National Geographic : 2010 Nov
through the meeting, word of that day's terror- ist attacks came, with orders to evacuate federal o ces. I'm not going anywhere, Winter remem- bers thinking. We're so close. He had planned to drive to the Sudanese Embassy, but tra c grid- lock made that impossible, so he spent the day negotiating on the telephone. Back in Sudan, something bit him during an around-the-clock push to reach an agreement between the north and the south; he didn't realize it was a snakebite until the next day, when a col- league saw that his purple foot had fang marks. When the civil war was in its early years, the only Americans paying close attention to southern Sudan's troubles were some members of Christian churches. ey saw the war as a re- ligious one between Islamic aggressors and non- Muslim victims. September 11 strengthened that view. Church leaders and their congregations put pressure on policymakers in Washington, D.C., to do something in southern Sudan. Winter knew that the Sudanese civil war was not simply a battle between Islam and Chris- tianity---southern Sudan is in many places a patchwork of animist tribes who know nothing of Christianity. He knew ethnic loyalty meant more than religion. He knew the econom- ics involved, knew the north had suppressed development in the south. He wanted to get more Americans, especially those in Wash- ington, D.C., thinking about Sudan, and he enlisted the help of journalists and legislators. Where Arabs and black Africans historically had fought over land for grazing, they now fought over oil---as much as three billion barrels, most- ly in a disputed borderland between north and south, where tribes and clans had long clashed. e con ict was complicated, but Winter nev- er discounted the power of religion to be a force for good. He had seen it for himself in 2002. In a southern Sudanese village called Itti, near the Ethiopian border, he had found a Pres- byterian church where more than 300 people crowded under the grass roof each Sunday. ey played drums made of animal skins, and Win- ter was touched by their worship. One Sunday, the young pastor, a man named Simon whom Winter had met brie y before, stepped to the front of the room and spoke about the "peace of God, which passes all understanding," quot- ing the apostle Paul. Peace even with the Arabs. Winter thought: is is wisdom personi ed. A er the service he approached the church's Logocho fought as a rebel and dutifully red his weap- on, but he could never bring himself to aim it at another human being. War was not his purpose. is was not who he was.