Wayne Cooper grew up thinking that happiness was something he had to find for himself. His mother died when he was just eight years old and he moved in with his grandparents. His grandfather was an alcoholic and it was a difficult home environment for him. During his teenage years, it didn’t matter what he tried—drinking, drugs and rock’n’roll—nothing seemed to satisfy his heart.
At seventeen years old, Wayne started an apprenticeship in fitting and turning. He couldn’t help but notice that there was something different about one of the other apprentices. The other apprentice, whose name was Ian, didn’t drink, didn’t take drugs and didn’t even use swear words. When Wayne asked Ian why he was so different, Ian told him that he was a Christian. Hearing that Ian was a Christian planted a small but distinct seed in Wayne’s mind. For the first time, he wondered whether there was another way to find happiness, peace and security. And even though he wasn’t ready to make a commitment that day, he would later reflect upon the impact of that young apprentice’s witness.
After the apprenticeship, Wayne became a tradesman and continued searching for happiness in every form of pleasure possible. One evening, he went out to a nightclub and came home, feeling miserable. He looked up at the stars and found himself praying to a God that he didn’t really believe in yet: “If You are real, please reveal Yourself to me.” He didn’t hear an audible answer and wondered whether his prayer had been heard. Little did he know that God had heard him and was getting ready to make Himself known.
Some time later, Wayne was still searching for the peace that eluded him. He began to wonder whether pursuing a New Age/ hippie lifestyle would provide him with the answers he sought. He made plans to visit a commune and check out the lifestyle for himself. Packing a few of his belongings into a backpack, he decided to hitchhike from Sydney to Nimbin, a town just inland from Byron Bay. From North Ryde, where he’d been living, he was dropped off at Brooklyn. But no matter how hard he tried, nobody else would pick him up. After hours of waiting in the hot sun, Wayne decided to seek refuge under the old Hawkesbury Bridge. As he sat down, he noticed an open magazine half buried in the sand. Curious, he reached over and picked it up.
It was a magazine called Signs of the Times and it was open to an article about a man who was searching for peace. As Wayne read the article, he was struck by the similarities of this man to himself—a man who had been looking for happiness in all the wrong places but finally found it in Jesus.
“I strongly felt like God was talking to me at this point,” said Wayne. “I felt like He was telling me that the answers I was looking for wouldn’t be at this commune. I decided to go home instead. As soon as I went back to the main highway, a car picked me up and took me all the way back to North Ryde, right to my front door. I believe that God sent that driver.”
Wayne took the Signs of the Times magazine home and noticed that it was a Seventh-day Adventist publication. He hadn’t heard of Adventists before, but he filed the name away for future reference. Not long after, Wayne needed to find a new place to live, and ended up moving in with a new flatmate named Dennis. It wasn’t long before Wayne started noticing that Dennis seemed different. Like Ian, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink and he didn’t swear. Wayne wondered if Dennis was a Christian. As it turned out, he was—he was a Seventh-day Adventist.
Wayne remembered the name from the magazine he had picked up and eagerly showed it to Dennis. He then began asking Dennis questions about the Bible and his belief in God. Dennis answered as many of Wayne’s questions as he could and then finally referred him to a pastor for Bible studies. Shortly after, Wayne was baptised as a Seventh-day Adventist.
Today, Wayne has been a Seventh-day Adventist for 44 years.
“That was really my first contact with Adventism,” he says. “I still don’t know how that magazine was waiting for me at the Hawkesbury Bridge. It’s as though an angel hand-delivered it at just the right moment. God works in mysterious ways, and He certainly used Signs to reach me.”
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