September 25th, 1897

Posted on September 25, 2023 by Elizabeth Welte in Freedom Fighters

I have been privileged to be a part of the ministry of America’s Keswick for the past twenty-six years.

This month, we will celebrate 125 years of the founding of the Colony of Mercy on September 25, 1897.

Our founder, William Raws, grew up in England and was an amazing artist. He and his wife were introduced to social drinking by several deacons and their wives from their church. Both became alcoholics, and soon their lives were consumed by alcohol. William literally lost EVERYTHING.

He ended up coming to America and landed in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, thinking that a change of location would help him. He slid further into his addiction until February 17, 1886, when he fell to his knees in his studio apartment and was converted.

He grew in his walk with the Lord and began a rescue mission in Philadelphia, The Whosoever Gospel Mission that is still in existence today.

During his time there, the Lord put a burden on his heart to find a place where he could bring men to get out of the city, find Christ as their Savior, and grow in their walk with the Lord.

The Lord led him to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The property was an old sawmill and reminded William of his home in England. On September 25, 1897, William Raws, his family, and some staff met in the Old Homestead that is still on our property and had a Bible study from the book of Philippians.

Afterward, they came outside, where there was a truck with an old pump organ on it. They sang “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and then they pooled all of their resources, and with a $1.87, the ministry began.

I often wonder if he ever could imagine the impact that his life has had over the past 126 years. Because of his faithfulness, over 21,000 men have come through the Colony of Mercy, hundreds of women through the ministry of Women of Character, now Enrich, and over a hundred women through Barbara’s Place.

While the buildings, staff, and program have changed over the years, our message has NEVER changed. Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer to addiction, and through a personal relationship with Him, a man or woman gets a new identity and can live a life of sustained victory.

There is a ripple effect that has taken place as spouses and children are also impacted by the power of the Gospel.

Several years ago, a young man came through the Colony of Mercy, and God radically transformed his life. His wife was impacted by the ministry, and it has impacted their entire family.

I recently spoke at a church and met his son. He shared with me that he is enrolled at the Word of Life Bible Institute for this semester. It thrilled my heart to think how God was still speaking to hearts and transforming lives all because of what he did in the life of William Raws.

Happy 126th anniversary, Colony of Mercy. To God be the glory.




Written by Bill Welte: President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his childhood sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 12 amazing grandkids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

Think About This:  “Anxiety can only happen when our hope is genuinely in the wrong thing, not in Jesus.” ― Kim Meeder

The Daily Bible Reading: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 137, Haggai 1. You can download our 2023 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here. 

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:  “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:27-28

Want to get away & have dedicated time to read & learn God’s Word?

Consider a retreat at America’s Keswick retreat center.


Recent Posts