A navy seaman in Vietnam. Later a coast guard first class cook. General contractor. Father to 10 children. A widower. Carlsborg resident, and a follower of Jesus.
Since late July, the 63-year-old Jim Nightingale has joined a number of people, including Jim Nichols of Sequim, on the southeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street promoting their Christian faith.
Nightingale’s signs read, “Jesus Loves You,” and “ … believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved … ” from Acts 16:31.
Before he took up the venture, Nightingale said he would walk around Carrie Blake Community Park to walk and pray. After that he’d go to Hurricane Coffee. One day he saw Nichols holding a sign. Nightingale sat with him, and Nichols gave him a sign. That led Nightingale to the daily, six-hour-plus routine.
“When I quit work, I began to examine my life. (I looked) back at 60 years, and I realized man, was I a sinner,’ Nightingale said.
Passages in the Bible began to stand out to him, including one about an anonymous man seeking Jesus’ forgiveness — which he receives — and then tells everyone about it.
“That’s me too. I’m just a common man,” Nightingale said. “I’m forgiven and have such gratitude for what God has done for me. That’s why I’m out on that corner.”
Like Neil Morris, a Black Lives Matter and human rights advocate who sits across the intersection daily, Nightingale sees his efforts as ongoing. Nightingale’s purpose: encourage believers, share a condensed version of the gospel, and to grow his faith.
Both men say they’ve encountered positive and negative reactions, with Nightingale saying some include people yelling “Hail Satan” or “You need a lobotomy.”
But on a positive note, he said, two people accepted Jesus as their savior from their sins.
As for any political motivation or social movement, Nightingale said there’s none and that Jesus loves everyone.
“That’s the best news ever and it’ll never be topped,” he said.
Nichols said he started standing on the street corner daily with his sign on the Fourth of July, and that the “name of Jesus Christ has an extreme amount of power just in his name.”
“He is after all the savior of the world,” he said.
While bringing people to God is the main goal, Nichols said they look to lift people up.
“I can see they’re touched by it,” he said. “I’m lifting them up and they’re lifting me up.”
Nightingale spent most of his childhood in San Francisco prior to joining the U.S. Navy at 18, where he spent some of his service time in South Vietnam.
“We went up rivers anticipated to be attacked, but we never were,” he said.
A few years later, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard with assignments on both U.S. coasts, and going as far south as Antarctica.
Nightingale spent two stints on the Olympic Peninsula. His first was in Port Angeles in the early 1970s while in the Coast Guard. During his time there he knew this was where he wanted to be. He first built a home on Blue Mountain that sadly burned down, he said, but community members and churches rallied to help his family rebuild.
Nightingale also lost his first wife Katie and the mother of their 10 children to breast cancer. Now the couple has 20-plus grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“Katie was known as a model mother,” he said. “She was a good mama.”
Nightingale remarried, but it ended in divorce. The couple attempted to build a bed and breakfast in Port Angeles but it foreclosed.
After some time passed, Nightingale became a handyman and eventually a general contractor to help pay off six figures worth of debt.
“I started over,” he said.
Eleven years ago he met Pauline, who was seeking the recommendation of a handyman for help with her home’s plumbing in Napa Valley.
“I got a call to go fix it and it was a week’s job, but it took four months because we fell in love,” he said.
They were married for 10 years and relocated to Carlsborg a few years ago to be closer to family and because of rising costs in California.
Pauline passed away in February, Nightingale said, but he finds comfort that “she was a Christian, and she’s in heaven now.”
A missionary school student years ago, Nightingale said he still felt he was ignorant of the Bible.
“At 22 I became a believer, but I didn’t grow or learn until I was in my 60s,” he said.
After he exited the Navy, Nightingale said he was unsure what he was going to do until he and a friend opted to drive to Alaska.
“I had a Corvair and we drove up the Alaska Highway and with no filter, dirt got in the motor so we had to hitchhike most of the way,” he said.
“In Anchorage a man asked us to work with him, so we started helping him homestead. The man I was with started to complain, so he left. I stayed.”
One night, he sees an older man walking down the road, which “you don’t do in Alaska.”
He learned the man was a missionary, and offered him a place to stay.
“He told me about Jesus and heaven, and I told him I want to be there,” Nightingale said.
“The next day I lost all interest in being in Alaska. I hitchhiked to Montana.”
Once there he laid down in the grass and looked up at a star and repeatedly said, “I trust Jesus.”
“That light from that star, it warmed me from my waist up (for a few seconds),” Nightingale said. “I knew that without a shadow of doubt Jesus was real.”
The next morning he found a creek and baptized himself and later found a way back to San Francisco.
“My mother noticed I was changed,” he said.
“I went down to town with my mom’s Bible. I was relaying to people what had happened to me.”
After a few days, Nightingale noticed his spiritual high began to wane as he wondered what to do next.
“I knew I was a believer, but I didn’t know how to follow Jesus,” he said. “I interpreted things people told me and I interpreted wrongly.”
With some detractors of his and others’ faith in downtown Sequim, Nightingale said he’s learned to love “with the grace of Jesus” and he’s been trying to show it rather than be abrasive.
“People respond to that when you show love,” he said.
With three-plus months sharing his faith in downtown Sequim so far, Nightingale said he plans to keep doing it indefinitely.
“I love this job,” he said. “I don’t know how winter is going to pan out. I will do it until I’m directed somewhere else or I will do it until I die.
“There’s nothing greater than holding up the name of Jesus.”