriculars,

pressures to perform

well and friendships to steward.

Carrier says, “Growing up in U.S.

culture, it has been very difficult

to find both the time and the will

to rest because there’s the idea

that if you are resting you are

being unproductive.”

Productivity and worth have

become intertwined in United

States culture in order to survive

and succeed. Free time is continually

sacrificed, and exhaustion

never seems to end. Often, the

answer to “How are you?” is

“Good but tired.” Over time, the

pressures of student life can build

and metamorphose into burnout

and breakdown.

“That build-up is subtle but inevitable,”

says Dr. Kendall Robins, a

staff psychologist at Biola University.

“We eventually find ourselves

asking ‘Why am I crying

suddenly?’”

Burnout is a real and sometimes

brutal possibility, affecting both

It is easier to tend to

friends who are hurting

than it is for some to take

the time to look inward at

their own struggles.

14 15



There is no one way to practice self-care.

the body and one’s walk with

God. Self-care is often seen as

the fix-all Band-Aid to apply after

someone has already broken

down. But self-care should be

the healthy things people do

along the way to keep from falling

down in the first place.

The current cultural conversation

keeps equating work and

productivity with worth. As a

result, college students feel guilty

about not being productive. But

this is not the reality God created

for His people. Humanity was

created for rest just as much as

they were created for work. Jesus

is an example of this; in Luke

5:16, Jesus “often withdrew to

lonely places to pray.” Before He

was betrayed and underwent a

torturous ordeal, He withdrew to

the Mount of Olives to be alone,

pray and spend time with the

Father. Similarly, the motivation

behind holistic Christian self-care

should be the constant pursuit

of God and the refilling of souls

in order to serve others. Jesus

says in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath

was made for man, not man for

the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is a

reflection of God resting on the

seventh day after He worked.

If even God rested, how much

more does humanity, made in

God’s image, need rest? There

is great dignity and worth found

in being productive, but there is

equal value in resting.

The second greatest commandment

in the Bible is to “love your

neighbor as yourself.” The emphasis

of this verse is usually put

on “loving your neighbor.” For

many people, loving others is

easier than loving themselves. It

is easier to tend to friends who

are hurting than it is for some to

take the time to look inward at

their own struggles.

Carrier says, “It is easy to say to a

friend, ‘Hey you are important

and smart and such a hard

worker. Take some time off, it is

so important.’ But it is so hard to

practice it for yourself.”

Christians must make sure

they are filled up emotionally,

spiritually and physically

before they can go out and

love their neighbors.

“A part of our fallenness is that we

tend more towards selfishness,”

says Robins. “We spend so much

time in the church trying to undo

that part of us but there isn’t a

rebalancing of it and a lesson in

how to take care of yourself without

being selfish and being aware

of motivations.” Self-care, when

done well and with awareness of

motivation, is not selfishness, but

should rather be an enjoyable gift

of growth.

What does practicing holistic

self-care actually look like for

Christian college students? The

reality of busy college life is

undeniable but, as Robins says,

“Self-care, in its true form, is being

good stewards of what God

has given us. It is possible to love

yourself and take care of yourself

whatever life stage you are in.

You just have to think about it.”

Holistic self-care can take many

different forms, from naps to

spending time in silent reflection.

Junior journalism major Preet

Christian sees rest as worshipping

God.

“Rest can be a form of worship,”

Christian says. “Because having

time in solitude and creating a

space to be with God is worshipping

him.”

Instead of seeing self-care as a

Band-Aid, it should be a gradual

growth of little habits and breaks

in everyday life.

“Just set a timer,” says Robins. “Allow

yourself to take five minutes

and give yourself those moments

interspersed between things

instead of rushing from one thing

to the next. Be intentional with

yourself… Whatever you can do

to inject little moments of peace

and joy throughout the day is

self-care.”

Self-care looks different for everyone,

but intentionally putting

down the homework and hanging

up the phone is a great place

to start.

“I am a big people person,” Carrier

says. “I will take breaks of a designated

time so I don’t feel bad

and hang out or sit and talk with

a friend. Meals are the best way

to do this, because we all need

to eat.”

Christian says he practices selfcare

by journaling and applying a

face mask to set the environment

of solitude and reflection. “I know

I’m in need of self-care when

I am feeling extremely overwhelmed,

anxious or just really

tired,” he says.

There is no one way to practice

self-care. After being consumed

by work for so long, it is challenging

to rediscover what it is

that brings rest.

