Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Birth Of SIB, Sabah

SIB Sabah and Sarawak are the fruits of labor of the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM). The BEM was established in Australia on 31st August 1928 with representatives from different denominations. In October 1928, 3 missionaries, Hudson Southwell a Baptist, Frank Davidson an Anglican and Carey Tolley a Brethren set sail from Adelaide and arrived in Sarawak a month later.
The Kelabit Highlands is a highland plateau in the interior of Sarawak in Malaysia. The Kelabit Highlands is a highland plateau of over 1,000m. It lies between the Tama Abu Range and Apo Duat Range on the Sarawak-Kalimantan border. The many valleys in the region are peppered with settlements of cottage-like homes and often surrounded by paddy fields. The area also boasts many high peaks including Sarawak's highest mountain, the 2,423m Gunung Murud.
The Kelabits mostly highland farmers and staunchly Christian, belonging to the Sidang Injil Borneo (Borneo Evangelical Assembly) They are also known to place a lot of importance in education and many hold professional jobs example the managing director's post of Malaysia Airlines. Although the highlands are named after the Kelabits, it is actually home to many other groups such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and Lun Bawang. The Lun Bawang, who are the same group as the Murut in Sabah, are the predominant people around Ba Kelalan in the northern part of the highlands. All of them are collectively known as the "Orang Ulu" or "People of the Highlands".
Bario is the capital of the highlands and main entry point into the highlands and Ba Kelalan is the Lun Bawang village and it is the starting/ending point of popular two-day trek to/from Bario.
The three missionaries had the heart to reach out to this group of people in Sarawak. They knew it was the will of God for their lives individually. Hudson was a Science graduate from Melbourne University. In his early years before he became a Christian he had longed to be an explorer in the Arctic, Himalayas, Tibets or any remote place. At the age of 26, Hudson went to the Melbourne Bible Institute to prepare himself for what the Lord had in mind for him. He met Frank Davidson and Carey Tolley in Melborne Bible Institute. Frank had the same interest as Hudson, he was born in England, second son of the managing director of Morgan and Scott the publishers. The family migrated to Australia when Frank was sixteen. Frank was gifted with young people and he spent much of his vacations while at Melbourne Bible Institute on evangelistic tours in the East Gippsland area of Victoria. Hudson and Frank were extroverts, good conversationalists owing to their wide interest in many spheres. They had strong and decided ideas and may have overshadowed the shy, quieter Carey Tolley. He was the most inveterate traveler of them all. Carey was a man of prayer. It was said that Carey prayed so much on his knees over the map of Borneo that calluses began to develop on his knee caps!
With the heart to serve, the three missionaries then separated to give themselves to prayer. On 17th May they met again, each coming with assurances from the Lord to go to Borneo. The Lord was faithful to them and He open wide doors for them to accomplish His mission.
The Lord provider for them and one of the Lords provisions was, Alexander Henderson a timber merchant who has been a trader in Borneo for Seven years knew the area and spoke the language offered to help the three missionaries to make the initial contacts and settle in to the land of Borneo.
Before the establishment of the Borneo Evangelical Mission, there were several informal meetings were held to discuss on the formation of a Borneo Fellowship and on the 28th July 1928 the first formal statement was made. Further meetings were held, a wider fellowship in prayer, council members were appointed from many different denominations and the name Borneo Evangelical Mission was adopted on 31st August 1928. The opening meeting was arranged for 1st September when the final draft of the constitution was prepared and agreed to. This was to be ratified at the next council meeting and that was the birth of Borneo Evangelical Mission.

1 comment:

Yohanes Saile said...

Praise The Lord.
Ur blog are important to the generation in Sabah, especially the members of SIB Sabah and the whole of SIB in Malaysia. Keeping on writing about our history and update news from our Church. Thanks.