Summer 2010

The Prodigal Son’s Father Shouldn’t Have Run!

Putting Luke 15:11-32 in context

By Matt Williams

Note: It is so important to read the New Testament with first-century eyes. This lesson on the Parable of the Prodigal Son is taken from The Forgiveness of Jesus, one of 36 DVD Bible studies on the life of Jesus in a six-DVD series called “Deeper Connections,” edited by Talbot School of Theology professor Matt Williams. These studies, which have been used by nearly 200,000 people, explain Jesus’ life and teachings from the first-century context in order to help us understand their deeper meaning and how to apply it to our modern context. Each of the video lessons is introduced from Israel and taught by different New Testament scholars from diverse locations such as the Chicago skyline, the Rocky Mountains, the beach, etc.

One afternoon, when my son was 3 years old, he was upset with me. He decided that it was time to run away from home. He'd had enough of dad. He was going to go it alone — at 3 years old! So, he walked out the garage, walked down the driveway and started walking down the sidewalk. He got three houses down the street before I ran to him — as fast as I could — to hug him and bring him home.

I ran! Of course I ran. That makes perfect sense to us.

In the first century, however, a Middle Eastern man never — never — ran. If he were to run, he would have to hitch up his tunic so he would not trip. If he did this, it would show his bare legs. In that culture, it was humiliating and shameful for a man to show his bare legs.

So, here’s the question: If it was shameful for a man to run in that culture, why did the father run when his son returned to him? What motivated him to shame himself? Before we answer that question, we have to understand an important first-century Jewish custom.

Kenneth Bailey, author of The Cross & the Prodigal, explains that if a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, and then returned home, the community would perform a ceremony, called the kezazah. They would break a large pot in front of him and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” The community would totally reject him.

So, why did the father run? He probably ran in order to get to his son before he entered the village. The father runs — and shames himself — in an effort to get to his son before the community gets to him, so that his son does not experience the shame and humiliation of their taunting and rejection. The village would have followed the running father, would have witnessed what took place at the edge of the village between father and son. After this emotional reuniting of the prodigal son with his father, it was clear that their would be no kezazah ceremony; there would be no rejecting this son — despite what he has done. The son had repented and returned to the father. The father had taken the full shame that should have fallen upon his son and clearly shown to the entire community that his son was welcome back home.

The amazing application for our own lives is crystal clear. Our heavenly Father has taken our shame through his Son, Jesus, who willingly endured the cross on our behalf. He took our sins’ shame so that we would not have to. As a result, we can be forgiven, restored — accepted. We do not have to fear going home to our Father and confessing our sins, no matter what we have done, or how many times we have done it (remember, Jesus taught his followers to forgive 70 times seven).

In the parable, only the father could restore the son to full sonship in the family. In our case, we are sinners, and there is nothing that we can do to restore our lost relationship with the Holy God of the Universe. He calls us and waits — a single repentant step in his direction, and he is off and running to welcome us back home! 

Not only does God forgive us, but he takes upon himself our shame. He lifts off that weight that we carry on our shoulders for our past mistakes, and willingly wipes the slate clean once more. May we experience what the prodigal son encountered upon returning to the Father: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

Matt Williams is an associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. He holds a Ph.D. from Trinity International University.

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  • Ivan December 14, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Good word, Matt! Thank you!!

  • Patrick Ward December 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I have heard that the story of the Prodigal Son was well known in Jesus' time, but the ending in the traditional Jewish story was that the lost son remained lost, or even died a horrible and shameful death. This story would be used to reinforce upholding traditional Jewish values and discourage assimilation to the cultures around them.

    Jesus took this story and turned it into a story that shows God's love and mercy on the repentant.

  • Rich emanuel April 18, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    Great commentary. I've often wondered why Jesus allowed himself to experience so much more than the blood sacrifice required by old testament law. Why the desertion/betrayal of friends? Why the beatings, humiliation, shame of nakedness, unfair trials, unbelievable pain of crucifixion ? Why did the prodigals father allow for the shame of showing bare legs and accepting his sinful son back? The crucifixion is about so much more than "fulfilling prophecy ". It shows the passion of God who not only bought our salvation but identified with all our sins and pain .

  • Jose Xavier July 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Thank you so much for this article .It made such wonderful reading .I am told this is the only time in the Bible where God is portrayed as 'running' ! Isn't it wonderful that he did this to welcome his repentant son and save him from shame .It sure gives me a better understanding of the expression 'Amazing Grace' !!!

    prayers

    Jose Xavier

    Germany

  • Paul McCarthy August 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Blown away by Our Heavenly Father's Great & Awesome Love to us.

