This week we are excited to have a Guest Blogger continuing on with our series focusing in on unpacking each of the five  APEST capacities. This week and next, Tim Catchim, co-author of The Permanent Revolution and The Permanent Revolution Playbook, expands the prophetic paradigm. If you're not caught up, here are the Teacher, the Shepherd and the Evangelist

Enjoy, friends!

What does prophetic ministry look like? This is a really good question, and to be honest, it’s is quite challenging to answer. In my opinion, prophetic ministry is actually the most complex form of ministry within APEST. That being said, I want to suggest four features of prophetic ministry, and then show how those features can come together to form various expressions of prophetic ministry.

Prophetic Tones: Criticize and Energize

Prophets have a tendency to recognize and reveal the space that exists between us and God. They drawing attention to the “gap” between God’s reality and our own. This does give prophetic ministry a somewhat critical feature. But it’s short-sighted to say this is the only feature of prophetic ministry. For example, Walter Bruegemann characterizes the role of the prophet as one who both criticizes and energizes. These two categories suggest a continuum upon which prophetic ministry can be located.

If the role of the critic is to “expose the gap,” then the role of the energizer is to inspire us to “stand in the gap.” Now, to be clear, a healthy expression of prophetic ministry will include both a criticizing and energizing focus. But experience would tell us that some prophets will tend to gravitate towards one over the other. We see this very thing taking place in Jeremiah’s prophetic call in Jeremiah 1. God tells him that he will root out, pull down, destroy and throw down (Jeremiah 1:9). That’s the criticizing feature of his prophetic ministry. But he’s also given the task of building and planting – two things that definitely lend themselves to the energizing features of ministry.  If you do the math, Jeremiah’s ministry adds up to being 2/3 de-constructive and only 1/3 constructive.

Now compare this with the prophet Isaiah who, while bringing significant accusations against the people of God, also brought visions of messianic restoration and renewal. Jeremiah and Isiah were both prophets but their ministries fall on different places in the criticizing and energizing continuum. The important thing to recognize, though, is that genuine prophetic ministry will always include both. Some who are called to function prophetically may have a more energizing effect to their ministry, while others may operate in a more critical fashion.

Prophets shock the church out of its sleep walking hypnosis and confront the people with the reality of God’s presence, power, and purpose for the world. Click To Tweet

Prophetic Tactics: Verbalize and Visualize

Communicating God’s reality in the face of false realities sometimes requires extreme tactics so that a compelling contrast can be made. As such, prophetic ministry can sometimes express itself in sensation-al forms of speech and action. It’s what Patton and Woods calls “shock therapy.” Taking their cue from the Old Testament prophets, they rightly observe that “...the Hebrew prophets prodded their audiences toward reconciliation with God through graphic images, R-rated monologues, and outrageous street theatre. Yet the prophets were not exhibitionists who shocked for shocks sake; rather, they were faithful truth tellers whose communication unapologetically demonstrated the depths of Israel's own disregard for peace and justice.”

Prophets shock the church out of its sleep walking hypnosis and confront the people with the reality of God’s presence, power, and purpose for the world.

How does a prophet bring us into contact with God’s reality? The literal definition of the word prophet means “the first to speak,” but don’t be fooled into thinking that prophetic ministry is limited to speech. Verbalizing the message is a definite means by which prophets mediate an alternative reality. Yet we all know that communication involves more than just words. Actions can equally, if not more powerfully, communicate as well. Prophetic ministry also visualizes the message in creative, imaginative ways. That is, prophets sometimes use theatrical, artistic, visual forms of communication to get their message across.

Some prophets verbalize their message, and some prophets visualize their message. We see this visualizing method taking place through Isaiah who preached naked, Hosea who married a prostitute, or Ezekiel who lay on his side for 430 days.

Some prophets communicate through visual means - they symbolically en-act their message. Clothes, fashion, choice of housing, music, art, dance… anything that can potentially signify and or magnify meaning is a potential vehicle for prophetic messaging. In fact, most artistic people likely have a significant dose of prophetic sensibilities.

