By Amanda Boston

The introduction of Genesis 12:4, reads, “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” If you back up a few verses, God had asked Abram to gather his kin and leave his homeland. With no clear direction, Abram didn’t question God’s intent; instead, Abram trusted and went. A similar calling has gone out to a Riverview resident, Diane Williams. Often referred to as the “Jesus Cares” Lady, she believes God called her to deliver a simple, yet profound message.

Like Abram, she too, was not furnished with clear direction. Yet, she trusted and obeyed. Shortly after committing to the commission, Williams developed a severe illness requiring a stint in the hospital. In the face of her suffering, God drew her close, worked on her heart, and prepared her for street ministry. While on the mend, she faithfully and earnestly sought God through prayer and Bible study. In due course, God revealed His purpose and plan for Williams, which eventually led her to create the Jesus Cares sign, which is familiar to so many. Williams explained, “I am sowing seeds for the Lord. Just like the parable, some seeds fall on soil and sprout while others fall on rocky ground and never grow. I put out the message that Jesus cares, but it’s Jesus who does the real work.”

Since Sept. 9, 2009, Williams has been a perpetual presence of comfort and hope by donning her fabulous smile and famous sign. In obedience to her Heavenly Father, Williams displays her sign, prays, and waves to the steady stream of traffic in the Tampa and Brandon area. From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., she is situated at the following locations; Saturdays on the corner of US-301 and Riverview Dr., Fridays Highway 60 in front of the Westfield Mall, and Tuesdays alongside Channelside Dr.

The sign serves as encouragement to those who know and love Jesus whereas it introduces Jesus’s love to those who do not. Most onlookers simply wave, honk, or even shout an “Amen” in acknowledgement of the sign. Yet, from time to time, she encounters a great deal of foot traffic, especially from the heartbroken and discouraged. For those who stop to visit, they are blessed with a warm greeting, a tender hug, and a listening ear. Williams invites visitors to learn about her Lord and Savior and asks to pray for them. “Most of these folks are seeking a cure to their problems, but until they find Jesus, they are going to keep on searching or fix it with the wrong stuff. I am praying and relying on the Holy Spirit to guide me on what to say.” Williams disclosed how her former struggles and unfortunate circumstances now serve as a means to connect with others.

With reluctance to converse about her personal life or be recognized for her efforts due to her humility, she responded, “It’s all about Him. I am just a vessel. I hold the sign, but it is God who gets the glory.” Recently, she placed a permanent sign on the corner of US-301 and Riverview Dr. displaying a photograph of her holding the Jesus Cares sign. Fortunately for us, she is not abandoning her post. Rather, she felt compelled to further the message during the times she physically cannot be present. When questioned about the longevity of her platform, she said, “As long as God makes me able, I’ll be out there.” So the next time you see Williams, give her a honk or a shout of encouragement. Better yet, stop and speak with her. Your heart will be warmed by the experience. For more info. on Williams’ ministry or to watch her testimony, please visit www.jesuscaresinc.com.