William Whiting Borden

We like to get books on eb*y. Most of the books are older and are theological. We also love missionary biographies and biographies of men and women of faith. I just won a 100 year old copy of “Stepping Heavenward” Last week we received ‘Borden of Yale ’09’ written by Mrs. Howard Taylor. The biography is about William Whiting Borden (of the Borden Dairy estate). Mrs. Taylor is the daughter-in-law of China Inland Mission founder, J.Hudson Taylor. She wrote this biography because William Borden was commissioned as a missionary with China Inland Mission when he died at the age of 25. The biography looks good, especially when I heard about the life and death of this interesting man who had everything, according to the world, and pursued God and His work instead of his own fame. It is interesting how the life and death of faithful believers impact those who follow. The text below is what we put in our church bulletin a few weeks ago as a preface to a tract that Borden authored. The information was taken from various internet sources…

“William Whiting Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy estate, was already a millionaire when he graduated from high school at the age of 16 in 1904. His parents gave him a trip around the world as his graduation gift. As Borden traveled through Asia, the Middle East and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people. He wrote home about his desire to be a missionary. One friend expressed with surprise that William was ‘throwing himself away as a missionary.’ When William heard what his friend said, he wrote two words in the back of his bible: “No Reserves”

Borden went to Yale as a freshman in 1905 and tried not to be noticed for his family’s wealth. Soon after arriving, however, he was noticed for something that had nothing to do with his money. One classmate wrote about William Borden: “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration.” An entry was found in Borden’s college years journal that said: “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.”

While at Yale, William began meeting with first one student, then many more, for morning prayer before breakfast. Following the time of prayer, William would share a Scripture and teach. This small group turned into a movement that spread across the campus. 150 freshmen were meeting for weekly Bible study and prayer in the first year and by the time William was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting together for prayer and Bible study. Other things that stand out during William’s college years were his interest in outreach to students and his interest in outreach to widows, orphans and the handicapped of New Haven. He founded the Yale Hope Mission and could often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry person to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ.

As William Borden prayed and reached out to the lost, he felt more called to the Muslim Kansu people in China. From the time of the confirmation of that call, William never wavered. Upon graduation from Yale, he turned down some high paying job offers and wrote the next two words in the back of his Bible: “No Retreats.” Following graduate work at Princeton Seminary, William offered himself for the China Inland Mission. Upon his acceptance, he sailed for Cairo, Egypt to study Arabic in North Africa before going on to his work among China’s Muslims. But in Egypt he contracted cerebrospinal meningitis and died in 1913. He was only 25. Folks believed that his life was ‘wasted’ and that it was a shame that he died so young. However, William Borden was passionate for Jesus and for the lost and he did not waste his life. After he died, his family found that he had added below the words “No Reserves” and “No Retreats” the words, “No Regrets” in the back of his bible. His biography is a testimony that he believed in Christ as his personal savior, strove to please Him as his Lord and worshipped and adored Him as Holy God.”

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