He’s installed, repaired, or maintained 339 communications towers worldwide, has a patent for a certain type of cellular tower structure and, already this year, he’s logged over 80,000 miles of international flights. Jim Hulse and his wife Connie have endured extreme temperatures, tropical diseases, and even para-military kidnappings in their career as missionaries; a career that has brought them to nearly every continent. Hulse, a successful communications tower entrepreneur, turned missionary tower-builder, has seen his fair share of success throughout his career. And he’s not quite ready to stop yet: Even as he nears his retirement years, he has big plans in mind as he aims to team up with BOSCO-Uganda.
Hulse, born in Goshen, Indiana, graduated from technical college and acquired several licenses in the communications field before going on to serve in the Army in the 1960’s.
Blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, he went on to create three profitable communications businesses, including a tower business which brought him acclaim in his field as well as financial security. However, on a November evening in 1992 at his church, his life was turned upside down; a new normal would prevail for him and his wife.
“I arrived early for the evening service and was looking at a mission magazine about short term mission trips when it happened. All of a sudden a strong power from God filled the body and a vision appeared,” Hulse recalls.
“Jim, I am going to use you in the mission field,” Hulse recalled God saying to him.
“It was an awesome experience.”
After the revelation and newly-provided direction in his life, it took Hulse and his wife a whole year to completely shut down their successful business ventures. Hulse says, “It took a huge step in faith to let God provide [for] our needs and totally rely on him, not knowing how we we’re going to pay our bills.”
Life as a Missionary
Towers for Jesus was established by Hulse to build communication towers for Christian radio stations around the world. He has been told by engineers in his field that Towers for Jesus is by far the most successful and expansive organization for constructing, implementing, and maintaining Christian radio towers around the world. Committing to this work full time has come at a tremendous financial and physical cost for Hulse and his family: They have invested all their retirement savings into their missionary venture and have had numerous near-death experiences in the process.
Hulse was captured by the KGB in both Russia and Moldova, has been bitten by poisonous snakes, rescued while adrift at sea, and survived three emergency airplane landings, including an off-airport landing in Siberia. His wife lost vision permanently in one of her eyes after enduring a long and painful fungus infection which was contracted in the jungle during a tower build in the South American country of Suriname. A testament to their physical stamina, Hulse and his wife have endured dozens of long intercontinental flights every year to remote locations around the world. His work has taken him to the Amazon jungle, the most remote places in Africa, and even tiny, remote sea islands.
An unassuming man by nature, Hulse treads quietly with a humble, yet confident spirit. He needs some prodding before launching into missionary stories that can, at times, seem to leave his listener in a state of disbelief. It’s clear that one would need dozens and dozens of hours to hear the full breadth of experiences he has had as a missionary tower builder. Besides simply building Christian radio towers around the world—an accomplishment on its own—Hulse insists that the real work has been through his direct encounters with the people and cultures he has met along the way.
“We have helped bury the dead with shovel in hand, prayed for people with leprosy in India, fed the starving, helped the injured, given clothes to the needy and have done our best to serve the Lord,” Hulse says.
A Vision for Retirement
Having served as a tower-building missionary for over 20 years, Hulse and his wife are ready to stop traveling the world. However, unlike many retirees who envision living in a warm climate somewhere in the southern US, Hulse thinks northern Uganda is just the right fit for his golden years.
After a spring trip to Gulu confirmed his desire to spend his retirement years working in northern Uganda, Hulse plans to (quite literally) set up shop in Gulu, renovating a workshop space provided by the local Archdiocese. This space will become his hub for training a local workforce in the kind of engineering skills which are so rare in rural African communities.
Hulse’s primary objective will be to guide this local workforce to provide high quality construction for a network of communications towers and water wells throughout northern Uganda and possibly into South Sudan. BOSCO-Uganda will be a primary beneficiary of Hulse’s work as they look to expand their ICT and long-range Internet network further across the northern Ugandan region. To expand, BOSCO-Uganda will need a network of towers built, capable of connecting the point-to-point network which relies on transmitted micro-wave signals to share the Internet connection across all of the rural ICT sites.
Hulse’s retirement dream is not yet a reality, however. BOSCO-Uganda and Towers for Jesus are currently seeking funding that would cover startup costs for Hulse and a local workforce to establish their base in Gulu and get started on communications related construction projects.
Hulse clearly is a big dreamer and has an uncanny combination of know-how and endurance, helping him achieve his objectives in the most remote, difficult, and unlikely of places around the world. Throughout his career, he’s simply tried to go where he’s been called.
“I know we can start a great tower ministry in northern Uganda. I see the Lord opening many doors [and] I’m ready to start in Gulu any time.”
There’s no doubt that if the doors open in Gulu, the towers will begin to rise.