Sawatsky was professor of church history and mission and director of the Mission Studies Center. He joined the faculty in 1990 and retired in 2012, although he continues to teach individual courses and counsel students. Sawatsky combined AMBS teaching with teaching assignments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and he held consulting roles with Mennonite Central Committee in Eastern Europe. He was administrator for a 31-volume Bible commentary series translated into Russian. In addition, Sawatsky was a member of the organizing committee that led the creation of the five-volume Global Mennonite History, and he edited Mission Focus: Annual Review for nearly 20 years.