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INDIA: Karnataka Christian hospital official arrested for proselytising

(AsiaNews) – Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group, on Monday stormed the Sanjo Hospital, Mandya district (Karnataka), and beat up Simon George, a public relations officer, and Sister Nirmal Jose the hospital administrator.

The extremists claim that the two denigrated Hindu deities. Instead of helping the victims of the attack, police took Simon George into custody. He applied for bail but the court turned him down.

For Fr Josekutty Kalayil, who takes care of the hospital’s legal affairs, the incident stems from the hospitalization on Sunday of an elderly Hindu with high blood pressure.

Just before he was discharged, the man asked why there was a Bible in his room. Simon George, who was doing a routine tour, replied that he could read it if he was interested. This was followed shortly afterwards by the attack.

According to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the hospital was attacked because it is run by Christian religious, even though it serves everyone, regardless of faith or caste.

“Christian missionaries who work in the medical and educational field are targeted every day by extremists who try to discredit their altruistic work, which is to get people the ‘beneficial touch’ of Jesus,” George explained.

In his view, the charges against the Sanjo Hospital staff are false. “There is nothing criminal or illegal about keeping a Bible in a hospital room; no Hindu deity has been offended,” he noted.

The Christian community Mandya district is very small, about 9,000 people out of a population of 1.8 million, but it is under constant threat from extremist groups.

“Our Christian institutions serve mostly those who attack, abuse and assault us. May God forgive them for they know not what they do,” was George’s laconic comment.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: IRAN

 

 

Photo: Mohabat News

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Intercessors, again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

Iran

Population: 82,8 million, Christians 800,000

First, an observation on the number of Christians:

The young Christian church of Iran is the fastest growing church in the world- (Operation World statistics). In 1950 there were 300,000 Christians in Iran. The modern miracle of Christian satellite TV programming is the major vehicle God is using to set these people free. People are led to the love of the Father through satellite programming. Between 3-6 million tune in to shows such as, “Lessons in Love” or ‘Darshe Esghe’, a favorite of the Iranian youth and Persian culture. To date how many Christians?? It’s impossible to know exact numbers.

Some organizations estimate that there could be as many as 800,000 to 1 million believers in the Iran. But Iran is also one of the most difficult places on earth to be a Christian because of persecution from the hardline Islamic government. Believers are jailed and tortured. Churches are forced to meet in secrecy. One ministry there has reported that so many people are being converted they can’t keep enough Farsi Bibles in stock to give to new believers. Their emphasis is not planting churches; it is making disciples.

Iranian churches typically have between eight to 12 members only. To stay safely off the radar, the small churches multiply quietly. But this method of small-group discipleship produces stronger Christians than a bigger church would. It is reported that many people make decisions for Jesus after watching Christian television broadcasts.

Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Mahmoud Alavi, gave a speech to Muslim clerics in which he publicly decried the alarming growth of Christian faith. He announced that mass religious conversion to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes.” The Al-Jazeera report states that only between 10 to 15% of Iran’s more than 80 million people actually are loyal to the idea of an Islamic Republic. Mosques are emptying. Most people reject the idea of an all-powerful Muslim cleric running their country.

  • Pray to the Lord that He will work in the Iranian clerical leaders to create laws that will provide religious freedom.
  • Pray for the Iranian Christians who are in prison right now for their faith. Ask the Lord to give them hope and encouragement in their isolation.
  • Pray that the Lord will dramatically the number of Christian leaders and teachers to disciple the new believers.
  • Pray for the secret believers who meet in house churches that they will be protected.
  • Pray for NGOs/Christian Ministries continue to deliver much needed spiritual support.
  • Pray for unhindered and abundant deliveries of Bibles in Farsi.
  • Pray for those dealing with the effects of recent violence against them or were released from prison. Please pray that they will have easy access to spiritual trauma counseling
  • Pray to the Lord has His hand of protection over the believers that have courage and boldness to reach out to their neighbors.
  • Pray that the believers know that the body of Christ is praying for them.
  • Pray that the Lord will continue to multiply the numbers of believers, that the church will beyond our wildest expectations.

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Moderator for Persecution Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today

Pastor Stephen Tong: “Pastor Wang Yi is one of the greatest men in the world.”

Stephen Tong, a reformed Chinese pastor based out of Indonesia, has influenced the Chinese house church perhaps more than any other pastor in this generation. In the video below, he shares at the KL2020 conference in Kuala Lumpur some of his thoughts about Pastor Wang Yi. To prevent him from boldly sharing the Gospel, Yi was given a 9 year prison sentence by the government. Please continue to pray for this pastor and our Chinese brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith in Christ.

