William Whiting Borden
A Brief Sketch of William Whiting Borden by Beulah Bishop
An unusual man, William Whiting Borden was born to material wealth; was naturally endowed with exceptional gifts—great mental powers, rare qualities of character, and vigorous physical strength. His future in any field of endeavor would have been promising. But it was as a very young boy (seven years of age) that he stood during a life-consecration service in The Moody Church. He was very young—and he stood a long time—this little boy in a blue sailor suit; but from the decision made then, Borden was never to waver. That decision was to serve Christ.
Borden enjoyed all of the advantages, while growing up, of his earthly inheritance—fine schools, travel, many friends. But permeating his being, and uppermost in his ambitions, was his love for Christ. He had a keen interest in spiritual verities. It was said that before leaving for school each morning (when attending grammar school in Chicago) he and his mother always found time to drop to their knees while Mrs. Borden asked that he, William, might know the power of the blood of Christ in his experience that day.
After college preparatory at the Hill School in the East, Borden and a companion toured the world. During this time, Borden’s heart was touched with the darkness of heathenistic places; and of the Moslem world in particular. It was then that his convictions regarding missions were inflamed.
Borden’s college career at Yale, following his world-wide tour, was to be a most successful one. Always an honor student, and with a personality that resulted in his being very popular, still his greatest love was in spiritual things. On the campus at New Haven, he organized Bible study groups, prayer groups, and was an ardent soul-winner. In addition he founded the Yale Hope Mission in downtown New Haven, where many down-and-outs came to Christ. Once a world traveler was asked what had impressed him most about America. He said, “The sight of that young millionaire kneeling in prayer beside a bum at the Yale Hope Mission.”
After Yale—Princeton Seminary—then ordination which took place at The Moody Church. When Borden sailed for Cairo, Egypt (where he was to spend time learning the language) the Chicago papers carried headlines such as “Millionaire Gives Up All.”
God’s ways are past finding out. About four months after he sailed for Cairo, William Whiting Borden was stricken with cerebral meningitis. The whole world—missionaries, classmates at Yale and Princeton, business associates, friends—were saddened by his sudden home-taking. But as the body of Borden was lowered into the grave in Cairo, his mother (who had planned to spend a vacation with him in the mountains nearby and was able to reach Cairo for the funeral) was conscious of a deep and peaceful calm, because scarcely a moment of Borden’s life, although so short, had been wasted. All had been lived for Christ.
After the death of Borden, his mother presented to the library two very interesting scrapbooks which contain many memo’s of his college days; Bible study notes and prayer cards, etc. Also letters written by friends to his mother when he passed away. So Christlike was he that he left behind a trail of blessing in every life he touched.
You may see a copy of his last will and testament in one of the scrapbooks in which he bequeathed a large sum to The Moody Church and likewise to many other evangelical organizations.
Truly—a man who knew what it was to have “riches” but not to trust in them.