So at one end, prophetic ministry can show up in predominately verbalized form through speeches, questions, storytelling and other forms of rhetoric. At the other end of the continuum are the more visual, theatrical, dramatized forms of communication that choose provocative, sometimes bizarre (even repulsive), actions and activities to deliver the message in symbolic, demonstrative ways.

We see this same continuum within the prophetic tradition. In fact, there were some who would slide back and forth between the two as the situation required. The point is that not all prophetic ministry is verbal, some of it finds expression through visual means as well.

These two sets of continuums, criticize-energize, verbalize-visualize, give rise to four types of prophets.  

Prophets sometimes use theatrical, artistic, visual forms of communication to get their message across. #5Q #APEST @timcatchim Click To Tweet

While this matrix is not exhaustive, it does help us broaden our view of prophetic ministry, while at the same time pointing us to a more diverse understanding of how prophets can function within the body.

Next week, we will wrap up this post and take a quick look at four ways to look at the prophet. Thanks for reading! How have you experienced the ministry of the verbal-visual, critic-energizing prophet? Let us know in the comments. 

Tim Catchim
Tim Catchim grew up largely in the metropolitan region around Washington D.C. His leadership experience revolves around urban/semi-urban church planting, discipling, leadership development, entrepreneurship, working with at-risk youth, asset based community development, coaching and consulting.

He specializes in bringing strategic vision and clarity to entrepreneurial ventures and the process of innovation. Integrated into his leadership philosophy and praxis is a thorough understanding of atonement models, movemental dynamics, APEST, MBTI, Enneagram and organizational design.

Tim and his wife Tiffany are currently in Nashville TN where they are laying new foundations for a movement called OneLife. You can follow them at

26 thoughts on “Tim Catchim: The Prophetic Ministry, pt. 1

  • December 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Tim,
    a fascinating analysis, whch looks methodologically or analytically correct to me. But as someone whose ministry is generally called “prophetic” I am amazed that your can speka of prophecy in any sense without beginning from the foundation of the expressed Word of God, Christ himself. After all, theologically speaking, Jesus is both the subject and object of prophecy; “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19:10)

    Perhaps I am just an old fahioned seer who thinks we should not confuse phenomenology with substance.
    In Christ, John Yates

    • December 13, 2017 at 4:15 am


      I’d have to agree 100% with your take. But perhaps Tim will end with Christ. Truly all work in the New Covenant Church should end with the Glory of God, which finds it’s revelation in the person and work of Christ.

        December 13, 2017 at 6:30 am

        Hey Nichole, to follow up, you both are making a really good point. However, this post was not intended to address that specific point. For a detailed exploration of the point you are making, see chapter one of The Permanent Revolution. There we point to the logic of Ephesians four which sees each APEST gifting as originating in, and being an extension of, Jesus and his ministry. Can’t hit everything in one post, that’s why we wrote the book 🙂 Blessings to you!

        • December 13, 2017 at 7:22 am

          Tim I’ll have to grab the book then! Thanks for the reply!

          Blessings Nicholle

          • TIM CATCHIM
            December 13, 2017 at 7:26 am

            Awesome. Btw, just for fun, I wonder if our interactions about what is missing from this blog post in relation to God/Jesus and his glory would be a good example of prophetic ministry with an Auditor expression? I find it interesting that the rub was that God/Jesus appeared to be absent 🙂

          • December 13, 2017 at 7:36 am

            I’d say John, and I are “helping” through the Auditor Lens, for sure!

            Since John has identified himself as a Prophet, so should I. Although within the APEST matrix I find I lean more towards Apostolic works through a Prophetic Lens.

            I’ve used the gift of Prophecy for about 15 years, long before I knew what I was doing. Mostly from the critique end of the spectrum. I am a Seer prophet, and “somehow” knew things about abuse situations in Church long before they became public knowledge. I would submit my visions to my boss/priest, and he wouldn’t know what to do with them. It shut down the flow of prophecy for a long time.

            I find that incarnational ministry happens mostly with Mature Prophets, young prophets struggle with living in balance LOT! Personally, I disciple 125 prophets online through a discipleship training community. Almost all of them are in Liturgical or mainline churches. I joke we are hiding in a cave until such a time as God decides. So I’m grateful for your work and what you are doing to help the men and women I disciple come out of hiding.

