Living Lives That Count
Graduation time! Excitement is high as caps and gowns are donned these days by graduates from high school, university, Bible college, seminary, etc. in various countries of the world. For the thoughtful young person, it is a crucial time. Decisions that have been under consideration for some time can be put off no longer, decisions such as: shall I continue my education? If so, where, and what course of study shall I follow? If not, in what field of work should I seek employment? Some are considering marriage: who and when? Blessed are those Christian young people whose trust is in the Lord to lead them in the pathway that the omniscient lover of their souls has planned for them. Finding and doing Godís will should be the supreme and prayerful consideration of every young Christian graduate.
In the book, Borden of Yale í09, by Mrs. Howard Taylor, published by Overseas Missionary Fellowship, is found the remarkable story of a young student who had a passion to know and to do Godís will. For years, every morning before the young man dashed off to school, he and his mother would kneel together for a brief prayer, and one of the petitions on which they were united was that Godís will be done in his life.
Born in 1887, William Borden had advantages that many of us have not had. His parents were descendants of the Pilgrims and the Puritans, people of staunch faith in God and strong character, who passed on valuable traits to their posterity. During Williamís early years, his mother became an earnest, rejoicing Christian. She took membership in the Moody Church in Chicago where they lived, giving her children the advantage of a church where the Bible was clearly taught. It was here, as a lad of about eight years of age, under the preaching of the eminent pastor, R.A. Torrey, that William put his trust in Christ as Savior. Not long afterward, he stood with those who were witnessing to their decision to serve the Lord all the days of their life. Although William was young to make such a decision, he understood and he never drew back from that dedication of himself to the Lord. As his love for the Word of God grew, Bible reading and prayer became an important part of his day.
His parents had wealth that enabled them to send him to a Christian high school in Pennsylvania. A godly professor there made a valuable contribution to the lives of the students as he encouraged them to make Christ a pattern for their lives. After graduation, since he was sixteen years of age and young for entering college, his parents chose a fine Christian young man as a traveling companion for him, and sent them on a trip around the world. In the numerous countries visited, William was deeply impressed with the spiritual destitution, the idolatry and the superstitions of the masses where Christianity was practiced by only a small minority. This started him thinking that the thing he should do was to become a foreign missionary. He prayed that God would use his life for the furtherance of His kingdom as He saw best.
When their world tour took them to London, the two young men attended a service at which R.A. Torrey was a visiting speaker. Torrey called for those who wanted to surrender their lives fully to God to stand, and William stood and affirmed his decision that Jesus would be Lord of his life. William also accepted the challenge of Torrey to "Go to work," and though he was a somewhat reserved young man, he began right there in London to speak to souls about Christ.
Returning to the States, he entered Yale University. At once he became active in the Christian activities on campus. In addition to supporting the regular religious services of the university, he and a friend, Charlie Campbell, formed a prayer meeting and soon were joined by two others, to pray regularly just before breakfast. Their burden was for campus friends they wanted to bring to Christ. William would read a portion of Scripture and point out a promise in it and then proceed to confidently claim the promise. This freshman prayer group was the beginning of daily prayer groups being formed in the other classes up through the senior class. Blessings followed as God answered prayer, and a number of their fellow students were converted. William also started a Bible class for those who didnít attend the regular religious services on campus. He was chosen to join a small, elect group of personal workers who met with a professor once a week for discussion of what they encountered in reaching others and for prayer. William was also elected a class deacon.
It was obvious that he was a young man greatly gifted of God, and he sought to develop these gifts to the fullest. He had high ideals for himself and endeavored to live them out. This helped to keep high the spirit and standard of those religious activities in which he participated. William was a careful steward of his time and was ever about his Fatherís business. At the same time, he excelled as a scholar, and he participated enthusiastically in athletics, to keep his body strong. He was respected and admired by his classmates, and one friend wrote that he put "backbone" into those participating with him who were not as strong in character as he was. His lively spirit made him a favorite with other students.
Mrs. Taylor points out in her book a key point in his life: "Prayer was to him his most important work, as well as the breath of his life." He was quick to pray throughout the day with his friends as they engaged in activities together. A carefully recorded list of prayer needs indicated that he also had a private prayer life of great depth and breadth.
William was a key worker in praying for and helping to start The Yale Hope Mission, a city rescue mission. As an avid worker in the mission, he faithfully took his turn in speaking and in praying with those who came for prayer. It was great joy to him when he was able to help get converts established in a better life. Though a young man of wealth, he was ever ready to humbly serve others, and he took care to use his wealth wisely and in a quiet and inconspicuous way.
