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By Diana Chandler, Baptist Press [edited]

Evangelist Richard Hamlet, who has preached the gospel in nearly 100 countries, had just returned from Russia and Belarus when the COVID-19 pandemic closed international borders in early 2020.

He canceled eight international events and a handful of stateside festivals last year but was able to reach almost 20 countries on Zoom through the Global Ministries Foundation he leads. The president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Evangelists is among many national and global evangelists challenged to retool during the pandemic.

“It’s hard to preach when there’s nobody in the room and you’re looking at a camera, but the Lord is so gracious and we’re seeing many people come to Christ, we believe, through hearing messages and responding with trust in Christ,” he said.

Hamlet expanded his digital reach primarily through Facebook Live, with digital gospel messages streamed to nearly 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere. He had planned a handful of evangelism festivals in U.S. cities for 2020 in partnership with local churches. He hopes those can take place this fall at such venues as public parks or mall parking lots.

“We’ve seen through the years many in the communities in the urban areas confess Christ publicly and then become assimilated in New Testament churches,” Hamlet said.

He also plans to resume one of his primary focuses – marketplace ministry – with business lunches and training sessions as the pandemic continues to subside.