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August 2003: "An Ideal Missionary Volunteer"

from Records of Moody Church, Collection 330, box 71, folder 2

William Borden (front row, second from left) playing for the YMCA baseball team in Cairo, 1913.
from Records of Moody Church, Collection 330, box 71, folder 1 William Borden, also known as "Borden of Yale," was born in 1887, into a very wealthy chicago family. Between highschool and college he spent a year visiting Japan, China, India, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey; while in London before returning to the US in 1905 he heard and was greatly influenced by evangelist R.A. Torrey, whose preaching helped Borden solidify his purpose and motivation in life, illustrated by his founding the Yale Hope Mission in New Haven, Connecticut. He was educated at Yale University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Before beginning his missionary career working among Muslims with China Inland Mission (now known as OMF International) in China, he lived in Cairo in early 1913, where he learned Arabic, under Samuel Zwemer's supervision studied Muslim literature, distributed Christian literature, and was active in the YMCA. His dream of working in China was derailed, however, when he contracted spinal meningitus in Cairo on March 21 and died on April 9, 1913, never completing the journey he had begun.

Charles R. Erdman, one of his professors at Princeton, characterized Borden as "an ideal missionary volunteer" because of several "qualifications":

Borden's legacy, however, extended beyond his life and example as he bequeathed $1 million to to Christian missions, including to China Inland Mission which he was joining, Moody Bible Institute and Moody Church, Princeton Theological Seminary, several Presbyterian mission boards and other agencies. CIM established and dedicated Borden Memorial Hospital to ministry in Lanzhou, Gansu Province in northwest China, an area populated with Muslims like those Borden hoped to serve.

from Records of Moody Church, Collection 330, box 71, folder 1 Several Archives' collections have information on Borden's life, death, and influence, most substantially scrapbooks from the records of Moody Church, on whose board Borden briefly served. These large volumes include the photos, letters, notes, clippings, articles, pamphlets (like the one he wrote featured upper left), eulogies, and more (created by Borden during his life or others afterward). Click to read the full text of the evangelistic pamphlet above What Does It Mean To Be A Christian? You can also read an Archives presentation (with photos), "Lord, When Did We See You a Stranger?" which included a description of Borden's founding of the Yale Hope Mission.
from Records of Moody Church, Collection 330, box 71, folder 1

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Last Revised: 12/4/03
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005