I’m Jessica Hughes, an Anglican priest serving atUganda Christian University through the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS). “Here I am” is both an answer to the geographical question “WHERE are you going?” and a nod to my favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 6:8.
I almost called this blog “The Reluctant Missionary” because I never wanted to be a missionary. I never wanted to go to Africa. In fact, in my high school discipleship group of 12, 11 wanted to go to Africa as missionaries. I was the one who volunteered to pray for them as they went. I now think that God was just tapping His watch (and probably chuckling), telling me to wait and see.
But God, in His delightful sense of humor, had other plans. In 1998, in Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, one of our guides pointed into the distance and asked if I saw the islands that were there, as they belonged to Uganda. I thought that was irrelevant, as I would never come to Uganda. Again, I’m sure God was enjoying my certainty.
Around the time that we left the Episcopal church, my bishop told me to pray about going to seminary abroad. Naturally, I assumed that meant Oxford. So I researched and prayed. Then he told me to pray about going to seminary at Uganda Christian University, which I thought was odd, but I agreed. Then he nonchalantly added, “And you can stay and minister there.” I thought the man had gone mad.
I came to UCU in December 2008 to submit my application. For my interview, I had tea with the dean ( prospective students usually face a panel and we are quite hard on them), and she warmly welcomed me to UCU. After, I was standing on the grounds outside the Bishop Tucker building, and I asked the Lord, “Well?” He said, “This is your school.” So in May 2009, I began seminary.
During our “long holiday” over the September semester, I realized that I missed my African friends, and more importantly, I wanted them to be lifelong friends, not just friends while I was in Uganda. My condo was too quiet with just me there alone.
Sometime during the January 2010 semester, I had an epiphany that I could teach here at UCU. I asked some friends to pray with me, and after some time, we all agreed that this was where the Lord was leading me. With great fear and trepidation, I emailed my bishop and told him that I thought I might be called to stay and teach here. His reply was something along the lines of “it’s about time!”
I graduated in July 2011, and returned as a SAMS missionary and UCU staff member in July 2012. Time has flown by, and now, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. God’s plans are certainly not our own.