Fairy tale trolls and Red Hot Chilli Peppers are not the only things found under the bridge. Wayne Cooper found Jesus there. Well, a Signs magazine actually, but the humble magazine started him on a journey that finished with his baptism in the Castle Hill Adventist Church.
We love Wayne’s story. How he was looking for hope, meaning and purpose and found just the right testimony in a Signs when he needed it. Wayne was trying to hitchhike his way to a hippy commune on the north coast of New South Wales. Usually he would catch a lift easily, but on this day, no-one was stopping. In hindsight, Wayne attributes this to God. After waiting for two hours, feeling hot and tired, Wayne went under the bridge at Brooklyn, on the M1, for some shade and respite. There, in the sand, he saw a page. Pulling it out, in a coincidence that could only be providence, he discovered it was a Signs magazine, opened to a story of a young man who had tried a commune and an alternative lifestyle, ultimately to find his answer in Jesus. As he read, the story not only reminded him of his own search for happiness but pointed him to Jesus. He headed home that day instead of continuing up the coast and, a short time later, ended up with a flatmate who was Seventh-day Adventist. He remembered the Signs and that it too was linked to the Adventist Church. Soon he was receiving Bible studies leading to baptism and has been a faithful church member ever since. Wayne currently works in the mail room/shipping and purchasing at the South Pacific Division office and has served the Church in Papua New Guinea and other places.
We’ve told Wayne’s story in Record before. Wayne and his family are pictured on the front cover of the July 26, 1986 copy of South Pacific Record and Adventist World Survey (as we were formerly called) in preparation for Signs month. But we’re excited to revisit his story, this time in video format.
You can watch the full version of Wayne’s story and find a shorter version to download and play at your church during the month of August here: https://signsofthetimes.org.au/wayne2023/.
While some may argue that the time of magazines is past, I’d like to give a few good reasons why Signs remains effective today.
It is something physical. It can go into places like prisons and soup kitchens that digital content can’t reach. It can go home with school parents and be read by multiple members of a household as it sits on a bench or coffee table.
It is accessible. With a range of interesting topics, Signs still covers the basic fundamentals of Christian faith, but in language that a secular person with no biblical literacy or Christian background can understand.
It is easily shareable. While it is easy to share digital assets on our social media platforms, they have less value and are much more transient—here one second, gone the next. To have a tactile piece of paper with real world feel and engaging your brain in the act of reading might just be something that will cut through the noise of this information age.
Are lives still being impacted and changed like Wayne’s was? You bet.
The testimony of Greg Fernance, who is pastoring in Grafton, NSW, has also borne fruit. According to Greg, there have been a couple of baptisms since his story was shared in Signs month last year as a direct result of the article and the accompanying video we produced.
Signs is still making disciples, influencing lives and introducing people to Jesus. If you or your church are using Signs in creative ways, we’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to support Signs but don’t know who to give it to, please make contact as we’ve got plenty of projects that need support.
August is Signs month.
If you haven’t read a Signs for a while, you’ll find it has changed. I challenge you to look for people and opportunities this month, to share the magazine and spread the hope we have in Jesus.