Finnie Evangeline John’s involvement with the fledgling Southern Asia Adventist Association began upon her arrival in the U.S. in 1964 following that of her parents, Mr. & Mrs. I. R. Thomas and brother Rajan who came in 1961, 1962 and 1963 in that order. She was soon involved in meetings and activities of the Association lending her full support to SAAA. In 1964, soon after arriving in the U.S. she began working at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C.
When she was born, her father wanted her name to be different from the usual. First thinking of “Josephine”, he decided to name her Finnie. For a young girl, this was certainly unique especially in India.
Finnie could be considered a third generation Adventist. Her maternal grandparents, Pastor and Mrs. V.D. Koilpillai were pioneers in the Adventist Church in India. Her paternal grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. G.P. Iyngayam, were committed members of the Bangalore S.D.A. Central Church and later the Vepery S.D.A. Church in Chennai.
Mr. I.R. (Iyngayam Rathnaswamy) Thomas came from a family who were faithful Christians in Tamil Nadu. From a young age he was known to put his whole heart and energy in doing whatever he set his mind to do. So it was that when he was introduced to and convinced of the Seventh-day Adventist message, he was the first in his family to join the SDA Church in 1936 at the age of nineteen.
As with many of the early SDA believers in Southern Asia, he went to Spicer College where he graduated from Junior College in Theology in 1939. He then answered the call to serve as a teacher and principal in many parts of the Indian sub-continent which included Ceylon as a literature evangelist, SDA schools in Kolegal, the Senior Cambridge school on Spencer Road in Bangalore, James Memorial School in Pragasapuram, Lowry Memorial High School in Karnataka, Assam Training School, Kellogg Mukherjee High School in Bangladesh, E.D. Thomas Memorial High School in Kudikadu, and Spicer Memorial College where he began the college food industry. Wherever he served, he worked hard to improve the facilities and educational standards.