Early Friday morning, March 16, our dear friend and long-time ENLACE advocate, Bill Manwarren, died at his home surrounded by his wife, Marilyn, their children, family and friends. We are all saddened at his death and will miss him dearly. Ron Bueno, ENLACE's Executive Director, was able to visit Bill in the last days of his life, given the opportunity to talk with him about his life and memories.
On March 21, over 500 people gathered to mark his passing. Ron was one of those who shared at the funeral. The following words are from Ron's eulogy.
Bill and Ron visiting homes in Abelines"Bill and I were the most unlikely of friends. He was a good bit taller than me at 6’5 and almost 40 years older. Bill and Marilyn were my parents’ friends and because of a gentle push from my mom, they, along with their business partners Hal and Juanita Adams, became some of ENLACE’s first donors. They funded the start of the credit program with $1,750 in the early 90’s which to date has lent millions of dollars to thousands of people. Over the years, Bill helped raise nearly $2 million for more than 70 projects that included water systems, houses, home gardens transforming the lives of 112,000 people in El Salvador.
Bill was a salesman most of his life and had worked hard to provide a good life for his family. He was by no means wealthy. He didn't have millions saved up for retirement or a trust fund. Even so, for the last 20 years he was completely committed to ENLACE and raised millions for the cause of the poor. His total commitment to the ministry of ENLACE was nothing short of being an evangelist and advocate for "the least of these" in our world by empowering small churches to reach out and eradicate poverty in El Salvador.
He would talk to everyone that would listen about ENLACE. He always carried brochures or annual reports with him. Bill was known as “Mr. ENLACE” at his church because he would coordinate all the fundraising events and celebrations. He would carry around a clipboard to make sure that he had talked to everyone on his list about the upcoming ENLACE event or project. He would talk to his neighbors, his tax attorney and even bank tellers.
Bill and I spent a lot of time following up on these conversations, but it was during his trips to El Salvador that we became great friends. We would spend long days in the car visiting remote, rural communities. And when we arrived at the community, Bill wanted to see everything and meet everyone that would benefit from the project. We forged rivers in the car and on foot; we walked miles in the mountains to get to a single mother who would receive a new home. We visited projects in the pouring rain and in the blazing sun. One donor requested to spread his ashes at the site where new homes would be built. So we spread those together, trying to distribute them properly but the wind took them and spread them on us.
When Bill arrived at the house or farm that we were visiting, he always let the family and/or pastors know that he had not given the money and would tell them the name of the people who had donated the money. He would make sure to tell them that God had seen them and loved them. And he would always finish by saying, “To God be the glory!”
But it was during the long car rides that we talked about our families, our struggles, and our dreams. It was during our dinners, talks over coffee, which were very frequent, that we forged a meaningful and special friendship.
Bill, thank you so much for believing in ENLACE and in me. The pastors and ENLACE staff in El Salvador love you and will miss you. The thousands of people that benefited from your hard work of connecting people to ENLACE will always remember you. My wife, Michelle, and kids will always appreciate your fatherly kindness and care.
I will miss you dearly my good friend until we can have coffee again in the next part of our journey together. I thank God for your commitment to him, to the mission of the church, and for your friendship. Your legacy will endure in the church leaders, ENLACE staff, the thousands that you touched, and in our family."
ENLACE believes that every church has the potential to end poverty in its community.
With training, coaching, and resources, churches can partner effectively with their communities to create long-term solutions to multidimensional poverty.
VISION 2025: Enlace will endeavor to coach and resource over 4,330 church and community leaders from 173 churches to impact the lives of over 300,000 people in El Salvador, Nepal, Guatemala and Nicaragua.