193: Summoned from 2024 Testify Congress with General Lyndon Buckingham

193: Summoned from 2024 Testify Congress with General Lyndon Buckingham

Listen to this article

We’re back with more highlights from the 2024 Testify Congress.

This month, in Pasadena, California, The Salvation Army from around the Western Territory joined for an event focused on teaching, training and motivating Salvationists to tell the story of Jesus more often and to more people. 

And The Salvation Army’s international leaders, General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, traveled from London to be part of it all.

You may remember the General from episode 178, where we chatted about why your testimony matters (and how to use it for good).

Today, we’re sharing his message from the first main session of the Congress with some 3,000 attendees at the Pasadena Convention Center Civic Auditorium.

The meeting featured the commissioning and ordination of the Defenders of Justice Session of cadets, who are now officers or pastors of The Salvation Army, the enrollment of 177 new Salvation Army soldiers and some fanfare along the way.

Listen in as General Lyndon Buckingham shares a four-part formula for life in Christ: Connect with God and know him, share the good news of Jesus Christ, demonstrate care and concern for those in need, and pursue holiness.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

* * *

General Lyndon Buckingham: You’re out there, right?

For the next few moments, you’re going to have to remind me that you’re out there by offering to… the lights are coming up a wee bit, but the odd hallelujah, the odd amen, just encouraging me a little bit would be helpful. Yes?

Yep, that’s good. It’s good. I can work with that. What a feast. What a feast we’ve enjoyed this evening. What a feast. We’ve offered worship. We’ve offered praise. We’ve witnessed ordination and commissioning. We’ve seen junior soldiers stepping up to the plate. We’ve seen senior soldiers being enrolled. It’s a feast. And we’ve all witnessed it, right?

We’ve all been witnesses to it. We’ve all seen it. And the truth of the matter is that when we go home tonight, we’ll be talking about it. And maybe for the next few days, we’ll talk about it. That night that we were together, where we witnessed junior soldiers and senior soldiers and officers making promises and covenants and stepping out, we’ll be able to talk about it. And the reason that we will be able to talk about it is because we were witnesses to it. We saw it.

And so we can testify about what we have seen and what we have heard because we’ve been amongst it. We were there. We know it because we were present and we will be able to tell the stories about it. And that’s exactly what Testify is all about. Sharing what we have seen and heard, telling about what we know to be true and sharing it with the world whenever we have the opportunity. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m really excited for those new Defenders of Justice.

Where are they? Man, I’m so excited for you guys. We’re releasing you on the world. Wow. I can tell from my interactions with you that you’re just, you’re so full of energy, you’re so full of passion, you’re so full of the joy of the Lord. There’s an anointing of the Holy Spirit on you. And you’re gonna go out into the world and you’re going to be examples to us of what it means to carry out the mission of The Salvation Army in a world that desperately needs what you have to offer. And that’s absolutely fantastic. We pray God’s blessing on you, and we pray God’s protection over you, and we pray that God will use you in ways that you today cannot even see or imagine. It’s a beautiful thing, and we rejoice in God’s favor on your lives, and pray his blessing on you in the mighty name of Jesus.

And I can’t wait to release you into the world. You join so many others around the globe who are enthusiastically embracing the mission and the ministry of The Salvation Army. And I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it because I think that the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army has been entrusted with an absolutely brilliant and dynamic formula for engagement with the world. 

This formula begins with our connection, our connection to God, the creator of the universe. This is one of the things I love about The Salvation Army is that we are connected to the creator of the universe. We are connected to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We understand, we understand that God has taken the initiative to demonstrate his nature and his character.

We understand that his character is one of love, one of grace, one of mercy, one of acceptance, one of forgiveness. We understand that God loves us so much that he takes the initiative on our behalf in the sending of his Son Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. In this is love. Not that we loved him, but that he loved us and gave his Son for us.

And we understand that in receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, in stepping into faith through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, accepting by faith not only his death but his resurrection, that you and I are welcomed and embraced by God, the Creator of the universe. So much so that we have the privilege of calling him Dad, Father. That’s how confident we can be in approaching the Almighty. That at the drop of a hat, we can be in the throne room of the Creator of the universe, the one who knows all things, the one who holds both the beginning and the end in his hands and everything in between. We can speak to him, we can hear from him through his Word, and we can be incredibly connected to the source of all life, whatever our circumstances, whatever the challenges, whatever the opportunities. Whatever is being faced our way, we remain connected. This is a beautiful formula. The Salvation Army is made up of men and women who are connected through faith in Jesus Christ to the Almighty. We know what it is to be forgiven. We know what it is to be set free. We know what it is to be cleansed. We know what it is to be given abundance of life. We know what it is to have a hope for eternity. We know what it means to have the presence of the Lord in our daily lives. We are one connected bunch. 

