The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes
A review byFrontier Services correspondent and longtime supporter Dorothy Haensel
I have just taken a trip down memory lane, as I read Everald Compton’s story of John Flynn. Everald rightly states that this is not a biography, but nor is it a novel. It is rather a reminiscence of a well-loved icon, by someone who admired him immensely.
The appeal of this book is to remind those who already know, and introduce those of a younger generation to this visionary of the first half of the 20th Century. It also introduces the reader to many other personalities of the period and to the challenges that people faced in living away from the larger cities of the day.
One of Flynn’s favourite sayings was ‘a man is his friends’. This man walked and talked with the greatest as well as the humblest. Women and men like Jeannie Gunn, Jessie Litchfield, Adelaide Miethke, Clifford Peel, George Simpson, H. V. McKay, John Bradfield, Hudson Fysh, Alan Vickers – the list goes on and includes many Prime Ministers and other politicians.
We also read of Flynn’s critics. They were to be found inside and outside the church. He must have been disheartened at times, but when he was sure about his direction, he could not be deflected. He was never put off by a lack of finance – always sure that if a service was needed, the means to provide it would be found, a trait that gave the AIM Board many headaches.
When he was challenged by an unknown subject, he would find someone who knew it. So it was that he encouraged the genius of Alf Traeger, the quiet unassuming electrical engineer and mechanic, who accepted the challenge to give the bush a voice. There was much trial and error, but he came up with the vital communication tool in the end.
We meet Flynn’s greatest supporter and encourager – his wife Jean, who was Secretary of the AIM Board and worked alongside him for a number of years before he got around to proposing! His mind was fully taken up with the job.
Everald makes it clear throughout the book that it was his faith that motivated Flynn. Whether these are his actual words or not they give us a clear illustration.
“Our ministry to humanity always lay beyond the furthest fences …… and it was based on the firm foundation of compassion that was the core of the ministry of a man we know as Jesus of Nazareth” Page 110
Along with his vision there was always present the spiritual power of his faith. Although a visionary, he was also a practical man and so able to turn vision into reality. He drew to him many supporters and encouragers, ready to help with money and their own God–given talents. Patrol Padres and Nursing Sisters were and still are special people who caught the vision and walked with him on the pilgrimage.
He was touched by the success of Ion Idriess’ book, “Flynn of the Inland” authorised by the AIM Board. Flynn and Idriess never met, so the text although it tells the story is not always accurate.
It was a resounding success, running into several editions and introducing the story to many people. I hope this new story of John Flynn, “The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes” will introduce many from younger generations to this amazing man and all that he and others have done for our country.
Thank you, Everald for this book.
~DCH, June 2016
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