On July 21, 1934, Richard Henry Finch and Travis Elizabeth Donald married at Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, Texas, where they both were kept by guardians after the death of their parents. Richard had just graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Spanish, hoping to work as a guard on the Texas/Mexico border.
Edna Elizabeth Finch was born in Lubbock, Texas on July 31, 1939 while her father was finishing his Masters degree in mathematics at Texas Tech University. He had changed his major after failing to meet the minimum weight requirement for border guards.
When Beth was born, she already had one older brother. During the next eleven years, two younger brothers were added to the family. Both of her parents had been born in Texas and had grown up in the church. At their feet Beth's first Bible training began.
Beth obtained a Bachelor's Degree at West Texas A&M; (formerly WTSU) in Canyon, Texas. In 1980, she completed a Masters' Degree in English at Columbia Women's College in Columbia, South Carolina. Of her teaching career Beth wrote: "During the years our children were at home, I did not teach or work outside the home. However, after they were old enough to start school, I taught for about 14 years. When we were not in the mission field, I helped to supplement the family income by teaching."
Beth met Dennis Johnson while they were both students in Abilene Christian University. Dennis majored in Bible and psychology with a view to becoming a full-time preacher. They were married on January 27, 1962 at the chapel of the College Church in Abilene. Dennis had already completed his BA at ACU before they married. Later he earned a Masters' in early church history at the Alabama School of Religion in Montgomery.
Dennis and Beth first became interested in the India work in 1968, after Dennis' father and mother went to Madras as missionaries with J.C. and Myrtle Bailey. His parents had been in India since 1965 and wrote that they needed help to do the great work they had undertaken.
Dennis and Beth resigned their jobs in Cisco, Texas, sold their furniture, packed only two suitcases each, and began a life's work that was to dominate their family and their time from then on. One of their five children was born in India and one in Sri Lanka.
From 1968 to 1970 Dennis and Beth worked in Chennai (Madras), India, where they helped to set up the Chennai Teacher Training School. Their work was sponsored by the Frazier Street congregation in Conroe, Texas.
From 1970 to 1974 they worked with the church in Anderson, South Carolina.
In October of 1976 they went to Sri Lanka. After a short time, they moved to India where they worked in a village called Tiruchi, south of Chennai, until 1980. They were sponsored by the church in Memphis, Texas.
During three more periods they have worked with the school in Chennai (Madras): 1985-1989, sponsored by the West Huntsville congregation in Alabama; 1991-1996, sponsored by the East Huntsville congregation in Alabama; 2002 to the present (2020), sponsored by the Hillcrest congregation in Stephenville, Texas.
Beth and Dennis Johnson