royal flying doctor service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Rev John Flynn

13 October 2021


By the 1950’s, the Royal Flying Doctor Service was acknowledged by former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies as “perhaps the single greatest contribution to the effective settlement of the far distant country we have witnessed in our time.”

The Rev John Flynn

What a great accolade for the founder the Reverend John Flynn.

His parents, Thomas and Rosetta Flynn were godly people. John, his older brother and sister, were raised in a home where Jesus was acknowledged as Lord.

John was only two years of age when tragedy struck, his mother passed away and difficult times followed. More often than not, John found himself being raised by relatives.

Nonetheless, the difficult circumstances of his childhood did not stop him from contributing to the well-being of others as he grew.

In his teens he made a decision to become a follower of Jesus, but little did John know what great plans God had for his life because of that decision.

What More Honourable a Calling

In 1901, the year of Federation, he wrote:

“Dear Dad, I’ll be 21 in a fortnight and have been thinking that I should give you my thoughts concerning the future – the more I think and the more I see the grandeur and beauty of Christianity and the hollowness of human life considered as complete in itself . . .”

Flynn mulled over that proposition and then continued:

“if Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Son of Almighty God; if He was in reality ‘God with us’ showing us the Father; if it is a fact that we only sojourn on this earth for a while, and then appear before the Creator of the universe. . . what more honourable calling can a man follow than getting his fellows to realise this fact and act upon it?”

His calling to minister to those white settlers and the indigenous people living in the remote parts of outback Australia was for their spiritual as well as their physical wellbeing.

The Royal Flying Doctor

Flynn’s work with the flying doctor and the pedal radio were to transform him from being simply a church leader to a figure of national and eventually international significance.

The first “medical home” was established at Oodnadatta, in 1912 due to a very generous gift from a friend. This was opened by Rev Robert Mitchell with the words:

“In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth the Great Healer and Redeemer of men, I trust that every person entering this medical home will go out cured of infirmity and blessed in soul as well as body.”

Then down came the rain, a rare occurrence on this opening day. A blessing. A seal.

The rainwater tanks were full. Many Christian nurses heeded the call and joined, as it was then known, the Australian Inland Mission.

Such were his beginnings and achievements. In public recognition of his founding of The Royal Flying Doctor Service, still the largest and most comprehensive aero-medical health care service in the world, his face now adorns the Australian Twenty Dollar note.

John Flynn’s undoubted motivation was to show the love of Jesus to everyone he met.

For an excellent interactive presentation of John Flynn’s life visit here.


Originally published on DIDUNO. Image by Michael Jefferies on Flickr.

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