      December 13, 2017 at 6:26 am

      Hey John, thanks for the feedback. Its a great point you are making about prophetic ministry being rooted in Jesus. We actually address this in The Permanent Revolution. The entire first chapter is devoted to that topic actually 🙂 So while I did not address that in this post, we frame our understanding of APEST as originating in, and as being an extension of, Jesus’ ministry. Its a good reminder that you are making though, so thanks for weighing in. Blessings to you!

    December 13, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Hey Nichole, wow, that’s sounds really cool what you are doing! And “helping” through the auditor lens is exactly the vibe I got 🙂 Im wondering if we could link up sometime for a conversation? Id like to hear more about your work in discipling prophetic people. I am still learning about how to do this, so it would be great to talk with someone who is further along in the journey.

    • December 13, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Yes for you sure Tim. Look me up on Facebook at Nicholle H Franke and send me a message. I’d love to share some.

  • December 13, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Read Hebrew 1. We do not have Prophets today. Every thing God would have us know is reveled in his Son Jesus Christ.

  • December 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    agreed re hebrews 1 and nothing can be said which is not the revealtion of Jesus Christ. however, Jesus remains the Prophet of God and is still speaking today, to and through the whole Church. there are those who have a specific gift to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in every generation through the exalted Christ, they are given a particular share in the ongoing self-revelation of the Son of God. these we call contemporary, not at all canonical, prophets.

  • Chris Harrison
    December 13, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Hello James and John,

    Man, I felt so Biblical writing that! You raise a very well discussed point that Alan addresses in the new book, 5Q: Reactivating The Original Intelligence And Capacity Of The Body Of Christ. Check out ‘Appendix 1,’ to read a rich and complete response to the Cessationalist argument.

    Thanks for the comments! We really appreciate the interaction.

  • December 13, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I really should make this my last comment as I don’t usually get drawn into these sort of discussions. I am writing from Australia, and have met Alan Hirsch, whose ministry I value, a number of times.

    One thing I have learned from my own personal experience is that prophets should never charge a fee. If folk decide to give, which some do to me, that’s OK., but I never offer services or resources with an expectation of remuneration.

    Whatever other virtues the 5Q group may possess, the near ubiquity of resources which cost money, is culturally very unprophetic. Of course you have practical reasons for this, just ones that, from my perspective, dont conform to the gracious free-will financial ordering of the New Testament. Capitalism seems to reign just about everywhere in the Church! those who dont speak up about such things can hardly be prophets!

  • December 13, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    While I do not for a moment consider myself a theologian, there is one thing that I find missing in the conversation, which is the difference between the NT prophets and the OT prophets. First, I think it is important to not lose sight of that prophets are a gift and that gift is of the Holy Spirit operating in a man. And given that the Holy Spirit is still with us, then (simply put) so is the gift of prophecy. While Paul would that all would prophesy, He distinctly asks “Are all prophets?” Through the Spirit of God, we all truly can prophesy, but we may not be ordained to do so.

    The examples used seem to all speak to the OT prophets, to whom the Spirit (and the Church) had not yet come. We do not get detailed descriptions in the NT of the Prophetic office and its communication styles, or its activities, although I believe some of the duties remain the same. The book of Acts (the beginnings of the Church) do mention prophets: filled with the Spirit of God. The book of Hebrews (and no where in the Bible) says that the office of Prophet has ceased. Although some people think the Scripture that says, “and when that which is perfect has come” means the Bible, we can all be assured that the Lord was not crucified for the Bible, but for us, His Church. In fact, the 5 fold ministry is given for the perfecting of the saints, to bring us to the full stature of Christ.

    I think that unfortunately, one of the things that happen in the body is that sometimes, we do not respect or even barely know just what and how the different parts believe or know. I know some Baptists that believe in the Gifts of the Spirit, so the Spirit can and does manifest there; I know some that do not, and they have cut Him off because of lack of belief. I know some Pentecostals who only believe in the charismatic gifts, but lag in rightful dividing the Word of Truth. Depending who you ask, prophetic may mean anything from the advancement of social activism, to speaking in tongues, to liberation theology, and so on and so forth. At times, the Body seems like the Blind Man and the Elephant…

    Yet, I believe in my heart that that is exactly where we are to start, for it is written in the purposes of the five fold gifts that they are for the unity of the saints till we all come to a knowledge of Christ. There is really an experience of being born again, and for some it comes with a baptism, and for others it is a gradual opening up to the Spirit of God.

