63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
When Lopez Lomong was water baptized in a refuge camp in Kenya as a teenager, his name was changed from Lopepe to Joseph, and although he continues to use his childhood nickname, Lopez, this man is a modern-day Joseph in almost every way.
Kidnapped from his mother's arms by Sudanese rebels who raided his church at the age of six, Lopez saw death up-close before most children can grasp of the concept.
The story of his escape from the rebel prison camp is electrifying and inspiring. He compares it with the apostle Peter's miraculous escape from prison, and rightly so.
When Lopez didn't make it back to his village, he found himself in a Kenyan refuge camp, where he lived for almost a decade. Woven through a heart-breaking description of growing up in the camp, Lopez somehow finds renewed faith in God and learns valuable life lessons that shape him into a very special young man.
One thing he learned to do well was run.
As the camp grew, the number of boys who wanted to play soccer every day became difficult to manage, so the older boys made a rule: Everyone had to run one lap around the camp before he could report to the soccer field. The first ones back would be the first ones to play. One lap around the camp was 33 kilometers - about 18 miles.
One day at the camp, a U.N. worker announced that a program had been set up to send 3500 boys to live in America. Catholic Charities had organized a foster care program that would place the "lost boys of Sudan" with families in America. Lopez offered himself to God, and God accepted by sending him to live with a family in New York.
The stories of Lopez's culture shock are laugh-out-loud funny
- from the first time he told his new dad he wanted to run about 33 kilometers, to figuring out the light switch and the shower. His perspective, and his humility, are eye-opening.
Lopez's career as a runner began when his high school track coach bribed him to join the team with a school jersey that had his name on the back, despite Lopez insisting that he was a soccer player and his difficulty in understanding why Americans think running is a sport. It wasn't long before God rekindled an old dream about being an Olympian athlete, and helped Lopez see how his success could give him a platform to talk abut the lost boys of Sudan.
God has definitely blessed Lopez's hard work and determination (both of which he has an abundance of to his credit). From selflessly supportive friends and coaches, to undeniable healing miracles, Lopez has leaned on God and God has supported him. I'm not an athlete, and I'm definitely not a runner, but I couldn't flip pages fast enough, as Lopez told the stories of some of his races through the Olympic trials and the 2008 Olympic games.
I don't know if I could recommend this book too highly.
Lopez's humility and perspective will open your eyes and help you appreciate what you've been given in a new way. His unwavering trust in God will inspire your faith. His story - as a grand narrative, or as a collection of athletic parables - will instruct you.
And a portion of the book proceeds benefit his charity to build a better world in Sudan.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
This would be a great story if it were fiction. The fact that it is real just makes it that much more compelling.
I bought this book for me, because I am a runner and have spent some time in East Africa. However, I haven't even read the whole book yet. My wife seized it, read it in a day, and has been reading excerpts to my children, who are also captivated by the story. I read 2 chapters tonight to my seven year old son, who was begging for me to go on. I am really looking forward to reading the bits I've so far missed!
Lomong's story has tragedy, hope, triumph, and humor- his stories about some of his first experiences in the US are simply hilarious.
Lopez Lomong is among that class of young Africans like Meb Keflezighi (Run to Overcome), Valentino Deng (What is the What, by Dave Eggers), and William Kamkwamba (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) who have compelling life stories (and books), and who will (I hope) continue to make the world a better place.
Read this book!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
Running for my Life shares the true story of Lopez Lomong, now a U.S. Olympic Athlete. When the story opens though, Lopez was a young boy ripped from his family by rebel soldiers. The path he takes is hard. So, so hard, it is almost hard to fathom the amount of Lost Boys stuck in the same situation. After a miraculous series of events, Lopez ended up in a refuge camp where he had the opportunity to be baptized - during the service he was given a new name, Joseph. Without a doubt, Lopez epitomized the character of Joseph from the Old Testament.