  • juliet September 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    thank you so much.i am really blessed and touch by the treasures you have shared.

  • S. Pusha October 23, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Thank you for sharing this! This adds a whole new meaning to the story! Thanks for the pointers!

  • Dee October 30, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Can only say Amen to Rich's comments as it reiterates my heart. One can only be so humbled and be so extremely grateful for Gods love for his children. It hits you right in the core of your being and of late I often thought how on earth could I have wasted so much precious time... A real "oh duh" feeling. Gosh how often have I drank from the wells of the sewer, when the fountain of life given water was right in front of me but I was to blind to see. Thank you Abba Father for your unconditional love.

  • carolyn January 19, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    Great article! If you look carefully at the painting you will see that one of the fathers hands looks like a female hand....a representation of th maternal love of a mother? The gentle love of a mother? Fascinating.

  • kevin January 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    It IS amazing love isn't it? Also amazing when the father runs, too. The father does not run after the son when the son leaves does he? In the same way, God did not create us as automatons, but instead created us with the ability to make choices. The motivation of the son is his desire to live the way he would choose to live, which is not the plans of the father. He rebels against the plans of the father (Garden of Eden). When the son recognizes his need to be saved, only when he is broken, did he heed the Spirit's call to be reunited with his father.

    So amazing, too, is that the father did not require the son to pay back his inheritance in order to restore fellowship with his father. Grace and mercy come together.

    To reconcile means to unite (conciliare) again (re). This means it is a 3 stage process - at one time we were in fellowship with God (before the fall). Something had to have happened (the imputation of Christ's righteousness upon us) for us to be reconciled with the Father.

    Good discussion - what life applications can WE learn from this? Knowing that we have been reconciled, what do we do (not meaning works based salvation) now?

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  • edwin October 19, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    My name is Edwin wallace, am from England, what a wonderful and a straight
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    days i was like am i sure what this man is saying is real,So i decided to
    give a try and i what even surprised me the most at first i was also
    thinking he was a scam i taught he was like other spell caster who come
    online to add pain to peoples pain not knowing there feelings but to make
    money,But this great man Dr kume is never like that his own is for good and
    make people to be happy with the one they love,Am just so happy,Even before
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    he his sorry and that he wants me back to his life i was so happy,He
    invited me for a dinner which i meant him there and we bought talked and he
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    engaged me and also make me had access to all his account am so happy all
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  • edwin October 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM






    Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Edwin Wallace i live in United State,and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(kemespelltemple@gmail.com }, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website {kemespelltemple@gmail.com },i f you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to "bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr KUME for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.(kemespelltemple@gmail.com }, Thanks..





  • Ellyn Arkwright October 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Have never believed in the supernatural or talk less of spell or even voodoo. In my head there was nothing on earth that was ever going to get me involve in such thing but life was we know throw s**t at your door and some how the doors opens up and let it strike you.************* My twin sister was having an affair with the my long time boyfriend. I mean i only found out the day he told me was no longer want to be with me that he was in love with my twin sister and he has been cheating on me with her. This was after four year of dating. I lived in pain for a whole year having to see her face every family thanksgiving day with the man i love sitting side by side kissing him and hugging maybe to piss me off or something it only made me hated her more and more desperate to get my boyfriend back. I got him back finally yes i did, but i can fail to say i did not use the normal way Metodo Acamu help me cast a spell to kill their relationship and rekindle ours to how we were before they started her affair. In case you asking asking yourself how possible it is believe me i don't know and won't tell you i understand cos like i said i never in my life thought it would result to me using a spell or something but there is one thing i know is that the spell worked for me and made my love fall in love with me again. There not much i can say to emphasize how the spell worked all i know is that i was asked to get some materials for the spell of which i was to buy and go present the materials myself to Metodo Acamu or send over or send the expenditure to him to get the materials need for the spell. to me it was less expensive to wire th cash to him to get the materials cos they are the expert in it. But i know in the end METODO ACAMU pulled through with the spell and made me whole again. Like honestly my main purpose for writing this was to let those out there know that other comment about METODO on the internet is really cos here i am tell you my story it can get anymore real than it is already. I can never forgive my twin sister even though i have got my love back. Use this email address as METODO ACAMU contact {metodoacamufortress@yahoo.com}

