There are some stories of people who have served God which just hit you aren’t there? Christian biography is a wonderful blessing that we have access to as it documents that God is who he says he is; yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Such stories inspire, encourage, challenge and most of all reveal something of the glory of God. And William Borden’s is one.
Born to a particularly well off family in 1887, Borden grew up in Chicago. Through the conversion of his mother the young William then began attending church, and through time became convinced of the same saviour his mother had already professed. But there lay ahead a difficult decision for him.
With his Father occupying a role of prominence through his successful business endeavors, William was set to inherit much of what his Father had accumulated. But he was a young man with a passion which lay in an entirely different direction. That passion was to see unreached people reached by the gospel of Jesus in hard to access regions. Borden was clear that his call was to serve the Muslim people of Northwest China.
He continued on, attending Yale university and then progressing on to Princeton theological seminary as preparation to serve in China. In order to further prepare himself decided that studying Arabic would be beneficial. So he stopped in Cairo, Egypt to study the language seeking to best equip himself for the task set before him. Sounds like the familiar missionary super hero story doesn’t it. Here is the pioneer, ready to face the world and everything has been perfect.
We couldn’t be further from the truth. While in Egypt Borden contracted cerebral meningitis and within a month the young man had died aged only 25.
But this is not where the story hits hardest. When his mother received his personal belongings after his death she saw three things he had written in his bible. Dated not long after he had renounced his fortune to serve as a missionary was written “no reserve”. Dated shortly after his father and others had disagreed with his decision to become a missionary he wrote “no retreat”. Dated shortly before his death he wrote “no regrets”.
What a difference this world would experience if more of God’s people were to think and act like this. Something which Borden had recognized was that life was a passing vapour like warm breath on a cold winter morning; here for a second and then gone (James 4:14)
“No reserve”, “No retreats”, “No regrets”