Monday, October 02, 2006

The Boys' Brigade of Malaysia

William Alexander Smith was born in Thurso, Scotland in 1854. He moved to Glasgow in his teens and became involved in church activities. William was also a lieutenant in the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in 1883 while he was teaching in the North Woodside Mission Sunday School. While working with the children in church, he discovered the need for wholesome activities for children outside school hours. William Smith shared his ideas with his two friends, which later invited boys from North Woodside Mission Sabbath School and formed the first company of The Boys' Brigade, 1st Glasgow Company on 4th of October 1883. It is the world's first uniform organization, even before the Scouts.

William was the first Brigade Secretary in 1887 where he worked towards spreading the Brigade across the world. In 1909, King Edward VII knighted William Smith for his contribution towards youth development. Five years later, Sir William Alexander Smith passed away. Throughout his lifetime, Sir William A. Smith poured out all that he has into BB and he is best remembered as the man who spells Boy with a capital 'B'.

The original object of the Boys' Brigade is the advancement of Christ's Kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all that tend towards a true Christian manliness. Christian “manliness” was developed by the use of a semi-military discipline and order, gymnastics, summer camps and religious services and classes. Christian manliness was changed to Christian character when girls were admitted to the BB.

However, the BB did not appear in the Asian scene until 1915 when the first Company was founded in the Chinese city of Swatow by the Rev Guthrie Gamble (the famous Swatow BB was to become a legend in later years in China) The BB came to South East Asia in 1930 with the founding of the 1st Singapore Company by Mr James Fraser.

The Boys’ Brigade did not come to Malaya until the after the second World War. A British soldier by the name of Robert Davis (former Captain of 6th Birkenhead Company at the Tranmere Freehold Methodist Church and later Tranmere United Reformed Church) gave the idea of The Boys’ Brigade to one of Penang’s great educationist, the late Mr Geh Hun Kheng, who accepted the challenge becoming the first BB Captain in Malaya. Mr Geh realised that he had to do his "small share" to win the Boys over from the various subversive groups that were so rife after the Pacific War. The first meeting of 20 Boys was held in the Methodist Church in Madras Lane on a Sunday in September 1946. Penang thus became the springboard from which Companies were started first in Kuala Lumpur and then in other parts of the country. When Malaysia achieved independence on 31 August 1957, The Boys’ Brigade was given the honour of being invited to take part in the Merdeka Parade (Independence Day Parade).

After Merdeka (Independence), The Boys’ Brigade began to spread rapidly as a result of the formation of the Malayan Council of The Boys’ Brigade under the initiative of Mr Khoo Oon Soo. More and more Companies were founded in every major town in Malaya. Even small rural towns began to have BB Companies functioning efficiently. By this time firm and friendly contact had been made with the BB in Singapore which helped in the supply and sale of equipment and with the founding of the first Company in Borneo in 1959, the 1st Kuching Company. In 1962, the BB in Malaya became a member of the Pacific Regional Fellowship (subsequently joined the East Asia Regional Fellowship when it was formed later) and the first Pacific camp was held with the co-operation of the Singapore Battalion in Port Dickson in December 1963.

On 5 December 1964, the former Federation of Malaya Council of The Boys’ Brigade, the Singapore Battalion and the 1st Kuching Company merged into The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia. With the political separation of Singapore from Malaysia, The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore ceased to be a component District of The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia as on 19 August 1965. With Malaysia a reality the National Council began to establish Companies in Sabah and Sarawak, maintaining friendly ties with the BB in Singapore.

The development of The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia took a revolutionary turn when it invited girls to be members. It was first introduced in 1989 and debated for a few years before experimental measures were approved in 1992. The move received favourable response and strong support from churches and individuals. Starting of the girls’ wing was to cater for the girls in a locality where a Girls’ Brigade Company did not exist. Today, more than 20 companies in the BBM have girls on their membership roll, and many girls have been appointed NCOs, and they have proven to be capable in adapting well to the activities of the BB.

Since 1992, The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia has also begun to play significant role in the extension of BB work in the East Asia Regional Fellowship, including conducting training and support BB works in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Today, there are over 70 Companies spread throughout the length and breadth of Malaysia. Ever since the setting up of a BBHQ in 1989, a permanent building has been purchased, and currently staffed by a team of 5 able full-time personnel.

The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia has come a long way since 1946. Many things have since changed, many had come and gone with many new developments taken place. Throughout all these years, the BBM has been able to hold on to its object and continue in serving the youth of Malaysia. As the nation is fast moving towards greater heights in development, it is believed that the BB shall be called on to play an even greater role in the development and training of the Malaysian youths.

The BB is recognised by Kementerian Belia dan Sukan Malaysia as a youth body and by Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia as a school's extra co-curricular activity. This means BB is the only formally recognized uniformed Christian youth organization recognized by the government and allowed to be part of the schools extra co-curricular activities. BB is also an affliated member of Majlis Belia Malaysia and Council of Churches of Malaysia

The Advancement of Christ's Kingdom among members and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect and all that tends towards a true Christian Character.

SURE & STEDFAST (taken from Hebrews 6:19). The original Old English (King James Version) spelling of "Stedfast" has been retained.

The emblem is original an anchor. Like the motto it stems from the verse "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19)

Please support the ministry by praying for them, getting your children to join them and becoming involved with them.

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