William Ault was born to a British shoemaker Jabez Ault in 1778. His parents raised him as a godly young man. Before the age of 7, William had already completed reading the Bible 6 times. Ault ran a Sunday School in his neighborhood. Later, in 1808, he became a Methodist Preacher in England and thus began to serve the Lord. In a particular week, he would minister at more than 25 places, preaching Christ. When William heard that Srilanka has never heard of Christ and doesn’t have a Christian preacher, he felt led by the Holy Spirit to go to Srilanka.
He sought permission from the Missionary Society to be sent to Srilanka. They responded that permission was granted only to missionaries who were married. William married Sarah whom he knew was the Lord’s choice for him. Both were committed to serving the Lord in Srilanka. They journeyed to Srilanka on the 5th day of their marriage as planned by the Missionary Society.
On 31st December 1813, the mission crew traveled together by a steamer. On the third day of their journey, the ship was severely tossed by a storm. Some of the passengers were injured due to the ship being tossed by the heavy winds. Even his wife Sarah was greatly weakened by the turmoil. Neither was immediate medical help available to her nor could they return to England. She endured the suffering for 5 weeks at the end of which she entreated her husband to sing a devotional and pray for her. As they both were singing, Sarah’s life departed. The captain of the ship suggested to William to bury his wife at the nearest land which William refused. He requested that she be let down in the sea as he did not want to return to England at any cost. He firmly believed that he would not go back on the path laid down before him. He continued on his journey and after 6 months, he reached the city of Batticaloa where he began his missionary service.
In two months’ time, he learnt sufficient Tamil to be able to minister to the people in Tamil during the Sunday Service. The inhabitants at Batticaloa weren’t as civilized or cultured as we see them today. They were, in fact, backward and uneducated. Most of them were farmers and cultivated vegetables. The simple people were patiently waiting for their vegetable harvest just as William Ault was waiting for the heavenly seed to take root in them and produce a harvest. From his humble shanty, the beautiful stars seemed to smile and twinkle at him. But it was infested with mosquitoes. Bread and butter were scarce and milk was unheard of. Not one day did William regret the lack of supply. In his letter to his mother, he wrote that he was happy for whatever was available within his reach and was thankful to the Lord for those.
Back in England, he was a wealthy man but here, he was walking the lanes of Batticaloa doing missionary service. To reach the villages, he often had to use boats. He spotted young men who were found in groups and helped them receive an education. He started a school in which there were just 5 students initially. In 8 months, there were eight schools in eight villages. He even opened a College to help them learn English. The greatest secret of his success was his close relationship with the Lord. He slept as little as 3 hours a day and often spent the remaining 21 hours in communion with the Father and doing His great service. The scarce 3 hours weren’t restful. He was bitten by mosquitoes and poisonous insects which often weakened him. On the 1st of April 1815, he asked his dear friend to read the 3rd chapter of Jeremiah. His life departed as the friend was reading to him and William was just 37 years old. He served for less than eight months but has left an indelible history of mission service at Batticaloa. The students who graduated from the school hold high status in society and are honorable men. The school produced many leaders. His mission service produced much impact in the neighborhood of Batticaloa.
Let us ponder and think whom we live for. There were many reasons for William Ault to back out of service to the Lord. But he chose to serve the Lord at any cost. Today our lives are in the hands of the Lord. Even if it is a day, let us live a life exalting the Lord. Let us surrender our talents, gifts, time and strength to the Lord as we submit ourselves to bring glory to the Lord.