Pastor, First Baptist Church, Sneedville
As I began planning for sharing this year’s information on the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering at our church, I recently read the inspiring account of another missionary who God called and used in a unique way. William Borden’s life is a story that should challenge every church and Christian in the areas of missions, leadership, and ministry.
William Whiting Borden was 16 years old in the early 1900s when he graduated high school. He was an heir to the Borden Dairy fortune. Before he started at Yale University, his parents gave him a trip around the world for his graduation present.
While on this trip around the world, the Lord spoke to William. As he traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a tremendous burden for the world’s lost and hurting people. It was at this point that Borden wrote a letter to his parents and informed them he wanted to spend the remainder of his life being a missionary. After graduating from college and seminary, Borden boarded a ship for China to serve as a missionary.
Due to his passion to reach Muslims, he stopped in Egypt to learn the Arabic language. While there he contracted spinal meningitis. And within a month, he was dead at the age of 25. Borden had dismissed his life of luxury to take the gospel of Jesus to the nation. Many felt Borden had wasted his life, and others called his early passing a tragedy. Still today, when we hear this story young men and women get inspired to leave all they have and give their lives to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
After his death, Borden’s parents were given his Bible; they found three quotes. Just after he renounced his fortune to go to missions, he wrote the words “no reserve.” When he left for the missions field he wrote “no retreat.” When he learned of his approaching death he wrote “no regret.”
Southern Baptists use the phrase “Whatever It Takes.” I wonder if that thought was first birthed in the minds of missionaries like Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and Borden. We can escape to the safe mode of giving to missions and getting involved at the minimal level, or we can say like Borden “No Reserve.” When is the last time we took on the mindset of having no reservations as we approach missions giving? As our church deals with an uncertain economy and an unknown economic future it is a challenge to go and perform ministry and missions as in past years. But if we take on a “no reserve” attitude, God promises to bless exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
If missions travel is challenging for your church like it is in mine, look to Tennessee. Support the Golden Offering for Tennessee. The best missions trip I went on this past year was literally 12 feet from the door to my office. It yielded two new members and two baptisms. Just because a group from your church cannot go on missions internationally, don’t overlook our wonderful but statistically lost state we live in. There should be “no retreat” from missions support and the missions opportunities right outside the door of your church. Pray and find where God is calling you and go!
Finding God’s will was an easy task for Borden. He had “no regret” written last in his Bible. The will of God led him to surrender to missions as a way of life rather than the comfortable corporate world his family had offered. Some viewed his life as wasted. I strongly disagree. I think he followed the path God had chosen for him and therefore left an indelible mark on many people dealing with a call to missions and ministry. His story continues to inspire countless lives today to give their life to spreading the life-saving message of the gospel. There was no wasted life in William Borden and there is no wasted missions effort. When we are involved in missions and missions support, let there be “no regret.” Again, God will bless our effort.
If we continue to say “Whatever It Takes” and mean it, we will need to keep Borden’s three phrases close to our vision and goals for the church and its future — “No Reserves, No Retreats, and No Regrets.” Let’s support the Cooperative Program and its entities this year. Go forward in what God is leading your church to do. Do not turn back and He will bless.