William Borden, a relatively unsung hero of the Student Volunteer Movement, died at the age of only 25 in Cairo, Egypt, never having realized his goal of sharing the gospel of Christ with Muslims in China.
Heir of the vast Borden fortune, he was converted under the ministry of D.L Moody, graduated from Yale, attended Princeton Seminary, signed the "Princeton Pledge" as the result of Samuel Zwemer's preaching, gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Christian organizations (while at the same time refusing the luxury of an automobile), and later joined Zwemer, who was then in his first year in Cairo. Samuel Zwemer, himself, went on to become the most recognized and scholarly missionary to the Middle East of the modern era. Zwemer also conducted Borden's funeral.
During his first year at Yale, William Borden started a Bible study with his room mate, which then grew to 150 freshmen. By his senior year the Bible study involved 1,000 of the 1,272 students.
In Cairo, he rode his bike around the steamy streets distributing tracts. His motto became: "Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time."
He died, after only 4 months in Cairo, of spinal meningitis. He was buried at the American Cemetary in Cairo.
Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, China was named after him.
In his Bible he had written these lines, one at a time, over a short period of time:
For further Study:
Broomhall, Alfred J., Hudson Taylor and China's Open Century, volume 7, Hodder & Strougton and O.M.F., 1989. Section: "It is Not Death to Die."
Campbell, Charles Soutter, William Whiting Borden: A Short Life Complete in Christ, 1909.
Erdman, Charles Rosenbury, An Ideal Missionary Volunteer: A Sketch of the Life and Character of William Borden, London: South Africa General Mission, ca. 1913.
Taylor, Mrs Howard, Borden of Yale '09, Philadelphia: C.I.M., 1913. Moody Press reprint 1923.
The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has an archive 0n William Borden.