His journey to the States was depicted with so many details, I could feel the confusion over how things worked and our overwhelming wealth compared to Sudan. Seeing 9-11 through this boys eyes was an interesting, heartbreaking view.
Personally, I was deeply touched by the needs of not only Lopez, but the rest of the boys left behind.....not to mention all the boys and girls stuck in orphanages and the foster care system. Rob and Barbara Rogers, the family that God used to change the life of Lopez, continued to give - ultimately welcoming more boys into their home, and lives.
God's hand was clearly on the sequence of events in his life, (and in turn ours) This is such a faith building book - but more than that, it inspired me to take a good look around at all I have. Thank God for the blessings, but then do more - like the examples of the Rogers. (and Lopez himself as he continues to use his newfound wealth to give back to his country)
Wonderful book...and I am looking forward to cheering Lopez on in the upcoming 2012 Olympics!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2012
This is God's story, and He wants it told: Lopez Lomong qualified for the 2012 London Olympics tonight by placing third in the 5000 meter race at the U.S. track and field trials. He will be proudly wearing the uniform for the United States, the country that gave him a second chance at life. When Lopez was six years-old, he was kidnapped by rebel soldiers in his native South Sudan and imprisoned. Miraculously, he escaped to Kenya where he spent the next ten years as an orphan (he had no idea if his parents were alive) in a refugee camp where the conditions in which he lived seemed hopeless and desperate. By contrast, Lopez remained filled with hope and the pragmatism necessary to thrive in this environment. Drawing upon the faithfulness of a loving God taught to him by his parents, he was certain that God had important plans for him. Running for My Life is Lopez's story of his journey to America and eventual trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a 1500 meter runner. His sharing his story with the world is truly a gift. This book is not only nearly impossible to put down, I believe it will be life-changing for many that read it. My spirit was encouraged, and I have been challenged by the abundance in my life compared to what refugees around the world live without. I am eager to help those hurting in South Sudan; you'll likely be, too, after you read this book. Lopez also has a blog at LopezLomong.com. There, you'll learn about opportunities to help this cause.
I was given a copy of Running for My Life by Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for an honest review.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2012
Wow! What a blessing this book was. You will laugh, cry, be encouraged, and be challenged. You will feel like Lopez Lomong is part of your own family. His story is nothing short of miraculous. From being kidnapped at a church service at the age of 6 to leading America into the Olympics, you see God's hand on his life the entire way.
This story is one of the most inspiring I have ever read. From the age of 6, Lopez was surrounded by death. He could have given up on life many times, but he kept fighting, always chasing a dream. The one thing I take from this story is to never stop believing or trying. God has a plan for all of our lives, but the plan usually involves work on our part as well. Lopez could have easily given up but he would have missed out on the awesome things God had in store. I don't want to give the whole story way because I think everyone should read this book.
Me and Lopez are the same age. I was really moved at how his child hood was so vastly different than mine. He dealt with death everyday. He fought to survive everyday. He was giving nothing, but took advantage of every opportunity given to him.
This really opened my eyes to what is going on with our brothers and sisters in Africa. People are dying everyday because they don't have clean water or food to eat, not to mention the lack of health care and medicine. Lopez has partnered with World Vision to help save these people. You can help support Lopez and mission through his website: lopezlomong.com.
I look forward to cheering him on in the 5000 meter race of the Olympics next week! Go Lopez!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
(Disclosure: Review copy -- I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of Thomas Nelson Publishing's "BookSneeze" program. However, this did not influence my review because I really did enjoy the book. On the other hand, I get nothing from either the publisher or Amazon for posting an Amazon link to the book.) Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games
I had seen the pre-publication announcements for this book and really wanted to read it for a couple of reasons. First, I live and work in Kenya and the issue of child soldiers is a hot topic around here. The Kakuma refugee camp is huge. So, a first-hand account of one who has experienced that holds a lot of interest for me. Second, I enjoy running. Now, I'm old and fat and slow, but I'm still attracted to stories of runners for whom running has been a way to work through and overcome challenges. Lomong's story fit both of those and I was glad to get the chance to read and review the book through Thomas Nelson Publisher's "BookSneeze" program.
