Interview with General-Elect Lyndon Buckingham

Jul 7, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

Interview with General-Elect Lyndon Buckingham

By: Captain Jo Moir

Major Moir: You've just been elected as our next General. Are you surprised? Are you shocked? Or are you determined?

General-elect Buckingham: There's a mixture of all of those things. Nobody comes expecting but we all come with a mindset of making ourselves available to the will of God, ready to do what the Lord wants us to do. I didn't come with any end game in mind, but I did come willing to participate in whichever way was appropriate. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, but humbled, grateful for the support of the members of the High Council and their endorsement. We had the golden bowl in the chamber, a visual reminder of thousands of Salvationists who not only prayed leading up to the High Council week but have prayed us all the way through. If I was reflecting on a highlight of the council itself, it would be the spirit within the chamber, just a beautiful sense of the presence of God.

Although feeling overwhelmed, I also feel that we allowed the Lord to reveal what He wanted to happen, and we've participated in that and I take comfort from that. I've had a wonderful endorsement from the members of the High Council and I receive this as from the Lord. I'm grateful because Bronwyn is right there with me and we will share this ministry together and we'll try and serve the Lord and serve The Salvation Army. And yes, actually, I'm a little bit excited about the opportunity.

Major Moir: We know you as a family man. Have you had time to connect with them? How do they feel about this news?

General-elect Buckingham: My family is 18,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) away from this venue, so they're a long way away physically, but here we are in a little room at the side of the Chamber, FaceTiming with them, and they're all right there. It was the middle of the night for them, but they're all awake. And we've had an opportunity to share with both my son and daughter-in-law, and my daughter and son-in-law, and the grandkids. I thank God because they have been so positive. We've already been away from our homeland since 2013, so we've already gone a decade. They have been so supportive of us in fulfilling God's calling on our lives. And so, to be able to see them on the screen has been absolutely wonderful. We were also able to connect with Bronwyn's parents, lifelong Salvationists now in their 80s. They were still up in the middle of the night ready to receive our call. They were also overwhelmed and naturally very proud.

Major Moir: Tell me about how you came to faith in Christ and how you were called to officership.

General-elect Buckingham: When I was about six or seven years of age, my parents took me to a Salvation Army congress. At the end of the meeting, somebody from the platform said, if you would like to meet Jesus, come down to the front. And so I went down to the front fully expecting to meet Jesus. I knelt at the Mercy Seat, and after a little while, there was an arm around my shoulder and I thought, this is Jesus. And when the person started talking, I said to myself, sounds like my Uncle Willis. So I took a look, and it was my Uncle Willis. I was disappointed because I'd gone with an expectation that I was going to meet Jesus. And what I got instead was my uncle. And so it created a little bit of doubt in a small boy's mind.

From then on, I was a child that was going through the Army ranks doing the motions. I became a junior soldier. I even became a senior soldier. But I don't think I would be able to testify at that point that I had any real experience of my own. That changed for me on the 12th of August 1979 as a 17-year-old at a youth councils. It was in that meeting that the realization of God's love for me, in the person of Jesus Christ, absolutely came alive. I just burst with this understanding. It was more than mental. It was in my heart. It was emotional. I was full of repentance. I was full of sorrow. I was full of joy. It was like it is real. It is for me and so I made my way down to the Mercy Seat. And it's a strange thing. I was crying and I was laughing. And I had all of these emotions going on all at the same time.

The love of God burst into my heart. I came into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and I believe an experience of the Holy Spirit. It was so impactful for me that I didn't wait to be called to be an officer. Before that meeting was over, I signed a little Candidate's covenant that you tore in half and kept for yourself and gave the other half to the candidate's secretary. And I still have that piece of paper in my Bible.

Major Moir: Who influenced your life?

General-elect Buckingham: I had so many influences that it would be difficult for me to name, but I would say faithful Salvationists who took an interest, took time to listen, were honest as I was growing up, local officers that put an arm around and said, "Come on, get back into line." Very, very helpful in my upbringing. I would have to give testimony to, my officer parents, who loved us and trained us in the ways of the Lord. Huge influence. These are people who the Lord sends along to help us in our spiritual journey, in our discipleship maturing. They shape us and I'm grateful they've been many influences and I thank God for every one of them.

Major Moir: I asked some of the young people from my corps, what would they like to ask the General-elect. This is what they wanted to know. What would your school teachers say if they could see you now?

General-elect Buckingham: They would not believe it. If my father was still alive, he wouldn't believe it either. I will have confounded them because I was not a good student.

Major Moir: What one thing would you want to share with your Salvation Army family today?

General-elect Buckingham: One thing I feel very confident in sharing is my love for what I call the three big ideas of the movement. Number one: we are a people that love to talk about Jesus. We want people to know that God loves them and that Jesus is the ultimate proof of that love. And so I love the fact that The Salvation Army has always been about recognizing our responsibility to share the good news of the gospel. God loves them, Jesus is the proof, and that welcome is available through Him. I would pray that Salvationists all around the world would find it very natural and easy to be able to speak to others about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the transformation that He has made in their lives. That's a big idea of this movement.

We want people to know the good news that there is life and purpose and hope and eternity through faith in Jesus Christ. If we could get excited about that around the globe, think about the impact of that.

Another big idea of the movement is that we think that practical demonstrations of the values of the kingdom of God are as impactful as talking about them. And so the sleeves rolled up, the caring for the needy, the helping the vulnerable, the being the voice for the voiceless, advocating for justice, the going after things where people are being in some way tortured or separated or rejected. We, as a movement go to those places. We roll up our sleeves and we don't want to just talk about God's love, we want to show you God's love. This is a soup, soap, and salvation that has been our history. I would love it if Salvationists would get this idea that actually I can do that. I can knock on a neighbor's door and say, is there any way I can help you? Is there any way I can serve you?

The third thing, we're a holiness movement. We think there is some value in the world to being salt and being light. We value the indwelling Spirit that makes us clean and free and whole and joyful. When we are walking in the Spirit in such a way that it's the love of God that's bearing fruit in our lives, we underestimate the impact and the value of that in the world. I have no hesitation and say although vision statements aren't worked out yet and priorities aren't sorted, we could be that all around the world.

Major Moir: What most excites you about the role of General?

General-elect Buckingham: It's the privilege of being able to encourage and inspire and facilitate the Salvation Army mission around the world. My own love for the Lord has to be used to communicate to Salvationists. I am very conscious that I'm being afforded a wonderful and privileged opportunity to speak into the lives of Salvationists around the world, about our mission and our purpose. And that's a huge privilege.

Major Moir: What can we be praying for you in these days?

General-elect Buckingham: When we were at the event last Saturday for General Brian we were invited to fill out little cards. I wrote on one, grace, peace, wisdom, and courage. If I was asking The Salvation Army world to be in prayer for myself and for Commissioner Bronwyn, those would be the things. It's probably not inappropriate for me to say if you could spare a prayer for our family, that would be wonderful.

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