William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Fortune, was born in 1887 into wealth and luxury. When he was young, his mother became a Christian and began taking William to church where he also became a Christian. After graduating high school at 16, his parents gave him a gift: a chaperoned trip around the world! Walter Erdman, minister and missionary was his chaperone and helped William process what he was experiencing. This journey so marked him that he determined his calling to be a world missionary and reach the lost with the gospel. Despite those that felt he was throwing his life away, he made the commitment and wrote in the back of his Bible ‘No
Reserves.’ Before he would do this, he went off to college at Yale University. Just as he had a burden to see others know Jesus overseas, his realization of the need right on his campus among students led him to begin a morning prayer group over breakfast. What began with the invitation of one friend grew and grew until there were 150 students involved by the end of his freshman year.
Borden's small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. Borden made it his habit to FIND (reach out to) the most "incorrigible" students and try to bring them to salvation. In his sophomore year, they organized Bible study groups and divided up the class of 300 or more, each man interested taking a certain number, so that all might, if possible, be reached. The names were gone over one by one, and the question asked, 'Who will take this person?' When it came to someone thought to be a hard proposition, there would be an ominous pause. Nobody wanted the responsibility. Then Bill's voice would be heard, 'Put him down to me.'.
Helping these students to walk with God by FEEDing them Scripture and God’s truth became the mission of these groups. As one student said in describing his small group: “The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill's handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance.” Another classmate said: "He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times."
Bill Borden would personally FIGHT FOR those in sin to have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. He even challenged them in their faith and often asked classmates to join him in the calling to foreign missions. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale's thirteen hundred students were meeting in such groups.
After graduation, he turned down several high paying job offers to remain faithful to the calling of a missionary and wrote in the back of his Bible “No Retreats”.
He enrolled at Princeton Seminary where he learned of the Muslim Kansu people in China. Ten million people without a gospel witness among them. Fixing his eyes on that goal to find, feed and fight for these people just as he had done in college, he began his journey to China. He first stopped in Cairo, Egypt so that he could learn Arabic, the language of the Kansu people. There he contracted spinal meningitis and nineteen days later on April 9, 1913 before ever reaching China. Shortly before he died, he wrote in the back of his Bible under the previously written “No Reserves” and “No Retreats” his last reflection “No Regrets”. This is the life of William Borden who even after his death inspires many to radically disciple the lost in response to God’s love. One of William’s defining convictions was simply: "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."
If you were to make that commitment today, what would you have to say no to in order to say yes to Jesus? What’s stopping you from making that commitment?