By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Nick Nishio grew up in Japan with a family of doctors—his father, his grandfather, his brothers went the way of stethoscopes and white coats. But God directed young Nick Nishio along a different path and led him to Rockville, Md., where he is working with his wife, Sachi, to plant a Japanese church.
“There’s a great need,” Nishio explained. According to census reports, there are about 8,000 Japanese people in the Maryland/DC area and Nishio said there are just two churches to minister to them—both at least 10 years old.
First Church, Rockville, is partnering with the Nishios to get the new church off the ground. The Nishios teach a Japanese Sunday School class at the church and they have a Bible study and a small group in their home. Each ministry draws a different crowd. Interestingly, the small group has become an international mix. A Montgomery College student began attending and inviting international college students from Argentina and Brazil.
“The students speak English as a second language and they share a lot of common things,” Nishio said. “They share their thoughts and what happens during the last week. They really seem to enjoy that fellowship right now,” he said.
In addition, the couple works hard to befriend other Japanese neighbors and community members. Nishio joined a Japanese singing group and a non-profit care group in an effort to connect. His goal is to meet many Japanese people face-to-face to at least have information to begin praying for them.
The Nishios hope to invite their new friends to new Japanese worship services later this year.
The couple came to Rockville from Oregon. Nick Nishio laughs when he tells how he became enchanted with the state. “There was a TV drama program in Japan with the title, ‘Love from Oregon,’” Nishio said. The show was filmed in Oregon. “I always wanted to go there,” he said.
As a young adult, Nishio was struggling, feeling as if he had lost his purpose in life. A kind English teacher invited the young student to come to New Zealand to visit with him and just “change the air.”
“I really had a great experience there,” Nishio said. He worked on a dairy farm and on an orchard—very different from his life in Japan.
While in New Zealand, Nick went to Wellington University to learn more English and it was there that he met Christians who befriended him. He began attending church and it was a song that God used to reach out to Nishio—“Jesus, Your Love has melted my heart.” That really touched my heart,” he admitted. He started attending a Bible study group. It was difficult for him because he was still struggling with English. But when the group began talking about Jesus hanging on a cross and asking God to forgive those who were crucifying him Nishio understood and was astounded.
“I felt almost like crying. I thought, ‘Wow! What kind of man is this? How can he how can he forgive those people who are hurting him’?”
Nishio eventually moved to his beloved Oregon and he took classes at Portland Community College. God led Nishio to a Japanese church where he learned more about Jesus in his own language. He made a confession of faith in July, 1987. Nishio became a worship leader and he developed a friendship with a pianist named Sachi. That friendship blossomed and they were married in 1999.
In Maryland, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware church multiplication missionary David Jackson, Montgomery Association Director of Missions Ron Blankenship and others were praying that God would send a Japanese church planter. Jackson contacted Nishio’s senior pastor in 2003 and the opportunity was presented to Nishio, but he and Sachi did not feel the time was right. In 2009, Blankenship called Nishio once more.
“That really surprised me because I did not expect him to remember me,” Nishio said. He discovered that BCM/D and Montgomery Association leaders had been continuing to pray for a Japanese church planter for six years.
The couple sought God and this time, they felt He was calling them to Maryland.
The Nishios are excited at what God is doing, and what He will do. They ask for prayer and partnership opportunities. For more information about the church, see http://www.japanesechurchindc.com.