In my experience, autobiographies have to be taken with a grain of salt. Most seem to come across as highly self-serving and, frankly, somewhat pompous. This one did not, perhaps because of the capable guidance of the co-author. I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the book was.
Is it possible to quantify mistreatment? While Lomong was not beat during his captivity nor was he ever sent to battle by the rebel soldiers, it was difficult to read his account of being kidnapped and then his time in the rebels' camp. Any time I thought about him being only 6 years old and forcibly kept from his family and in those conditions, it was heartbreaking. At the same time, though, the thoughts he recounts from that time could hardly be the thoughts of a 6-year old -- he's certainly projecting adult thoughts back to that time. Not that that's wrong because I think it's the nature of autobiographies.
It was fun to read of Lomong's "wonder" at all the new experiences he faced. He saw Kakuma as a haven (it's not, at least from an American middle class perspective) because he could go to school, he was away from war, he had food ("...I looked at the scraps of food from the dump as a blessing."), he could play football (soccer), he could run! Later in the book, as Lomong talks about facing a major 1500M race, he writes:
"Pressure is trying to make a UN food allotment stretch for thirty days. Pressure is watching friends die of malaria and wondering who in the 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." (Kindle edition location 2293-2295)
Lomong will help you see your own troubles in a new light. I think you will also be inspired by how Lomong has used his success to try to make a difference in the lives of other southern Sudanese -- perhaps that's what makes this autobiography so different from others.
Running for My Life is a good read. While autobiographical, it's not pompous. If you're interested in the life of one elite runner, you'll enjoy this book. There are numerous references to Lomong's faith in God (personally, I'm very sympathetic to that perspective) but he rarely gets preachy -- it's just who he is. I think you'll celebrate with this kidnapped boy who, with a lot of help from strangers, organizations, individuals, teachers, and friends, was able to escape from dire circumstances and use his freedom to help others. Maybe you'll even be inspired to help a lost boy. This would be a great read for anyone working with immigrants -- it will help you know how to help them adjust.
Edit: I should note that I rarely give a 5-star rating to any book. It has to "grab" me in a special way to get 5. I consider 4-stars to be a book well worth reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2012
Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong (with Mark Tabb) first caught my attention when I saw the commercial advertising the Olympics. "What an amazing hint of a story!", I remember saying. I wanted to learn more about him. Was he a Christian?
Lopez Lomong was kidnapped at six years old by rebel fighters in South Sudan while attending church with his family. He inferred that between the South Sudan government and the rebels, the line between good guys and bad guys were barely discernable. In one chapter, Lopez recalls a conversation he had with some boys while they were imprisoned. The boys questioned amongst themselves if these were the rebels, why were they being kidnapped? Weren't they on their side?
Three "angels," boys older than Lopez from his village protected him and one night escaped with him. They ran through the desert of Africa for three days with bloody feet all the way to the border. What was amazing was how God provided water and food along the way, and not from any human source, but from the abundance growing in the wilds. They ran all the way to Kenya where Kenyan soldiers picked them up and brought them to a Kenyan refugee camp.
There, the boys had a little better care, but not by much. While United Nations workers ate well, the refugees in the camp were on food rations. Larger boys would troll the tents, bullying other boys to give them their food rations so the older boys could sell them outside the camp. Lopez and the boys with him in his tent cleverly hid their food. The biggest excitement at their camp was soccer and garbage day.
