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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."
Jesus People Revolution, Part 15

in our veins

We heard that Jesus People ministries were springing up simultaneously in other locations; Hollywood, Santa Cruz, Oregon, Seattle, Canada, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York.  Each had their own spiritual roots and stories and we were convinced this was a visitation of God’s doing!


Paul Bryant and Oliver Heath – both in seminary at Golden Gate and providing leadership at Soul Inn and Berachah House – invited Dale Alter and I to join them on a speaking tour in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.  For our journey Paul was given use of a new station wagon by his dad.  We packed light, and I was excited to see what these southern states and the people we’d encounter would be like.  Oliver was our guide for this mission. His home church was in Mobile, Alabama, and he had set up an itinerary at some universities and churches, and we’d be checking out the street scene in Atlanta, Georgia.


A loud bang came from under the new station wagon as it veered hard to the left into oncoming traffic.  Gripping the wheel tightly I turned it to the right but it was too sharp and the wagon went out of control, flying into the desert and rolling several times.  The front tire blowout came without warning and became a sobering set-back.

Two of our team had been asleep in the back bed of the wagon and a third was dozing, riding shotgun.  When the wagon bounced its last time we were right side up.  Looking around we were all in shock – but alive.  My buddy Dale was the only one who was bleeding.  He had a gash on his head, but said he was okay.  We were on the outskirts of Van Horn, Texas, in desert country.  Fortunately, several passing cars stopped and someone reported the accident.  Some twenty minutes later an Emergency Squad arrived.  The squad took Dale to a nearby doctor and the rest of us were taxied into the small dusty town in a patrol car.

With San Francisco as our launching point and only a day into our trip, we were between a rock and a hard place.  Should we go on, or turn back?  Each of us had shattered glass embedded in our skin and we were sore and bruised from the tumbling of metal, plastic and human flesh.  While Dale was getting his head stitched-up, we discussed our options.  The first question to be sorted out was whether the wagon could be fixed.  Paul's dad had loaned us the wheels, and fortunately the wagon was insured.

When the wagon was towed to town a few hours later we got the word from the local body shop/mechanic that it was totaled.  Rolling two or three times had destroyed too much to make a repair worthwhile.  We were bummed by the news, but that's the way it was.  Despite this problem we all agreed we should continue on to our first stop in Mobile Alabama.  Ollie said he was positive we could obtain a replacement vehicle for the remainder of our journey.  Our mission was to speak at university campuses and churches we'd been invited to and connect with street people wherever we went.

Hitch Hiker

The positive side was we were still alive!  The downside was, we had no wheels and were still picking glass out of our bodies.  Hitch hiking was our only option.  So, we split up in pairs, thinking we'd have a better chance getting rides in two's. I felt bad about the accident, since I'd been driving.  Apologizing to Paul, he muttered, “Don’t worry about it.  It could have happened with anyone of us driving."  Since it was his dad's new station wagon, I felt better.

The first day was a hard one as our rides were short and we seemed to be getting nowhere fast.  My partner and I were growing tired of walking and turning around to put out a thumb in hopes of a ride.  The aches and pains of the accident seemed to increase as the day dragged on.   Hobbling down the road my hitching buddy and I felt tired and discouraged.   We had some money, but as far as we could tell we were still a good ways from any major town with lodging.

Just when our spirits were at their lowest, we saw a huge travel trailer cruising toward us.  It approached and seemed to be slowing down a bit with the sun glaring on its large windshield.  “Oh, if they would only stop, I whispered under my breath!  Please stop!”  The next thing we knew the trailer had pulled over in front of us and I could have sworn I saw Paul at the wheel!  “I might be hallucinating”, I told Ollie, “but I think Paul is driving.”  As we walked up to the open travel trailer door, sure enough Paul was at the wheel with a huge ear to ear grin saying, “Come on board!”  This was the kind of miracle we desperately needed but never expected.  The coach was a deluxe air-conditioned four-bunk travel trailer.  But Paul had more to tell us, “Guess what guys?  The driver is transporting this vehicle to within a hundred miles of Mobile Alabama!”  This was unbelievable!  Paul continued, “To top it off, he's glad to have help driving, because he's been up for a day and a half.  Right now he's asleep in one of the back bunks.”

