Bill Borden, 1887-1913
Isaiah Rodriguez was spending the summer traveling as a student recruiter for a Bible college when he stepped into the presence of Jesus Christ. This promising young man's death prompted his friends to compare his life to that of William Borden.
Those who knew Isaiah admired his enthusiasm and zeal for Christ, as well as his love for people and souls.
This seems a fitting time to re-post a short biographical sketch of William Borden. He and Isaiah shared likeable personalities which they used for God's glory.
The one stark difference. however, is that Isaiah didn't come from a home of splendor and wealth. He was rich in other ways, making friends everywhere he went.
How does one avoid becoming decadent when surrounded by opulent wealth? It is hard to imagine that problem, yet one young man in the last century accepted the challenge.
William Borden was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He was the only son of wealthy parents (think Borden Milk Company). As was common for the social elite, his parents gifted him with a trip around the world after high school graduation. He was only 16 years old.
On that trip, Borden became particularly touched by the hurting people in China. When he wrote home that he wanted to be a missionary, friends and family reacted in alarm. They said he was throwing away his life. Who would manage the family fortune someday? His father tried to talk him out of what he considered a rash plan.
Borden wrote in his Bible, No Reserves and continued toward his goal.
Having given his heart and life to Christ, Bill began studies at Yale University. One day Yale's president gave a lecture about "having a fixed purpose." However, after this student observed the morally bankrupt student body and humanistic faculty, he was disturbed. The school president failed to say how to gain that fixed purpose. Young Borden determined to find out.
Sometime during his first semester at Yale, Borden began meeting with a friend to read the Bible and pray before breakfast. At the end of the year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By his senior year, 1,000 of Yale's student body were meeting in like groups. This personable young man was discovering his purpose, step by step.
That was only the beginning. Borden became known for having a heart for the down and out around New Haven. He entered cheap lodging houses or restaurants in the trashy parts of the city, found hungry derelicts, fed them, and directed them to the One who could change their lives forever. The result was his founding Yale Hope Mission, a place for rehabilitating alcoholics.
During this time Borden wrote the next of three phrases for which he became famous. On the flyleaf of his Bible, he penned the words, No Retreats. And he meant it. Turning down lucrative job offers after finishing Yale, he entered graduate work at Princeton Seminary to prepare for missionary work in China. He traveled to Egypt to study two difficult languages, Arabic and Chinese.
Unfortunately, Borden never made it further than Egypt. After a month, spinal meningitis claimed his life.
The would-be-missionary's father was understandably distressed upon hearing the news of his son's death. But Bill wasn't finished inspiring others, even after leaving his life on earth.
One day, a close friend of Bill's sent a package to the Borden parents, containing their son's Bible. Thumbing through it, the distraught father came across three phrases on the back flyleaf which explained his son's extraordinary purpose.
Under the phrases No Reserves and No Retreats were the faith-inspiring words, No Regrets.
Twenty-five-year-old Bill Borden walked into the presence of Christ, never looking back after refusing to become the billionaire his father intended. He accomplished more in his short life than others did in many years.
Likewise, Isaiah Rodriguez left a deep imprint on the lives of many in his short lifespan.
Ironically, the speaker at Isaiah's high school graduation closed his message with the story of Bill Borden. Although they couldn't have known it, that was no coincidence.
Let's resolve, like Isaiah, to make the most of the time we have left on earth, with eternity's values in view.
What about you? Has Isaiah Rodriguez left an imprint on your life? Tell us about it below.