From “lost character” to pastor
by Frank King
Surrey Pastor Kevin Cavanaugh is a member of the leadership team for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope coming to Vancouver in March 2017, but it was long ago he learned how God works through BGEA. As a troubled teenager, Cavanaugh was given a gift subscription to Decision, BGEA’s monthly magazine. He still reads the publication today.
Now the senior pastor at Cedar Grove Church in Surrey, he connected again with BGEA three years ago through the My Hope video evangelism ministry. He showed one of the My Hope 30-minute films in almost all of the church’s ministries and at an Easter worship service. “We probably had between 20 and 30 people dedicate or rededicate their lives to Christ on Easter alone,” Cavanaugh recalls.
Now he’s an enthusiastic participant in the Festival of Hope. It’s a multi-phase ministry that partners with churches to train Christians for evangelism, disciple student believers, and encourage Christ followers to bring their friends and family members to three nights of powerful, life-changing outreach March 3-5, 2017 at Rogers Arena.
Cavanaugh’s heart for outreach came after a difficult childhood. His father was killed in a plane crash when he was just 18 months old. His mother married again, but his stepfather left the family when Cavanaugh was 10. “By the time I got to high school, I was a lost character,” Cavanaugh recalled. “I was drinking and smoking and looking for love, for connection.”
Thankfully, God began touching his life then because Cavanaugh started visiting a youth drop-in centre run by Jack Brown, a committed Christ follower. “Jack started loving on me like I’d never been loved. He became the first father figure in my life,” he shares.
Brown invited Cavanaugh and his friends to Sunday afternoon Bible studies. Those studies began changing him, even as he continued in his old lifestyle. “I’d leave Jack’s place and go partying. With a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, I’d talk to people about Jesus,” he remembers.
Cavanaugh finally came to Christ at age 17, during one of those parties. After most of the festivities ended, he and some friends sat around a table and talking about Jesus. “We were having an open and honest conversation. Then I pushed my chair away from the table and said, ‘I don’t know about you guys, but my life is headed nowhere and tonight I am going to give it to Jesus Christ.’” Cavanaugh went into the bathroom and, his heart filled with the Holy Spirit, prayed a simple prayer of repentance and faith in Christ.
His decision that day had a tremendous ripple effect in his family, as his mother and all his siblings eventually became believers. Cavanaugh later went into ministry and has been at Cedar Grove Church since 1997. With a busy schedule as pastor, husband to Cynthia, father of three and grandfather of four, he still made time to make the Festival of Hope a priority. “I’m deeply concerned that so many churches have given up on evangelism. So I wholeheartedly exhort leaders and pastors to come on board—not to dabble, but to be fully invested in the Festival of Hope,” Cavanaugh says.
For more information, including how you can prayerfully and financially support this vital ministry, please visit FestivalofHope.ca or call 1.800.293.3717.