“We have to begin to pay attention

to the moments when you

actually feel at rest,” Robins says.

“I think we can do a lot of things

that stereotypically seem restful,

but if it’s not doing anything for

us, and we are not feeling rested,

then it’s not accomplishing the

goal.”

Self-care is either one of two

forms of worship: worship of self

or worship of God. A human’s

worth is never found in the levels

of their achievement but is

always found in their identity as

a child of the Most High. When

holistic Christian self-care is put

into practice, it becomes easier

to pour into others. What can

you do to take care of yourself

today?

Story Editor: Judy Lee

Photographer:

Haven Luper-Jasso Ventura

Designer: Trisha Porter

16 17



Conversations

Between

Generations

Laureen Mgrdichian, associate

professor of marketing, discusses

conflicting perspectives on

contemporary topics with her

triplets, seniors at Biola University.

18 19



Mgrdichians on

Modern Times

JENNA

“Our generation definitely feels

less tough. It’s a lot easier to be

offended and take sympathy than

deal with life. Just because it’s offensive

doesn’t mean it isn’t love,

and it really feels like our generation

forgot that you can and have

to take truth with grace.”

LAUREEN

“In my time there was a real value

to talking about things. You just

had more connection and it was

easier to build deeper connections.

There was always comparison,

but there was less of it.

Things like FOMO didn’t exist at

all. In this generation it feels as if

we have lost consideration for

others, and we need to come

back and realize that small things

are considerate.”

SAM

“Something that my parents

drummed into me that has really

stayed with me over the years is

that no matter what happens in

your life, don’t let it affect your

relationship with Christ. Whether

it looks like being honest and

truthful, sticking to your word or

mindfully thinking for the larger

community.”

ALYSE

“Looking retrospectively into a

time when I wasn’t even alive,

there are a lot of things that seem

like they’d be nice to have. For

example, now it feels like it is socially

preferred to always be busy

as compared to having more free

time in the past to do things you

care about. I also miss the value

that there was in presentation

and that desire to create a good

impression visually has faded.”

20 21



Digital

Differences

Chivalry

and Gender

LAUREEN

“I really wish the internet was

a thing when I was in college.

There are now so many

resources available at your

fingertips that I did not have

but would really have loved

to: academic journals, information

from other parts of the

world that I could not contact

and so many other things.”

LAUREEN

“When I was in college the boy

was the one to ask you out on

a date. For a girl to ask would

seem very forward and flirty. I

truly believe showing that you’re

constantly thinking for others

makes you stand out in a good

way. Being chivalrous was and

still is to me one of ways to show

that you care about other people,

and it has been lost.”

JENNA

SAM

ALYSE

JENNA

“Communication is so headed

by people putting their lives

up for show and not actually

going to directly ask people to

hang or spend time together.

There’s a lot of “implied” hangs

today and, to me, it almost

feels like it encourages us to

overthink some things.”

SAM

“It’s a lot easier to cheat nowadays.

I have friends who can

go through a whole semester

without learning anything but

still get a good grade. There

are so many ways for people

to get around doing class

assignments and, in the past,

people actually had to put the

work in. But I feel like people

putting the work in gives people

a sense of pride in what

they are doing.”

ALYSE

“Computers and convenient

databases are great, but there’s

also the downside of easier

access. The accessibility of the

internet brings an accessibility

to a lot of things that should not

be convenient. There are even

internet ads that pop up and

you can’t help it. It’s just presented

to you for your pleasure

and that’s a huge disadvantage

to people who don’t necessarily

use the internet for those

things or are even trying to

avoid it.”

“I liked how chivalry was the

standard then because now

there’s an attitude where men

are afraid to do something kind

because a girl might respond

badly to it. I liked how it was

expected for men to ask women

out, so it was either that

or nothing. There is not as

much confusion as there is

now.”

Photographer: Thecla Li

Designer: Caylie Smith

“In the 2000s there was a big

push for women to be free and

do whatever they want. But

now, we are at the point where

women are extremely empowered,

and men aren’t doing

anything at all. They show no

initiative and have lost track.

Something that’s bigger now is

encouraging men to take initiative

and rise to a standard that

is proper and expected of us.”

“‘Boo misogyny! Boo patriarchy!’

But I missed the time when

chivalry wasn’t a bad thing. Guys

being kind to girls wasn’t demeaning.

