The Fingers of Thomas
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Who are the Fingers of Thomas?
The ‘Fingers of Thomas’ are a group of youths and adults working together with FENZA on popular issues that affect the Christian faith. They were founded in 2007 in Regiment Parish (Lusaka).
Upon being founded, the ‘Fingers of Thomas’ started tackling the issue of "Satanism", since it is instilling a lot of fear in schools and in the wider community in urban Zambia, that one could speak of a moral panic.
Satanism approached by the Fingers of Thomas
The ‘Fingers of Thomas’ were founded to "put their fingers" on the stories and testimonies, to investigate and document cases of Satanism and witchcraft, and to help those who feel overpowered by evil forces to develop self-confidence and faith.
The Fingers of Thomas are called when people experience in their families issues attributed to Satanism or witchcraft. Beliefs and experiences with occult spiritual realities have social and psychological dimensions; they touch questions of power, of identity formation, and of family structures. They also build on religious beliefs. They evade neat categories such as "true" or "false", "real" or "not real", "good" or "bad". Since questions of belief are involved, the "Fingers" avoid such categories. Instead they approach stories of Satanism and witchcraft by distinguishing a person's "inner world" (or subjective world) from the "outer world" that is accessible to all and that is able to prove itself in communication between people of different beliefs about the spiritual world.
"Inner worlds" are often framed by religious beliefs and worldviews, but also by the individual life-histories and experiences, that may also include traumas and rejection. As a Christian group, the "Fingers of Thomas" try to strengthen the faith of the person who experiences witchcraft and also his/her family, in reference to the symbolic world they experience. The Fingers of thomas help affected people to gain self-confidence, diminish fear and grow out of a "victim mentality".
While taking seriously the inner world of a person, the "Fingers" encourage public action to be based only on public (objective) facts (the "outer world"), so as to avoid labelling and discrimination of individuals or even whole social groups as witches or Satanists. The ‘Fingers of Thomas’ also try to reconcile broken families. Some cases are documented so as to discern common patterns and analyse the symbols of the "Satanist worlds" in their social settings.
The multiplication of churches in Zambia during the last two decades has contributed towards fears of Satanism. Many people are lost in regards to the purposes and practices of the many new churches, making them a fertile ground for rumours. The "Fingers of Thomas" visit different churches and places of worship in order to help overcome suspicions and prejudice.
The "Fingers" also give seminars on Satanism and witchcraft at different levels (Diocesan, Parish, but also in schools), when they are called.
Why the name "Fingers of Thomas"?
The name of the group is taken from the apostle Thomas, the “doubting Thomas” of the Gospel of John, who wanted to put his finger on the risen Christ. Some people see in Thomas a man of weak faith. But the ‘Fingers’ believe that Thomas had an important role to play among the apostles. While he did not believe easily in other people's testimonies, he remained open-minded, and was ready to be challenged in his opinions. Because of him, the apostles could later proclaim “what they had seen and touched” (1 John 1).
The spirituality of the Fingers of Thomas
The "Fingers of Thomas" want to be apostles, following in the footsteps of their patron saint in the Bible. They seek to live out of their relationship with the risen Christ whom they seek to touch in the daily unfolding events. As apostles they help those overcome by fears and doubts, and those overcome by outside forces (spiritual and social) to regain self-confidence and trust, and to become more centred in themselves and less likely to be pushed around.
They carry on the sense of humour that the apostle showed, having seen that it provides a first step towards a cure when fear of the occult has become a world in itself. The ‘Fingers’ came to realise that experiences of Satanism often go hand in hand with experiences of alienation, rejection and conflicts in families and schools. As apostles they aim to be peace builders and agents of reconciliation.
When and where do the "Fingers" meet?
The ‘Fingers’ meet every Wednesday in Regiment Parish at 17:00 hours. They also aim at forming a network with professionals of psychiatric institutions, councillors, and people from all walks of life who can help with their expertise, knowledge and faith.