Testimony of William Raws, founder of America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy

Saved by Grace: Personal Testimony of an Artist

                by William Raws

“Here, take this!” “Here, take it, quick!”

These  excited sentences from a  man who pushed  his  way  through the  crowd  of workers  and beneficiaries  in the  hall of  the Philadelphia Sunday  Breakfast Association  one Sunday morning  drew my attention  at the  close  of a  service, and as  I stepped toward him, he handed me a razor.  As I slipped it into my hip pocket, I asked: “Why  are you so  anxious to get  rid of it?”

“I meant to use it on a  man tonight,” he  answered hoarsely. “I meant  to kill him.  I only came in here to  pass away the  time  until  near midnight  when I intended to go after my man.”

Then he told me that as he sat there he had heard my testimony how that God had redeemed me from a drunken, dissipated, wild, reckless and sinful life; and he said to himself: “If God can save that man perhaps He can save me.”

There he was stopped that night from possibly becoming a murderer.

I determined then that I would grasp every opportunity to tell of how God “brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song inmy mouth, even praise unto our God.”

I was born of good Christian parents. Father made considerable money in Australia where I was born, and my early recollections are of a comfortable, happy home in the country.

Later we moved to one of the cities in the North of England. I became a Sunday school teacher, librarian of the school and a member of the church – but was not truly born again.

I spent five years in a Manchester warehouse and studied nights at the Royal Institution of Arts, and subsequently with one of the best portrait painters in that part of the country. At the age of twenty-one I married. Up to that time I did not know the taste of liquor. Unfortunately my wife did, although a woman of splendid qualities in other respects; and this proved to be the rock upon which we made shipwreck of our lives. We owned considerable property, had money in the bank, a well-furnished home, etc., when I first gave way to the curse of strong drink. Oh the misery, the heartaches, the wretched experiences and the ruin of the next ten years! I shudder when I think of it even now.

I would not, even if I had  the space, tell all  of the dreadful life  of sin I lived,  only just  enough  to show  some other  poor erring  brothers or sisters that they may take heart  and, trusting solely in  the power  of  the blood of Jesus Christ, be saved. We lost some money through a  bank failure and then went into business.T his we neglected  for drink and failed.

We mortgaged  property, spent the money, sold  that property, spent that  money, mortgaged other property with the same results  – until  every  house we owned (fourteen in all) had gone. I was almost always under the  influence of drink. At times I  would work a little but for several years did absolutely nothing but drink. For months at a time we would never miss  a morning but the servant would bring the silver waiter to the bedroom  door, and on it would be the milk and Jamaica rum, coffee and the brandy decanter.

Imagine how a day started in such a fashion would end.  One night, coming in from the club, the nurse and my wife were about to take our little three-year-old sick child to bed. I said: “Here, let me take her. Papa will take his darling to bed  tonight,” and taking her and the pillow in my arms, I retraced my unsteady steps to the hall, and when about half-way up the stairs I fell full length  upon my dying child. A few days later I stood at her graveside, still under the influence of liquor,  and saw the  beautiful white ermine, silver-mounted casket lowered into the grave.

Some might say, “That man was a brute. He had no affection.” But, my friend, I want to say that I loved  my child with all the strength of my heart. The demon of drink was in possession of me, but I had as much   affection for my dead darling  as I did only a few  weeks ago when I stood sober, in  full possession of all my faculties, at the graveside

of our dear little eleven-year-old girl,  Dottie, as we laid her to  rest under the pines at Keswick Colony.

Time  would fail to tell of the black past. There is no poetry in a drunkard’s life; scheming and planning, broken promises, debts, rum, bankruptcy, a broken home, visits to the pawn shops to raise money,

two-thirds of which went to the rum seller, and one-third for food  and family. At last I was induced by my relatives to leave England and come to America thinking that perhaps complete change of surroundings would enable me to stop drinking.