I know that there are

still guys who use chivalry as

a demeaning thing, but I think

now the mentality is that all

chivalry is demeaning. It feels like

women are so empowered now

to the extent that guys are scared

to ask the girl out. I’m glad that

women are being more independent

and that we have autonomy

and passion and control but,

taken to the extreme, there’s no

room for a mutually-respectful

relationship if everybody is the

boss.”

22 23



Return to

Myanmar

Persecution inspires the need for education

By Kendall Jarboe

Flutes unleash lively notes.

Drums thump with rapid

cadence. A long row of

men, fashioned with traditional

hats and coats, enter the dancing

ring. Women, adorned with

colorful skirts and bells, follow

promptly behind. The dancers

walk, one foot after the other,

with a cheery hop in their steps.

Flaunting bright fans in their

hands and joyful smiles on

their faces, the Kachin people

dance the ceremonial manau

to illustrate their devotion to

Christianity and community.

Located in the mountains of

northern Myanmar, formerly

called Burma, is Kachin State.

With a population of more than

one million people, over 90

percent of the Kachin identify as

Christian, according to a report

by Religion and Politics. Myitkyina

is the capital city of Kachin State.

This city, largely untouched by

the outside world, is where Doi

Ra Lahtaw calls home.

Born in 1969, Lahtaw lived her

entire life in Kachin State until she

moved with her husband and son

to the United States in August of

2019. Lahtaw is currently enrolled

at Biola University’s Talbot School

of Theology and is pursuing her

doctorate in education. Lahtaw

has over 25 years of experience

in education and is a faculty

member at Kachin College and

Theological Seminary in the

English department.

Lahtaw’s neutral-colored

wardrobe, small stature and

humble personality underscore

her passion for helping her

Christian school in Myanmar.

“The reason I’m coming here

is to learn more about how to

upgrade our education program

back home,” Lahtaw said. “After

finishing my degree, I’m going

to help my school for higher

education.”

Christianity is the majority

religion in Kachin State, but

Kachin Christians face violent

persecution for their faith and

ethnicity. Though the country has

135 different ethnic groups, the

religious majority in Myanmar

is Buddhism and the ethnic

majority is Burmese. Buddhism

is commonly viewed as a

peaceful religion that mandates

compassion and meditation. This,

however, is not the situation in

Myanmar today.

“The stereotype is that Buddhists

are peaceful… Muslims are

violent, but in Myanmar it’s

the opposite,” said Associate

Professor of Intercultural Studies

Dr. Allen Yeh. “You have these

violent Buddhists who are

massacring these peaceful

Muslims, and, because minority

religions in the country are being

persecuted, Christians and

Muslims are being persecuted by

the Buddhists.”

The conflict in Myanmar is

considered by many to be the

world’s longest-running civil war.

Population of

1.689 million

Over 90% identify

as Christian

130,000

Kachin violently

displaced

200 churches

burned

There are 15 active rebel armies

fighting the Myanmar government

for greater autonomy, and the

bloody conflict has steadily

continued for the past 60 years.

The Kachin Independence Army

was formed in 1962 to defend the

Kachin people after the military

seized control of the Myanmar

government. The Guardian

reports that more than 130,000

Kachin have been violently

displaced over the decades.

Lahtaw recounted that more

than 200 churches have been

burned down by the government

in Kachin State between 2014

and 2019. CBN News reports that

60 Kachin Christian churches

were bombed or burned in

2017 and 2018 alone. Lahtaw

noticed that after destroying a

Christian church, the Myanmar

government often builds a

Buddhist pagoda in its place.

24 25



“I’m

here.

I’m

Kachin.”

Before moving to the U.S., Lahtaw

and her family lived in a church

compound in Myanmar. Married

to a pastor, Lahtaw shared the

church compound with 500

internally displaced people. With

deep sorrow in her voice, Lahtaw

described a fearsome time in

her church’s community when

five men were captured by the

Myanmar government, tortured

and later suffered from posttraumatic

stress.

Experiencing the persecution

herself and living with those who

were forced to flee their homes,

Lahtaw clung to her community

and Christian faith for relief.

“We Kachin people are very

collective. We all cook together,

live together. That’s our spirit, so

that’s how we live,” Lahtaw said.