A Missionary Convention of the Student Volunteer Movement introduced William to Samuel Zwemer. Zwemer was a man with a passionate love for Christ and for souls. He spoke forcibly about the challenge of the Islamic world, quoting figures and pointing out on a map the areas where Islamic people were largely unreached for Christ. He urged that when the way opened, missionaries should be ready to press in, sacrificing their lives if need be to reach them. From that time on, William had a quiet resolve to give himself for that work if the Lord confirmed that He wanted it. He began to study the Arabic language.
After graduating from Yale University, he studied at Princeton Seminary. Here he continued to distinguish himself as a scholar, although his schedule was incredibly full of religious activities as well as family business matters. In addition he was selected by several outside Christian organizations to serve on boards or councils. His wisdom and mature judgment, gained from his deep knowledge of Scripture developed through daily reading, made him a valued and respected companion to the older men with whom he served.
In 1912 William was accepted by the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship), as a prospective missionary and he openly declared that he intended to go to the Mohammedans of North West China. A short time later he was ordained by Moody Church and set aside to minister in a foreign land. Like the Apostle Paul, he was "constrained," "compelled" by the love of Christ to do and to go even to extremes to win for Christ the souls for whom He died, if that is how God led. He could not forget the heathenism he had seen. To him, being a missionary was not a sacrifice but a privilege; knowing and loving God and doing His will in the power of the Holy Spirit to him was life in its fullest sense. He chose not to marry because he did not feel he should take a lady into the hardships that he expected to encounter in the remote place in China for which he was heading. William faced the formidable task that loomed ahead of him with confidence in Godís Word that "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27).
The grace of God was wonderfully manifested as he parted from his widowed mother whom he had tenderly supported in her widowhood and who loved and looked to her son with rare devotion. Not even indulging himself to spend a last Christmas with his family, in December 1912, William departed for Egypt, where he teamed up with Samuel Zwemer, to learn more about Islam and to study Arabic more intently. While here in Cairo, he organized a door-to-door witnessing effort aimed to reach every home in the city for Christ.
Who can measure the shock that went around the world when this highly esteemed young man so full of divine love and faith and hope, contracted a serious disease and was taken to his heavenly home only four months after launching out on this first leg of his missionary journey to China? Multitudes mourned his unexpected death.
This brief account of William Bordenís life can present only a few highlights of a surrendered, fully devoted life that impacted many. God calls away some choice servants for purposes we do not understand. Faith must keep us from faltering over the loss. God does all things well.
Young people, let William Bordenís life challenge you. Our supreme example to follow is Christ (John 10:27;12:26). Nevertheless, William Borden is a worthy example of a young man who was whole-souled for God. Bordenís life preaches to us that as Christians, purchased by the precious Blood of Jesus, our lives are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19). We are accountable to God for the gifts and graces He bestows upon us (Rom. 14:12). It is our reasonable service to yield willingly, gladly and lovingly to our Lordís will for us (Rom. 12:1-2). It takes time and prayer and thought to discover His leading for us. We must purpose to stand strong and not break when He drills and disciplines us to fit into His perfect plan (Heb. 12:5-11). Young graduate, will you be one to choose not the easy way but be willing for whatever self-forgetfulness or hardship or loneliness might come in choosing His will? Jesus said, "If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).
Graduation time! Christian young person, might this be your time, not only of celebration, but your time of dedication or re-dedication to find and do Godís will. He often reveals but one step at a time. Might His grace enable you to take that step. He wants your life to count for eternity.
Parents and grandparents, keep your family covered with unselfish prayer, putting first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You may be called upon to pay a price along with your beloved young person. Ever keep in mind that God has promised, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).
Praise God Ė
* For all whose flaming love for God and for souls, delight His heart and enable Him to use them to do valiantly in the work of His Kingdom.
Please Pray Ė
* That all Herald readers, young and old alike, will strive to do their part for the salvation of souls.
* That the Herald of His Coming Salvation literature will be fruitful in leading souls to Christ. Pray for funds for a new printing of 105,000 RIGHT CHOICE Salvation heralds.
* That Godís people around the world, who suffer persecution and martyrdom will obtain grace to endure to the end.
That God will revive His Church and send her
members throughout the world preaching the Gospel, until the whole world knows
of His redeeming love!