Borden did more than financially support the National Bible Institute and serve on its Board of Directors. He played an active role in the NBI’s summer street preaching meetings that reached thousands. During his senior year at Princeton he taught a weeknight course on the Epistle to the Galatians in the NBI’s School for Christian Workers. Financially speaking, Borden contributed regularly and generously to the ministries he helped direct and other Christian endeavors he supported.
William Borden (1887-1913) had a privileged upbringing in a wealthy Chicago family. As a young boy he dedicated his life to serving Christ, and at age seventeen determined to pursue a career as a Christian missionary.
In Borden’s freshman year of college at Yale University, his father died, leaving an enormous inheritance of five million dollars (worth at least twenty-five times that amount by today’s standards) to his family. When Borden turned twenty-one years of age during his senior year at Yale, he received his personal inheritance of one million dollars.
Borden’s tremendous wealth did not deflect him in the least from his whole-hearted consecration to Jesus. Instead, he remained wholly devoted to serving Christ and His Kingdom with his time, talents, energy, intellect and treasure.
After graduating from Yale, Borden attended and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. During his three years at Princeton, though still only in his early twenties, he served as a Trustee of the Moody Bible Institute and a Director of the National Bible Institute (an evangelistic association that actively ministered to people who had no church affiliation). He also continued to help oversee the Yale Hope Mission ministry which had been established during his college years.
Borden’s service in those responsible positions often required him to be away from Princeton for board meetings and other ministry opportunities in Chicago, New York and New Haven. Despite those demands, he continued to energetically prosecute his seminary studies with distinction, earning the high regard of fellow students and professors alike.
When Borden, at twenty-two years of age, was first approached by D. O. Shelton about the fledgling National Bible Institute ministry, he listened intently to what Shelton had to share, then said quietly: “I want to help you in the work you are doing, and will send you $100 a month for the next year.” That day Borden wrote Shelton an initial check for twice that amount and, in the seven months that followed, continued to send him a check for $200. In eight months Borden gave $1,600 to Shelton’s ministry, equaling at least $40,000 today. Shelton later wrote: “I was learning to know Will Borden, one of whose characteristics was always to do better than promised—more, and not less, than he led you to expect.”