Lahtaw compared the community

of the Kachin people to

that of Jesus’ disciples. When

she comforts those who are

suffering, Lahtaw tells them that

they “don’t need to remember

all the traumas” because of the

solace found in being “with the

community.” With laughter in her

voice, Lahtaw expressed the love

she has for her Kachin land and

its people.

In times of fierce persecution,

Lahtaw clings to Psalm 116 to

remember God’s faithfulness.

“God protects us because we

are God’s children,” Lahtaw

said. “Even though [the Myanmar

government] does ethnic

cleansing, we are still alive. I’m

here. I’m Kachin.”

After completing her degree at

Biola University, Lahtaw plans

to return to Kachin State and

further develop the educational

programs at the Kachin

Theological College and Seminary.

Her current classes are preparing

her to apply what she is learning

in the U.S. to her Kachin context.

Professor of Christian Higher

Education Dr. Octavio Esqueda

is one of Lahtaw’s current

professors. He explained how

he promotes education that is

catered to his students’ cultural

context, “We validate their

experience and desire,” he said.

“And we support and encourage

that they do research that will be

applicable to their context.”

Lahtaw hopes to inspire the

young Kachin in her community

to follow Christ and empower

them through education. She also

dreams of creating a system of

education that will continue to

equip her Kachin people with the

Christian faith and values.

“We don’t need money. We don’t

want it. We just want education.

Help us with education,” Lahtaw

said. “Come, the scholars, and

help us and equip young people

to become educated persons.”

Though they endure fierce

persecution, Kachin Christians

encourage each other through

community and Christ-like love.

Lahtaw believes that education

is the crucial step that Myanmar

needs to take before Kachin

State will experience a time of

peace. Just like the ways of the

ceremonial manau dance, Lahtaw

proudly walks in the footsteps

of those who came before her

and passionately leads the path

for those who will follow close

behind.

Story Editor: Logan Lusk

Designer: Timothy Green

26 27



Battling

the Demons

Students understanding the presence of spiritual warfare

By Amanda Frese

Anger. An overwhelming sense of anger. He knew that

he should not be angry, and he did not really know

why, but he could not sleep. Anger is not an emotion

typically associated with Zachary DeVane’s personality. DeVane

greets people with outstretched arms, welcomes them in for a

hug and asks “whazzzup” to the Campus Safety gatekeepers as

he drives in the Biola entrance and scans his ID—an ID that captures

his ever-present smile. He does not seem to be a person

who harbors overwhelming anger.

However, on this night he did.

“I was in bed and I was kind of mad, I don’t even remember

what I was mad about,” DeVane said. “I recognized that I was

being selfish and prideful in my anger, like I should not have

been mad. When I decided that I wasn’t going to be angry,

that’s when I clenched up.”

College students in the United States do not usually see, or notice,

demonic presence in their daily lives. In the midst of turning

in an essay ten minutes before 11:59 p.m. after binge-watching

The Office on Netflix, it seems that spiritual warfare and

demonic oppression do not necessarily fit within the context

of modern college life. However, spiritual warfare occurs in the

lives of people every day, even on Biola’s campus.

Sophomore journalism major Zachary DeVane explained that

this experience of spiritual warfare occurred during the spring

semester of his freshman year. He recalled his tiredness and anger

on the night he lay awake in his bed, when he felt an unusual

presence in his dorm room. His anger soon transitioned into

paralyzing fear when he tried to roll over to his side.

29



His muscles were clenched. He could not move.

In his novel “Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life,”

Charles Spurgeon describes spiritual warfare as

the methods of Satan’s attack. He says Satan uses

demonic influences to attack people by examining

and discovering “weak points in human nature,”

specifically through anger, pride and depression.

Sappington explained that there are two ways of

understanding spiritual warfare. The first he calls

“primary demonic influence.” With primary influence,

a person may have a physical or emotional

issue, and when the spirits are commanded to

leave in Jesus’ name, they leave.

His

muscles

were

clenched.

He could

not move.

“I was feeling paralyzed almost in fear and literally my

muscles clenched and everything. I could not turn

around, I could not roll over onto the other shoulder,”

DeVane said. “I just did it. I rolled over and I grabbed

my Bible. I remember praying because I did not know

what was happening.”

Although 2,000 years have passed since the time of

the Gospels, healing is still an essential component

to Jesus’ ministry as spiritual warfare continues to

impact peoples’ lives. Jesus healed multitudes of people

from demonic oppression and, more specifically,

delivered people from spiritual warfare.

