Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia

A Catholic Resource Centre
for Faiths and Cultures in Zambia

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’ tackled the issue of "Satanism", which caused in many arreas of Zambia 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 and faith are involved, the "Fingers" avoid such categories. Instead they approach stories of Satanism and witchcraft by distinguishing a person's "inner 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 experiences of rejection. As a Christian group, the "Fingers of Thomas" try to strengthen the faith of the person through prayer while also addressing concrete conflicts in the affected families.

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 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 and increase openess to other faith experiences.

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 “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 touch the risen Christ in the existential challenges that people undergo.

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. As apostles they aim to be peace builders and agents of reconciliation.

When and where do the "Fingers" meet?

The ‘Fingers’ meet once a month at FENZA. Contact the director@fenza.org if you want to put your finger on the group!

For more information ...

Click on Satanism and the "Fingers of Thomas" for a more detailed description of the Fingers group: how it was born, how it developed, and the method the "Fingers" use when investigating or following up cases of Satanism.