In my wildest dreams I would have never put together this solution to our dismal car-wreck problem. With each of us weary and sore, having a place to rest and lay down was the best possible remedy for us physically and emotionally.  The icing on the cake was this comfortable ride would bring us so close to our first stop in Mobile Alabama. 

Sunset in Texas

As the sun set across a big Texas horizon we were thankful and grateful to be alive and praised God for the provision of this ride and a place to rest our aching limbs.  That day I learned the truth of the statement, “You can drive all day long and still be in Texas!”

When we reached Alabama, it was obvious we had longer hair than the locals and we got some strange looks.  We were definitely in the south.  Hitching the last lap went fairly smooth, as Mobile was a direct shot south.  On arriving we found a lush green landscape of trees, lawns, a wide variety of plants, and a city that was full of southern hospitality and personality.  As a Californian, this is where I learned the meaning of humidity.  It was so moist; I had a hard time understanding how paint could adhere to the homes.  On quick observation I noticed that most of the newer homes were brick – but there was still wood trim to be painted!

As Ollie had assured us, his relatives were more than happy to provide us with a vehicle to use for the remainder of our trip.  Our first destination was Ollie's home church in Mobile which would be the starting point to our southern tour.  Charles Simpson was the pastor of a spirit-filled congregation of Southern Baptists.  The hospitality of Ollie's church family was amazing.  We were cared for and treated like royalty.  They’d heard of our driving mishap / roll-over and had been praying for the four of us.  Our invitations included three universities and a handful of churches.  Another goal was to engage in street evangelism in any drug-trafficking and counter-culture districts we visited.

Our talks at two universities went well, but we quickly discovered that student interest in Christian campus ministries was minimal.  In an open air setting people still listened, and a few hung around afterwards to ask questions. Ollie and Paul were committed Christians – raised in the church – and were both good speakers.  Dale was a die-hard ‘hippie’ / draft card burner – now Christian.  I was the former troubled youth with a strong dose of world religions thrown in – prior to encountering Jesus.  After these two outings it seemed like Ollie and Paul were better suited to address college students. 

Peachtree & 14th in Atlanta, GA

Our next stop was Atlanta Georgia.  We’d been told there was an area called the Atlanta strip where southern teens flocked to score drugs and experiment with the hippie life-style.  We located it on Peachtree Street near Piedmont Park.  It was almost identical to the early days in the Haight-Ashbury where God had reached Dale and I.  The strip was lined with runaways from southern states, and drug-dealers were out in force taking advantage of green hippies with new money.

Spending a good part of a day on the strip witnessing to southern teens about Jesus was what I needed to catch a vision of what some of the area needs were.  We located a Salvation Army storefront at the far end of the strip.  They were providing some meals and clothing for destitute street-people, but they told us it was inadequate for the swelling numbers that kept coming. The Army’s goal was to establish a shelter project that would include some emergency housing – but funding for this pressing need had not been allocated, or staff assigned.  The same staff member told us they were overwhelmed with concern, realizing they were unable to provide much in the way of physical and spiritual ministry to those who needed help. I pondered what I was hearing and seeing.

I knew that most ‘street people’ live on the edge of survival and exploitation.  Dealers get rich quick but usually blow their money on their reckless lifestyles, partying, live-concerts, and drugs.  Users and weaker souls fall prey to price gouging, bad drugs and trips, and manipulation and end up disillusioned, spacey, depressed and desperate.  The lack of sexual restraint in the culture of the sixties came with a cost.  Those problems were numerous: sexually-related diseases, unwanted pregnancies, a forced choice to consider aborting a birth and the emotional trauma that goes along with all this.  If a pregnancy went to full term, huge questions loomed in the minds of pregnant young ladies.  How can I pay for this?  Who is the dad?  Can I count on my boyfriend to stick with me?  If I had to go back home, how could I face my parents?  Visiting Atlanta's ‘Drug Strip’ touched something inside of me.  There was a lot of need and no Christian witness visible.