Hello. What a brilliant way to start our mission and our ministry in the world. Connection to the Almighty. He took the initiative, we’ve responded, and we’re all hooked up.

God, the creator of the universe, is our heavenly Father whose love is demonstrated to us in the person of Jesus Christ and we celebrate it. Defenders of Justice, the second part of our formula is this, we just cannot keep it to ourselves. It’s impossible. From our inception, The Salvation Army has never been able to keep the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to ourselves.

We have a history of this. We’re constantly looking for the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with anybody and everybody. We have a history of being creative, of being innovative, of being risk takers, of doing what it takes because we are absolutely convinced this is our testimony, this is our witness that there is life in Jesus Christ, that there is hope in Jesus Christ, and we want to tell people about it. I love this formula. Get connected and then tell people about it.

How are we doing, USA Western Territory? Connected, right? And looking for opportunities to share the gospel. Not just as a corporate body, but also as individuals. So I have to ask the question. I can’t make the assumption, I can’t see some of you and I certainly don’t know most of you, so I can’t make the assumption that you’re connected. It could be that you’ve been connected and that it’s gone a bit cold or a bit dry or a bit empty. You need to be connected.

We invite you to be connected. There may be people here this evening who have never experienced God’s loving embrace, have never stepped out in faith to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. I don’t want to make that assumption, but I want to tell you the beginning of abundant life is the connection through Jesus Christ. And we would invite you to do that tonight. It’s a beautiful formula. We want to be connected and we want to tell people about it. 

This is what you’re going out to do, Defenders of Justice. Right? Stay connected and find ways to tell people about it. The third thing that I love, you know, you’re thinking, I wonder how many he’s got. How many make up this formula? I was given 15 minutes. That’s a joke. I didn’t come all the way from London for 15 minutes. I need at least 15 and a half. I tell you, how many has he got? He’s up to number three. How many are there? Well, tonight there’s only four. So, you know, rest easy. I’m on three already and there’s only four. It’s just that four’s got a half a dozen sub points to it. So it’s like, here it is, number three. One of the winning things about the formula that makes up this movement is that we are not satisfied merely telling people about God’s love. We want to demonstrate it. Hello? We want to demonstrate it.

We’ve caught this vision for rolling up our sleeves and engaging with our world. We’re not looking for opportunities to escape. We understand that of course it would be better to be with the Lord. We struggle like Paul did. I’d rather be there but I’m here. So while I’m here, I’m going to engage. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We want people to see the values of the kingdom of God lived out and demonstrated on the planet.

This is a beautiful thing that makes up our movement. We want to be the hands and the feet and the voice of Jesus. We want to care for those who need care. We want to love the unloved. We want to clothe the naked. We want to feed the hungry. We want to work for justice. We want to build homes. We want to house people. We want to restore people. We want to counsel people. We want to touch people, all in the name of Jesus.

Not that we get the glory, not that we get the praise, but that he gets the glory and that he gets the praise.

I can hear people in the world, don’t tell me God loves me, show me God loves me. And that’s what we’re about as a movement. That’s what we’re about as a people. And it’s a shame, perhaps, that in some instances, we’ve so corporatized that part of our care that the rest of us think we’re off the hook. But I can care for my neighbor. I can show love and grace and kindness to the guy across the street or the guy I work with. I can look for opportunities to serve within my cops that demonstrate the love, the grace, the mercy of God. I can participate in this. This is not part of the formula that I can check out on, but this is part of the formula that I can dive into. I can be a part of this. 

People can see and experience God’s love through my engagement, through my acts of kindness, through my patience, through my empathy, through my willingness to touch those and be involved with those that nobody else wants to touch or be involved with. And in this, we are modeling our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who went about doing exactly that. It’s a beautiful formula.

