At the Kodiak Assemblies of God Church, kids have a ministry, too. Through the denomination’s Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, they’re learning to pray, give and share the Gospel in many ways.
David Boyd, BGMC national director, who spoke to the local Assemblies congregation last Sunday, said the goal of the organization is to take care of people’s needs and introduce them to the Lord.
“There are times when you have to feed someone, meet their needs and take care of them before they are even able to comprehend the love of God,” Boyd said.
The BGMC gives kids an opportunity to support mission work in America and other countries through donations and fundraising drives. Last year BGMC collected more than $7 million.
Boyd said there are roughly 4,000 pastors around the country involved in children’s ministries. Pam Hodges, wife of pastor Tracy Hodges of the Kodiak Assemblies, is one of them.
Currently Pam is the Assemblies of God’s Children’s Ministry director in Alaska. Recently, through Boyd’s encouragement, she applied as a missionary associate.
Since the first Sunday of the month is dedicated to BGMC, Tracy said that Boyd’s visit is timely.
Boyd said that BGMC teaches kids to “pray, to give and to go.
“The first thing kids want to do is pray when they hear about the needy. Then they ask if they could do something (to) help. Then we have them raise money.
“At times they’re raising (money) for kids in America. They give toys to an orphanage down the street; fill a backpack with school supplies. The ‘go’ part is where we teach them that they can help someone” by telling that person about Jesus, inviting someone to church or raking leaves for an elderly person.
“They use their bodies to do something that is going to benefit someone else.”
Kids are pleased to learn that they’re having an impact, said Boyd.
“They’ll say, ‘Someday I’ll get to meet somebody in heaven because of that money I raised. Bit by bit, they comprehend that their life is actually changing the world.”
Because of his administrative position, Boyd is privileged to travel around the world to see the work that BGMC sponsors.
Money is used to spread the Gospel and help people become more self-sufficient. The organization purchases water wells in dry lands and buys goats, pigs and chickens for needy people. These animals “multiply so fast,” Boyd said. “You can provide a poor family with six chickens and six months later they’ve shared 30 chickens with all their neighbors, they have eggs coming every day.
“I’ve seen people holding up one egg with the biggest smile on their face. They’re going to eat today because the chicken laid an egg. They’re so thrilled for tiny little blessings.”
While Boyd was in El Salvador, he saw first-hand the value of eggs to people in third world countries. He bought a dozen of them at 30 cents, planning to use them for a juggling act.
“Fortunately, I didn’t break any,” he said.
When he was done, he offered the eggs to a little old lady in the crowd.
“She ran to me, grabbed the eggs, thanked me, and ran, almost hopping with excitement down the street because she had 30 cents worth of eggs.”
In Rajasthan, India, which shares a border with Pakistan, Boyd saw how Assembly of God missionaries addressed the local problem of child prostitution.
“Kids are prostituted because their families are so poor that, all the parents can do, is sell their girls when” they come of age, Boyd said.
The missionaries built a school where children learn various trades that help them make money in honorable ways.
The school and the presence of missionaries are making a difference in the community.
“The whole community is coming alive,” said Boyd. “It’s amazing how we’re trying to teach people how to help themselves.”
When Boyd first got involved in children’s ministry, he had no idea how many places in the world his job would take him.
Early in his career, Boyd had intended to become a senior pastor. But while in college he joined a children’s ministry led by his wife-to-be, Mary.
“God spoke to me (saying that) if I wanted his very best, it was to continue in children’s ministry, which my wife was good at.”
The Boyds didn’t have children of their own, but they became like parents to the children they worried with.
“Some of those kids never had a dad, so I’ve gotten to walk kids down the aisle as their dad when they got married,” Boyd said.
Many of the BGMC alumni have become missionaries, said Boyd. Paul Burkhart, who grew up in Michigan, was a missionary in Laos and is now working with college students in the Ci Alpha program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He and his wife, Crystal, take teams to villages throughout the state.
Hodges said that, because of Boyd's influence and support, his church decided to become more focused on children’s ministry.
The recent trip was Boyd’s second to Kodiak. He and his wife met and became friends of the Hodges during a mission trip to Africa several years ago.
He and Mary “were here to inspire kids to do more and to tell stories of where their money is going,” Boyd said. The Boyds were also honored at a church potluck on Sunday night.
Boyd said he hopes to come back. He was impressed by the hard work ethic of the community.
“You don’t see many people … sitting around,” he said.
He met some people who hold down three jobs. Boyd said he also appreciated Kodiak’s friendliness and cultural diversity.
Those interested in learning more about BGCM, reading stories of the missionaries they support or contributing to the organization, can find them on the web at BGMC.ag.org.