China: Eradication of Jiangxi Province’s House Churches in Full Swing

The entrance to the church was sealed off.

Holding religious meetings at home is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs.

(Bitterwinter) Throughout 2019, authorities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi forcibly demolished numerous house churches, looted their property, and arrested clergy members under the pretext of the nationwide campaign to “clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.” Bitter Winter continues to receive more reports about such CCP-organized suppression attacks to force house churches into joining the Three-Self Church.

Ever since the central government’s religious work inspection team arrived in Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city in November 2019, clampdowns on house churches noticeably increased.

On January 5, local government officials came to a house church venue in Fuzhou’s Nancheng county to close it down. They took photos of the believers who were present at the time and registered their personal information. The church’s preacher was accused of holding religious meetings at home, which is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, the officials said. Afterward, police officers escorted the preacher to the county’s Public Security Bureau for questioning; he was detained for five days for refusing to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

A source who talked to the preacher after he was released told Bitter Winter that during detention, officers were saying that the state is cracking down on Christianity because it worries about the rapid increase in the number of believers who might unite with foreigners against the CCP.

On December 28, a Sola Fide venue in Fuzhou’s Lean county was celebrating Christmas when several police officers stormed in and drove away all congregation members, threatening to arrest and imprison them if they gathered again. Police officers confiscated Bibles, hymnbooks, audio equipment, and other valuables, and also removed Christmas decorations. Two church directors were escorted to the local police station for questioning, where they were forced to write statements promising not to hold private meetings anymore.

A month before that, another Sola Fide venue in the county had its religious symbols destroyed, and the gate sealed off, preventing anyone from getting inside.

Between December and January, at least three house church venues in Fuzhou’s Lichuan county were closed down.

In mid-December, the Shangrao city’s government ordered to close a house church venue, which had 20 congregation members. Officials threatened the believers that their children’s future would be affected if they didn’t stop assembling. The church director was detained for 15 days for “holding illegal meetings.”

On January 10, the local government cleared out and shut down a house church venue in Dexing city. Officials threatened to demolish the venue if its director held meetings there again.

On December 11, local government officials broke into a house church venue in Jiujiang city’s Xiushui county and took down and burned the cross and other religious symbols. The same day, four other venues in the county were subjected to similar crackdowns. The host of one of them was taken to the police station for questioning and was later forced to sign a statement pledging never to host religious gatherings at home.

In December, over ten government officials raided a house church venue in the Nankang district of Ganzhou city after a community committee official reported it. The police arrested and questioned the preacher for “holding illegal meetings” and summoned the venue’s landlord, ordered him to clear out the church.

Nigeria: ‘Government is Boko Haram but without bomb’, says church leader

 

 

Wala Village attack Nigeria Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, went to the United Kingdom last week to discuss trade and investment amid increased criticism from church leaders back home who say the government is effectively enabling attacks on Christians in the country.

“They [the government] are using the levers of power to secure the supremacy of Islam, which then gives more weight to the idea that it can be achieved by violence,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto told the charity Aid to the Church in Need earlier this month. “With the situation in Nigeria, it is hard to see the moral basis they have to defeat Boko Haram.”

The bishop spoke out after the beheading of 10 Christians by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) on Christmas day and an attack by the Islamist group Boko Haram on Christmas eve in which seven people were killed.

“The only difference between the government and Boko Haram is Boko Haram is holding a bomb,” the bishop said, adding the Buhari government had created the environment in which Islamist groups like Boko Haram could thrive.

“It is not a lie that this government is favoring Islam,” said Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, a prominent evangelical leader in Nigeria, pointing at how Buhari’s political appointments are all Muslim while Nigeria’s population is a nearly even balance of Christian and Muslim.

There have been too many unfulfilled promises, he told Nigeria Everyday. Para-Mallam has been an advocate for the release of Leah Sharibu, a Christian teenager who was abducted by Boko Haram almost two years ago and is believed to still be detained by the group. Last year Buhari promised her family he would do all he could to bring her back. “If the government is truly committed to ending some of these impunities, the crises and the attacks on Christians would have stopped, a lot more could have been done to achieve this,” said the pastor.

Nigeria is 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Just as in 2019, Nigeria’s score for violence was at maximum, due to attacks by Islamist Fulani militants, Boko Haram and other armed groups. Some 1,350 Nigerian Christians lost their lives in the violence.

Confirmed: Mary Mohammadi is in Qarchak Prison

Iranian Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi arrested and brutally beaten by prison officers

Article18 has confirmed that Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi is being held in Qarchak detention centre, south of the Iranian capital Tehran.

