Bain, Stanley

1930 - 2021
Iban Bible translator

Rev Stanley Bain was born in the 1930s in Dinwiddle, Virginia, the USA. He completed high school in 1950 and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1955.

He came to Sarawak as a missionary from 1955 to 1958 and taught for a year at the Methodist Secondary School, Sibu. From 1957 to 1958, he taught at the Kapit Methodist School while pastoring the Nanga Gaʼat longhouse.

During his first year in Kapit, Rev Bain reported at the annual conference that: “For Kapit Methodist School last year, it was a year where planning and progress were made, but we were also faced with some setbacks. However, we continued with our plans despite all difficulties.”

Bain mentioned that the number of registered students in 1957 was 160 but that later dropped to 154 due to the lack of awareness about education and compulsory schooling. Students consisted of boys and girls of various races. The school offered classes up to primary six, after which students had to continue their secondary education in Sibu. Hence, he hoped that the school could offer lower secondary education soon. 

“There was quite a difference in ages of students in the same class, this added some teaching difficulties. Boys and girls got along harmoniously and they were cooperative, particularly in morning prayers, Bible study and weekly assembly. These were Christian examples set up by the school, providing rich Christian education for students. The medium of teaching was English, starting from primary one, but Iban and Malay language classes were also included, with the hope that that they could read in their mother language,” wrote Rev Bain.

The school used a temporary simple building adjacent to the town church for classes. The site for the new school building had been levelled and the design was ready. The building funds were provided by a donation from the US and a subsidy from the [Sarawak] government. He believed that the school ministry provided an excellent opportunity for church development.

In his second year (1958), Rev Bain reported on growth in the facilities, number of teachers and students. There were 201 students that year, 75% of whom were natives and 60% were from Christian families. With more teachers available, the school set three goals:

1. To promote the love of the Lord Jesus;

2. To educate boys and girls, fully utilising their intellect and preparing them for further education; and

3. To nurture them as good citizens, serving the country.

Rev Bain also reported that the construction of the school block, which started in January 1958, was completed and the opening officiated on September 26, 1958 by Bishop Amstutz. The building was made of reinforced concrete, and included eight classrooms and toilets.

The Sarawak Tribune reported in September that year that the building was “a hope realised, a dream come trụe”. As ⅝ of the building funds were donated by people in Winston-Salem in the USA, with the rest subsidised by the Sarawak government, the building was named Winston-Salem Memorial. The building cost then was 123,000 dollars.

With the new block in place, the Kapit Methodist School was known as one of the most beautiful primary schools in Sarawak. In the 1959 report, the new principal Rev J. Andrew pointed out that the new building helped to make the Ibans aware of the need to pay attention to education.

Rev Bain went back to New Jersey to attend Drew Theological School from 1960 to 1962 where he obtained his Master’s in Divinity. He married Florence "Flo" McKay in 1960 and they had two children — Belinda and Jonathan. 

Florence graduated from Westminster College in music education. In 1956, she went to Zaire in Congo as a missionary teacher, taking charge of a girls’ hostel. From 1957 to 1958, she served as superintendent of a girls' hostel in Lubumbashi (previously called Elizabeth Town). 

Rev Bain, together with his wife, returned to Kapit in 1962 as the longhouse pastor and district missionary. The Bains were in Kapit from 1962 to 1966. From 1967 to 1972, Rev Bain was involved in translating the Bible into Iban, a joint effort of the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, and Sidang Injil Borneo.[1]

From 1967 to 1972, Florence Bain taught music over Radio Sarawak, Kuching.

The Bains returned to the US in 1972 and settled in Virginia where he served for some time in the First United Methodist Church in Newport News. Rev Bain passed away on November 25, 2021.[2]

Florence passed away at the age of 71 in Oahu, Hawai'i on December 27, 2004.[3]


  1. ^ In the April 1971 issue of the Methodist Message, Rev Stanley Bain wrote: “In East Malaysia, the entire New Testament already exists in Biatah, Dusun, Iban, Kayan, and Murut. In addition, parts have been translated into Tagal, Penan, Kenyah, Saban, and Kelabit. The Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, and Sidang Injil Borneo are now working together to produce the entire Bible in Iban.”
  2. ^ “Remembering Rev. M. Stanley Bain”, website of the California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church.   
  3. ^ “Florence "Flo" McKay Bain”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2005.

© SCAC. This article from Missionaries to Sarawak: Footprints in the Land of Hornbills is reproduced with permission of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, The Methodist Church in Malaysia, with editing for clarity and brevity. 

[Missionaries to Sarawak: Footprints in the Land of Hornbills 1 and 2 are compiled by Wong Meng Lei (also chief editor), edited by Tumi Ngae, and translated by Christina Tiong, K.T. Chew, and Chang Yi. Book 2 translators are Christina Tiong, K.T. Chew, Chang Yi and Ting Kong Sing.]