"Tom" had one regret: never finishing high school. With the help of a United Methodist church, he began working toward realizing his dream of earning a GED certificate, the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Burns United Methodist Church in Oxford, Miss., registered Tom to take the classes. He began to learn math, writing, science and history, but an obstacle arose when he realized he would have to take the GED test on a computer.
Barbara Worthum, GED instructor, and other tutors knew that they could help Tom and other students gain confidence by learning computer skills, but they needed more machines.
Worthum and the Rev. Chris Diggs, Burns pastor, prayed for new computers. God answered their prayers when Diggs met Richard "Dick" Scruggs.
Scruggs, a former attorney convicted of bribery, spent six years in prison. He is serving the last year of his sentence on home confinement. While in prison, Scruggs taught GED classes to the inmates, who were mostly high school dropouts. When he learned that Burns needed computers for GED test-takers, Scruggs donated seven Mac laptops and two desktops for the program to further his mission of helping with adult education.
Worthum, a GED teacher by vocation, said her students' ages range from 18 to 56. Their backgrounds are varied. Seeing her students' progress delights her. She recalls her joy as she saw a woman in her 50s successfully create an email address.
Many students fear failing, Worthum said. However, she believes confidence replaces fear as they work toward getting their GED certificates and bettering their lives.
Burns offers the GED program two evenings a week. Diggs said that three people enrolled in college after getting their GED certificates.
"The program gives people a second chance," Diggs said. "We are the hands and feet of Jesus giving people hope."
AT A GLANCE Burns United Methodist Church | 600 Molly Barr Road, Oxford, MS 38655 | 662-234-2943 | [email protected] | www.burnsumc.org | Pastor: Rev. Christopher Diggs | Average Attendance: 75 | Mississippi Conference