BCM began as Bible Club Movement in 1936 when Bessie Traber who had been a missionary in the Philippines returned to Philadelphia because of ill health. She shared the joy of ministering to Filipino children as she spoke at a conference. This sparked an interest in reaching the local children which in turn ignited a fire to use Bible Clubs to reach children all over America. So, Bible Club Movement was born!
Bible Club Movement came to Europe during the crushing needs at the end of World War 2. But Bible Club didn’t come to Ireland until 1965 when Alice Loyd and Claire Burford came from America. They were quick to connect with the Irish and soon had an Irish committee set up to help advise them in the work. Bible Clubs were established in counties as far north as Cavan to as far south as Cork and many volunteers were brought alongside and trained for the work.
The first BCM residential camp was in 1970 and was probably the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. “Shalom”, a house in Newbridge, Co Kildare, was bought by the mission in 1978. It became the residence of the missionaries and the centre of the mission.
Through the years God expanded BCM’s worldwide ministries. As we moved into Asia in the early eighties, it was clear that we needed a name change. “Bible Club Movement” changed to “BCM International”, BCM now standing for “Bible Centred Ministries.”
The children’s work in Ireland expanded into teens, ladies, camps, and teacher training. The Curragh Ladies’ Club had a number of women who trusted the Lord and needed a church. From that was born the Newbridge Bible Fellowship Church which had its first Sunday morning services in 1990 and has been going strong since.
Most clubs have been taken on by the local evangelical churches, but BCM Ireland continues to run camp ministries, reaching children and training workers. After praying for a permanent campsite for over thirty years, the Lord wonderfully led us in 2010 to purchase Castledaly Manor near Moate, Co Westmeath.
Over the years, Ireland has changed. Our name has changed. But our mission, by God’s gracious working in and through us, is still the same: Reaching children, strengthening the Church.