The night before we left Atlanta, we ate sandwiches at a nearby park, and I slipped away to pray.  I felt God was trying to tell me something, but it wasn’t clear.  His presence was strong and I prayed with more intensity – listening carefully for the voice of the Holy Spirit, but no words came.  At this point Dale called me saying we needed to go. I knew there was unfinished spiritual business – but it would have to wait.

Decatur Southern Baptist Church

The next day was Sunday, and we had an invitation to speak at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, some thirty minutes north of Atlanta.  On arrival Ollie found out the pastor would interview him briefly.  We thought that we’d each be given an opportunity to say a brief word about how God was reaching out to lost teens across our nation – but it wasn’t in the works.

Regardless, Ollie did an excellent job conveying the need and response that we were seeing in this new mission field.  After the service a good number of people from this large, established congregation made it a point to greet us and encourage us in the work the Lord had called us to.   I didn’t know it at the time, but this would not be the last encounter with this congregation that had over one hundred years of faithful ministry in this southern city with many members from the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Nashville, Tennessee

Our next stop was Vanderbilt University.  On arrival in Nashville we were all road weary.  Getting something to eat was a top priority and then checking out the university.  When we set foot on campus, I said, “Wow, this reminds me of the University of California at Berkeley.”  Ollie disappeared into the student center, and we started checking out the bulletin boards.  Ollie’s facial expression on his return didn’t look good.  He’d found out the Campus Ministry we’d communicated with had let the ball drop and no one knew we were coming.  Adding to this he learned that liberalism, world religions, and anti-Christian sentiments were at an all time high at the University.  We decided to roam the campus and talk to students about Jesus one on one.  After several hours we reconnected and shared a similar report.  Any mention of Jesus Christ was predominately met with intellectual indifference, or scorn.  Ollie concluded that many of the Vanderbilt University students had probably had religion and church shoved down their throats their whole lives and had cast it off – having never experienced a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Considering we were somewhere in the Bible-Belt, it appeared that the belt and the buckle got lost!  Nashville was a let-down, but there was nothing we could do about it.  It was what is was, and we decided to begin back-tracking south and choose a route-plan to return to the S.F. Bay area.

A mental picture of Atlanta's Strip district remained with me, and I found myself praying about it often.  Was there something God was trying to tell me?  Was there something He wanted me to do?  It came back to the time I was praying in Piedmont Park – and an unfinished season of prayer with no definitive word of guidance.

Upper Streams

On returning to California and our ministry home at Upper Streams, Dale and I conveyed our impression of the southern tour and the need we’d seen in Atlanta's Peachtree Strip.  In the days and weeks ahead, the southern street people and universities were remembered in our prayers.  Philip and Shelia, who'd joined our team from a ministry in southern California, were especially interested, along with Alana, a dear and faithful sister in our ministry with my wife and I.  What surprised us was that we each felt God might be calling us to go to Atlanta and set up a new outreach house.  We agreed to keep praying and wait for a clear answer.


Over the next several weeks the possibility of a move to Atlanta came rapidly to a head as we received a letter and offer of sponsorship from the First Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.  The impact of our brief visit to this sizable congregation could not be read by us at the time – but we now saw that they were listening to Ollie’s words very carefully.  The offer included places to live in private homes until they could help us find a home to occupy in Atlanta's strip district to conduct a Christian outreach mission.  We were surprised and excited, but somewhat in shock.  This news pressed the five of us to pray earnestly for God's go ahead if this was God’s plan.  The answer was a unified “go” when we gathered together after a twenty four-hour period of personal prayer about this opportunity.

Saying farewells, visiting family, and making arrangements with those who would move into our leadership roles came together without a hitch.  To our amazement we were packed and ready to leave several weeks later.  I had to pinch myself that it was happening.

The excitement of launching out on a mission and the limitless possibilities of what God might do was in our hearts and minds.  The human side was calmer as we said our last good-byes to friends, gave away possessions we couldn't cart with us and left familiar places for the unknown. Part of the success of our era of Jesus People was our willingness to leave the personal comforts of materials things to carry the “Good News of Jesus Christ.”  We were open to picking up stakes, leaving the security of familiar places, and following in Christ’s footsteps.  Sometimes the organized church was critical of us, but we weren't just talking about getting the salt out of the shaker, we were doing it!  We were young and riding a wave of adventure.  Nothing seemed impossible!  We were full of zeal for God and filled with compassion for those still trapped like we'd once been in drugs, counter culture religions, and living life without restraints.


