by Wayne Pinnington as told to Julian Archer
As a keen motorcycle rider, I know that ‘the road of life’ can also take some very unexpected turns. A single twist in the road can open up the most beautiful view and take you down a route more amazing than anything you’ve ever seen. For my wife Chris and I, that single turn happened at a café in Byron Bay.
In April 2019 we were riding home to Melbourne and holidayed in Byron Bay for a week. While Chris checked out one of Byron’s trendy shops, I sat on a park bench watching the world go by. I saw a sign across the road that read, ‘Vegan Café’. We’d been trying to live cleanly for years, we had given up coffee and ate a mainly vegan diet, so we dropped into Manna Haven Café for lunch.
A guy named Bryce served us a huge plate of delicious, healthy food—along with a disarmingly friendly smile. We sat at our table, and through an internal window saw a long-haired, bare-foot young guy playing a piano. The seats inside looked like church pews so the next time Bryce walked by we asked him, “Is this place a church?” He happily explained that it was the Seventh-day Adventist church and kept on with his work.
Next, we noticed a guy sitting beside us working on his laptop, he also had long hair and bare feet—gotta love Byron Bay!—but it looked like he was preparing a sermon. Chris and I have been Christians for years, so we were curious. We started up a conversation and it turned out that his name was Josh Newbegin, the church pastor.
Bryce came back to join our conversation, during which they casually invited us to church the next Saturday morning. We went along, had a great time with the super-friendly people, stayed with them for lunch—it was free!—and then got back on the road to Melbourne, but our café lunch and church visit stayed on our minds.
A few weeks later I was at a God Squad Christian Motorcycle Club meeting in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne and I saw two guys with jacket badges that read, ‘Adventist Motorcycle Ministry’. Their names were John Brereton and Chris Howard-Bath and they were absolutely shining with health and joy, just like Bryce and Josh at Manna Haven. I could tell there was something really different about them, so I introduced myself, explained our recent visit to Manna Haven Café and said something like, “I want to know more about Seventh-day Adventists”.
Over the next few months, John and his lovely wife Michal, explained the ‘whole person health’ focus of the Adventist Church and studied the Bible with Chris and I. Our minds exploded with amazing insights into world events, the incredible love of God and His revitalising gift of the weekly Sabbath. I grew up attending church, but I had the impression that the Old Testament in the Bible was irrelevant, that the Saturday Sabbath was just a Jewish thing and that Bible prophecy couldn’t be understood—how wrong was I?
Now we know that the Sabbath is a terrific day of rest and celebration, and Chris and I are really blessed by spending it with fellow believers at our local church and other churches that we visit with the Adventist Motorcycle Ministry—yes, we still love to ride. And we’ve also gained so much peace and hope as we now better understand Bible prophecies, from both the Old and New Testament parts of the Bible.
On August 31st we were baptised in the Yarra Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are still studying with John and Michal every week and what a friendship we now have with them, and Jesus.
It’s been a wildly beautiful ride from Manna Haven Café to being baptised church members, but God has ridden with us at every turn—and we’re still on His road.
By the way, if God ever inspires someone to open a Manna Haven Café in Melbourne, we’ll be the first volunteers!