By Earl Perkins
Thursday Review Associate Editor
Book Review: Running for my Life; Lopez Lomong; Thomas Nelson, Inc
The soldier snatched the young boy from his mother's arms. Before he knew it, the 6-year-old was tossed in the back of a truck and whisked away. He did not know it, but Lopez Lomong's childhood had just ended. Southern Sudan was not a place for a child, or anyone associated with a family. And church was certainly the last place you wanted to be spending time on a Sunday. That's where rebels went to steal recruits, with many dying before they could ever be transformed into child soldiers.
Running For My Life (published in July of 2012 by Thomas Nelson, Inc) is Lomong's story—one lost boy's journey from the killing fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games. The book is written in a choppy fashion, and it certainly seems like it was rushed to press. However, Lomong is in a hurry because there are so many important things to accomplish and so little time. Lomong and the other Lost Boys of Sudan saw more suffering and dying as youths than most people would see in a lifetime of nightmares. The book, however, was neither depressing nor bitter, despite the horrors and the deaths that he witnessed firsthand. It's an inspiring story about God giving hope to everyone for a better life. It's a story of hard work, courage and never giving up on your hopes and dreams.
The book traces Lomong's steps from escaping confinement from a rebel prison camp, then running until he reached Kenya and a refugee camp. A New York couple adopted him at 16, and he later ran track for Northern Arizona University. He eventually gained United States citizenship, then, trained with the United States Air Force Academy cross-country team in preparing to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
The United States Olympic Team chose him to lead the U.S. team into Olympic Stadium carrying the American flag, which was one of the proudest moments of his life. Lomong also met two presidents along the way, and basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski asked him to address the US Olympic Dream Team before they took the floor for America. Lomong found the American dream, although so many others in this country fail to see all the opportunities afforded to them.
All these things may someday pale in comparison to those goals he hopes to accomplish in the near future. Bringing fresh water, healthcare, education and nutrition to South Sudan have become Lomong's primary aims in life. The Lopez Lomong Foundation and World Vision are seeking hope and a bright future for those who face poverty and the lingering impact of daily violence. Lomong was recently named Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts on behalf of the 4 South Sudan project and his many other charitable works. His book is an inspiring read and, more importantly, a powerful story of survival and renewal.