From California we'd set out for Atlanta, Georgia in a Volkswagen van packed to the gills with a simple but profound message – “God is Love” – painted on each side in bright colors.  This was the motivation of our small team as we traveled down Route 66, bound for Atlanta in the heart of the South.  We were excited and hopeful, but apprehensive, as none of us had ever lived in the South before and weren't sure how we'd be received.

Dark clouds and lightning

Suddenly the skies grew darker on the flatlands of western Texas as a huge and powerful lightning and thunderstorm descended on us.  The rain was too heavy to drive in, so I pulled off the road and decided to wait it out.  Lightning bolts danced around us, lighting the sky. Some struck ground followed by powerful booms of thunder shaking the earth around us. I don’t know how our young daughter kept sleeping in the back of the van totally oblivious to all that was going on.  As intense and unpredictable as this storm was – so was our future.

When our small team from Living Streams finally arrived at the First Baptist Church of Decatur they were ready and waiting to direct us to private homes for food and rest.  In the days ahead they also assisted us in scouting out the neighborhoods near to the strip for a house to rent.  Within the first week we had narrowed our choice down to several large homes, but the one we liked the best was condemned.  It was a large eleven room home just one block off the strip.  What we didn’t know was, why was it condemned and what needed to be done to bring it up to code?  Who owned it?  And would the owner give us rental compensation for restoring the home.  Within a weak most of our questions were answered.

House of Judah, Atlanta, GA

The home needed complete water-line replacements, new copper, new sections of soil pipes, new toilets and fixtures. All the wiring, breaker boxes, and electrical fixtures and outlets needed replacing.  A new furnace some flues were needed to heat the entire home evenly.  The porch area needed structural reinforcement and a complete new floor installed due to rotting.  Cosmetically, all the carpet had to go, the hardwood floors needed sanding and refinishing, the walls and ceilings needed texturing and repainting throughout.  The exterior gutters on one side had to be replaced and the exterior of the home repainted.  After talking with several members of Decatur First Baptist they assured us that all this was doable and they were going to negotiate with the owner on the rent.  What impressed me about these Christian men and women was the faith and commitment to follow through on a project from beginning to end.  They were doers, knew how to get things done, and weren’t afraid of tackling a challenge – but they assured us they were also praying.  

When I first saw the list of code repairs required, it seemed overwhelming. But as we got into the actual restoration work, each week brought significant progress.  It took about seven weeks from beginning to end to make the home look incredible.

The before and after was amazing.  The large Victorian home at 971 Piedmont Avenue was not only restored to beauty, but given the name House of Judah after the Lion of the Tribe of Judah – Jesus Christ!  Restoration work got into my DNA – always reminding me of the renewing work God does on our mind, body, and spirit when we present ourselves before Him and allow His Holy Spirit to transform us.  Contractors and members from Decatur First Baptist mapped out a plan.  Plumbing, electrical, the furnace, and structural stuff first – then on to redecorating.  We showed up and did what we were asked to do, learning along the way.  The church provided new sinks, toilets, and lighting fixtures and hired a plasterer / painter who stuccoed all the ceilings and helped us paint the entire house.

DFBC also contracted with a professional who carpeted the upstairs and sanded and refinishing all the downstairs wood floors.  It was amazing!  God was providing in a wonderful way through his people as they helped us secure and restore this beautiful older home.  At our request they also helped us build a prayer room in the front of the house with built-in seating or for kneeling in prayer.  Before all this work commenced a significant and ongoing rent reduction was negotiated with the owner of the property.  There is no way we could thank all who came and worked putting their faith into action through sacrifice and practical service.  In the months ahead, it dawned on me, “They got it.”  They were serving Jesus, working with their hands and minds, keeping the mission in mind, helping to establish another context for Jesus’ light to shine!


