Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb

"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 the camp to survive. Now I run to help others not only survive, but thrive." ( excerpt from "Running For My Life" by Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb, page 226)

Running For My Life is an astonishing, beautifully written story about Lopez Lomong and his "life story", starting from the age of six. This young man was kidnapped, ripped from his mother's arms, while attending church one day in his village in southern Sudan. He was imprisoned and made to suffer terrible conditions until he and some friends escaped. Trying to return to their home village, they ended up in Kenya instead, and there he lived for the next 10 years in the refugee camp. Lomong chronicles his experiences in the camp, as well as his amazing journey to America and the Olympics, in a beautiful, simple, sweet way. I am most impressed by his ability to tell the story so matter-of-factly, not complaining, not embellishing, and not dramatizing (not that it needs ANY dramatization, the story is dramatic enough). As I read, I literally laughed out loud and cried tears of sadness and of joy. This was a book that I hated putting down, even for a moment. I came away inspired, motivated to do more to help others, grateful for the life I live (and too often take for granted), and peaceful, knowing that yes, indeed, God is in charge, and He is aware of ALL of us, no matter our circumstances.
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.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 is also much about what the American Spirit is about; finding opportunity in the midst of adversity. 

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 faith, diligence, and the desire to give back. It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one can help to save thousands more. Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong's incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless.

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.  Lopez Lomong models what America dream has always been about -  how hard work, love, and determination can help make any dream a reality. 

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

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