International and local Lutheran mission partners
IN MALAYSIA EAST (SABAH)
Basel Christian Church of Malaysia (BCCM)
In 1882 the British North Borneo Chartered Company urgently needed workers to ‘open up’ the country. One of the organisations they approached in Hong Kong was the Basel Church, which had been established by the Basel Mission Society based in Switzerland. Around ten families took up the opportunity and emigrated to North Borneo, where they were employed as plantation workers. These pioneers were the first Basel Christians in North Borneo.
True to their beliefs, they worked for six days a week and rested on Sundays, as well as gathering for worship in one of their homes. In 1886 a impla atatp (roof of coconut leaves) church was built on the plantation. It was the first Basel church building in North Borneo. In 1901 the first school was opened; it was managed by the immigrant pastors and lay members. So, by the time North Borneo joined the Federation of Malaya (which became Malaysia in 1963), the Basel Church had already been established in North Borneo for 77 years.
The original Basel Church Christians were Chinese Hakka. Cross-cultural exposures over the years, however, encouraged church members to stretch beyond their traditional ways of doing things, and they began to focus on evangelising the indigenous people in their community. In 1976 the first chapel for indigenous Basel Christians was erected, at Kg Peniang. Since then the indigenous congregation has grown rapidly. Today the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia (BCCM) is a multi-racial and multi-cultural church.
The BCCM’s primary training institution, Sabah Theological Seminary, was established in 1988.