This same church family embraced another venture into the unknown by committing their time and resources – giving to, or joining our growing team on an outreach mission to the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival to be held in the rural town of Byron, Georgia.  On arriving in Atlanta and seeing posters for this event we began communication with FBC Decatur about helping us launch our first offensive outreach mission to this well-publicized ‘Pop Festival.’  The festival  billed Jimmy Hendrix and other big-name artists for three days over the 3-5th of July.  Our task was to mobilize workers to help us serve as an emergency food / water and medical station for the entire festival.  From attending other festivals, we had a good idea of what to expect and some of the practical needs we'd encounter.  Decatur First Baptist was quick to catch the same vision and were up for the challenge.

Poster for 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival

Day by day new pieces to our preparation fell into place. I received a phone call from one of the church team letting us know they’d acquired two very large Army tents and a third near the same size.  The end of that same week we learned a number of Christian doctors and nurses from the congregation or friends of the congregation had taken days off work and would be joining us for this mission.  Each of them were busy gathering medical supplies and other necessary gear to insure we'd be as equipped as possible for the unexpected.

Our sponsor church was also working hard in other areas.  They were gathering a myriad of supplies we’d need – including cots, blankets, sleeping bags, water, food, Coleman cooking stoves, large pots, utensils, large water and juice containers, coolers, dry ice, toiletries, camping lanterns, flashlights, several generators for electricity, and money to pay for the mission.  They would also be providing two large buses for transportation to and from the venue that would serve as a security safe-place for personal belongings and be kept locked.  We’d also be taking three or four large boxes of Bibles and outreach literature.

When the morning of departure to the Atlanta Pop Festival arrived – doctors, nurses, cooks, members from Decatur FBC, and our California team gathered for prayer at the House of Judah.  It was exciting to see the full team assembled, and it felt good to be seeking the Lord's blessing together in one spot.  After prayer we loaded up the two buses and a number of vans and were off.  It was one of those memorable mornings with the sun burning off the morning mist as we headed south of Atlanta on a new mission.  An hour in route we noticed an increase of traffic and realized we were far from being alone in heading to one of the largest rock festivals that the Atlanta area had ever hosted.  The radio was forecasting crowds of 350,000 and upward.  I felt better about our team’s preparation for this outreach than any other I’d taken part in.

On arriving at the festival grounds we were fortunate to have come early the first day – giving us our pick of the best site in the middle of the ‘Free Camping’ area.  First on our agenda was the erecting of the army tents that had been loaned to us.  When we unrolled the first, we were all shocked how big it was, and how much of a challenge it was to get it up.  It had three very large center poles, with extensions, and numerous side poles 4 inches in diameter.  Little by little we figured it out and got the first one erected and staked tautly.  The second large and other smaller went together more easily.  At half-way point we broke for lunch.  With everyone working together, by late afternoon we had all three tents raised.  We used one tent for emergency and medical care, with cots and chairs. The second large tent we designated as our kitchen / eating area with a large serving line with stoves, food warmers, coolers, drink containers and tables and chairs for sitting down to each.  We also used a corner for Bibles and outreach literature.  The third tent was our team sleeping quarters full of cots and a quiet place.  The buses also served as a back-up for the latter.

1970 Atlanta Pop Festival scene

Getting sleep the first night was sparse!  We had so much to do and were figuring it out as we went.  It’s amazing when you get a bunch of doers together and somebody has to be in charge.  We had several cooks who knew all about an efficient serving line, how to do food-prep and were excellent delegators.  It was inspiring to see so many gifted people telling our California team what to do! We were assigned to food prep, the serving line, and KP clean-up, witnessing and literature distribution –which was a good match!  Several of our ladies assisted the Docs and RN’s in the Medical Tent as well as our guys when intercession prayer for campers with terrifying bad drug trips was needed.

We quickly noticed the doctors and nurses had considerably more stamina than the rest of us.  Pulling twelve hour shifts was the norm for most of them.  We, on the other hand, were dragging – finally able to catch some sleep between 2-7 AM. Any loss of sleep, however, was more than compensated by the working of God's Spirit helping campers in crisis.  When I first saw the three tents up it seemed like a bit of over-kill – until the masses descended.

