BGMC Prepares to Celebrate 70 Years of Missions Ministry
Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC) is encouraging churches to join them in celebrating 70 years of ministry on BGMC Sunday, March 10.It began in 1949 when Hart Armstrong, a former missionary, proposed creating a program called Boys & Girls Missionary Crusade (BGMC) to help raise money for translating gospel literature and getting it to the mission field — and it took off from there.
BGMC was officially launched at the 1949 General Council, with the first official offering received raising a modest $9.25. At the same time, church leaders, realizing the importance of children becoming involved in mass numbers, created small wooden barrel banks (now made of yellow plastic and known as Buddy Barrels) for children to place pennies, nickels, dimes, or more in as they could.
“It’s amazing to think back to that first offering and those initial years of BGMC and how far we’ve come today,” says David Boyd, national BGMC director, who notes it took 15 years to reach the first $1 million in giving. “This year alone, BGMC raised more than $8.5 million, for a total of more than $158 million raised since 1949.”
In 2007, the iconic BGMC program received a name change to Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge. The change came to help better communicate what BGMC was all about and to encourage kids to personally take on the challenge of helping missionaries reach the world with the gospel.
Mary Boyd, BGMC national coordinator, explains that over the past 70 years, two key elements of BGMC — in addition to reaching the children of the world with the gospel — have been to create hearts of compassion within children and to expose them to missions and the possibility of one day being called by God into missions.
“We believe BGMC has been very effective in fulfilling these purposes as a majority of AG missionaries were involved with BGMC as kids,” she says. “And that continues today, as many of today’s kids feel God is calling them into missions.”
In the 70th Birthday Celebration newsletter, the national BGMC office provided a collection of testimonies from children, ages 5 to 12, who either felt God calling them into missions and/or felt God guiding them to raise money for BGMC. These efforts extended beyond the church walls in the community and classroom. One young man, during his years in kids’ ministry, raised more than $100,000 for missions and BGMC.
David Boyd, citing the efforts of kids selling candy bars, pizzas, hosting garage sales, and even donating their birthday money to BGMC, says he’s issuing a challenge to churches for March 10 — BGMC Sunday.
“We’re asking that churches take a moment to recognize the 70th anniversary of BGMC — not only in children’s church, but in the adult service — and what it has meant to missionaries around the world, on Sunday, March 10,” he says. “On our website, BGMC.ag.org, you will find all kinds of resources — missionary thank you letters, missionary thank you videos (including several under 2 minutes) and other materials — that are designed to help people understand the reach and effectiveness of BGMC and its service to our missionaries. As a result, my prayer is that your church will make BGMC Sunday an annual event and make BGMC a part of your children’s ministry, if it isn’t already.”