Faith Saved Me

My conversation with Lopez Lomong, Lost Boy of the Sudan turned Olympic Athlete 

“How did you manage to maintain emotional control and mental clarity when you were in such a dangerous situation?” This was the last question I proposed to Lopez Lomong after listening to his mesmerizing story. It was one of the only sentences I spoke during the spontaneous conversation I was able to have with him during his inspirational visit with the humanitarian organization World Vision at The Woodlands Christian Academy.

As I sat across the table from the author of “Running for My Life”, an Olympic Athlete, powerhouse hero, and quite frankly, a beacon of light, I wondered how I would find the words to write his story. Lopez Lomong has a story of hope. His journey began as a 6-year-old boy in Africa and one of 20,000 children kidnapped from their families that later became known as the Lost Boys of Sudan during the second Sudanese Civil War. After a harrowing escape, he made his way to Kenya where they entered a refugee camp and lived for 10 years until he was eventually brought to the US by an unaccompanied minor refugee program where he met his new US parents in New York and started a new life with his new family. While in the refugee camp, he learned of his lightning-fast speed while running and playing soccer. His dream was born when he caught a glimpse of Michael Johnson running in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney on a black and white TV. Lopez felt a fire and passion ignite inside him. 

Lopez knew that his faith saved his life. He realized God was at work and was guiding his journey. In 2007, and after an incredible running career in high school and college, he turned pro and got his US citizenship in time to qualify for the Olympic trials in the following year. His dream came true and he was a member of the American Team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics!

Lopez said God gave him strength to survive and he knew it was for a reason. “Life is about looking forward and I don’t focus on resentment,” he explained.  His mission is now to “pay it forward” and in 2011 he started The Lopez Lomong Foundation to help create a brighter future for the families in crisis and poverty after war. He partnered with the humanitarian organization World Vision and its school program Ignite aimed at the goal of raising up students to be global leaders who are convicted to live out their Christian faith in service to others. The partnership’s mission is to offer care, support and hope for a better future to families in South Sudan recovering from a life of warfare. 

Lopez and World Vision now advocate for clean water, education, healthcare and nutrition. He started the Lopez Lomong Foundation in 2011 and along with World Vision, the 4 South Sudan project was born.  “Lopez shows us that no matter where you start in life, you can use what you have to positively impact the world,” said Derek Sciba, Head of Marketing for World Vision Ignite.

Lopez says that life is about mission and forgiveness. “You must work at your God given talent. You have a responsibility to make a difference. Speak up for others who cannot speak for themselves.” 

At the end of the conversation, I asked the question (which came from my 18-year old son): How did you manage to maintain emotional control and mental clarity when you could have been killed at any moment?  He quietly answered, “Faith is my constant. I knew God was with me. I asked him to rescue me.” To which I replied, “Lopez Lomong, you are a true light worker.” 

“Discipline, Talent and Faith are the ingredients of excellence.” 

Lopez Lomong, Light Worker.

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