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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The BGMC Story: Challenged to Change the World

By David and Mary Boyd
Mar. 9, 2014

Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade... When BGMC was created in 1949, it was given the name in order to encourage kids to be on a crusade — a mission — to provide Assemblies of God missionaries with the printed materials they needed, such as Sunday School literature and Bibles.

Marking 65 years of ministry this year, BGMC has changed with the times, now providing far more than literature. BGMC furnishes missionaries with an array of resources they need to spread the gospel.

Over the years, the word crusade grew somewhat disconnected from kids’ culture. As a result, the AG 52nd General Council in Indianapolis ratified the name change to “Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge” in 2007.

Challenge has proven to be a better descriptive word for the BGMC missions program. Our desire is for kids to be challenged to:

• Help our missionaries.
• Sacrificially give to missions.
• Help the needy in the world.
• Pray for missionaries.
• Pray for various people groups.
• Love and accept people of all races.
• Reach the lost.
• Keep their hearts open to the call of God for full-time missions work.

We also want churches to be challenged to:

• Teach their kids about missions.
• Give to BGMC.
• Do whatever it takes to supply AG missionaries.
• Help meet local needs around the world.

BGMC’s new motto is “Challenging Kids to Reach the World,” a theme that continues to reflect the twofold stated purpose of BGMC: (1) to create a heart of compassion in kids, and (2) to reach the children of the world.

Nurturing a heart for missions

In the late 1940s, executives of the Assemblies of God, staff in the Foreign Missions Department, and personnel in the Sunday School Department considered the need for a missions education program for boys and girls 12 years of age and younger.

A missions program for adults was already in place. Speed the Light, a missions program for youth, was relatively new and gaining momentum. But children who wanted to participate in missions had to become a part of one of these two programs.

Clearly, if children were to become adults concerned about Assemblies of God missions, they needed to be taught about missions in their formative years.

BGMC was introduced during the Seattle General Council in September 1949. About the same time, a general letter was sent to all AG churches. That same month, 145 churches joined the BGMC program. The number soon increased to 229 total charter members.

Barrel banks were chosen as the collection containers for donations, since everything sent to the foreign field at that time was packed in sturdy wooden barrels. This evolved into Buddy Barrel — the mascot or symbol for BGMC.

Thus, a small wooden barrel would be given to every boy and girl in participating Sunday Schools. The child was to take the barrel home and each day place a penny, nickel, dime or more in it. Once a month on the designated Sunday, the children would return their barrels to Sunday School.

In October 1949, the Assemblies of God launched BGMC to provide AG missionaries with literature for distribution, for translation work, and for study material. Backdated literature from Gospel Publishing House could help meet this need inexpensively. The Seventh National Sunday School Convention held in Springfield, Mo., featured BGMC as a vital means to raise money through Sunday Schools for this literature program.

The first BGMC offering was received from the New York-New Jersey District in October 1949; it was $935. Immediately, packages of backdated literature were sent to Honduras and Jamaica. That first year, BGMC offerings raised $1,290.39.

Besides paying postage costs to ship literature to mission fields, BGMC funds would help underwrite translation and printing in regions where the Assemblies of God had printing plants — in South Africa, Brazil, Peru, the Gold Coast and other fields.

In 1950, Frances Foster was appointed to oversee the BGMC program. She remained in this position for 21 years.

From the beginning, BGMC had two avowed aims — to furnish needed literature for the mission fields and to instill a missionary vision within every Pentecostal boy and girl. A slogan, “The Word for the World,” was created to accurately describe the ministry of BGMC.

In 1952, BGMC began to emphasize a specific mission field every year. Emphasis was placed on that field, with a special offering taken up in churches from children and adults alike on BGMC Day.

New challenges in a new century

In 1999, BGMC became a part of the recently formed National Children’s Ministries Agency. The Executive Presbytery directed in June 2001 that BGMC would be the children’s missions education program for all Assemblies of God kids. That year, Royal Rangers, Missionettes, and the Association of Christian Teachers and Schools adopted BGMC as their missions program. All kids would hear the same missions message and would work toward the same goals.

In 2007, BGMC became its own department in the Division of Church Ministries.

The use of BGMC funds expanded. BGMC helps missionaries today purchase whatever they need to spread the gospel — everything from puppets, clown outfits, and animal costumes to Bibles, tracts, and Sunday School literature to computers, videos, CDs, and training manuals.

BGMC also helps support various AG-affiliated missions organizations, such as Convoy of Hope, International Media Ministries, Global University (formerly International Correspondence Institute), Global Initiative (formerly Center for Muslim Ministries), Africa’s Hope, Africa Oasis Project (which provides water wells), HealthCare Ministries, Life Publishers, Network 211, Builders International, Sustain Hope, Royal Rangers International, and Teen Challenge International.

In the United States, BGMC helps supply AG U.S. missionaries and missions organizations. BGMC contributes to Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, Institutional/Occupational Chaplaincy, Intercultural Ministries, Military Chaplaincy, Teen Challenge, and Church Planting. As well, a percentage of BGMC funds allows AG districts to support home missions projects among their own churches and communities.

BGMC operates primarily through children’s offerings, and especially tries to minister to the children of the world. Missionaries use BGMC offerings to help street kids and to support orphanages, feeding programs, and water wells that give impoverished children vital help. Besides this type of crisis intervention, BGMC offerings provide practical resources such as school supplies, fees for Bible camps, and production funds for children’s gospel TV programs and videos.

BGMC continues to help underwrite translation projects so people can read the gospel in their own language. BGMC has helped make possible the translation of the Junior Bible Quiz program, Royal Rangers and Missionettes (National Girls Ministries in the U.S.) materials, kids church curriculum, and Sunday School lessons into many different languages around the world.

Timeless mission

BGMC’s twofold purpose — to reach the children of the world and to create a heart of compassion in children — has never been more relevant. BGMC exists to serve the church in preparing children for their fullest participation in world evangelization.

As a children’s missions education agency of the Assemblies of God, BGMC is committed to beginning the processes of missions awareness, missions concern, and missions stewardship in each young life and to introducing children at the earliest possible age to Christ’s Great Commission.

The BGMC slogan, “Equipping kids to know, care, pray, give, and reach the lost,” ties in with all three missions education themes. Children’s missions education engages the child’s head with knowledge, or missions awareness. The child’s heart grows in care and compassion, or missions concern. As a tangible expression of these influences, the child’s hands respond in giving, or missions stewardship.

Missions awareness includes multicultural education, introducing children to a fascinating, culturally diverse world. As children connect with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and way of life in other cultures, that experience must culminate in a look at spiritual realities. Through BGMC, children learn of the plight of lost people who do not have an adequate explanation of the gospel to enable them to make a decision to follow Christ.

Missions concern involves theology, teaching the child who God is and how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit work together through missions to save lost souls. This aspect of children’s missions education introduces the child to Christ’s Great Commission.

Missions stewardship involves life application response and commitment to the Great Commission. Children learn to give their time, talents and treasures to reach the lost. Within this objective is training in prayer and personal evangelism as well as giving systematically, once a month, to reach the lost.

More fundamental than any amount of missions theory is the work of the Holy Spirit in each child’s heart. As the Spirit works to call children today into an obedient response at their level to the world’s need for the gospel, He is also choosing from among them those who will become the missionaries of tomorrow.

DAVID and MARY BOYD are national directors of BGMC at the Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center in Springfield, Mo.

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