When I served as the pastor to high school students here at Mud Creek, I recruited people to teach our high school students on Sunday mornings. One of those couples was Todd and Cindy Overgaard. They taught the 10th grade Sunday School class for a number of years. Cindy and Todd were a great team and popular among our high school students which is a tough task. Cindy was the primary teacher and Todd served as a relational role model for the class as a whole and the young men in particular. Anyway, that’s how I got to know the Overgaard family.
Todd played golf, and we were able to spend some time on the golf course together. We even won a captain’s choice tournament in large part because of Todd. He loved life and loved his family deeply.
I’ll never forget the morning Todd and Cindy came to see me at church. Somewhat emotional and uncertain, they shared with me that Todd had been diagnosed with ALS. They were pursuing opinions from other doctors, but wanted our prayers for his health and their future. The next few years were physically tough on Todd, and I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil Cindy and Andy, their teenage son, faced as ALS slowly took Todd’s health and life.
Todd struggled with ALS for a number of years, but some things about him didn’t change. He still loved life and his family, but his love for the Lord became more and more evident. He joined Dr. Mathis’ accountability group. While always quietly spiritual, Todd grew bolder in his willingness to speak out for the Lord and even sought out opportunities to be a witness. He assisted with evangelism training courses and shared how God saved him out of a works-based Catholic background. He also looked for opportunities to use what strength he had left to honor the Lord.
In May 2008 tornadoes ripped through northern Georgia, and our Carpenter’s Hands Ministry was asked to respond. Todd wanted to help, but even as he approached Mike Nelson, he didn’t know what he would have the strength or ability to do. His muscles were already experiencing the deteriorating effects of ALS. In truth, Todd joined our disaster relief team on faith. When they arrived in Georgia, North Carolina Baptist Men (our sending agency) had partnered with Samaritan’s Purse. Providentially, Samaritan’s Purse had a skid steer available to help with clean up, but no one to operate it. Well, Todd was proficient in operating skid steers, and God provided a tool and a task for him while on that disaster trip. Even as Todd’s strength was weakened with ALS, he moved more debris than any other team member because God decided to use Todd in a special way. Revealing his never-changing sense of humor, Todd even joked, “This is my first wheelchair.” To which Mike Nelson wittily responded, “Yes, bud I don’t think Cindy will let you bring it in the house.”
Todd’s life and story are filled with wonderful memories like this one. He is actually one of my personal heroes. His faith and willingness to serve even while his body was deteriorating is an inspiration. Cindy and Andy are two of my heroes as well. Cindy not only watched the love of her life lose his through ALS, but as the caregiver she experienced his disease in a more personal way than maybe even Todd. She shared her story in one of Dr. Mathis’ books Looking for God available here. Andy is also one of my heroes. Growing out of a shy little boy who wouldn’t dare speak to a stranger, Andy is now full of personality and maturity studying for full-time ministry at North Greenville University. The influential legacy of Todd, Cindy, and Andy Overgaard is one that has and will impact thousands. I know they’ve