1901年港主黃乃裳帶領福州人南來詩巫，開始新福州墾場及美以美教會（現稱衛理公會）於新珠山河畔。三年後黃氏返回中國，來自美國的富雅各教士(James Matthew Hoover)繼承為墾場的領袖。富雅各在拉讓江流域生活了約32年，離世前在拉讓江流域協助完成的衛理禮拜堂41間，學校40間。他一生把自己的生命為拉讓江流域的福州人擺上，為詩巫注入現代化，也全然奉獻给上帝，恩澤每一個墾荒的前辈。
一滴水 陣陣漣漪 潺潺鵝江
一滴血 他的生命 全然擺上，恩澤墾場
他 富先生 雅各教士
The Pearl of Sungai Merah
Rev James M Hoover Memorial Garden
(About five kilometers from Sibu Town)
This memorial park was erected to commemorate the Rev. James Hoover (1872 – 1935), the first missionary serving the Methodist Church in Sarawak. This project is a joint effort of the Sibu Municipal Council and the Methodist Church in Sarawak. It occupies a two-acre land and the project cost RM1.2 million. The memorial park was officially dedicated on 27th July, 2007 by YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, the Finance Minister(ll) and Minister of Urban Development And Tourism Sarawak and Rev. Dr. Su Chii Ann, the President of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, the Methodist Church in Malaysia.
In 1901, Wong Nai Siong led a group of Foochow Chinese leaving China for Sibu to open up the swampland. These immigrants set up the MEM Church (Methodist Episcopal Mission , now the Methodist Church) near the river bank of Sungai Merah. After three years, Wong Nai Siong left Sibu for China and the American missionary Rev. James Matthew Hoover took over the leadership. Rev. Hoover lived some thirty-two years along the Rejang River. In his life time, he helped build 41 churches and 40 schools, all along the Rejang River. Rev. Hoover dedicated his whole life for the Foochow pioneers settling in Rejang River basin. He set the pace for the modernisation of Sibu. His wholehearted dedication to God has blessed especially the pioneers of this land.
When the Rev. James Hoover was called to be with the Lord, the third Rajah of Sarawak Vyner Brooke erected a copper tablet (monument) in remembrance of him:
“The Rev J.M.Hoover arrived at Sibu in March, 1903 and was responsible for settling the first Foochow colony in the Rejang River. In 1904, His Highness Sir Charles Anthony Brooke G.C.M.G. Second Rajah of Sarawak, officially appointed him the head of all the Sarawak Foochows, entrusted him with their welfare and made him their official represantative in all their dealings with Government. From then until the day of his death on 11 Feb 1935 Mr Hoover loyally fulfilled this trust.”
Through his services among the Foochow, the Rev. James Hoover has become a pioneer in many fields:
He brought to Sibu the first batch of rubber seeds;
He imported the first steamboat;
He set up the first rice mill
He organized the first girl school;
He installed the first electricity generator;
He set up the first agricultural school;
He imported the first ice maker;
He was the first to use the chain-saw;
He introduced the use of wireless telegraph machine;
He has established a firm foundation for the modernisation of Sibu!
Here are some of the distinctive features of the memorial park:
1. This park is located at the estuary of Sungai Merah. The local government has named this river the historical and cultural river. The locality of this park is likely to be the place where Rev. Hoover set his feet when he first arrived Sungai Merah, Sibu.
2. This park is also located at the side of the Melanau Christian Cementary. The arial view suggested that the memorial park is built in accordance to the shape of a huge cross. The Cross has formed the main path of this park.
3. The Funnel. A huge white cone shape funnel was built at the centre of the cross-like main path of this park, signifying God has bestowed his grace to Sibu, the “new Foochow,” through Rev. James Hoover. The artist has crafted a stainless steel sift at the bottom of this funnel. Below this funnel is the sculpture of a merune marble vase standing in the middle of a pool. The water flowing through the sift of the funnel produce a continous waves of ripples. In the night, red sport light colors this pool and funnel, and the water droplets from the funnel looks like droplets of blood. There is a trilingual poem engraved on the pillars support this funnel. It reads:
A drop of water A ripple
ruffling the Rejang basin
A drop of blood
His life selflessly
given for the people of Sibu
He James Mathew Hoover
4. A black marble wall. In contrast with the white funnel, this memorial park has a hundred-foot long arc-like sculptured wall. This wall stretches from 18 inches to 9 feet high. The wall is also graudally tilting from its lower portion, at a 60 degree angle, to an almost perpendicular centre. This black marble wall recorded Rev. James Matthew Hoover’s life history in Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia. 1,118 stars symbol the first 3 batch of Foochow pioneer arrived Sibu hundred years ago. At the highest point of this wall, the artist has crafted a twelve-inche wide crack, signifying what Jesus called “narrow gate” (cf. Matthew 7:13 – 14). There is white wall behind this narrow gate where strong bright light is shone at night to indicate the heaven behind the narrow gate. Marble stools are available for the
public to rest and to contemplate.
5. Widow’s Oil. There are few urns at the eastern side of the black marble wall oozing with ceaseless flow of water. This is an image of the story of the Prophet Elijah and the widow, taken from the Old Testament (1 Kings 4: 1 – 7). It speaks about the God’s unreserved blessings to those who are willing to offer to God what they have. It serves as a reminder that Rev. James Hoover has dedicated his life to bless the people of this reclaim wasteland; in the like manner, the residents of Sibu can become channels of blessings. Freely receive, freely give.
6. The Pillars of Lamp. This memorial park has a hilly area besides the river bank. Along this hilly area, there are nine pillars of lamp. These lamps are arranged like a pair of soaring wings. Many describe these lamps as the lamps of praise. The area is especially scenic when lited in the night. Each pillars is engraved with a different words. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the biblical descriptions of characters of life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and they are certainly evident in Hoover’s life and ministry.
These are the first phase of The James Hoover Memorial Park project. The second phase of the project will involve the building of dike by the local irrigation department. It will also includes the building a light tower and an open-air theatre for concerts and meetings.
This memorial park speaks of the life of a missionary and it also marks a milestone in the development of Sibu, full of new life and joy. As you enjoy this park and remembering the sacrifice of our forebears and pioneers, may you offer your praise and thanksgiving.