Garbage day came when the squeak-squeak of the wheel borrow would come, dumping the U.N. garbage into a hole. A lot of boys would dive into the melee looking for half-eaten food to salvage for their tent. I liked what Lopez said about this:
"We only ate one meal a day, but for me, coming into the camp at the age of six, I accepted this as normal. I never thought that life was unfair because I had to eat garbage. Instead, I looked at the scraps of food from the dump as a blessing. Not all the boys in the camp could do this. I knew some who chose to feel sorry for themselves, who complained constantly about their lot in life. What is the point of such complaining? After all the whining and complaining is over, you still live in a refugee camp. All the complaining in the world will not make your life any better. Instead, you must choose to make the best of whatever the situation in which you find yourself, even in a place like Kakuma." (Page 39)
There was such poverty in Africa. Lopez recounted humorous memories of when he arrived in America for the first time. He said he used to think white people were white because of the cold climate in which they lived. Lopez also did not know how to turn a light off or on. He said yes to everything because he didn't want to offend his new parents. Lopez thought he didn't deserve the kindness and love his foster parents gave in America. America was such a new experience for him.
But what really got me was how proud he was of our country. His team mates on the Olympian Team voted for him to be the flag bearer in the Beijing Olympics. He met President Bush and First Lady, Laura. He was proud of his country and in many ways you could liken him to the Olympian, Jesse Owens who in the 1936 Olympic games was sent to compete against Germany. Lopez went against China who supported the bad guys in South Sudan like Germany supported the antics of Hitler.
For anyone who is losing a house to foreclosure, bemoaning that they can't pay their bills, or can't own the television their neighbor was able to buy, they should read this book. This is the story of a South Sudan Lost Boy who came to America and wanted to work hard. He didn't take advantage of her or burn her flag or demand special treatment. Lopez Lomong models what America should be and how hard work, love, and determination can help make any dream a reality. After reading this book, I believe God wanted Lopez to tell his story. His story has God's fingerprints all over it. I gave it five stars.
All proceeds from Running For My Life are going to the Lomong Foundation's "4 South Sudan." Together Lopez and World Vision are working to bring the needs of South Sudan to fruition.
Book given by publisher to review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
Recently I read a short review in a Time magazine about the book Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong. The article summarized the book as being about Lopez's life, and his journey from being a Sudanese war refugee to an Olympic athlete. Immediately I added the book to my list of must-reads.
I have such a heart for Africa, that is another post altogether, but I am drawn to books about the war, refugees, and all the heartbreaking events taking place there.
Occasionally I receive books from BookSneeze. I am not compensated by them, but I give my honest review, and in exchange they send me the book. Much to my surprise I was searching the list of available books and I saw Running For My Life. I ordered it immediately and could not wait to read it!
Life happened, we moved and lived out of boxes for a bit (maybe we still are?) so I was not able to read it until now...but I am so glad I did!
From the back cover:
"Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and achieving the impossible through faith, diligence, and the desire to fight back. It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one can help to save more."
Lopez Lomong demonstrated faith that could move mountains. He believed and trusted God despite his hopeless situation. He was captured as a young boy from church by Sudanese rebels and forced into a camp to train child soldiers. With the help of his "2 angels" he escaped the camp and made it across the border to Kenya where he lived in a refugee camp for ten years.
This story was beyond inspirational. It was interesting not only to read about his unswerving faith in God's plan for his life, but also about his adaptation to the American lifestyle. He trusted God with all his heart and made it his mission to spread awareness and help others like him in Africa.
Obviously I can not come close to relating to the suffering and heartbreak that Lopez witnessed while growing up, but on a smaller scale I found myself relating to other aspects of his story. We can all remember times of hopelessness and doubt in our lives, times where we cry to God to give us the faith we need to survive. Lopez demonstrates the importance of leaning on God in all times and power of trusting in God's mercy and faithfulness.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone! Men, women, athletes, non-athletes, everyone can take something out of this story. 5 stars!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2012
"Running for My Life" is the wonderful, inspirational, true story of a lost boy. Lopez Lomong began his life in South Sudan in the midst of a long civil war. Yet if it hadn't been for the deaths occurring around him, the hot, dry land that Sudan is made of, and the deep poverty of his people, he wouldn't have made it to the Olympic Games.