In Mark 1:25 Jesus casts out a demon from a man in

Capernaum, commanding the demon to “be silent

and come out of him.” Jesus’ proclamation of authority

spread throughout the region of Galilee and multitudes

came to Jesus’ door in search of healing. In fact,

“the whole city was gathered at the door” according

to Mark—all searching for healing in His authority.

Tom Sappington, chair of the department of missions

and intercultural studies in the Talbot school

of theology, defined spiritual warfare as “opposition

to growth in Christ and ministry on a regular

basis as Christians that comes from three sources:

the world, the flesh and the devil.”

Sappington and his wife were missionaries in

Indonesia for 15 years, where they established

programs in and around the country that focused

on training people in deliverance ministries.

Sappington teaches a course about spiritual warfare

based on his experience and trains others in

responding to spiritual warfare scenarios.

“It’s just like it is in the Gospels,” Sappington states.

However, Sappington said that the more common

type of demonic influence is secondary. He

explained this with an example from Ephesians 4,

which says, “Don’t let the sun go down in anger,

and give no opportunity to the devil.”

“Those are connected. Holding onto anger and

bitterness, things like that and not resolving them

or processing them with the Lord and let them go.

That can give the enemy a place,” Sappington said.

“In those cases, we deal with the primary issue,

whatever it was, and hopefully bring it to the Lord

and often He shows His care. At the end of it,

Spiritual warfare is still prevalent today. In a study on

spiritual warfare, the Association of Christian Schools

International asked 702 kindergarten through 12thgrade

teachers in 29 countries if they had experienced

spiritual warfare in their classrooms. 85 percent

of the teachers stated they experienced spiritual

warfare in their classrooms.

Despite its presence in modern classrooms globally,

the topic of spiritual warfare is often neglected by

most churches and theologians. Since the Bible does

not include step-by-step directions on how to identify

spiritual warfare, learning to heal and cope with

experiences that cannot be explained by modern

society makes dealing with spiritual warfare especially

difficult. However, before learning to cope with

spiritual warfare in modern society, it is crucial to

understand what spiritual warfare is.

30

31



we tell the spirits that may have been working to

leave and we deal with the underlying issues before

we deal with any demonic presence.”

Once DeVane determined that he had experienced

spiritual warfare, he reached out to friends at Biola

to pray with him and other people he knew that

would direct him toward Christ.

Understanding the different types of demonic influence

allows people to better process their experience

of spiritual warfare. However, it is difficult to

conclude whether or not the struggles that people

face are caused by physical and psychological factors,

especially in college.

“There is a problem in that typically demonic influence

is not on anyone’s differential diagnosis,”

Sappington said. “Other things are looked at so they

are probably sent to a counselor, psychologist or

pastor usually. I don’t see everything as demonic,

but I want to be aware of all the possibilities and do

my best to distinguish.”

When distinguishing between demonic and outside

factors, Sappington asks questions like how long

the experience lasted as well as family history.

would tend to look if there is some sort of demonic

pressure.”

Professor and chair of New Testament Matt

Williams explains that traumatic experiences in

people’s lives cause the devil to gain a foothold in

their life, resulting in demonic pressure and spiritual

attacks.

“Usually, why are we demonized? Because there’s

junk in our lives, so get rid of the junk and they

don’t want to be there anymore,” Williams said.

“That’s easy to say, hard to do for some people

because I have some students where their first

memory is abuse. How do you get rid of a lifetime

of abuse? It just takes a lot of healing prayer. It takes

figuring out what our authority is.”

While DeVane has not had a similar experience

since that night of his freshman year, the overwhelming

uncertainty he felt is not unusual for

people who experienced spiritual warfare. However,

by learning to understand the authority that

is found in Jesus’ name and the comfort that Christians

have in Christ’s victory, people can begin to

address understanding and coping with spiritual

warfare in modern society.

According to Sappington, awareness

of the spiritual war is important,

but there is no reason to

fear the battle.

“As Christians we have authority

to stand against the enemy,”

Sappington said. “The Lord is

powerful. We don’t need to fear.

We should be aware that there is

a battle. We should be aware of

the world, the flesh and the devil

opposing us. But we should not

fear the enemy because the Lord

has given us the resources to

stand against him.”

Story Editor: Madisyn Steiner

Photographer:

Haven Luper-Jasso Ventura

Designer: Rose Nickols

“There’s often reasons that people are being under

oppression and regular attack,” Sappington said.

