The Story Behind Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC)

BGMC Buddy BarrelThis Week in AG History — November 12, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 09 November 2017

BGMC is a vibrant Assemblies of God missions program for kids that has a rich history. Originally called Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade, but now known as Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, BGMC was first introduced at the National Sunday School Convention in Springfield, Missouri, in March 1949. Before that time there was a missions program in place for adults, and a missions program for youth called “Speed the Light,” but nothing for the kids. The concept was developed by Hart Armstrong (1912-2001), a former missionary and editor of Gospel Publishing House Sunday School materials.

BGMC is a program used to promote missions among kids and also raise funds for various missionary projects. It especially focuses on sending out Sunday School and training literature for missionaries to distribute. The first BGMC offering was received in October 1949, and BGMC giving that first year reached $1,290.39.

Barrel banks were chosen as the collection containers because at that time anything sent to a foreign field was packed in sturdy wooden barrels. This evolved into Buddy Barrel becoming the mascot or symbol for BGMC.

The program started with small wooden barrel banks that kids took to their homes in order to collect coins for missions. After collecting coins throughout the month, on a designated Sunday, each Sunday School child would return his or her barrel to give that money in an offering for BGMC. The method has changed from small wooden barrels to larger plastic barrels. The current Buddy Barrel bank is made of transparent plastic. The concept of Buddy Barrel has also evolved into a life-like puppet mascot (a large barrel with a face) that helps to encourage kids to give to BGMC.

The money for BGMC comes from kids giving in Buddy Barrels and adults receiving special offerings. The money is used to support various Assemblies of God missionary projects and ministries. Since 2001, BGMC has been the official children’s missions education program for the Assemblies of God.

In 1950, Frances Foster was appointed to oversee the BGMC program. She remained in this position for 21 years. In 1952, BGMC began to emphasize a specific mission field every year. Throughout the year, emphasis is placed on one field and its missionaries, with a special offering taken up on BGMC Day, which includes the adults in the church.

Fifty years ago, Foster, the BGMC coordinator, wrote an article, “BGMC Comes of Age” in the Nov. 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. She mentioned that it had been 18 years since the start of BGMC. She said, “Two considerations prompted this missionary program for Assemblies of God children 12 years and under.” One was the “urgent need of a children’s missionary program.” The other consideration was a great need for gospel literature overseas.

According to Foster, “Missionaries needed literature to strengthen their teaching ministry,” as well as for evangelizing. Overseas Bible schools had meager libraries or none at all. Foster asserted, “One of the biggest areas of need was for translating and printing Sunday School literature in foreign languages and dialects.” This is important. Literature sometimes goes where a missionary cannot go and it can remain even after a missionary must leave. Now missionaries can use BGMC funds for anything they need to help them spread the gospel. Only the lack of funds can curtail the impact and effectiveness of BGMC.

At the time of Foster’s article, BGMC giving had reached almost $2 million in 18 years. Since it was started 68 years ago, BGMC has raised more than $145 million for missions. 

Read “BGMC Comes of Age,” on pages 26 and 27 of the Nov. 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Keep Thyself Pure,” by Wilson A. Katter

• “Evangelistic Center Dedicated in Pretoria, South Africa” by Vernon Pettenger

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Portions of this article adapted from the BGMC website.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200

1 Comment

Filed under History, Missions

One response to “The Story Behind Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC)

  1. Esther Johnson

    Would absolutely LOVE to be able to get just a few buddy barrels, as a reminder. My brothers and I had fun filling them and taking them with us to church each month. My brother, in His 80’s now, often talks of them. How can I get a few?

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