I was  drunk on the Thursday  night when I  promised. I  sailed  on the  Saturday following.  Oh the  misery of the farewell to wife and children,  to mother, father and other relatives! Any Hell?  Ask the drunkard. He can  tell you.  For two years after my arrival here I lived an up and down  life, oftener down than up.

Then news came of mother’s death and later of my wife’s. I was broken-hearted  but  knew not  where  to find  rest  or  comfort until  one  day,

fairly  dying from  the effects  of rum, unable  even to keep hot rum  brandy on my stomach, I  staggered penniless to my room and fell  against an old arm chair. (I  still  use   it  on  our  platform.) Although  under the influence  of drink, a  poor dying  drunkard,  a swearing, lustful,  sinful man, I cried  unto God.

He  heard  my cry  and  saved me.  Jesus Christ  “was manifested,  that he  might destroy  the works  of  the devil.”  For days  and nights  thereafter  I  could neither  eat  nor sleep.  I  was on the verge  of delirium  tremens.  I had  had them before. But  peace came at last and victory  through  our Lord  and  Saviour Jesus Christ.

That  was   twenty-one  years  ago,  and praise God  I can now look  back and say that  during all that  time He  has kept me,  and tonight I can  honestly declare that I have no more desire to drink, or for tobacco, or  to swear or gamble than when a little child I knelt at mother’s knee. To Him and Him only do I give the glory!

He has  been my Shepherd and  has guided and kept me  and supplied my every need. Tonight I can sing,

“I  love  Him, I  love  Him, because  He first   loved  me,

And  purchased my salvation on Calvary’s tree.”

I   know   from  experience   that   His promises  are sure,  and He  will supply our  every  need  for spirit,  soul  and body.

About  two years before I  was redeemed, a cousin  of mine in Germantown  told us at breakfast that she had dreamed of my being  in the  pulpit  of St.  Stephen’s M.E.  Church preaching,  and  it was so ridiculous  to  our  minds that we all laughed  at  it.  I  was living such a sinful life at  the time that shortly afterward my uncle had to turn me out of the house.

But  praise be to  God, I have appeared since, not only in that church,  but in almost every church in Germantown to tell the story of God’s power  to save and keep saved.

My children  were brought over to  me. I married my present wife, and  after spending some time  at my profession God filled me with the Holy  Spirit  and called us into  mission work in which He has wonderfully blessed us.

He  gave us the  saloon in which  I used to  drink  and  carouse so much  for a mission hall, and it is now widely known as “The Whosoever Gospel Mission and Rescue Home.”

But the crowning effort of our lives was the purchase of 880 acres  of land

in the Pines near Whiting, NJ, and the founding of Keswick Colony of  Mercy.

Here, amid healthful and beautiful surroundings, many a drunkard has found

Christ and redemption and is now a happy Christian.

Praise God for His mercy and love and His power to redeem from all the power of sin.


On September 18, 1910, at the age of only  52,  the   life  of  William  Raws literally  burned out  for  God and  for lost men. The Keswick Colony  of Mercy is truly a faith work which had its humble beginning in 1897 with  $1.87 in capital.  The ministry has  been God’s instrument in reaching  multitudes  of men  from  all  walks  of life and all parts of the  country, showing them that the  Lord Jesus  Christ is the only perfect  answer to the need of the addicted individual. Although the Colony has been expanded and improved through the years, there has been no change from the  original vision and the faith principle upon which it operates. Men are  not charged for their stay and the Colony ministry is supported entirely by voluntary contributions.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are

 passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

The reality of this verse is demonstrated in the lives of so many who have come to the Colony of Mercy. And it can be the reality of your life


* Are you in Christ?

* Do you know Him as personal Lord and Saviour?

* Do you know, without a shred of doubt, that you will one day be in Heaven with Him?

God’s Word tells us in John 3:16 He loved the world – you and me – so much

that “he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should

not perish, but have everlasting life.” You can have assurance of that

everlasting life today.


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