It is a month today since Mary was arrested, as protests took place in central Tehran following the Iranian government’s admission of guilt in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Since that time, there has been no word from Mary, although last week the Persian-language HRANA news agency reported that she was being held in Qarchak Prison.

At that time, Article18 was unable to verify this, but a reliable source has now confirmed that Mary is indeed being held there and that her bail has been set at 30 million tomans (around $2,250).

Mary’s family have been able to put together the amount, even though it is equivalent to more than the annual salary for Iranians, under the country’s current economic challenges.

However, Article18’s source explained that during the time it took for the family to obtain the amount, “Mary’s case was transferred from the prosecutor’s office to the court, which will now decide whether or not to grant her temporary release from prison”.

Mary has been charged with “disturbing public order by participating in an illegal rally” and provided with a lawyer not of her choosing.

She has been able to call home a few times to reassure her family that she is OK.

As the Iranian government has held celebrations to mark the 41st anniversary of the revolution, the legal system has slowed. With the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) only a month away, it is not clear whether there will be sufficient time for Mary’s family to secure her release before the holidays, or whether she may be forced to remain detained for longer still.

Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, said that he was “extremely relieved” to know that Mary is OK, and hopes soon to be able to confirm her release – “albeit temporary” – from prison.

Who is Mary Mohammadi?

Mary’s case has captured the world’s attention, with even the US President, Donald Trump, citing her arrest during his recent National Prayer Breakfast speech.

Mary is a rare example of a Christian activist still living in Iran and, prior to her current detention, had already served six months in prison for her Christian activities, for which she was convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the system”.

Last July, Mary faced fresh criminal charges relating to her “improper” wearing of hijab. Those charges, which were eventually quashed, were brought against her after she initially went to police to complain of an assault.

Then in December, Mary was kicked out of her Tehran university, without explanation, on the eve of her English-language exams.

Just a few weeks later, on 12 January, Mary was arrested as protests took place in Azadi Square.

Beaten

HRANA reports that, during her detention, Mary has been beaten so badly – by male and female officers – that the bruises were visible for three weeks.

After her arrest, HRANA reports that she was taken to the Vozara detention centre in Tehran, where she was forced to sit in a yard, for hours, in extremely cold weather and opposite the toilets.

She was then interrogated by three officers, who gave her forms containing 30 questions. Mary refused to answer the questions in the absence of a lawyer.

Mary was not given any food until 24 hours after her arrest and her handcuffs were put on in a cross-shape, making them very uncomfortable.

Mary was also strip-searched twice by female officers, who told her that if she refused to remove her clothes, they would rip them from her.

The next day, she was taken to Evin Court, where she was charged. Her case was then transferred to the General and Criminal Court of Tehran.

Mary is now one of around 2,000 women prisoners in the overcrowded Qarchak Prison, which is considered the worst women’s prison in Iran and has been sanctioned by the US for “gross human rights violations”, including abuse, arbitrary beatings, little drinking water and “creating an environment for rape and murder”, noted Open Doors.

This article was updated on 13 February to include the new information from HRANA.

VOP Note: Please pray for Mary and Christian converts in Iran.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: North Korea (2/27/2020)

Dear Prayer Warriors,

(Voice of the Persecuted) Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. Also, pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.

North Korea

Population: 27.7 million, Christians 300,000

Constant stress, constant threats. If North Korean Christians are discovered, they are deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot. Driven by the state, Christian persecution in North Korea is extreme and meeting other Christians to worship is nearly impossible unless it’s done in complete secrecy.

Christians must keep their faith completely secret. If a Christian has a Bible, or part of one, it will be carefully hidden and only read when the believer is sure they are alone. Most Christians do not even tell their own children about their faith until the kids are older teenagers, for fear that they may let something slip. When Christians are discovered, they will be arrested and imprisoned in one of North Korea’s terrible labor camps, where they are worked like slaves and often tortured; most are never able to escape.

The news tells stories of the country’s ambitions on the world stage. Yet behind the headlines, a massive underground church of 200-400,000 Christians is growing in North Korea. And tens of thousands of these secret believers are held in North Korea’s infamous labor camps. It is a miracle that this underground church is able to exist. But more than that, it is thriving and growing.

There have been raids against Christians and killings, but no details can be published for security reasons. Pastor Dong-cheol Kim—arrested in 2015—and two Korean-American Christian lecturers at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), Tony Kim and Hak-song Kim, arrested in April and May 2017 respectively, were all accused of espionage but released ahead of the U.S.-North Korean summit in June 2018. In a change of hiring policy, PUST is now reportedly looking for non-US staff, a logical consequence of United States’ travel ban on American travel to North Korea. There have been more reports coming from North Korea, but for security reasons, no details can be given.

