I learned so much at the little church I attended as a young woman sharing the praise songs that popped into my head.

I learned how to not panic in front of a crowd. I learned to paint pictures with words. And I learned to watch Sarah Beach.

Sarah was a dear, soft-spoken woman a decade older than me. Sarah was an encourager. A Barnabas.

Every time I stood quivering in front of that small congregation, sharing one of my newly written songs, Sarah’s was the face I sought. I could count on Sarah’s smile beaming at me from her seat, her head nodding, her gentle shoulders swaying to the beat of the music from the first note to the last.

When I feared I would faint, I sang to Sarah.

When I made epic blunders and felt like running away in tears, I sang to Sarah.

When I couldn’t remember the words to the song I’d written, I made up lyrics for Sarah.

Hers was often the only smiling, encouraging face in the room. My experience there taught me to always react when someone is putting themselves on the line, sharing something meaningful from their heart.

Encouragement via engagement is such a small thing. It doesn’t hurt to smile; it only helps. Them. You. It costs us nothing to give but may mean the world to the person receiving it. It might even change their life. It did mine.

I’d never have had the guts to pursue a public speaking ministry if it hadn’t been for Sarah. Honest encouragement at the right time can help someone more than any sermon, Bible study or self-help book.

To this day I make it a point to emulate Sarah’s smile whenever someone is sharing from their heart—whether it be preaching, singing, sharing their testimony or juggling potbellied pigs. If they are trying to honor Papa God by it, I’m right there alongside them and I make sure they know it by my body language.

Everyone can have a ministry of countenance encouragement like this. Even you. It’s such a small thing but truly has ENORMOUS impact. Won’t you consider a commitment to becoming a smile minister?

“Encourage one another and build each other up,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).