At the tender age of 6 years old, Lopepe was torn from his mother's arms by soldiers, dislocated from the small life he knew, and carried away to the brutal unknown. He became a "lost boy", alone, unable to be with his family. Piece by piece, you are able to see how God was working in his life, singling him out and preparing him for a life much better than being a rejected captive. As Lopepe tells his story in this book, you will see time and time again the ways that doors are opened for him, taking him one step closer to his dream. The day that he discovered the Olympics was a day that marked a desire to achieve something huge with his life.
Lopez Lomong is a runner. As a child, he ran for the joy of it. Growing older, he ran because in Sudan, it's simply what you do. Soccer is their way of life, and to build his strength to play, he ran. As an young adult his view changed. He aspired for something mightier than himself, and he ran for his country.
Once Lopepe arrived in America, part of his life-long dream had already come true, but in actuality, it was only a small fraction. His next step was to get on the USA Olympic team. First he had to overcome the culture shock, learn the English language, graduate high school, and to always keep running no matter what. That is a big list to accomplish in just 3 years! He got though it, and it was only because God placed him in just the spot at just the right time. There is so much more to share with you about his life, but I shouldn't go on. You must read it yourself to learn the details of this amazing story.
In this biography, Lopez Lomong's Olympic success culminates in Beijing 2008. I would have loved to have known all about his experience in London 2012 too, although I realize the book was just being released at that time, so of course, those details couldn't have been included. Maybe he will write another book to tell more his story, I hope.
What a pleasure it was to read "Running for My Life". I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2012
With the Olympics in full swing, it was the perfect time to receive this book. I knew nothing of this runner even though I faithfully watched the 2008 summer Olympics, especially the opening ceremonies, when Lopez Lomong carried the American Flag with pride. I don't remember his story, which I'm sure they talked about at some point during the games. I wish I did. It is a story worth reading. A story of hope and dreams, determination and survival.
In Running For My Life, Lopez Lomong (born Lopepe Lomong in war stricken South Sundan) tells an inspiring story of a six year old boy, ripped from his mothers arms by rebel solders, who grow up in a refugee camp in Kenya and, years later and a dream come true, became an American Olympian. He tells of escaping a rebel camp that turned children into soldiers with three 'angels', being taken to a refugee camp to live off UN scraps on Tuesday and a chicken on holidays. While at the camp, Lomong fell in love with soccer. In order to play he had to run 18 miles everyday. Yes, you read that right: 18 miles. Through God's blessing and mighty hand, Lomong was chosen to come to America through a program for the Lost Boys. He was placed with a family in Syracuse, New York (close to where I grew up!)
"Ten years after the rebel soldiers ripped me out of my mother's arms, I finally had a place to call home."
He struggled with understanding that someone would actually want him. Who would want a boy with no country, a boy with really no past.
"They were so nice but apparently so clueless. Why would they ever think a lot boy like me belonged in their home."
Though he wanted to play soccer, the cross country coach bribed him with a jacket (yes, a jacket with his name on the back). Many years later, after stating to everyone who would listen since the time he saw Michael Johnson run in the Olympics on a black and white TV in Kenya, he did make it to the Olympics.
We live in American not knowing how blessed we really are, how children long to come here because it is the land of dreams and opportunity. This story proves America is still where dreams can come true. A heart wrenching, inspiring, eye opening read. Definitely one you need to get your hands on, especially during these exciting summer Olympics. And cheer on Lomong as he runs for the USA!
Lomong didn't write this book to show how good he became at running because he, in all seriousness, ran for his life many times but he is also running for the lives of other Lost Boys in Sudan. He travels and back forth, using his athletic standing and status as a platform to share the terror still going on. Visit his website to find out more of what he is doing for the Lost Boys and the Sudan.