Getting to Know General Lyndon Buckingham

General Lyndon Buckingham talks to Captain Jo Moir about being elected as the Army’s international leader. by Captain Jo Moir

You’ve just been elected as our new General. Are you surprised? Are you shocked? Or are you determined?

I think we all come [to the High Council] with a mindset of making ourselves available to the will of God, ready to do what the Lord wants us to do. So I didn’t come with any endgame in mind. But I did come willing to participate in whichever way was appropriate. And so, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but humbled, grateful for the support of the members of the High Council and their endorsement.

Although feeling overwhelmed, and all of those things, I also feel that we have 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 will serve, and I’m grateful because Bronwyn is right there with me. 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.

Tell me a little bit about how you came to faith in Christ and how you were called to officership.

When I was about six or seven years of age, my parents took me to a Salvation Army congress. And at the end of the meeting, somebody from the platform said, ‘If you would like to meet Jesus, come down to the front.’

So I went down to the front, fully expecting to meet Jesus. I knelt at the mercy seat. After a little while, there was an arm around my shoulder. And I thought, “This is Jesus.”

When the person started talking, I said to myself, “Sounds like my uncle Wes ….” So I took a look – and it was my uncle Wes! And, although I was only six or seven years of age, 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. And from then on, I was a child who was sort of going through the Army ranks and going through 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 12 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 mean, I just burst with this understanding. It was more than just 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!’

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 at the same time. The love of God burst into my heart. That’s what happened for me.

And I came into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and, I believe, an experience of the Holy Spirit. And so impactful was it for me that I didn’t wait to be called to be an officer.

Before that meeting was over, I signed a little candidates covenant that you tore in half, and kept for yourself and gave the other half to the candidates’ secretary.

I still have that piece of paper in my Bible.

One of the things that will be very important in your role is to be an inspiration and an influence. Who influenced you?

I have had so many influences that it would be difficult for me to name them, but I would say faithful Salvationists who took an interest, who took time to listen, who were honest as I was growing up, local officers that put an arm around and said, “Come on, get back into line.” 

My own parents I would have to give testimony to – my officer parents who loved us and trained us in the ways of the Lord. A huge influence. These are people the Lord sends along to help us in our spiritual journey, and our discipleship maturing. They shape us, you know, and I’m grateful.

There have been many, many influences. And I thank God for every one of them. 

I asked some of the young people from my corps what they would like to ask the General. This is what they wanted to know: what would your schoolteachers say if they could see you now?

They would not believe it! I think that, even if my father was still alive, he wouldn’t believe it either. So I think I will have confounded them, because I was not a good student. 

By necessity, your speech to the High Council is kept private. It’s not shared with the Salvation Army world. What one thing, though, would you want to share with your Salvation Army family today?

I think one thing that I would feel very confident in sharing – because it’s not confidential – is that I expressed my love for what I call the three big ideas of the movement.

By that I mean, one: we are a people who 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 recognising our responsibility to share the good news of the gospel, that God loves them, that 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 a life, there is purpose and there is hope and there is eternity, through faith in Jesus Christ. And 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, the advocating for justice, the going after the things where people are being in some way, tortured or separated or rejected. That we as a movement go to those places, we put our sleeves up, and we say, “We don’t want to just talk about God’s love. We want to show you guys the soup, soap and salvation that has been our history.”

And 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?”

And the third thing that I shared is that we are a holiness movement.

We think there is some value in the world to being salt and being light. We value the indwelling Spirit, who makes us clean and free and whole and joyful. And I think that 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.

You are our first New Zealander. You’re going to be going around the world making history. What most excites you about the role of General?

I think it’s the privilege of being able to encourage and inspire and facilitate Salvation Army mission around the world. My own love for the Lord has to be used to communicate to Salvationists around the world. So 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 in the world. And that’s a huge privilege.

What can we be praying for you in these days?

When we were at the Welcome to the High Council and Farewell to General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, we were invited to fill out prayer cards. I wrote on one: grace, peace, wisdom and courage. If I could ask the Salvation Army world to be in prayer for myself and for Bronwyn, those would be the things. I think it’s probably not inappropriate for me to say that if you could spare a prayer for our family, that would be wonderful.  

General Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham’s Appointments Over The Years

  • January 1990 – Commissioned in New Zealand, appointed to Queenstown
  • 1992 – Training college (New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory)
  • July 1994 – South Windsor (Canada and Bermuda Territory)
  • July 1998 – Wellington City, New Zealand
  • 2003 – Youth and Candidates Department, THQ (New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga)
  • 2007 – Divisional leaders, Southern Division (New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga)
  • February 2010 – Secretary for Program and Assistant Secretary for Programme, THQ (New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga)
  • February 2013 – Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries (Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory)
  • June 2013 – Territorial Commander and Territorial President for Women’s Ministries (Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar)
  • 2018 – Territorial Commander and Territorial Leader of Leader Development (UKI Territory)
  • 2018 – Chief of the Staff and World Secretary for Spiritual Life Development, IHQ

Commissioner Edward Hill Appointed Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Shelley Hill Appointed World Secretary for Women’s Ministries

Commissioned in June 1993, in the USA Western Territory, Edward and Shelley Hill began their shared ministry as officers in the beautiful island of Hawaii at Leeward. Two years later they were appointed to divisional headquarters as divisional youth leaders where they served until they were appointed to training college work.

In June 2008, Majors Hill were appointed to lead the Hawaii/Pacific Division, as Divisional Commander and Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries. They were subsequently appointed to THQ in June 2012 – Major Edward Hill as Secretary for Program and Major Shelley as Women’s Ministries Secretary.

In July 2016, their first experience of international service came to them as they were appointed to the Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory as Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries. May 2021 saw the Hills, with promotion to the rank of commissioner, assuming responsibility as Zonal Leaders for the Americas and Caribbean Zone, based at International Headquarters in London. Commissioner Edward Hill holds a Master of Christian Education, and a Master of Divinity and Commissioner Shelley Hill is a graduate of the Arrow Executive Leadership Course.

Please join Salvationist around the world in assuring Commissioners Hill of thoughts and prayers as they prepare themselves in heart and mind to take on the onerous duties that will be theirs in support of our new international leaders.

Captain Jo Moir is the Territorial Communications Officer in the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory.

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