It was uncanny how needed our three tents were during the pop festival.  We served multiple-hundreds of meals, gave out clean water, hygiene supplies, blankets, and provided emergency medical assistance to several hundred campers.  We also provided dialogue and prayer for many who came into our site seeking spiritual guidance, or those trying to come down from bad drug trips.

The most predominant medical emergencies we encountered were from glass cuts on the feet and ankles.  Most required stitches and wound-care.  More alarming and surprising were the amount of extreme emotional trauma incidents of teens flipping out from various drugs they’d taken.  On a regular basis six to eight cots were taken up with kids who were trying to come down from a bad drug trip.  Taking street drugs often interacted with their regular medication creating a crisis.  Some would be yelling, screaming with fear, or convulsing with tremors.  We quickly gravitated to the power of prayer – grabbing a camp stool and parking ourselves beside the cot of a terrified, confused, or trembling camper, offering intercessory prayer.  When they regained stability – sometimes hours later, we'd offer them a hot meal, a cool or hot drink and share the message of God’s love given to every person through Jesus Christ.  

No one left our tents angry or upset!  Many were nourished with food and water, helped medically, or prayed through a bad drug trip with warmth and compassion.  Practical needs were met to provide a quiet, safe-place for them to be as long as they needed it. 

Praising God in the sunset

Quickly, our cluster of tents, vans and buses and our team gained a positive reputation among campers.  Those who had been hurt, terrified by a bad drug trip, stolen from, or had spent all their money and were hungry and thirsty came to us for relief and help. Others came for food and drink only and to check us out.   Our entire outreach team sensed God’s peace and presence over our campsite as we went about our service calmly and prayerfully.  In the midst of satanic confusion we were told by a growing number of festival campers among the hundreds who wandering into our site, that we were the only place of light at the festival.  One visiting camper said, “We can see God's presence around your tents and in all of you!” This didn’t surprise me, as I too had seen a light around Christians before I had surrendered to the Lord Jesus.

The events that were compacted into these few days were amazing.  We were at the right place at the right time, doing God's will and serving those in need and him.  Many came back to our tents day after day and brought others.  Needs were met, honest discussions about God took place, and some were changed forever by opening their minds and hearts to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

One evening as the sun set at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival a small group of new Christians raised their hands and hearts heavenward in gratitude for God’s amazing love and forgiveness that had enveloped them. Adding to this miracle, others joined them by the final day and a sizeable group of those who had received Jesus Christ at the festival came back with us to Atlanta to be part of the House of Judah.

This was our first offensive mission in the south, and it was an honor to jointly take part in this outing with a sacrificial group of Christian doctors, nurses, and members of FBC of Decatur, GA. This step of faith was more than matched by the Lord.  The results of changed lives, mercy and compassion given without cost and faith-building for each of us were more than enough.  But there was more.  Unanimously our team had the added bonus of being 100% assured our resurrected Lord Jesus was with us!

Sad news came two months later in September of 1970 – Jimi Hendrix had died at the age of 27.  Regardless what anyone may think about pop stars who die young, it is a loss that Jimi’s young life, like that of a fallen soldier, or a young cancer patient was swept away so swiftly in his prime. A reminder of this precious gift of life.

Jimmi Hendrix

“Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death.”    Ecclesiastes 8:7-8a   NIV Bible

To Be Continued

Dave Hoyt

Dave Hoyt and his wife Ginny reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up a troubled teen in Los Angeles. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco’s ‘Haight District’ seeking truth and God. Reaching a crisis of belief in Eastern Religions – he turned to prayer and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to be an early participant in the Jesus People Movement in the USA and Europe. He continues as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Read previous installments in David Hoyt's
"Jesus Revolution" Series:

Part 1: Jesus People Days

Part 2: A Cry Rushed Upward to a Place Called Heaven

Part 3: Ripe for Change and Heart Revolution

Part 4: Recollections of My Search for Truth

Part 5: My Search - A Prelude to Finding God

Part 6: A Search for God Unraveling

Part 7: An Appointment with God

Part 8: Launched into a New Life

Part 9: A Steep Learning Curve

Part 10: God - An Incredible Teacher

Part 11: Lancaster - A Desert Call

Part 12: Back in the City - San Francisco

Part 13: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode One

Part 14: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode Two

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:57