William Whiting Borden (November 1, 1887 – April 9, 1913) was a Christian missionary to northern China and an heir to his father's real estate fortune.
Life and work
William Whiting Borden was born into affluence in Chicago, Illinois, on November 1, 1887, the third child of William Borden and Mary Degama Whiting. His mother was born in Detroit on August 31, 1861, to John Talman Whiting and Mary Sophia Hill. His father was born in August 1850, and his parents were married on December 28, 1882. Borden had three siblings: John (May 21, 1884 - July 29, 1961), Mary (May 15, 1886 - December 12, 1968), and Joyce (April 21, 1897 - October 15, 1971). Borden's family was wealthy and his father prominent in Chicago, making his money in silver mining in Colorado.
After his mother converted to Christianity in 1894, she began taking him to Chicago Avenue Church (now the Moody Church). He soon responded to the gospel preaching of Dr. R. A. Torrey, turned to Christ, and was baptized. From then on, prayer and Bible study became hallmarks of his life. After graduating from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, at age 16, he traveled to Europe, Africa, and Asia. He entered Yale University in 1905.
Borden graduated from Yale in 1909, and later from Princeton Theological Seminary. He later decided to become a missionary to the Muslims of northern China, but died of cerebral meningitis in Egypt during his training there, at age 25. Samuel Marinus Zwemer conducted his funeral. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Cairo.
Borden bequeathed $1 million to the China Inland Mission and other Christian agencies. The Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, China, was named after him.
Some say that after his death, Borden's Bible was found and given to his mother. In it she found in one place the words "No Reserve" and a date placing the note shortly after he renounced his fortune in favor of missions. At a later point, he had written "No Retreat", dated shortly after his father told him that he would never let him work in the company ever again. Shortly before he died in Egypt, he added the phrase "No Regrets."
A man in Christ
He arose and forsook all and followed Him,
Kindly affectioned with brotherly love,
Fervent in spirit serving the Lord,
Rejoicing in hope,
Patient in tribulation,
Instant in prayer,
Communicating to the necessity of saints,
In honour preferring others,
Apart from faith in Christ,
There is no explanation for such a life.
-Epitaph of William Whiting Borden (1887-1913)