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United States


Amazing Olympic Story

alec vanderboom

My "paste" button isn't working today. Don't miss an incredible story behind the Catholic Olympian who served as the flag bearer for the United States of America.

Lopez is a "lost boy" from the Sudan. At age six he was kidnapped from his parent's side at Catholic Mass! The rebel soldiers broke into Church during Mass and stole all the young children at gun point. Can you imagine what his parents felt staring at the tabernacle after their children were stolen?

I can't imagine the intensity of those prayers. Prayer works, because it is an incredible miracle that he survived. After living in starvation circumstances in a heavily guarded rebel camp, some older boys took pity on this child. They helped him escape through a hole in the wall. The teenagers carried him for 3 days to Kenya. His little legs were too small to walk run that far. When runaways arrived, the older children were deemed too old to enter the refugee camp. Those boys were returned to the Sundanese government--probably to die. Only this little six year old got into the safety of the camp.

The refuge camp life was horribly hard. His education consisted of learning how to write letters in the dirt. After 10 years, Lopez (who got his nickname from Catholic missionaries) was told to "write an essay on why you want to go to the United States." Lopez said it was the most intense test he ever took in his life. For two days he sat in silence staring at the paper. Then he just wrote what was in his heart. He said it was a total mess, half in English/ half in Swahili. He didn't even notice the language switch before he turned it in.

He got picked to come to the United States. Catholic Social Services moved him into a Catholic family near Syracuse New York. His adopted mother described his crazy first day of school at age 15. "The English teacher assigned an in class essay titled "write about a book you read last summer. Lopez was called on second. He stood up and said "I've never owned a book. For the next twenty-five minutes, out tumbled a long auto-biographical account of his life. The entire class sat in amazed silence. I had my phone ringing off the hook with all these parents saying "is this true about Lopez?" She said "it's amazing. Lopez is in an all-white suburban school and by the second day, he was best friends with everyone." (This family ended up taking 5 Lost Boys from Sudan).

Now Lopez is an Olympic distance runner! It's incredible. I have even more respect for our Catholic Bishops after reading that they were the one's who got the US to change their immigration policy about unaccompanied minors in order to let the Lost Boys immigrate into the United States.