  • Pray North Korean officials will come to know God, for change within the regime and that the power of evil will be broken.
  • During a year when North Korea raised its profile on the world stage, Kim Jong Un continues to consolidate his power. Pray he will accept the one, true God.
  • Open Doors provides North Korean Christians with food, medicine and clothing and safe houses for North Korean refugees in China. Pray the church is strengthened and encouraged to endure by this provision.
  • Pray for Christians who suffer in prisons, labor camps and remote areas to have hope.
  • Pray for NGOs like Open Doors and Helping Hands can continue to deliver much needed physical and spiritual support. Another NGO which was pushed out of China is now feeding 15,000 children a day from their base in Vladivostok, Russia.
  • Pray that covert organizations will be able to smuggle more people out of K and bring them to safety In South Korea.
  • Pray for those dealing with the effects of recent violence against them. Please pray for the Lord’s provision in in all their physical and spiritual need
  • Pray to the Lord has His hand of protection over the believers that have courage and boldness to reach out to their neighbors.
  • Pray that the believers know that the body of Christ is praying for them.
  • Pray that the Lord will strengthen His believers and that it will continue to grow despite the hostile environment.

Many blessings,

Nadia Dybvik and Andy, Prayer Moderators for Persecution Watch Prayer Call

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today and join the team!

China: Christians Forced to Choose Between State Benefits and Faith

Portraits of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were posted by officials in a believer’s home in Lu’an city.

Local officials throughout China are intimidating people of faith to renounce religion and start worshiping the Communist Party and its leaders, past and present. Officials warned them “not to praise Jesus but the Communist Party because it supports his livelihood.” “You must listen to the Party and follow it forever and ever.”

by Tang Zhe (Bitter Winter) Ever since President Xi Jinping took office, his portraits and quotes started invading places of worship and even believers’ homes, pushing his personality cult to unprecedented levels. People are also threatened to have their poverty alleviation and other government aid removed if they don’t replace religious symbols with portraits of Xi Jinping or Mao Zedong.  Bitter Winter continues to receive more such reports.

In Fenyi county of the southeastern province of Jiangxi, Caochang township officials came to the home of a Three-Self church member on December 27, 2019. They forced the believer of more than 30 years to replace two religion-themed pictures with a portrait of Xi Jinping.

Village officials visited the woman’s home several times to ensure that she doesn’t host religious meetings or read the Bible, threatening to revoke her subsistence allowance if she does.

In June, government officials tore down a picture with the cross from a wall in the home of a 60-year-old believer in Fenyi county’s Dongcun township. They threw it into a trash bin and posted portraits of Xi Jinping and other CCP leaders in its place.

“The government is imposing stricter and stricter control over religion. I’m afraid we won’t be able to attend Sunday service in our Three-Self church,” a local churchgoer said worriedly.

Believers in the eastern province of Shandong face similar suppression. On November 15, government officials raided a Three-Self meeting venue, spanning the history of more than 40 years, in Heze city-administered Shan county. They forced their way inside when no one was there and replaced a painting depicting Jesus and embroidery of the cross, displayed in the center of a wall in the hall, with a Xi Jinping portrait. The officials threw away the religious paintings and moved all the tables and chairs into the courtyard.

The next day, they returned to the venue again, threatening to demolish the building if the owner continued renting it to the church and ordered him “not to praise Jesus but the Communist Party because it supports his livelihood.” “You must listen to the Party and follow it forever and ever,” the officials warned before leaving.

In December, two more elderly believers in Shan county had paintings depicting Jesus replaced with images of Xi Jinping. Officials threatened one of the women to revoke her subsistence allowance if she continued believing in God. “You are allowed to worship Xi Jinping only,” the elderly believer was pressured.

“Believing in God is deemed a crime in China, where believers are restricted every day, as their rights and liberties are obstructed,” an elderly Christian from Shandong’s Penglai city, who was also threatened to lose her subsistence allowance, told Bitter Winter. “The CCP propagates the freedom of religion, but persecutes old women like me for their faith.”

In October 2019, a Sola Fide house church member for 26 years from Lu’an city in the central province of Anhui was ordered by a local official to take down a picture with Chinese characters for “God loves the world” she had at home. The woman refused and was warned that her poverty alleviation subsidy would be revoked if she continued resisting. She chose her faith over money, but the officials still took down the picture, saying that she could not keep it even if she gave up the subsidy because “this is the Party’s policy.” He then forcibly took down the picture, replacing it with portraits of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China. He took photos afterward, to send them to the higher-ups.

VOP NOTE: Please pray for Chinese Christians to remain faithful under pressure and endure the extreme government persecution against them.

 

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