By Irene A. Harkleroad
Pastor Luke Safford, lead church planter of Overflow Tucson, and his wife, Jolene, held the church’s first service in their home on June 5. It took less than one month for the church to live up to its name, but not exactly the way the Saffords envisioned.
Their home was flooded twice in one week by torrential downpours and rushing mud.
On Sunday, June 26, flood waters wreaked havoc on their property. Quick action helped save many items, but the dryer fell victim to the torrent. Jolene dried their clothes at the houses of other church families.
Members met on Wednesday to clean up the house and the branches, mud and debris that covered the property. Two days later, on Friday, July 1, the second flood claimed the washer.
The faithful cleanup crew returned on Saturday.
“People took stuff to the dump,” said Safford. “Some dug ditches and put drainage holes in the cinderblock fencing. People came from the neighborhood, as well as friends from Second Mile (our sending church) and some new friends — there was a conglomeration of people there.”
In a way, the floods produced an unexpected answer to prayer.
“Going into June, July, and August, I was praying that our group would really solidify, that we would get to know each other and grow,” Safford said. “These floods played a big part in that. We were forced to rely on each other.”
With the damage to the pastor’s home, the group had to meet elsewhere.
“We met in each other’s homes,” Safford said. “It was good preparation for the people in our group to host others in their homes when we expand into multiple home groups.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 9, Safford managed to prevent yet a third flood from damaging their home.
The inside of the house is almost back to normal. The new drywall needs paint. The outside is a different story.
“One of our values is adaptability — with people and circumstances,” he said. “The floods helped refine our focus and caused us to be more patient. They slowed us down, for the better.”
And despite the floods, Safford still likes the name of the new church.
“When there is an overflow, things get stirred up,” he said. “There is a great impact. That’s part of our vision for Overflow Tucson. As God fills us with His Holy Spirit, we want to overflow with hope, peace, love and truth, so that we, too, will make a great impact.”
The floods serve as an illustration of this.
“We’ve seen the impact from these little floods, and the impact of being filled by God’s peace, and we can see the impact that peace could bring to the people of Tucson,” Safford said.