Over 100 years ago a young man stood in a doorway of his home and watched the traffic. Noticing a flashy, brand-new automobile, he exclaimed, “Boy, wouldn’t I like to have a car like that!” “Why don’t you get one, William?” asked a friend standing near. The reply was unexpected, “I can’t afford it.” The answer was unexpected because the speaker was William Borden, a descendant of the famed Borden family of Chicago, founders of the prosperous dairy business. In his own right, William was worth a million dollars.
William’s mother was a Christian, active in the Moody Memorial Church of Chicago, of which R.A. Torrey was then the pastor. It was through his mother’s influence when he was a boy that William was constrained to see his pastor about his own spiritual need. Dr. Torrey pointed him to Christ and led him into the assurance of salvation. From then on, William did not consider himself his own master. Nothing he owned was his, including his inherited wealth. That is why he could not “afford” a car, or many other things a wealthy young man would have purchased without hesitation. His money was a trust from God, to be used only at the discretion of the Holy Spirit.
After he graduated from prep school in 1904, Borden’s parents decided that a trip around the world would broaden him in preparation for the university years ahead. Little did they realize what this globe-encircling trip would do for him spiritually, for it was on this trip that he wrote to his mother, “I have so much of everything in this life, and there are so many millions who have nothing and live in darkness.” By the time he arrived home a decision was crystallizing in his mind.
“When I look ahead,” he said, “the only thing to do is to prepare for the foreign field.” He had given his heart to Christ when a lad. Now as a young man he surrendered his life for service in global missions. There followed further preparation at Yale and Princeton, and then the commissioning as a missionary at the Moody Memorial Church.
The fact that the wealthy Borden was sacrificing a life of ease and comfort for the foreign missions attracted wide publicity in the newspapers. But for this notoriety, Borden cared nothing. His heart was set on China. So in December of 1912, he sailed east, arriving in Cairo, Egypt shortly after. There, under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel Zwemer, he began to study missionary methods he thought he would need. But in April of 1913, after a brief bout with cerebral meningitis, he passed into the presence of the Lord.
Borden’s short life had a powerful effect upon his generation. His death was no less effective. His will was a legacy that reflected an intense loyalty to Christ and a deep concern for those perishing without knowing Jesus. He left the bulk of his ample estate to home and foreign missions.
Read 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Doubtless there are some who would consider this a wasted life – just a few brief years. It was not a wasted life – it was an invested life – a life that caught a transforming glimpse of the purpose for which Christ died. It was a life that gave, even to the giving of himself, that souls who are lost and dying without a Savior might have a chance to hear the good news.
Serve globally. Join me in praying and working so that many college students decide to surrender themselves to God in a manner similar to William Borden.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz