Fernando Villalobos

Let me tell you a story.

It’s spring semester of 2015. I’m sitting on the light-brown suede couch in my living room. Just as I start to doze into the well-deserved Tuesday afternoon nap my roommate Clay busts through the door.

“Trevor! What are you doing tonight?” he asks.

I respond with a series of grunts indicating that I would rather be left alone.

“Good, ’cause you should come to Fernando’s tonight!” he continues.

My interest now slightly piqued, along with the realization that my nap won’t begin until I volley back with some sort of response, I begin to ask who Fernando is and how Clay knows him.

The response I received was actually very underwhelming. Clay basically described him as a balding Bolivian man who lives in Athens to disciple and lead college students. I told him I had plans to study that night and shut my eyes as I drifted off into my nap.

Different variations of that same conversation occurred just about every Tuesday as Clay continued to ask me to go, and I continued to make up some excuse. I never went to Fernando’s house that spring.

Fast forward to fall semester of 2015. The summer was not nearly long enough for Clay to forget his Tuesday ritual of going to Fernando’s (or to forget his ritual of asking me to go). He, as expected, asks once again if I could go to Fernando’s. This time was different; I said yes.

What I found was profound and totally shook me to the core because Fernando blew my expectations out of the water. He opened up not only his home but also his life to me, and welcomed us as if we were his own children. He told us stories of his travels, the people he knew and had influence over, and what he learned through his adventures. He is a man of wisdom, a man of influence, a man of compassion, and he’s here in Athens pouring into college students.

How many people do we pass on the street, or sit adjacent to in a restaurant and assume we know their story? Maybe this story (and the documentary film that goes along with it) will not only introduce you to a man who has challenged and encouraged me to grow, but will challenge and encourage you to be curious about the people around you. You never know someone’s story until you ask.

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