Friends honor Southern Seminary donor with student discipleship fund

Communications Staff — July 22, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the Southeast Outlook. Used by permission.

Rick Bordas never planned a legacy.

He wasn’t thinking about it as he made rounds in his sales business, cared for his wife Lori and sons Jeffrey and Joshua, volunteered at Southeast Christian Church and for the Foundation Board at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rick describes himself as ordinary — a diehard University of Kentucky fan, a golfer who never traveled far from home except to serve in Vietnam, a quiet, loyal friend. A good day is delivering embroidered shirts to clients, a home-cooked dinner with Graeter’s ice cream for dessert, a game of canasta or sitting on the deck with Lori until dark.

He didn’t know that everyone builds a legacy as they live.

When Rick, 64, was diagnosed with incurable gallbladder cancer a few months ago, he simply asked people to pray, continued working and volunteering. Though he is weak and thin, Rick calls himself “a blessed man.”

When friends invited Rick and his wife Lori to dinner on June 17, they had no idea that seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler, his wife Mary and about 100 friends and family had gathered at the seminary to unveil the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship.

It’s an honor that Rick still has trouble wrapping his arms around.

Southeast Elder John Schmitt is not surprised.

“The reason this happened is Rick’s life has never been about Rick,” he said. “It’s always been about others and Jesus.”

Mohler said the fund will touch every student on the seminary campus as it provides special speakers who will teach about prayer and discipleship.

“Rick is a light in a dark world,” Mohler said. “My wife was talking with a young man on a plane recently. When he found out we live in Louisville, he said, ‘I know somebody in Louisville’ and went on to explain that he didn’t have a dad in his life, but he had been mentored by Rick Bordas. I think many could say that.”

Rick has been on the Foundation Board at the seminary for eight years, raising funds to defray education costs for students. He’s prayed for students and for outreach, for Mohler, for those who return to their own countries to preach and teach, for those who plant churches and preach.

Those who know Rick know how much the seminary means to him, but the scholarship fund is not his only legacy.

It’s in students he mentored, the faculty at the seminary, his family and a wide group of friends.

Decades before he had cancer, Rick volunteered to be a D Group leader for high school students at Southeast. The group became so close that after graduation, they continued to meet at the Bordas home whenever they were home from college.

Now some of them are pastors, youth leaders, worship leaders and dentists.

When Rick was diagnosed with cancer, he asked these young men to pray. When they learned that Rick could no longer lift his stepson Jeffrey, who has special needs, they began showing up at the Bordas home to help.

John Hamilton, a worship intern at Southeast, said what they do is insignificant compared to all Rick and Lori have done for them.

“Rick kept in touch with us no matter where we were in college,” Hamilton said. “He modeled what a Biblical husband and father looks like. We saw that played out in how he treated Lori, Jeffrey and their son Joshua. We were shocked when he told us about the cancer, but we wanted to help. Some of us started watching Jeffrey when he and Lori went to doctors. He served us so well that there’s nothing else to do but serve him as he served us.”

Close friend Linda Webster said one of Rick’s mottos is, “It will be OK.”

“For most people, that’s just a phrase, but for Ricky, it’s a lifestyle,” she said. “No matter what he faces, he trusts it will be OK. That’s a great example of resting in the Lord.”

Glen and Becky Hedgspeth said it is not often that people see the result of their faithfulness during their lifetime.

“Rick is seeing that every day,” Becky said. “He’s experiencing an outpouring of love and support in cards, letters, visits from friends and gifts.”

As cancer has become part of Rick’s story, he manages to weave in unshakable faith in a good God.

Some have told Rick that cancer shouldn’t happen to him. He’s a good man, busy with God’s agenda.

“Do you think cancer only happens to bad people?” Rick asked. “Maybe God allowed me to have cancer because I can deal with it. I will not curse God when something goes wrong. John Piper wrote a booklet, ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer.’ I will use this to witness and share my hope and be joyful so people will see that.”

Rick and Lori pray for healing, but they demand nothing from God.

“Through it all Rick continues to consider himself a blessed man,” Lori said. “It’s true, in so many ways we feel as though we’ve led charmed lives. We have gladly accepted all the good things God has bestowed upon us year after year. Why should we be angry with Him when all is not cookies and bonbons? We have a 25-year history with Him. He is worthy of our trust. We are so thankful this world is not our home.”

Contributions to the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship may be mailed to:

Southern Seminary c/o Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship, Office of Institutional Advancement, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280

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