Vincent C. Finnegan is the founder and director of Living Hope International Ministries.
I was born in 1950. My three siblings and I were raised by my parents in a modest home in Long Island, New York. My adolescent years were difficult and were marred by a street life which included alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, violence, and crimes. After barely living through yet another drug and alcohol induced car accident (for which I was hospitalized and arrested for my fifth time), I turned to our Lord Jesus Christ. That spring, 1971, I was 21 years old and attended a Bible-based home fellowship coordinated by long-haired teenagers. The fellowship was connected with The Way International.
During the early years of The Way, emphasis was placed primarily upon sound biblical principles such as the Word of God being the will of God, love for God and others as most important, complete dependency on and faith in God, and life should be lived today with a view toward the impending return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The doctrinal focus was regarding monotheism, the lordship of Christ, and the power of the holy spirit. I will always be thankful for Dr. Wierwille (the founder) and those early years in the ministry without which I don't think I would have lived to see thirty.
Four months after attending my first fellowship, I went for one year to Kentucky where I served as a missionary witnessing eight hours a day with the Way's outreach program. Afterwards, I participated in their two year leadership training program. Upon graduation, I married Mimi Pyles and moved to New Jersey. We served there as state coordinators for The Way from 1974-1977. Our last year in New Jersey, I also was the coordinator of the Northeast region consisting of nine additional states. In 1977, we were invited back to the International Headquarters to serve as the Assistant to the President.
In the seven years that followed, I helped coordinate the leadership training program and the outreach for the ministry. I was the Country Coordinator for the USA, then the International Outreach Coordinator, and finally the Worldwide Outreach Coordinator. During those years, I traveled to every state in the United States plus 40 countries around the world. I was privileged to fellowship with and teach thousands of people. Through all these years, I remained the Assistant to the President and was one of a few men under consideration to replace the President of The Way when he retired. Due to the mercy of God, I was not selected for this position; rather, we went to New York as state leaders for the ministry.
As the Way ministry grew in numbers, it decreased in godliness. The downward spiral could be attributed to many things, with perhaps the most significant being wrong or incomplete doctrine, unqualified and immature leadership, and sinfulness. As a prominent leader in the ministry, I consider myself to have been a part of the problem and deeply regret the many things I did wrong. Before Dr. Wierwille died, (according to his own words) the early ministry of the Way was already a dim memory.
In 1987, the new President and Board of Trustees insisted upon a vow of complete loyalty to them, or the result would be termination from employment. The choice for us was simple, but the ramifications were massive. We had five small children, with our oldest being only ten years old. We lived in a ministry owned house, so not only did I lose my job, but also I was told we had two weeks to move out of the house. We had no savings, no personally owned car, no furniture except one bed, and were given one month's severance pay. It was one of our most challenging times, but also one of the greatest, because we had to depend completely upon God.
We parted from The Way without bitterness or anger. In the long run, we had thankfulness for the good and repentance for that which we had done wrong. God gave us a clean new start. The ministry we once knew had died well over 20 years ago. We have been separated from The Way much longer than we had been associated with it, and what we now believe is light years apart. We have absolutely nothing to do with the ministry that now functions under the same name and hold a strong aversion toward any false claims of association.
Our loving God due to His abundant grace and mercy poured out many blessings for us. I began working installing wallpaper and continued to work with those in the ministry who wanted my involvement. Due to miraculous circumstances, we were able to buy the house we lived in with all the furnishings. Our children's lives were relatively uninterrupted, and we began a new life and ministry independent from the Way. I continued to work with the other ministers in New York who also were fired and to function as we did while under the umbrella of The Way.
In time, it became obvious the best thing to do was to decentralize the state organized ministry and incorporate locally with autonomy. My focus switched primarily to developing a local community based church. For years, we continued to function mainly with home-based fellowships which met together in a larger meeting once a month. In 1999, we decided to construct a church building which we call Living Hope Community Church. Due to the interest in our ministry from others outside our area in other states and countries, we now function on a limited level as an international organization.
Once freed from the confines of the doctrines and dogmas of The Way, life with God flourished. Years of diligent study opened up life-changing understanding of the Scriptures. The first significant breakthrough came with the study of the Sermon on the Mount. In this teaching, our Lord Jesus Christ provided all the necessary information to change from the inside out and to live a godly life which glorifies God. Adherence to this teaching completely transformed my Christian life and inspired the book and class called INSIDE OUT.
The next important development came with the realization that in order to gain an accurate understanding of Jesus Christ and the New Testament, one must first learn and acknowledge the Hebrew Scriptures. The understanding gained from this study is reflected in the book series called Kingdom Studies: THE FOUNDATION, JESUS THE CHRIST, and LIVING SACRIFICE, along with the class entitled HIS STORY: GOD'S PURPOSE OF THE AGES.
The central theme of the Bible is that which Jesus called the Kingdom of God. The understanding of this subject has become central to my personal faith and the foundation of our ministry LIVING HOPE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES. Our website is designed to provide easy access to the teaching our ministry now offers. Please partake of the many free audio, video, and written materials available on the site.