A Mother's Final Farewell
Borden's Last Days in the USA (December 15-17, 1912)
From his childhood Borden’s mother had consecrated him to the Lord, and his call to missionary work had come as an answer to her many prayers. Yet, since his father’s death, she had learned to lean upon him in everything, and the very thought of separation seemed at times unbearable. Firm as a rock, there had been no wavering in his purpose. He knew as well as she did that her deepest desire was ultimately one and the same with his.
But the separation had up to this time been prospective. Now it was coming near. But she was committed to the sacrifice that seemed as if it must cost her very life. And then – there is no explaining it apart from the presence of the Lord Himself – a wonderful peace filled her heart. For there is a fellowship with Christ that infinitely compensates any cost at which it is won.
Borden felt that his departure should not be delayed. It was like him not to even put off going until after Christmas. His ministry among the colleges did not end until December 10th, and it would have seemed natural to take the Christmas vacation at home and set out early in the new year.
But the RMS Mauretania was sailing on December 17th (1912) and was due to reach Egypt on New Year’s Day (1913). It meant only one week for packing and final preparations, but two or three weeks longer at the other end. Time was one of Borden's most important stewardships.
The last Sunday of all, December the 15th, William spent quietly with his mother. They went to church together in the morning, and on the following day he took part in the prayer meeting for the Muslim world held regularly in their home. William was leaving the next day, and by common consent the five or six men with whom he had been most closely associated in work for God assembled in his room for a last hour of prayer and fellowship.
One of the men later wrote:
“We prayed that our beloved friend might be kept safe throughout his long journey, and guided and upheld in all his ways. And then he prayed for us, and for the work we represented. He was so strong and vigorous in body and mind that night that we anticipated [long and useful service for him].”
In the quiet of her room that last night, Mrs. Borden fell asleep, asking herself again and again, “Is it, after all, worthwhile?”
In the morning as she awoke, the still small voice was speaking in her heart, answering with these words:
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. (John 3:16)
“It was strength for the day,” she said, “and for all the days to come.”
From childhood, William’s constant prayer with his mother had been that the will of God might be done in his life, and as they parted on the deck of the ship it was still the same.
This is the third in a series of articles about the millionaire missionary, William Borden, adapted from his biography (Borden of Yale), which I helped edit for republication (Aneko Press, January 1, 2024).
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