B.SABU 1aB.SABU 1bCrossland, a priest cum surgeon, moved on to Undup in 1862 and stayed with Apai Gumong at Sabu leaving Mesney to assist Chambers in Banting. Crossland built a temporary chapel and started a school. By 1863 two headmen were converted. In 1866 the Bishop confirmed 11 candidates. Crossland was assisted by Catechist Kimchang. A permanent chapel at Sabu dedicated to St. Luke was consecrated in 1873. Crossland, called ‘Tuan Manang’ was loved by the people. In 1876, after 15 years in Undup, Crossland left for England due to ill-health: leaving Sabu without a resident priest. In 1878, the 22-year old William Howell returned from England and was sent straight to Banting as an ordinand. He later moved on to Sabu and continued where Crossland left two years earlier. In Sabu Howell began to revive the Church life. He began his extensive and tireless travelling for which he later became famous. There were Christians in Sg. Reboh and Paku, Undup. In 1879 forty-nine were baptised, forty of whom were women. By 1880 a chapel had been built at Klassen. Despite a heavy pastoral ministry and the commitment of looking after his school at Sabu, Howell also took times to visit Betong and Saratok districts, which were without priests for the most part of the early 1900s. In fact in the early 1910s, Howell visited Betong and Saratok districts four times a year – an amazing feat in those days!! Later Banting also came under Howell; making his pastoral responsibility to encompass the whole of the Second Division. Martin Nanang, the catechist appointed for Undup, assisted Howell. Missionary work in the Second Division was supported by cash crops planted in various centres. In Skrang, for example, 1,000 Gutta trees and many rubber trees were planted on the mission land. Howell was able to retire after 50 years of faithful service in 1928, when Stonton came to Sabu to replace him.

By this time (1928) it was already planned to move the mission centre to Simangang town. A new site was identified in 1930, and by 1931 Stonton had moved his headquarters to Simanggang. Stonton spent much of his time doing translation works; a good number of Iban hymns were the result of his handiwork. he was assisted by Martin Nanang who was ordained priest in 1937 to look after Undup.  When the Japanese came Stonton was arrested and imprisoned at Batu Lintang P.O.W. camp with Bishop Hollis and Peter Howes. During the War, Nanang kept the Church going and even took time to visit various places like Banting. There were lapses but damages to properties were minimal. Stonton finally returned to Simanggang in 1950, after finishing his stint as Vicar-General in Kuching. In 1951 Wellington came to assist him. George Langkan was made a deacon in 1954, after studying under Stonton. In 1956 the staff in Simanggang was increased, when Alfred Chabu and Peter Radin joined after their ordinations. Stonton resigned in 1958, and a year later Tennant became the priest in charge. Tennant left Simanggang in 1960, and was succeeded by Peter Radin. John Vyvyan came in 1961 and was put in charge of the parish in 1962.

Martin Nanang  wrote: “After three years’ testing and training in Kuching I was ordained to the priesthood, a year after I had been ordained to the diaconate. On Trinity Sunday (1937) the final ‘call’ reached its fulfillment, when I saw a clear vision with higher ambition; there I knelt with stillness and received the “laying on of hands” in the presence of the Bishop and clergy. I heard saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest”, and instantly I felt myself quite another man, being enriched by the Holy Ghost and power. In that moment I prayed and responded to the Call with deep self-devotion, “Lord, here am I, send me.” This is, of course, not as a competitor ending his term, but a starting point where I began my ministry. At the end of June I was licensed by the Lord Bishop of the Diocese to Simanggang, acting as an assistant to Fr. Stonton; and in the church the Bishop commended me to the people as their priest, and also to over-shepherding the Undup regions. This part of the district was my own native-district, the place where I began my mission work as a catechist or teacher about twenty three years ago. I spent six years at Sabu with the Rev. W. Howell, and then went to Saribas district; afterwards I was called to the Ordination Test School under the Fathers of C.R. in Kuching.”

(Excerpt from the Borneo Chronicle)

Christianity came to Engkilili in 1957, when Basil Temenggong admitted Maja, Belon, Jimbai and their families as catechumens. In 1959 Erik Jensen arrived from England and was posted to Batu Lintang, Undup. In 1960, the Bishop visited him and confirmed 239 candidates in one service. In 1961, Jensen was seconded to the Government and was asked to open the Lamanak Development Scheme. Jensen also visited Engkilili and asked the people there to build a chapel. In 1962, Andrew Kirie became the resident catechist in Engkilili and stayed there until 1976. St. Michael’s Chapel in Engkilili was built in 1962. Engkilili  had its first resident priest when Lipson Timbang moved there in 1989. Mathew Raban, the present incumbent, took over on 12 December 1990.










The Gospel also spread to Lubok Antu which became a parish centre in 1983, after being part of the parish of Sri Aman.



William Howell was born in Labuan, and left at the Mission School when his father, a mining engineer, moved elsewhere to find work. The lad was baptised at St. Thomas in 1866, at the age of ten. In 1874 he was taken to England by Bishop Chambers, who placed him in St. Augustine’s College at Canterbury.

Howell returned to Sarawak in 1878, and was posted to Banting. He was ordained deacon in 1882 and priest in 1883. From Banting he moved upriver to Sabu, where he started his lifelong ministry to the Iban of the Batang Lupar basin; like Zehnder, he never had overseas leave, only the occasional few months in Singapore. In the later years, newly arrived missionaries were taken to Sabu to be introduced to the Rev. Howell, a famous pillar of the Church in Borneo. He retired in 1928, and died in 1938, aged 82 and was survived by his wife, Sanan ak Nyandang and nine children.