You’ve embraced Defenders of Justice in a mission and ministry within this movement that allows you to pursue deep connection with God Almighty through faith in Jesus Christ. That gives you a platform and an opportunity to seek out opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in your own covenants, you have promised that actually you will make it your business to engage with the desperate need of our world in His name. But I want to tell you, Defenders of Justice, this is not just for you, it’s for all of us. It’s for all of us. Those of us who live and breathe and work and worship and serve under the umbrella of The Salvation Army, the formula is for all of us. To know him, to love him, to be loved by him, to share the good news with others, and to engage in practical care and concern, demonstrating that all is not lost, that in a world that is desperate, in a world that is uncertain, in a world that is full of fear, in a world that is full of hate, in a world that is full of greed, in a world where increasingly we can’t agree with each other, into that world come us, agents of the King of Kings, and we come in what we bring with us is love and hope and joy and promise and grace, copious amounts of grace. It’s our privilege to share it and to demonstrate it. This is our formula. 

And then finally, this beautiful thing, this beautiful thing as a movement that we’ve come to an understanding that some of our greatest impact in the world will be made when as a community and as individuals, we walk in holiness. 

We understand what it is to be made clean by the indwelling Spirit. We know what it means to surrender ourselves to an intentional pursuit of becoming more and more Christ-like. For the world needs to see it, lived out in its presence. For us to smell, to have the aroma of Christ in us as we engage with our families and our community and the world itself. To know the joy of being able to be in the world, useful to the master, but not of the world and tainted by it. This is the beauty of walking in holiness, to know what it means to be free, to be pure, to be full of joy. It is an amazing formula.

It is. It’s a beautiful formula to be connected, to know him and his love and his grace and his power in our lives, to find once again the confidence that the Holy Spirit will give us, to give a bit of voice to it, right? To speak it out, the good news of the gospel, to demonstrate it. To pursue holiness of life, to be holy because he is holy, to be a people who belong to God, who declare his praises and live in such a way that they become a beacon of hope to those who are searching for hope. That’s us. That’s you. So I’m going to ask you this evening as I draw to a close right now to just reflect on this. I would like to ask you if you wouldn’t mind, to just think about where you are in regards to the formula.

Where are you in terms of your connection to the Almighty? Where are you in terms of your willingness to be creative and innovative, finding ways to share the good news with others? Where are you in your demonstrations of love and care for the vulnerable, for the unloved, for the needy? What contribution are you making to that? And to what extent?

Are you surrendering yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ so that he can refine you and change you and grow you and make you more and more like his Son Jesus Christ? Where are you in that journey? Where are you in that journey? Where do you need to be in that journey?

I’m going to ask of you this evening, as I finish, a very simple thing. I hope it’s simple. I’d like you to make a commitment this evening. Scary stuff, I’d like you to make a commitment. I’d like you to commit with me that over the next 24 hours or so, you will just allow God the Holy Spirit to speak to you about where you’re at in this journey. In relation to this formula, where are you? And here’s what my ask is this evening: If you’re willing to join with me in inviting God the Holy Spirit to speak to us about that formula over the next 24 hours, would you stand so I can say a prayer for you? That’s it. That’s my ask. That’s a simple ask.

If you’re prepared simply to invite God the Holy Spirit to speak to you about this formula over the next 24, look at you, come on. This is how revival starts, right? This is how it starts. It starts when men and women are prepared to make themselves available for God to speak to them, to minister to them, to move amongst them. And so for those of you who are standing in his presence this evening, let me offer this prayer. 

Heavenly Father, I’m praying for my brothers and sisters in your presence in this very moment, convinced that he who began a good work in them will carry it out. I’m praying that over this next 24 hours by your Holy Spirit You’ll speak into our hearts and our lives and show us where we are in the journey and lead us, Father, to where you would want us to be. This is our prayer and we offer it this evening in the beautiful, powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

God bless you.

Additional resources:

  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now.

Salvation Army volunteers fight food insecurity in the Philippines
Salvation Army volunteers fight food insecurity in the Philippines

Salvation Army volunteers fight food insecurity in the Philippines

Dasmariñas, Philippines, is a busy city south of Manila—an up-and-coming area

American Enterprise Institute and The Salvation Army partner to transform homelessness narratives
American Enterprise Institute and The Salvation Army partner to transform homelessness narratives

American Enterprise Institute and The Salvation Army partner to transform homelessness narratives

What if there was a way to know what neighborhoods are at risk of

You May Also Like