In October 1928, three Australian missionaries, Hudson Southwell, Frank Davidson and Carey Tolley set sail from Adelaide and arrived in Sarawak a month later. Together with a timber merchant by the name of Alexander Henderson, they established a base on the little-known island of Borneo and started the Borneo Evangelical Mission, now known as Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).
In the early years, the three pioneering missionaries had to adapt to a massive cross-cultural shift besides tackling snake infested jungles and mountainous terrains. They also had to contend with the steamy hot tropical climate as well as tropical diseases such as amoebic dysentery and malaria. In spite of all these obstacles, the three missionaries pressed on.
After mastering the Malay language and the local native dialects, the missionaries began sharing the love of Jesus to the indigenous people of Sarawak. For many years, the labour was hard and the fruits were scanty. It was said that Carey Tolley prayed so much on his knees over the map of Borneo that calluses began to develop on his knee caps!
As the years passed by, God rewarded their perseverance and hundreds and thousands of natives turned to the Lord, first in Sarawak and later in Sabah. They forsook their old ways of head-hunting and getting drunk on tapai (rice wine). The change was so dramatic that it even caught the attention of the Raja Brooke of Sarawak. Previously, they were drunk before dawn with tapai, now they are drunk before dawn with the Holy Spirit.
To date, SIB has over 500,000 members in Sabah and Sarawak making it the largest Christian denomination in Malaysia next to the Roman Catholic Church.