Is It Worthwhile?

A lesson from the life of William (Bill) Borden

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March 5, 2014


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Check out this article, Is It Worthwhile?: The night before young William Borden said goodbye to his widowed, heartbroken mother to board a ship for China, she pondered: Is it worthwhile?


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In the middle of December in 1912, the night before young William Borden said goodbye to his widowed, heartbroken mother, she pondered: Is it worthwhile? He planned to board a ship that would carry him to a new chapter of missionary life in China.

William, an only child, a top graduate of Yale and a millionaire, received more business offers than he knew what to do with. But he gave away his inheritance (worth $50 million at the time) and launched out in faith to reach the Muslim Kansu people of northern China. Though he and his mother had prayed that God would use William for His purposes, his impending departure was painful for both of them.

Only four months into his missionary career, he contracted spinal meningitis and went to be with the Lord. Under his pillow in the hospital, he left a note saying, “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”

“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” – William Borden

I thought of Borden and his mother Mary the night before our return to Asia late last week. We had a glorious time with our children, parents, extended family and friends during our furlough. We received so much encouragement from our interactions during this time. That night I echoed her question...

Is it, after all, worthwhile?

The following morning, Mary Borden awoke to a still, small voice speaking in her heart to answer that question,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. – John 3:16

God’s love still compels our family to obey without question and murmuring. My flesh yearns to enjoy friends and family just a bit longer. But to stay and linger is not His call for us at this time. To press on in this part of the world is what He has asked us to do, and it is an unspeakable privilege to be on this journey with Him.

Please pray that our lives and lips speak of this privilege. We need grace and stamina for the journey ahead. We must depend on Him alone, and draw our energy from His refreshing cistern. We want to glorify Him in every conversation, teaching and decision. May He give us what it takes to endure until the end.

At times we do face the temptation to succumb to loneliness and self-pity, but we are convinced that He is, after all, worthwhile!

Contact us about following in William Borden’s footsteps or supporting another pioneering worker.

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Take the next step

Learn why reaching the unreached means being willing to do whatever it takes.

Read an interview with one of our candidate coaches, So You Think You Want to Be a Pioneer.

What does it really take to go and stay in hard places? We asked those doing it why they stayed and what advice they'd give others coming behind them.

  • Get a free copy of Fire and Ice, a compelling collection of stories  from John C. Lambert’s 1907 text, The Romance of Missionary Heroism.
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