The History of Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) a.k.a Borneo Evangelical Church (BEC)

Before we are going to explore more about SIB Minangkob, here are some brief history of how SIB start and grow in Borneo. And for sure, these included those pioneer in Borneo Missionaries.

Prior to World War Two missionizing among other tribal communities was limited, but in 1927 the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) was inaugurated in Melbourne, and two years later three evangelists arrived in Sarawak. Aware that they would face competition in the cities, they concentrated on interior rural areas and settled near the fringes of the Murut (Lun Bawang) area. In 1937 the BEM extended its work to British North Borneo (now Sabah). Sarawak’s border areas were also exposed to influences from American missionaries in Dutch Borneo and most of the Murut (Lun Bawang) groups became Christian through interaction with their kinfolk, indigenous converts on the other side of the international boundary.

History of SIB

The first missionaries to visit the Kelabit highlands in the Sarawak interior arrived in 1939, but the internment of Europeans during the war opened the door to indigenous leadership. When missionaries returned to the highlands in 1947 they found that the Murut church had survived and that most Kelabit had accepted Christianity through the activities of indigenous converts, including a pastor from Timor, Guru Paul, also known as Nimang Tepun. Strongly committed to developing an indigenous leadership, the BEM established a bible school in the Sarawak town of Lawas for training teachers and deacons, and translating the bible into the Borneo languages was made a priority.

By 1958 an important symbolic step was made when it was decided to change the name of the mission to the Malay “Sidang Injil Borneo” (Borneo Evangelical Assembly). With the emphasis on training married couples to extend mission work and Kelabit out-migration to the oil-fields of Miri and elsewhere in search of employment and education, the SIB spread through Sarawak. Although there was a strong Chinese component in the urban areas, most SIB members were tribal peoples. Local leadership played an important role in the conversion process; in later years, for example, Amin Gomboting, a forest ranger who was stationed in various places in Sabah, established an SIB church wherever he went.

Supported by teaching institutions and ongoing church-planting, SIB membership, reckoned at around 1000 in 1962, rose to 75,000 in 1993, and some interior churches can now accommodate as many as 3000 worshippers. The SIB is also well established in urban centers, notably Lawas, Limbang, Miri, Kuching, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu whence many interior people have migrated in search of work. Even more significant in terms of the SIB future is the formation of new branches in the peninsula. In 1993, a small group of East Malaysian Christians (largely Chinese) began meeting in Kuala Lumpur and SIB Semenanjung (Sidang Injil Borneo in the Peninsula) was inaugurated in November of that year.

In Kuala Lumpur the SIB‟s English congregation grew from 15 people in 1994 to around 130 in 1998. In 2006, SIBKL rented out three floors in a downtown building and currently three worship services are held each Sunday to serve over 1500 people. The goal is to increase membership to 2000. According to the SIBKL website, there are now 31 congregations in West Malaysia (29 Bahasa Malaysia, 1 Chinese and 1 English), including missions among Christian Orang Asli in Jerantut. An intriguing development is the SIB expansion to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the southern Philippines, where local churches are tapping its experience in working with tribal peoples.

Source: SIB Sabah

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized