To coincide with the opening of the 2012 London Olympics on Friday, Christianity Today had an insightful profile of Team USA member and former "Lost Boy" — runner Lopez Lomong, who was abducted from his home in Sudan during the 20-year long civil war.
According to the profile:
That story starts in 1991, when Lomong's home village of Kimotong was attacked by rebels in the second Sudanese civil war. "I was 6 years old when I was abducted at church, which met under a tree," Lomong told Christianity Today at his training base in Portland, Oregon. "They ripped my mother's arm from me, throwing me and other boys into a truck; they blindfolded us, then drove us to a prison camp that trained rebel soldiers."
Lomong and a small group of boys managed to escape from the torturous conditions they found themselves in, and found their way to a refugee camp near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where Lomong “remained for 10 years.”
The story continues:
If running saved Lomong's life from one circumstance, writing saved him from another. When he was 16, the priest at his church announced that 3,500 boys out of the thousands from Kakuma had the chance to relocate to the United States by writing an essay about their lives. Lomong prayed that God would make his essay stand out, penning it as a prayer.
He started his essay about church, where he was first abducted, and ended with church, where he learned of the opportunity for freedom.
It is almost exactly 11 years since Lopez, now 27, arrived in the United States, taken in by Robert and Barb Rogers of New York state as a foster child.
On their first meeting, Lomong told CT:
"I don't forget that date. My new family held a sign that read, 'Welcome Home Joseph,' the name given me when I was baptized," said Lomong. "They said to call them 'Mom and Dad.'
Discovering his running talents during high school, he has focused on using them, and the platform he has been given, for good:
At a recent Portland gathering, Lomong's Oregon Track Club/Portland and Olympic teammate Matt Tegenkamp said, "Lomong looks at this platform as a way to help those who cannot help themselves. He sees it as a responsibility."
"Running is the talent that God has given to me," said Lomong. "In the Bible when you are given a talent, you can put it in your pocket and not use it, or you can use it. I am trying to use mine."
Jack Palmer is a communications assistant at Sojourners. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackPalmer88.