    We deal with a rapacious enemy who would like nothing better than to litter that landscape with false prophets, charging for gifts (the err of Balaam it is written!) to totally discredit those who are Men and Women of God.

    Believe that God loves us enough to not let His Church go out of His Hands, and He has given us everything we need to become that Bride of Christ without spot or blemish. I do not believe He has left His bride in the Hands of studied men only, who walk the halls of Academia, but in the fields, in the city, in the workplace, He has also placed those anointed men and women of God, full of the Spirit of God who is the Spirit of Prophecy.

    Thank you Tim for a beautiful start to a conversation that I hope fulfills the purpose of turning us into a direction that we became far removed from. I have been blessed to have been baptized and filled with the Spirit from a background that did not know who He was. Prophets should not only prophesy but should be able to manifest His gifts. I pray that the Lord GOD open the eyes of all those who have the desire to see so that we may come to a unity in faith. Bless you all

      December 14, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Hey CHarlene, thanks for sharing. I think you are pointing to a good distinction between OT prophets and NT prophets. However, I wold raise the distinction between an Ephesians 4 prophet and a I Cor 12 gift of prophecy. For one, Christ gives the gifts in Ephesians 4, where as the gift of prophecy in 1 Cor 12 is given by the Spirit, and is in fact a manifestation of the Spirit. In general, I would characterize the gift of being a prophet in Ephesians 4 as originating in the natural – the orders of creation. Whereas the gift of prophecy in 1 Cor 12 originates in the supernatural. So in that sense, I think you can be an Eph 4 prophet and not have the 1 Cor 12 supernatural gift of prophecy. When Paul asks in 1 Cor 12 “are all prophets?” it is in the context of his statement “God has set first in the church apostles, then prophets, then teachers.” Apostles and teachers are not listed in the supernatural gifts thatare given by the Spirit from earlier in the chapter, and therefore, in that context, I do not see his mention of “prophets” in that rhetorical question as referring to the supernatural gift of prophecy. also, notice in the beginning of 1 Cor 12 he starts by giving us a Trinitarian framework of God, Lord, and Spirit in relation to workings, ministries, and manifestations respectively. He first unpacks the manifestations of the Spirit, and then later in the chapter, he switches to God setting in the church first apostles, prophets, teachers.” SO he has shifted away form the supernatural gifts of the Spirit and then, quite quickly, drops a few gifts that God (not the Spirit, or the Lord) has set in the church. And keep in mind that he qualifies the A,P,T as being energies/workings of God, not manifestations of the Spirit, this is an important distinction to hold onto so we do not conflate the supernatural giftings with the workings/energies that come from God, and the ministries that come from the Lord (Jesus), the last two which have not expressly been categorized as being supernatural. All that being said…if someone repeatedly prophesy’s (supernaturally) and is recognized by the community as functioning in the gift of prophecy, the person prophesying (verb) will likely, over time, get recognized and referred to by the community as a prophet (noun.) So even with these textual distinctions being made in the text between the supernatural gift of prophecy (originating in the supernatural) and prophets (originating in the natural), we have to allow for some sociological dynamics to come into play when parsing out how a community would eventually talk among themselves about those with the supernatural gift of prophecy. At the very least, we should recognize from these distinctions in the text that prophets and prophecy, while overlapping, still retain a distinction that is worth pointing out. I think there needs to be more work and writing on parsing out these distinctions. I have merely recognized them, but I don’t claim to fully understand them 🙂

      • December 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        Aha! Love it. So I am at work and need to unpack this as I do not know how to differentiate God from His Spirit or the Lord.

        However, we are in agreement about the distinction between 1 Cor gifts of the Spirit and the, what i will call, Ascension gifts of Ephesians. In my prior comment i was actually saying everyone who prophesys isn’t a Prophet.

