No Reserve...No Retreat...No Regret!

1887 - 1913
William Whiting Borden was born on November 1, 1887 into a prominent and wealthy family in Chicago, Illinois, the third child of William Borden and Mary Degama Whiting. Borden's father had made a fortune in Colorado silver mining industry. Borden had three siblings.

For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his desire to be a missionary.


William’s father was adamant that his son attend a university, so he obeyed his father’s wishes and enrolled at Yale University upon his return in 1905. In his freshman year, he found his passion for Christ was largely unshared by his peers. So, William began meeting with a friend in the mornings to read the Bible and pray together, and soon another student joined them, then another. The number of students showing up for the morning prayer meetings began to multiply, and over the course of a few years what began as a small group became a campus wide movement. Some report that by the end of William’s first year at Yale, 150 students gathered in groups for prayer meetings, and by his senior year, the movement grew to 1,000 students!
Also during his college years, William founded the Yale Hope Mission seeking to rehabilitate drunkards and others in need near the dock at New Haven. With his family fortune, he funded the buildings and other needs of the mission, but his investment was not merely financial. He was often found near the docks, feeding a poor person and sharing the good news of Jesus with them. Over time, the mission at New Haven changed hundreds of lives.
The Student Volunteer Movement conference in Nashville, Tennessee was another significant point in William’s college career. His missionary convictions narrowed on the Muslim people groups in western China as Dr. Samuel Zwemer spoke about his work among them. The Spirit of God stirred and burdened William’s heart concerning these specific unreached Chinese so much that he decided to pursue a master’s degree from Princeton Seminary and then sail for China to join Dr. Zwemer.
William’s father passed away during his years at Yale, leaving him the family fortune. Upon graduation in 1909 he had several prestigious job offers, but his mind was still set on China. He gave his portion of his father’s wealth into the ministry, at this point he inscribed in his bible NO RESERVE!
William followed through with his plan to sail overseas in obedience to God’s call on his life. Before going to China, he first spent time in Egypt learning the Arabic language in preparation for his ministry to China. On arrival in Egypt William wrote in his bible NO RETREAT!
It was there in March 1913 that he caught spinal meningitis and as his health degenerates he managed to pen in his bible NO REGRET! William died April 9, 1913 and was buried in Cairo. He was twenty five years old.
When the news of Borden’s death was cabled back to the United States nearly every major American newspaper reported on it. As stated in his biography, “A wave of sorrow went around the world . . . he not only gave up his fortune, but himself to be a missionary.”
Borden had walked away from his wealthy fortune to take the Gospel of Jesus to the nations of the world. Most regarded it as a tragedy; however, God took the tragedy and did something far greater than Borden could ever do himself. When thousands of young men and women read Borden’s story in the newspapers of America, it inspired them to leave all they had and give their lives to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


References:
Jayson Casper, &The Forgotten Final Resting Place of William Borden,& Christianity Today, February 24, 2017
Taylor, Mrs. Howard. Borden of Yale '09. Philadelphia: China Inland Mission, 1926, page 75.

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