April 4, 2012

A Church and Two Japanese Bombs

the Heng huas were brought from Putien China (Fujian Province) in two batches by Rev. Dr. W.B. Brewster. The pioneers were accomodated like the Foochows in three attap houses and later they were distributed along the Igan on its right (East) bank as Lower - Middle and Upper Heng Hua Bah!

In 1913 when the Rajah Brooke saw the Henghuas struggling with floods and the peat swamps he was compassionate about the situation and gave them 30 acres of land in the hills. Out of the hills behind the Sg. Merah bazaar the Heng Hua Church was founded. It was named Tien Dao Tong. The Church of Heavenly Message. This Church will be celebrating its Centenary this year.

The Newly build Church with a beautiful facade.
During the war years 1941-1945 Rev Yao Siew King was the District Superintendent in charge and he did not stop working hard for his sheep. It was a chaotic period but all able bodied pastors were able to hold Sunday services wherever they could especially in private homes which were gladly offered by the believers.

the Japanese dropped two bombs next to the Church. The bomb site can still be seen today. Remarkably no trees can ever grow in this site. As you drive from Sg. Merah towards the Cemetery areas you will see on your left a clearing. That's the evidence of the bombing of 1942.

In spite of the bombings the congregation continued to work hard especially Rev Yao to help all those in need. Rev Ho Siew Liong (a Heng Hua scholar and author) was one of the most hardworking pastors serving the Henghuas at Tien Dao Tong and also the Sing Ang Tong. Rev Ho spoke Heng Hua and Foocow equally well.

The Church was billeted by the Japanese as it was the best building in the area.

Later when the Allied came more bombs were dropped and the Church was damaged.

After the war Rev Ho Siew Liong was appointed Pastor in charge as well as Principal of the Tiong Hin Secondary School. For many years in the 1950's pastors were both Principals and Pastors in charge of the Methodist churches and the schools next to them!! This was later changed by the Malaysian government.

The Centennial Invitation Card
This is the bare field in which no trees can grow. The bombs and whatever metallic contamination they brought caused this land to be barren of trees. Only simple ferns and grasses can grow here.

the Tien Dao Church is not only a symbol of Heng Hua community's hardwork and strong beliefs but a result of strong collaboration with the Foochows in good work to promote Methodism and education.

2 comments:

Ann said...

during the war, the men of Sibu had to build the road to the airports. The Foochows and the Cantonese had to be segregated because they were still fighting each other.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ann
that's a very interesting part of our Sibu History. My poor father who had quite an eventful life until then was very traumatised by the beatings. He later suffered excruciating pains in the chest and finally died too young from heart problems. Perhaps some of his internal organs were already damaged.

Do you know that he could speak both Heng Hua and Cantonese ?