No reserves. No retreats. No regrets. This is the story of William Borden.
William Borden, or “Bill” as his friends called him, was born in Chicago in 1887 to the very wealthy Borden Family. At the age of 16, after he had graduated from high school, Bill was given a graduation gift from his parents. The gift was not the normal gift that most high school graduates receive from their parents. Bill’s gift was a trip around the world.
Bill visited numerous countries and, I am sure, had a lot of fun. But God was doing something in this teenager’s heart. Bill was seeing, for the first time, entire groups of people that had never heard the good news of the gospel. His calling became clear; he should give his life to overseas missions. Bill did not always get positive reactions when he told people about this calling. Why would a young man who had it all “waste” his life as a missionary? In response to this, he wrote two words in his Bible, “No reserves.”
When he returned to the United States, he attended college at Yale. Bill excelled in the classroom, excelled in athletics, and excelled in reaching the campus with the gospel. He was truly a man who had it all going for him. He also had many job opportunities coming out of college, including working for the family business. What more could a young man want? He had job opportunities for work, a lot of money, and was living in the comforts of America. Bill’s calling never changed. He was going to be a missionary, and in his Bible he scribbled down two more words, “No retreats.”
After graduating from Yale, Bill knew he needed more training so he enrolled in seminary and was there for three years. As he was finishing up his studies and was ordained for the ministry, a group of people in China was put on his radar. This group, the Kansu, was made up of millions of Muslims without access to the gospel. This is where Bill Borden knew he had to go. On his way, he would stop in Egypt to learn to language of the people he would be ministering to.
Within a year of arriving in Egypt, he abruptly became ill. Nineteen days later, on April 9, 1913, he died. He never made it to China.
What do you think when you read the story of William Borden? This man had everything the world says we should aspire to: wealth, prestige, influence, etc. Yet, he gave all of it away to take the gospel to the nations. Is this a life wasted? Bill didn’t think so. On his deathbed he scribbled two more words in his Bible, “No regrets.”
A life lived for Christ is a life lived with no regrets. To quote another missionary that gave his life for the gospel, Jim Elliot,
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”