  • Kiran Kang October 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    I am Kiran Kang, from USA, I promise to share this testimony all over the world once my boyfriend return back to me, and today with all due respect i want to thank Prophet Lord for bringing joy and happiness to my relationship and my family. I want to inform you all that there is a spell caster that is real and genuine. I never believed in any of these things until i loosed my boyfriend, I required help until i found a grate spell caster, And he cast a love spell for me, and he assured me that I will get my boyfriend back in two days after the spell has been cast. Three days later, my phone rang, and so shockingly, it was my boyfriend who has not called me for past 6 years now, and made an apology for the heart break, and told me that he is ready to be my back bone till the rest of his life with me. Prophet Lord released him up to know how much i loved and wanted him. And opened his eyes to picture how much we have share together. As I`m writing this testimony right now I`m the most happiest girl on earth and me and my boyfriend is living a happy life and our love is now stronger than how it were even before our break up. So that`s why I promised to share my testimony all over the universe. All thanks goes to Prophet Lord for the excessive work that he has done for me. Below is the email address in any situation you are undergoing a heart break, and I assure you that as he has done mine for me, he will definitely help you too. solutionoflovespelltemple@gmail.com that is his email address

  • AMANDA MORELLI October 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    My name is AMANDA MORELLI,i base in Canada want to share my wonderful testimony on how i got back my ex-lover of my life back, who i sworn to be with until when he left me to another woman for no reason and i try to make things work for both of us yet things where getting worse and i love him so much and there is nothing i could do to get my ex back until i met a testimony share by Maria from USA on the internet talking about a powerful spell caster who brought his ex lover back within 48 hours and i decide to give it a try and to my greatest surprise he also did it for me just as he did for Maria and i have a lot of people complaining of fake spell caster but this one i met was a real spell caster who help me to solve my problem i have no solution to,i introduce many of my best friends that have a similar problems,and their problem were solve with the great help of Dr.Iyaryi. they get back their ex within 48 hours.i am so happy that my ex is back to me again,and the most surprise,is that our love is very strong,every day is happiness and joy. and there is nothing like been with the man you love.i am so happy my love is back to me with the help of Dr.Iyaryi. if you have similar problem i will advice you to contact him ,he is there to help you and put a smile on your face ask he did to me and others.contact email(driayaryi2012@hotmail.com)

  • derek natasha October 19, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Hi, my name is Derek Natasha. I have been in great bondage for almost 2 years suffering in the hands of a cheating husband,we were happy and leaving well until he meant his old time girl friend and he started dating her outside our marriage before you knew it he stoped caring and taking care of his own family it was to the extent that he was planning to get married to her and divorce me his own wife, i have cried and reported him to his family but he never listened to any one but to cut my story short i came in search for a real spell caster who could destroy their relationship and make him come back to me and our 2 kids on my search i saw people making testimony on how their marriage where restored by Dr.Trust i pick his email and i narrated my story to him and he agreed to help me and after performing a spell on the second day both had a quarrel and he beat his girlfriend up and he came home begging for i and my little kids to forgive him that his eyes are clear now that he will never do any thing that will hurt his family again and promise to be a caring father and never cheat again.I am so so happy that i did not loose him to the girl. all appreciation goes to Dr.Trust for you are a Great spell caster and to whom this may concern if you have a cheating husband or wife or you need your ex lover back again. you can as well email him on (Ultimatespellcast@hotmail.com or ultimatespellcast@gmail.com) or you can call him +2348156885231.

  • Ethan Simon October 20, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Hello ladies and gentlemen am here to give Thanks to dr Atili for the great work he did in my life I never taught I could be a happy Man again, cause I lost my life partner since 2010 so I was never my self ever since, until I came across dr Atili's email on net on how he has been helping a lot of people to get back their lost lover, so I had to give him a try and see if he can still help me, that was how I contacted him and he told me not to worry that I shall have my lover back to my arms within 24 hours, so that was how I waited to see what will happen, could you believe that dr Atili did something very great which was like a dream in my eyes? The next thing I could hear was a call from Maria who left and never called me since 2010, she was begging me on the phone that I should Forgive her, at first I taught I was dreaming but later on realized that I was not, so that was how the great Atili brought back happiness into my life by bringing back Maria my love into my life, now am happy and we both are living in love and in happiness in our matrimonial home, thanks be unto dr Atili. You can reach him through his email if you need help via: Atilihomeofanswer@gmail.com or cell number +2347051255824

