“I did not know at the time, but my childhood had just ended. I was six years old.”
There is so much I want to tell you about his story, about his survival through starvation, running for his life at 6 years old, growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya; things we cannot wrap our minds around. However, this is not a story you should hear from me, it is a story you should read.
I walked down the track, beaming with pride. God had brought me so far, through war, through eating garbage and running to forget about my empty stomach. No matter what I went through, God was always with me. He had always had this moment planned for me through both the good times and the bad, from the killing fields of Sudan to these Olympic Games and back again.
Lopez Lomong was born in southern Sudan, taken from his home to be forced into child soldiering, escaped only to run for his life for days, lived in a refugee camp in Kenya with other lost boys, was adopted by an American family when he was a teenager, graduated from college and has competed in not one but two Olympic games! Though the testament of going from a lost boy to an Olympian is powerful, it is the small details in between that will MOVE your heart!!
They way he spoke about the beauty of his baptism, how his outlet of running became a true talent of his, how the pressure most athletes feel when competing dimmed in comparison to the pressure he experienced while growing up in a refugee camp:
Pressure is trying to make a UN food allotment stretch for thirty days. Pressure is watching friends die of malaria and wondering who in camp will be next. Pressure is writing an essay that will determine your entire future in a language you do not know. A footrace, even a championship race, did not make me feel pressure.
It is not just that his story is so compelling but it is one full of hope even in the darkest of moments. His unabashed love for God is so meaningful. I am so overwhelmed by his story. All that my heart and mind went through while reading, tears at the horrors he faced, pure thankfulness to the God we serve, joy in the hope of each new day; I am in awe of Lopez. I am in awe of his grace and humbleness as he shares. I am in awe of his faith and prayers to God. I am in awe of his love and compassion for others. I am in awe of his determination to bring change to a world that is broken. I am thankful he took time to share his story for it is one I will not forget.
Twenty years ago I ran for my life as I tried to escape the soldiers with guns. Today, I run for my life as I chase down the incredible opportunity God has laid out in front of me. I was a lost boy, surviving on one meager meal a day, a boy who looked forward to garbage days because eating trash gave me the best meal of the week. Not anymore. I ran in camp to survive. Now I run to help others not only survive, but thrive. However, I do not have to run alone. You do not have to be a refugee camp survivor to run for your life and make a difference in the lives of others.
photo taken from the book ‘Running for My Life’ – do you recognize any bald head in the background?
Take a few moments to check out Lopez Lomong’s 4 SOUTH SUDAN project, where his foundation partners with World Vision to bring hope to families who face the realities of poverty and the lingering impact of daily violence. By providing access to clean water, health care, education, and nutrition, they are providing a brighter future for the South Sudanese.
I found Lopez’s story fitting as I am just days away from running my first marathon. You don’t have to be a runner to appreciate his story, so I hope every one of you takes the time to enter the giveaway for one copy of Lopez Lomong’s Running for My Life.
TO ENTER: Answer the following question in the comments below:
What is the longest distance you have ever run?
Is it a full marathon (like I am about to take on), a half marathon, a 5K or perhaps you are not a runner at all and just kind of hate it! Whatever the answer is, I want to hear it! =)
For an extra entry: subscribe to my blog via email located at the top of my blog; then leave another comment below stating that you did!!
Contest will end Monday at midnight EST. Winner will be announced Tuesday.
8 days till the ING NYC Marathon
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