{Ministry Week} Lighthouse, Cape Breton.

Written by: Rev. Dave Sawler

{How did God call you to this ministry?}

My wife Shirley, kids, and I moved back to Cape Breton ten years ago. We came as missionaries to a community that had almost no Christians, especially in the younger generations. However, it was seven years before moving here we felt we would be coming to church plant in the area.


While working in Nova Scotia as a youth minister in the late 90’s we began bringing ministry teams to Cape Breton. It was during that time we began to feel that we needed to do more than come for a week at a time. We knew we would be coming to start churches at some point. Fast forward a few years, and we were pastoring in Oakville at Evangel, and I remember saying it would take a bomb to get us to leave. We were part of a great church and team, ministry was going great.

However, it was during one of our visits to Cape Breton that God shook us up, and it was like a bomb really did go off. I remember twice sitting in my car, parked on the main street downtown Glace Bay, watching people as I waited for Shirley while she was shopping. There was a large concrete fence and many young people sitting on it; as it was a pretty common hang out. Both times it was like I could almost hear God saying, ‘Who is going to tell them about Me?’

From that visit on both Shirley and I knew it was time. Months later we both had left our jobs and we moved into this community. We didn’t have a group to start with, all we had was a belief that God had called us here.

{What are you currently doing to passionately live out this calling on your life?}

We are currently running a full time kids and youth centre in our building where we can have between 200 – 400 kids and youth in our programs every week. Our goal is to simply serve our community and it’s families. This has given us the opportunity to minister to so many who have never been part of a church community.

One of the biggest ministries we are launching into is addiction prevention and recovery. Over 50% of the young adult males in our town are problem drinkers. The amount of needles used per capita in Cape Breton is 600% higher than the mainland of Nova Scotia. We also have the distinction of having the lowest average age when people start drinking in all of Canada. In fact, I did my first funeral for someone who died of old age about three months ago. All the others were either a tragedy of some kind, with the most common being drug or alcohol related. To get a glimpse of what we are dealing with, you can watch this video we just released called faces of addiction. Here is the link.

{What are your future ministry goals?}

We believe we have seen the beginning of a sustainable model of ministry in one of Canada’s most impoverished and unreached areas. Our goal is to see four more centres started within the next five years. We are presently active in working towards this goal, as we have ministries now started in three other communities.

Our goal is to re-purpose four of the church buildings which have closed in the area.
We are believing in a short time we will have over one thousand kids and youth in ministry and have the opportunity to speak into the lives of countless families. We want to see full community transformation where a whole generation experiences the Kingdom of God showing up in Cape Breton.


David Sawler, Exec Director
Along with his wife, Shirley, and three kids Dave moved back to Glace Bay in the summer of 2005. Shirley grew up in Glace Bay and Dave lived there much of his teenage years, as well as, in Sydney. Before living there, they were in Oakville, ON where Dave was a youth and young adults minister and mentorship program director. Previously, they were working with youth in Windsor, NS.
Several years ago Dave started writing and speaking and now spends several weeks a year talking to youth groups, parents, and churches around Canada and many other countries. However, his heart is in Cape Breton.
The Sawler’s are dedicated to seeing many new churches started in Cape Breton, along with several more centres for youth. They are dedicated to seeing community transformation where this generation can grow up free of addiction, hopelessness, and despair.


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