Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 15, 2013

William Borden’s Grave

Cairo, Egypt

There is something about the very mention of Egypt that seems to stir the imagination and that conjures up images of explorers in pith helmets — uncovering secrets long-buried beneath ancient sands. Perhaps Egypt owes some of its mystique to all of those mummy movies that have been around almost since the dawn of television. I confess that I am a big fan of the mummy movie genre.

Giza Pyramid
Before we ever studied Egypt in elementary school, I had already learned about the country from my Uncle Phil. He sent me a really cool leather wallet embossed with colorful hieroglyphs that he had bought for me when he visited Egypt in the 1960’s. That gift prompted me to read about Egypt and the pyramids in the encyclopedia. For my younger readers, those of us who are almost as old as mummies had to Google information in actual books like encyclopedias.

Giza Pyramid Omar
While en route to the Zabbaleen slum village of Helwan yesterday morning, we stopped to visit the pyramids of Giza. These ancient monuments are easily visible above the cityscape from most of the roads in the area. I am glad that we took the time to visit the pyramids. They are very impressive and a good reminder that ancient peoples were smarter than we think. These world-renowned monuments built by and for the Pharaohs of Egypt stirred my imagination but they did not stir my heart.

After our visit to the Zabbaleen slum village, we headed back toward Cairo. I wanted to make one more stop before the end of the day. For years, I have wanted to visit the grave of William Borden, one of my heroes. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Cairo. If you don’t know the story of William Borden and the three things that he wrote in the fly-leaf of his Bible before his death, then I encourage you to read my blog post about him. It‘s the most-read blog I have posted since I started blogging.

William Borden Grave View
When we arrived at the cemetery I was disappointed to see that the gates were locked. Fortunately, a man seated outside the walls called for the caretaker who came and unlocked the gates for us. I told him that we had come to visit the grave of William Borden. I had a photo of the grave site and was able to find it in less than a minute.

As I approached Borden’s grave I could feel my heart beating faster. I could hardly believe that I was standing at the grave of the selfless young man who had renounced his family fortune to become a missionary. Borden died in Cairo before reaching the mission field. Some would consider this a tragic loss. But because of his inspiring example and the three things that he recorded in his Bible, untold numbers of people have left the comforts of home in order to serve the interests of God’s kingdom among the nations.

William Borden Grave
As we stood around Borden’s grave, I shared the story of his life with our team of four Americans, one Jordanian, four Egyptians, as well as the cemetery caretaker. And then we circled Borden’s grave and I led us in a prayer of thanksgiving for his remarkable life and example. It was an emotional experience and of greater significance to me than our brief visit to the famous pyramids of Giza. William Borden’s story not only stirs my imagination, it continues to stir my heart.

The stone on his grave reads as follows:

Sacred to the memory of William Whiting Borden aged 25 years. Born at Chicago Illinois USA November 1, 1887 Entered into life eternal at Cairo April 9, 1913

Where after graduating at Yale University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he was preparing for pioneer missionary work among the Mohammedans in China.

“Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” PS: CXIX 11

A Man in Christ
He arose and forsook all and followed Him
Kindly affectioned with brotherly love
Fervent in spirit serving the Lord
Rejoicing in hope patient in tribulation
Instant in prayer
Communicating to the necessity of saints
In honour preferring others

Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.

Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. St. Mark XVI 15


  1. The most arresting sentence for me today was, “Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.” I think that one will go in my Bible. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Yes, that is a beautiful tribute to Borden. I am glad that it is written on his tombstone for all to read. He truly was an amazing man of faith.

  2. The testimony of our Lord Jesus lives on through the life of William Borden. He was an extraordinary man of God and God used Him in miraculous ways long before he started for Egypt. His spiritual influence here far outweighs anything more needed to receive great reward for his faithfulness, his love for our Lord and his desire to be the godly man God was pleased to make of him because of his desire and request. I think he may have been able to say as Paul said, “1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

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