    Ethan Simon

    From USA

  • veroni October 20, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    I am full of happiness and delight, on the grounds that I have my significant other once more at my palm. My partner left me for just about 2 years. He doesn't pick or even return my calls and sends I tried each approaches to get him back, however no way. Until I met with this extraordinary spell caster called sacura, who did magic for me to get him back in less than 42hrs. I exhort anybody going to this site to run to him promptly for any relationship offer assistance. He is an extremely effective and experience spell caster you can get help from.you can contact this great man Dr sacura on his email drsacuratemple@hotmail.com

  • Dora Sandy October 20, 2014 at 7:14 PM


    I AM Dora Sandy i want to give thanks and i will always give thanks to Priest ina who brought back my divorce husband that has left me for 6years within 48hours,i have said about this last week but i promised to always tell people about this every weekend so that those that did not read about it last week will read about it this week,i have been looking for how to get pregnant and how to get my divorce husband back to my life because i love him with the whole of my heart,i could not replace him with any body,one day i was watching my television when i saw a lady giving thanks to priest ina and telling the world how he helped her i was so shocked i could not believe it because i never taught that there are powers that can bring back lost marriage,then that was how i decided to contact him too because i do really need my divorce husband back,when i contacted him i told him everything and he told me not to worry that my divorce husband will surely be back to me, within 48hours at first i could not believe because i was thinking how could somebody that has gone for 6years come back within 48 hours,so then i decided to watch and see,unbelievable within the next 48hours i got a call from unknown number so i pick the call the next thing i could hear was my husbands voice he was pleading and begging me on the phone that i should forgive him that i should forget all that have happened that he did not know what came over him,he promised not to leave for any reason,that he was really sorry for what he did,i was so surprised because i never believed that this could happen,so that was how i accepted his apology and the next morning he came back home to meet me and still pleading for me to forgive him i told him that everything is okay that i have forgiven him,that was how we started again and he has Chang,i promised to say this testimony in radio station,commenting this testimony that now am pregnant,but still okay before this month runs out i promise to say this in radio station and i will sir, thank you very much.World please am begging you people to try and help me thank this man for me,or if you need his help here is his email address prophetoyinbojesus@yahoo.com or you can also reach him through his mobile number,+2348074066640

  • Samantha Oscar October 20, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Samantha Oscar
    I want to say this appreciation to Dr.store of shamuspiritualtemple@yahoo.com for bringing back my husband who left me and the kids for almost 2 years.we have suffered for 2years until i met Dr. store i never taught i would get him back untill i saw a comment online about Dr.store on how he helped so many people to get back their love onces back to them and other miraclrious things he has done for people, and i contacted him to give him a try to see if is true , after following all instruction given to me by Dr.store, my husband came back begging for forgiveness within the space of 48hours. i didn't even exspect that it would happen that fast Thanks doctor your spell is really great. For those of you who have marriage/relationship problem should contacct him for hel via shamuspiritualtemple@yahoo.com. And experience it your self.Am so happy i have forfell my promise that if it work out i we tell the world on internet what he did for me

  • Samantha Oscar October 20, 2014 at 9:09 PM


    Samantha Oscar
    I want to say this appreciation to Dr.store of shamuspiritualtemple@yahoo.com for bringing back my husband who left me and the kids for almost 2 years.we have suffered for 2years until i met Dr. store i never taught i would get him back untill i saw a comment online about Dr.store on how he helped so many people to get back their love onces back to them and other miraclrious things he has done for people, and i contacted him to give him a try to see if is true , after following all instruction given to me by Dr.store, my husband came back begging for forgiveness within the space of 48hours. i didn't even exspect that it would happen that fast Thanks doctor your spell is really great. For those of you who have marriage/relationship problem should contacct him for hel via shamuspiritualtemple@yahoo.com. And experience it your self. Am so happy i have forfell my promise that if it work out, i we tell the world on internet what he did for me

  • sarah October 20, 2014 at 10:22 PM



    !!! How Dr.Ukaka Restore My Broken Marriage And Bring Back My Lover !!!

