By: Allen Manning

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Christmas is about giving – giving more than you get.

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Just before Christmas, five North Texas men arrived back in Dallas after a 12-day trek to the African nation of Cameroon… to give.

(Left to right) Allen Manning, David Balyeat, Ben Jikong, Rodney Wheeler, Steve Ingram

(Left to right) Allen Manning, David Balyeat, Ben Jikong, Rodney Wheeler, Steve Ingram

It was the arrival in Cameroon that set the tone for their visit.

“When we arrived, they met us two miles from the village. Singing and dancing and walked us into the village,” recalls Rodney Wheeler.

“I thought that was how they greet everyone who comes to visit. But I learned later that they had been praying for two years for our safe arrival to help them with their new church,” said Wheeler

Humbled by the welcome, the men worked to ready the church for plastering and cleared the floors for concrete work.

(Credit: Allen Manning)

(Credit: Allen Manning)

At night, the team helped with services in a field near the new church.

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Wheeler is part of the Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church team of Steve Ingram and Allen Manning led by Ben Jikong and shepherded by Pastor David Balyeat.

They joined a five-person team from Memphis’ Bellevue Baptist Church.

Jikong said he had asked the team come to his childhood home Tabor (Pronounced Ja- Toe) village to fulfill a dream of building a church for the entire village to use after outgrowing the 40-year-old Bethel Baptist Chapel.

(Credit: Allen Manning)

(Credit: Allen Manning)

The women and little kids sat on the floor and pews filling the church while men and older children watched from windows and doorways outside.

We came to give from what God had given us. Our church families donated materials and funds, and we gave our time.

It took only 30 hours and three flights to reach Cameroon, and another 13 hours to find the village along roads devoid of pavement and riddled with potholes.

“Leaving our families here in DFW right before the holidays was hard,” said Jikong. “But the journey was rewarding. We pray we get to return and finish what God has started.”

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(Credit: Allen Manning)

(Credit: Allen Manning)