“I’m talking about regular things, we all have nightmares

or see things that are disturbing from time to

time, but if they happen regularly then we

Sappington further explained that there is power

in the name of Jesus; therefore there is no reason

for the church to be afraid of spiritual warfare and

demonic oppression.

The overwhelming

uncertainty he felt is

not unusual for people

who experienced

spiritual warfare.

32 33



35



Vanessa, 21

Fashion blogger.

Barista.

Future therapist.

Blessed.

Cole, 20

Likes movies, tacos,

hiking, Disneyland trips.

Looking for someone

who loves adventure.

36 37



The fullness of connection is

enjoyed when the obstacles that

stand in the way of embracing the

physicality of relationships are put

on Do Not Disturb.

By exchanging an affectionate

glance or reaching out to soak in

,

the warmth of a person s hand,

love no longer lies dormant in a

text message.

Disengaging from superficial connection

is the promise of authenticity.

Story Editor: Grace Horvat

Photographer: Caitlin Gaines

Designer: Rose Nickols

39



Life Without the Five

Sensing isolation yet embracing triumph

By Angela Hom

You wake up, just like any

other day. It is sunny outside,

and beams of light stream

through your window blinds. You

get dressed in your favorite sweatshirt

and washed-out blue jeans.

You smell the freshly-baked cinnamon

rolls as you pass the cafeteria.

You enter the classroom in a hurry,

drop into your chair and take a deep

breath. Now, imagine this schedule

without one of your senses.

In this scenario, the smell of breakfast

foods fill the air, but no scent

enters your nostrils. Birds chirp in

the trees, but you hear silence. The

bright sunbeam does not meet your

eyes. Many students live this way,

but their experiences often remain

unseen. Whether they were born

with a loss or developed it later in

life, many students feel isolated because

of their missing senses.

According to the Journal of the

American Geriatrics Society, about

94 percent of adults will eventually

lose one of their senses. This statistic

refers to the loss at an old age, but

many young people experience their

entire lives without one of the five

basic senses. Such a loss can create

a barrier that causes many people to

feel different and separated from the

rest of the world.

21-year-old Elin Williams runs an

award-winning disability and lifestyle

blog called “My Blurred World.”

She was diagnosed with retinitis

pigmentosa, a rare condition which

causes her loss of vision by changing

how the retina responds to light,

according to The American Academy

of Ophthalmology. In a world where

the majority of people rely on their

vision to live, not experiencing sight

can feel lonely.

“A sense of isolation can come with

living with sight loss, and I felt this

quite strongly during my time at

school,” Williams says. “My eyesight

was deteriorating rapidly at one

point, and I found it harder to find

people when walking into a room. It

brought a huge sense of anxiety for

me. I often didn’t go into a room full

of people because I knew it could

trigger a panic attack, and so I spent

a lot of time on my own which was

heartbreaking for me.”

Those unable to hear experience

similar hindrances in daily life.

Junior business administration major

Ranita Tang was born deaf but

received cochlear implants when

she was in fourth grade. The National

Institute of Deafness and Other

Communication Disorders defines a

cochlear implant as a “small, complex

electronic device that can

help to provide a sense of sound

to a person who is profoundly deaf or

severely hard-of-hearing.”

“My type of deafness is caused by

my hair cells are not working,” states

Tang. “The hair cells detect any sound

wave coming in and then transmit the

signal to the brain. For me, I have a

wire in my cochlear. So whenever my

microphone detects a sound wave

it turns that into an electric signal

and that wire will fire up the hair cell.

I don’t have that same effect of a

sound wave going through your head,

it’s just an electric signal.”

Since Tang has had cochlear implants

since she was in elementary school,

she has acclimated to using them.

“When you first get your implants,

you won’t be able to hear right away.

So what you experience are beeps,”

states Tang. “Every syllable, every

word is a beep. Then your brain wires

you so this beep equals this vowel.

In the beginning, every weekend, I

would take my left implant off and

sleep with my right on. So all I heard

throughout the whole day were

beeps. I literally trained myself, and

there are these training exercises to

repeat each word. Your brain will

Many students live this way,

but their experiences often

remain unseen.

40 41



slowly understand that this electrical

signal equals [this word].”

Because this process of hearing

had become a normal part of her

life from a very young age, it was

interesting for her to observe those

who grew up with experiences that

differed from hers.