    My Success Story: And i am so happy to spread the news on the internet for those that need real and a reliable spell caster to contact without meeting with various fake and rip off spell casters online first just the way i came in-contact with like 4 fake spell caster online before now. I will start my success story by introducing myself to the entire world and were i am from. I am Sarah by name a citizen of USA that was in so much depression, frustration and confusion before i came in-contact with this spell caster that helped me solve my problem and made me happy once more. Late last year, to be preside October 16 2013, I had a problem with my relationship, So because of that i have to quit the my boyfriend / husband and move on to another man i fell in love with again outside after i have left Matthew the following week. Matthew really tried for me as he showed me real love, by playing with me all the time when i return from work, so good to me when is bed time, In-fact he was really a nice man. But due to the fact that sometimes he complains on so many things to much i had to seek for a divorce and i left him alone and went ahead with life. This new man i meant was caring at first and also lovely. But as time pass-by, I found out that this new man only loved me all just because i had a very good Job as all he want to do to me is to run away with my money and claim so many of my assets. I noticed this late November same year and i went down with depression and burst into tears and i was regretting ever seeking for a divorce to leave Matthew because i really started missing Matthew in my life to the extent that i was calling his cellphone but he was not taking up my calls. As the only time i hear from him is when he will send me a text message were he will be telling me that he do not want me anymore as he is in love with his new girlfriend as they are even planing of getting married first week of December Thanks to Mrs Stefany that introduced me to this great spell caster called Dr Ukaka that is so trustful and reliable in all his works and spell casting. His email is as follows:freedomlovespell@hotmail.com also contact him on his web site: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com

  • Jauna October 20, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    My name is Jauna Den,i live in Texas.i want to share my wonderful testimony on how i got back my ex-lover of my life back, who i sworn to be with until when he left me to another woman for no reason and i try to make things work for both of us yet things where getting worse and i love him so much and there is nothing i could do to get my ex back until i saw a testimony share on the internet talking about a powerful spell caster Dr Ogbu of ogbushrine@gmail.com who brought ex lover back within 2days and i decide to give it a try and to my greatest surprise he also did it for me, i introduce many of my best friends that have a similar problems, and their problem were solve with the great help of Dr Ogbu through email ogbushrine@gmail.com and they got back their ex lovers. i am so happy that my ex is back to me again,and the most surprise,is that our love is stronger by the day, every day is happiness and joy and there is nothing like been with the man you love. I am so happy

  • alisa October 21, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    I want to testify of the good work done by a faithful Dr Adodo, a spell caster. in my life I never thought there is such thing as love spell intercession. my problem started nine months back when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behavior, I never knew he was having an affair outside our home. it dawn on me on that faithful day when he came to the house to pick his things that was when I knew that situation has gotten out of hand and he then told me he was quitting the marriage which I have built for over five years, I was confused and dumbfounded I called on family and friends but to no avail. two months after I started having problem with my kids welfare rent-age and all of it, I really went through hell. until a day I was browsing on the internet and I happen to meet a spell caster I never believed on this but I needed my man back so I gave the spell caster my problem at first I never trusted him so I was just doing it but you know a problem shared is half solved after a 2 days my husband called me telling me that he his coming back home and that was all. now we are living happily.contact him on this email: Adodospelltemple@gmail.com or call his mobile number +2348107527833

  • Sarah October 21, 2014 at 1:16 PM


    hello everyone in this blog, i want to extend my thanks to Dr Zack Balo wiseindividualspell@gmail.com the great spell caster that help me get my ex back after i have be scam by four spell casters who claims they are real and genuine, i contacted this great spell caster at the point of losing hope that i can not get my man back again, i did exactly what this man ask me to do and to my greatest surprise everything happen the way this great spell caster told me that it will happen. my man who have not called me for the past one month just called me after Dr Zack Balo cast his spell on him, and i really surprise that there are still great spell caster like Dr Zack Balo who is so powerful. i am really happy today seeing my man back to me and even loving me more than ever before i meet him. i will not forgive myself if i leaves this blog without dropping the email address of this great spell caster for those of you that might need his help to contact him. so here is the email address of this great spell caster: wiseindividualspell@gmail.com contact him now and all your problems will be gone forever


  • paulina October 22, 2014 at 1:53 AM


    My name is Paulina K Bernard. I am from UK london i am here to spread the entire work of a real spell caster called Mama Destiny who just helped me to retrieve back my union with my husband and make our relationship very stronger and brought joy and happiness into our marriage. I have been scammed by a lot of fake spell casters but i was later introduced to Mama Destiny by a friend named tucker stacey to this great man who help her to restore her relationship back with his husband.He also help me and wipe away my tears. So viewers of this wonderful testimony who wants to contact him like:mamadestinyspell@gmail.com
    +2347032963189.


    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. DIVORCE SPELL.

    3. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. CHILD BEARING.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. CURING OF HIV AND MANY MORE.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL.

    11. BUSINESS CHARMS TO ENQUIRE MORE CUSTOMERS AND LOT'S MORE..

    So brothers and sisters i have tested this man DR. Malawi and i have found that he is real and genuine. i am now the happiest woman on earth today, Contact his via email id and be joyful in your life.(mamadestinyspell@gmail.com Tel:+2347032963189).

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