        As I have not yet gone to school, there will be times my points may be the same as yours, but our language different. And herein is the point–i am down on the ground, urban, saved. How the heck do these ideas transfer to the little congregation of 20 on the top of the hill where there is gunfire and loss of life daily, but never loss of faith. I am looking for a common tongue, for a common application.

        Thanks for your detailed response as I had tried all day to gather thoughts and Scriptures. I “will return” when I am off work.

        Love this!

        • TIM CATCHIM
          December 14, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          Hey Charlene. Those are really good questions. I would have to know more about your context to give feedback. I did urban ministry in government housing in Montgomery Alabama for 6 years. I lived right down the street form the projects etc. So I’m familiar with some of the challenges you are mentioning here. I would say one of the ways gift of prophecy can be use din that context is through things like Sozo, and body ministry during gatherings. When it comes to street ministry, I tend to ask God to give me words of prophecy, words of wisdom, words of knowledge when people on the street are open to me praying for them. This has opened doors for more conversations. It often builds trust and credibility. I do know Ephesians 4 prophets often are attracted to urban settings (along with Eph 4 shepherds/pastors). I wish I would have known that back when I was doing ministry in the urban context. It would have helped me diagnose some of the challenges we were facing with the people who coming in from the outside and wanting to help us do mission and ministry in that context. If you are looking for some material on what EPh 4 prophetic ministry looks like on the ground, I would say the CCDA organization would be a good place to dig around. They do great incarnational work. Blessings to you as you practice faithful presence and be a light in the darkness.

  • December 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Correction: the sentence that reads “The book of Hebrews (and no where in the Bible) says that the office of Prophet has ceased” should read, “We must not take one Scripture from the book of Hebrews, (written to the Jewish Christians who, by nature of being Jews first, were actually spoken to by the prophets, while the world continued in its state of rule by Human Government. It was only the Jews who could claim a unique, ordained, and covenant relationship with God before Christ. So I don’t believe that the Lord through the Writer is saying that prophets have ceased for everyone, but is calling attention to the fact that there is now a new, Higher Prophet to the Jews, and that is God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

  • December 14, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Hi. Thanks for provoking thought. This seems to be lacking in many circles today. I’d like to say that I think you’re on to something here. I know that NT prophecy and OT are different but if the gift is inherent in humans by the grace of God that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time.
    NT prophecy is for “all God’s people” so Paul put some limits on its general practice in the Corinthian church – not a group know for restraint.

    I’m not saying the distinction isn’t valid but in context the gift and office of Prophet is a different ball of wax than “all God’s people” prophesying. Exhorters, Pastors, Teachers etc all prophesy but not all operate as Prophets.

    I think here we are talking about the general bent of those gifted as Prophet and how they prophesy.

    • December 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Thank you, Laura, for clarifying that inherent and creation gift for me. Can anyone tell me the origin of that thought or idea or fact? Thanks.

      December 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Hey Laura, good insights here. I would call attention to the fact that the term “office is no where used in Ephesians 4 or 1 Cor 12. I think this is one of those phrases that has been read into the text. So for example, the idea of some people having on “office” of a prophet is not found in the NT. There are of course mature prophets and immature prophets, and how those prophets are recognized and referred to by those communities they function in is another discussion, but from a textual perspective, the term “office” is not a part of the texts where Paul discusses the gifts of prophet or gift of prophecy. I realize its a common category to use, but I press back on it because it creates a separate class of people that, in turn, can discourage the entire body pursuing and embracing the gift of prophecy or the gift of being a prophet. Much like the clergy laity divide tends to frustrate people from seeing their God given potential for serving and leading in the kingdom. This is a really good discussion btw. Its always good to entertain different perspectives. Much love and respect!

  • December 14, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I think I am totally confused, or the discussion is?

    “I would characterize the gift of being a prophet in Ephesians 4 as originating in the natural – the orders of creation” (Tim)

    The insuperable problem with interpretation, is that, at least in traditional Christian thinking, New Testament prophets can only exist because they participate in the ascended Prophet Christ through the power of the Spirit (cf. Deut 18:15). This is clearly the flow in the text: “when he ascended on high he gave gifts….APEST…” Union with Christ, who is the ontological basis of the new creation (2 Cor 5:17), is the substance of the prophetic gift, and every other gift by the way. we must never shift away from the absolute centrality of the glorified humanity of the Son of God our Saviour e.g. to “orders of creation”. whatever such orders may be, they are a step away from participation in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4)

    • December 14, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you, Mr. Yates. This is a point I was trying to make but couldn’t.