“I forget sometimes that I’m deaf,

that I’m different,” says Tang. “It’s

because it’s a big part of me and I

pretty much normalized it. 24/7 of

my waking time I always have my

implants on. Sometimes I’m not

consciously aware that I’m deaf.”

The ability to hear is a sense that

many people take for granted. Listening

to laughter and the sound of

waves crashing along the beach is a

luxury. Inhaling the smell of nature

and freshly baked cookies are normal

sensations to many, but some

do not have the capacity to smell.

Brennen Harrison is a sophomore

engineering physics major and he

has lost his sense of smell. Losing

one’s sense of smell is not commonly

considered, but to Harrison this is

an every day experience.

“I think it happened over the last

couple of years,” states Harrison.

“I just notice that all my friends are

able to smell things and I’m unable

to. I didn’t think it was a big deal

until I realized I can barely smell

anything anymore… I tried a snack

at somebody’s house and it didn’t

really taste like anything to me. Then

when my friend went to go for the

same snack, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s ok.

It doesn’t taste like a whole lot.’

Then she ate it and she thought it

was really good. That’s

because I can’t smell. I can’t really

get the same tastes and experience.”

The Monell Chemical Senses Center

explains that this condition occurs

when the olfactory system has a

missing protein. Harrison’s loss of

smell affects the way he tastes.

“Because smell is 90 percent taste,

it also makes the food I eat taste a

lot less vibrant,” explains Harrison.

“People will notice that I tend to

put a lot of salt on my food. That’s

because salt, for me, makes it tastier.

If people ask me about why I put on

a ton of salt, it’s because I can’t smell

or I want that taste back.”

Michael Espinoza, a senior tech

support advisor who has Leber

congenital amaurosis, or LCA, struggled

to find accessible class materials

during his time as a student at

Southwestern University in Georgetown,

Texas. LCA is a rare genetic

eye disorder affecting infants

who are often blind at birth,

according to The National Organization

of Rare Disorders.

“I had to drop several college courses

because they simply did not have

versions of the books that I could

access,” explains Espinoza. “I was

luckily still able to get my degree,

but the limitations of available

textbooks were very problematic

obstacles.”

In many ways, transitions after college

only get harder because of the

post-grad slump, a period where

many students feel lost. Struggling

to find stability is even more difficult

when a sense is missing.

“The biggest obstacle for me in the

career world was finding a job,”

states Espinoza. “Blind folks have

a staggering unemployment rate.

Not because we cannot work, but

because employers are afraid to

give us a chance, for fear of the cost

effectiveness of doing so.”

Along with Espinoza, Williams

experienced challenges in college

The ability

to hear is a

sense that

many people

take for

granted.

because accessibility initiatives were

not always a priority.

“There can often be frustrations

when a document isn’t accessible

with my screen reader or when a

job application isn’t accessible,” she

says. “In those moments, it feels like

the access needs of vision impaired

people are overlooked.”

Despite some challenges, Williams

had an overall positive experience

with the accessibility team at her

school. Even though Espinoza faces

daily struggles, he also finds the best

in his situation.

“It can be frustrating to not be able

to drive or to struggle to do some

things that sighted folks can do with

ease,” says Espinoza. “However,

overcoming obstacles and finding

creative workarounds for frustrating

inconveniences can be very empowering

and can really help me see

the full potential of my creativity and

determination.”

Tang explains how she was invited

to a conference where she spoke

on her deafness and interacted with

people who were also deaf or hard

of hearing. Her experience at the

conference led her to realize how

blessed she feels to have received

implants early in her childhood.

“On the panel, I was expecting other

kids like me. The other ones were

people who were born deaf and

then got implants later in life, like

elementary school or middle school,”

she says. “Then I realized how blessed

I was to get implants from a very,

very young age… They wanted to

take [their implants] off; they wanted

to not use it and just keep signing.”

Everyone experiences life differently.

People with disabilities are not

defined by them, but their struggles

and experiences are a part of them,

and their stories deserve to be listened

to.

“I think it’s just important to treat

someone with sight loss in exactly

the same way as you would anyone

else. We don’t need to be treated or

talked to any differently,” Williams

says. “Some aspects of our lives

might be different, and we might

have to have certain technologies

and devices that allow us to navigate

the world, but we’re only human at

the end of the day, and we deserve

to be treated like anyone else.”

Story Editor: Grace Horvat

Photographer: Julianne Foster

Designer: Trisha Porter

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