Richard Hamlet was saved at age 10 at a Billy Graham Evangelism Association event. Now he and his wife, Ginger, travel to lead such events, which is why they were in Nashville as part of Crossover 2021.
Holding a festival takes time and volunteers, and “the key is faithfulness,” said Hamlet, who is president and CEO of Global Ministries Foundation and serves as president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.
The COSBE partnered with New Season Church in Nashville to reach its neighborhood June 12.
“We’re praying the Holy Spirit reaches people,” Hamlet said.
Around 2,000 cards were distributed within three to four blocks of the event, which was held at East Park and was a part of the greater Crossover Nashville efforts prior to the Southern Baptist Convention. Face paint, bouncy houses as well as music and food were available to the community.
More than 6,000 participants in this year’s Crossover represented 43 churches in Tennessee and several Southern Baptist seminaries.
Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership for the North American Mission Board, said 176 people made salvation decisions, and volunteers engaged in 6,300 gospel conversations during Crossover events.
Those volunteering held over 3,300 gospel conversations. Final numbers will be announced during the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
Volunteers were organized by New Season member Deidre Childress.
“A lot of people were working behind the scenes to get the tents and chairs and arrange the bouncy houses and the stage/sound system,” Childress said.
Last year’s tornado really inspired Childress to be involved more after volunteering with disaster relief work.
At least 20 volunteers from the church manned tents and helped children on/off the inflatables.
“Eight churches were hosting events around Nashville,” said Rusty Sumrall, executive director and lead coach for Nashville Baptist Association.
Churches hosted ice cream socials, food giveaways, block parties and festivals around Nashville.
Sumrall expressed appreciation for the seminary students and church volunteers who were out in the days leading up to the events. They went door to door throughout the surrounding neighborhoods sharing the gospel and inviting people to attend the event.
Ginger Hamlet shared her testimony from the stage. She told of being baptized after seeing how pleased her mother was when her sister went under the water, but she didn’t become a Christian until later when she was out sharing the gospel with an Evangelism Explosion team.
“I was sharing the gospel but I didn’t know it myself,” she said.
Pastor Dwayne Lewis, who also serves as a church strategist for Nashville Baptist Association, started New Season in 2011 in a nursing home.
While it was mostly patients and their families, Lewis said the church began to grow. They moved to an elementary school, and when one of the association’s churches was dissolving in the area, New Season acquired the building.
Lewis said God is bringing about 170 to church each Sunday. They have resumed services after the COVID-19 shutdown.
“There’s been a number of deaths … a number of lost jobs,” but Lewis praised God for being faithful to his congregation. They are holding two services each Sunday morning.
“New Season is in the middle of a community that is rebuilding, renovating,” he said. “The plan is to reach out to our community.”
Roc Collins, director of evangelism for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, estimates 4 million of Tennessee’s nearly 7 million residents are nonbelievers.
He expressed appreciation for the hundreds of Southern Baptists involved in the evangelistic outreach.