    • December 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you John. That is the issue I was trying to declare. It is all the working of Christ. That is what I called “the Ascension gifts”.

      But I believe this conversation is important so don’t go away from it. I think it is hard to speak in tongues, lay hands on the sick and experience the full baptism of the Holy Spirit and then try to turn that into theological terms, knowing that our God is real and what the Word says, it means.

      I was baptized and anointed in my house by the Spirit, and I guess honestly, I know it is real. It is not of this Earth or of human flesh but of God, lest any man should boast.

      I am not eloquent, or well versed, but I know truth. I was told I needed to find a prophetic ministry because there was no one to teach me. I do think we cannot come to the unity of faith until we understand that God is Divine, Supreme and King and has ALL power in His Hand and there is no power ecxept of Him.

      December 15, 2017 at 7:09 am

      Hey John, I appreciate your perspective. This can definitely be a confusing discussion, especially over blog internet 🙂 For clarity, when I say orders of creation, I mean that someone is a prophet before they become a Christian, just someone is a teacher or shepherd before they become a Christian. However, outside of Christ, those human capacities are unredeemed and unaligned. in Christ, they are redeemed, much as Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has created us in Christ Jesus to do good works (works of ministry form Ephesians 4) that he prepared fr us to do before hand. We go further into explaining the concept of orders of creation vs. orders of redemption in the book Permanent Revolution. Alan unpacks it even further in the book 5Q. If we stick with the text of Ephesians 4, the APEST gifts are not given by the Spirit. Its not in the text. The SPirit of course works in concert with Christ and the APEST gifts, but Christ is the one who gives APEST, not the Spirit. They are given by Christ – the God-Man(human). This is a clue to interpreting the human/natural character of the APEST gifts. They come from the incarnated Christ, which is why they originate from within the created order. I think clarity on this point is important so we don’t limit these gifts to those who are “annointed” or have some kind of special demonstration of the spirit in a supernatural way. There can be supernatural and annointed/charismatic/supernatural aspects that accompany the APEST gifts, but the APEST gifts themselves are not supernatural or said to be the product of any “annointing.” THey are gien by Christ, not the Spirit. The gift of prophecy (I Cor 12), on the other hand, is another discussion 🙂 I really enjoy this discussion. Thank you for engaging and moving the conversation forward. Much love and respect!

  • December 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Tim, we seem to be closer than at first sight, though the way we express things is clearly different. I think the key to interpreting scripture is scripture, that is, intertextuality, and that we should not section off parts of the Bible from one another. The New Testament writers saw the whole of the Old Testament, not just “relevant” parts, as the field for their interpretation of Christ. Of course, unlike us, the totality of the Law and Prophets was pretty much immediately in their memories to draw on as the Spirit led.

    I understand that the text of Eph 4 tells us that the 5fold gifts are from Christ, but they must be imparted by Christ through the Spirit cf. Acts 2:33, and so are anointings, in a biblical rather than popular sense, as he himself is the Anointed One.

    Comments re “orders of creation”; hoping I understand you. I dont think its possible to establish your position biblically, and its certainly the exact opposite of my personal experience. I was a paranoid introvert (no exaggeration here) who hardly spoke to anyone before I met Jesus. However, if we started not with creation nor with redemption or the giving of gifts, but with the eternal election of humanity in Christ (Eph 1:3-4; 1 Pet 1:19-20; Rev 13:8) then it would be possible, though I think redundant, to argue that creation gifts become APEST gifts because they were always predestined to do so. In all this we must remember that creation is not self-existent nor self-explanatory, but has a goal that is exclusively Christ-centred (Col 1:16). The problem in talking about “orders of creation”, and this goes back to the late Middle Ages, is that Jesus is to one degree or other marginalised. This has happened in the history of theology and spirituality again and again.

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