The Gospel spread to Saribas through Buda who brought Belabut to Banting. Belabut was made catechist to serve in the Saribas based in Seruai about the year 1867. Buda also helped in Saribas during 1868 and managed to convert his brothers, Nanang, Luyoh, and Unting and a nephew Buding (‘Antu Gerasi’) of Stambak Ulu. Unting later became a catechist in 1871 and also served initially at Seruai.

Betong2In Seruai, Belabut and his wife, “Kumang” Badong who was the youngest sister of Buda, worked hard to prepare new converts for baptism. 18 were baptised when Mesney visited in 1869 and 24 were confirmed by Chambers in 1870. Unting started working in Seruai in 1871 and Belabut was assigned to work at Semambo (Bangkit). In 8174, Unting was moved to Graji in Padeh to plant the Church there. Unting was able to make converts through a strong personal faith and gift of healing. From Graji, Unting also visited Gensurai and other parts of Layar. Unting remained in Graji until his retirement in 1890.Betong3

Brok was another catechist who also worked in Padeh with Unting. Brok was made catechist in 1879 and had his base at Gerinjing. He converted his family members and other relatives. He worked there until he was transferred to Skrang in 1886, to look after Mali. In 1890, Brok was transferred to Krian but returned to Kundung, Padeh in 1895. Leggat visited Brok in Kundung that year. In 1906, Brok was transferred to Rimbas and was back again in Padeh in 1916. In 1918, Brok erected a new chapel at Gerinjing and in 1919, Bishop Danson visited it. Danson described Brok as an ‘old and faithful catechist’. He retired in 1920 after 40 years of service and died in 1924. His work as continued in Padeh by his son, Catechist Lawat who had been a teacher at Kundung since 1910. In 1924, Lawat was transferred to Paku and taught at St. Andrew’s School at Nanga Anyut. Lawat retired in 1934 after 25 years if service. Betong5-1024x691

Until a priest was stationed in Betong in 1920, Saribas was looked after successively by Perham from Banting(1876), Leggatt from Skrang (1888) and Howell from Sabu (1910). Finally, Saribas received its first resident priest when Wilfred Linton moved to Betong in 1920, and was given charge of Krian as well. By this time there were Christians (who moved from Padeh) at Serian and a chapel was built there. A mission house was also built at Selulap during Bishop Hose’s time and was used once for a Dayak Conference. In 1914, the Selulap mission house was moved to Betong. In 1913 a belian chapel was built at Sg. Plandok, the centre for the Paku mission, and was looked after by Catechist Meling.

Betong6In 1921 the Bishop visited Betong and blessed the mission buildings, and dedicated them to St. Augustine. Linton took the task of preparing Senang and Angking for ordination in the self-styled ‘School of the Holy Spirit’. In 1927, a private school was opened by lay reader Kalai at Paku with 8 boys. That same year Linton built a central church for Paku, at Nanga Anyut. By this time only 40 believers remained faithful in Paku. In 1931, Bradshaw joined Linton at Betong; to be followed a year later by Jack Sparrow. Linton went on leave in 1932, and was advised not to return to Borneo. In 1935, Barnabas Jamban was brought to Betong to assist Sparrow. A chapel (St. Michael) was built at Engkerebai in 1935. In 1937, Senang moved to Betong, and Peter Howes also came to study Iban. In Paku, Catechist Jagat was looking after the chapel at Krangan Pinggai (moved from Nanga Anyut). When Sparrow went on leave in 1940, Jamban and Senang looked after Betong and continued ministering there throughout the Japanese occupation. In 1946 Basil Temenggong returned to Betong.


Betong7By 1949, Betong had 22 outstations, four of them with schools. St. Michael’s at Engkrebai (34 pupils) and St. John’s, Ulu Bayor (38 pupils) were new schools. Jamban was assisted by catechists Imping, Langi and Paul Nuing. In 1952, Eric Scott came to Betong and became the priest in charge allowing Temenggong to look after the school. When Temenggong left for Kuching in 1954, Anthony Perry was sent to Betong. He took over in 1956, when Scott moved to Debak. Perry was assisted by the newly ordained Alfred Chabu. Perry left in 1959 leaving Chabu in charge of the parish. He was assisted by Angking until 1961. From 1962 to 1973, Marshall, Michael Woods and Ernesto Gawili were the priests in charge in Betong. It was during Gawili’s time that Ulu Layar was opened for evangelism. Later, a chapel (St. John) was built at nanga Tiga, where a Mission school had earlier been established. The new and enlarged St. John’s Chapel was consecrated in 1989. The old St. Augustine’s Church was pulled down in 1978 and a new one was consecrated on 12 July 1981.


In December 1972, Made Katib was transferred to Betong where he served as an assistant priest to Gawili. When Gawili left in August 1973, Made took over the charge of the parish. He moved to Kuching on 31 July 1981 to become the Dean of the Cathedral. From 1981 till the present, a succession of priests looked after Betong: Frederick Rajit, Michael Buma, Aeries Sumping, Augustine Sait, Made Katib (Assistant Bishop) and the present incumbent Stephen Ngabong. Till 1987, Paul Nuing was the catechist who maintained the ‘link’ in Betong for nearly four decades.Betong 11

During these years, new areas were evangelised including Bangat, Skrang, Upper Rimbas, Spaoh, Middle and Upper Layar, Middle and Upper Padeh, and areas around Betong town. In 1989, Betong offered a record 1,050 candidates to be confirmed in a single year. In 1987, Debak again became a separate parish from Begong. At present there are chapels at Skrang Scheme, Kubu Mali in Skrang, Nanga Peka in Paku, Issu in Bangat, Seruai, Bebuling Atas, Nanga Ajau, and Nanga Tiga


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