The Fingers of Thomas, a group linked to FENZA under the leadership of Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven are continuing their good work of enlightening Christian communities on the issue of witchcraft. Four of them — Philip Lupiah, Michael Chanda, Evarist Manya and Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven – accompanied by Fr. Romaric Bationo of FENZA, stepped away from their personal jobs and busy schedules, to facilitate 2 seminars in Chikowa and Lumimba parishes, Chipata diocese, from the 1st to 11th October 2014. These seminars were the initiative of Fr. Bwezani Phiri, the Episcopal Vicar for the Luangwa Valley.
The first three-day seminar took place at Chikowa parish from the 1st to the 4th of October. It attracted 51 church leaders from various outstations, the priests of the parish and 2 Comboni novices. In Lumimba parish, it is 32 lay leaders with their 3 priests and the M.Afr Stagiaire who attended the workshop from 6th – 10th October.
The Fingers of Thomas: Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven, Evarist Manya, Michael Chanda, Philip Lupiah and John Zulu from Caritas Chipata were the featured presenters. The Fingers of Thomas expounded on the fundamental issues of witchcraft which are beliefs in evil spirits, magic, the reality of fear, the recourse to traditional medicine. Their presentations struck a chord with the participants, when the Fingers elucidated the realms of witchcraft; explained clearly that fear is at the core of black magic; unravelled some of the manipulatory tricks of witch-finders. John Zulu talked about the Witchcraft Act. Each day was well winded-up with a prayerful liturgy at night around the theme of the day.
Ultimately, the seminars stressed clearly that no matter the causes and forms of witchcraft, and amid its mysteries and disorders the power of God through Jesus Christ overcomes witchcraft. Christ is victorious and true faith in Him and being at the service of His Kingdom brings freedom, healing, justice, peace and reconciliation.
The issues tackled, the well-articulated presentations, the joy, the approbation and the gratefulness of the participants at the end of every seminar are a clear indication that the Fingers of Thomas are doing a remarkable and well- appreciated work of JPIC-ED. Their next outreach will be in Mansa Diocese!
By Fr. Romaric Bationo, M.Afr.