One Beet At A Time

Tuesday, October 24, 2023
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Listen while you read: "Thy Way Not Mine O Lord"1 (Lyrics)

Ephesians 4:16 – He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT)

The Gleaners plant near Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, is the home of a highly efficient non-profit operation. Surplus and unsaleable produce and shipments of lentils, peas, or barley are combined in dehydrated form to produce a nourishing soup mix to feed hungry people in the world. The Gleaners are on track to reach their goal of producing fifteen million servings of soup this year.

Transforming produce into soup mix is a complex undertaking, but every member of the production team works together to make it a success. A manager oversees the whole operation and is the liaison between the Gleaners plant and farmers or other suppliers. He receives donations of produce and keeps in touch with the workers, informing them of what is ready to be worked on that week. A pool of local volunteers comes in on a regular basis to cut into chunks whatever has been received. Sometimes during the summer, whole families volunteer together, camping in tents or recreational vehicles right on the site.

The vegetable chunks are fed through a dicer and spread out on metal trays, which are stacked on trolleys about ten high to be dehydrated overnight. The next morning, a team arrives early to scrape the dried pieces off the trays, so that the trays can be used again that day. Each vegetable is collected in a separate barrel to be combined and bagged at convenient times during the year. Sounds efficient, doesn't it!

As first-time volunteers a few years ago, my husband and I joined the people gathering around tables already supplied with cutting boards and piles of vegetables. After selecting a sharp knife, we watched and learned how to deal with each type. Soon, we were in the swing of things, filling our buckets, to be picked up by someone going to the dicer. Conversations with others didn't slow our rhythm at all.

Once in a while, we would look around to stretch our necks and backs. An obviously mentally challenged man followed his worker who had just walked in. The worker took his place at the cutting table, but his charge just stood there, rocking back and forth, making sounds. But he was actually doing something. Positioned by the pile of beets, he handed them to his worker, one beet at a time. That's all he was capable of doing, but we could tell that he was happy in his work. He would rock faster and make louder sounds.

This observation made a deep impact on me. I realized that the process of serving was just as valuable as the end result. Everyone on the production team was important, even the mentally challenged man, who was doing his "own special work" of handing over beets, one at a time. Let's not look down on others or on ourselves for doing what some might consider to be lowly jobs in serving as members of the body of Christ.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that each of us has a special place in the body of Christ, each doing an important and necessary job. Help us to appreciate the members doing the so-called lowliest tasks for their contribution. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Alice Burnett <>
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Alice.

    Love this story….and the message behind it. Thank you for sharing.

    Great truth from beginning to the end. Thanks for using your gift of writing.

    Thank you, Alice. My sister has three adult girls with handicaps and they, too, are capable of much more than people expect.

    Thank you for the reminder, using beets, and vegetables, to affirm that we are all made for a specific purpose. Keep writing!

    Thank you for your work with Gleaners. I had never heard of it & pray it may catch on in other provinces. Do you know what the final packing is called? Have a great day. Blessings.
    (Nova Scotia)

    You and Terry are indeed the Lord’s servants. This story is heartwarming and a definite reminder that every little thing we do in the Lord’s name is a blessing.

    Thanks, Alice, for another one of your very meaningful and interesting devotionals. We truly are made very individual by our maker and each have abilities to offer to others in helpful ways. Blessings for these very special writings you prepare.

    Good morning, Alice!
    Thank you for sharing this lovely devotional today. I can actually see the friendly faces of each individual sitting and working together for the same outcome. Wonderful!

    Good morning, Alice,
    Such a good heartwarming story, and I learned something new, I did not know such a place existed.
    Thank you for writing.

    Hi Alice,
    I really enjoyed learning a little bit more about Gleaners. I appreciate the point of your devotional that we all have a place in God’s plan for his world.
    Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

    Thank you for sharing about the Gleaners Plant in Vernon, British Columbia. They surely do a great job in preparing soup for so many. It is also good to read about doing the small jobs that make a difference. It reminded me of Psalm 118:24 of rejoicing in the day the Lord has made.

    Good morning…
    Thank you for this interesting devotion. It is so true every thing we do for Jesus is His plan. You cannot get any lower than our feet and look at how important their task is no matter how heavy the load!!!!
    God bless.

    Dear Alice, thank you for your devotional. It goes with today’s gospel reading Luke 12, 35-38. Be ready and be of service.
    It is not always easy to say yes or say no but I realize now that I need to ask the Lord: “what do YOU want me to do?”
    Blessings on you and your loved ones.

    Thank you, Alice. That is a great devotional, both in highlighting the man’s abilities to be given a chance to work as part of a team, and in showing the complete teamwork, some being needed for each stage of the operation, to create that efficiency of production and using all produce that would otherwise lose its opportunity to be used as God created it.

    Hi Alice,
    I have read other contributions of yours as well as many other PresbyCan daily devotionals. I value them greatly. This one spoke to me loudly as my fellow Elders and I have begun to take on many new tasks after an unfortunate church split in our congregation. I am reminded by you that everyone has a role to play in Christ’s church because we all make up one body, the body of Christ. For example, I have been commissioned by our denomination (Presbyterian) to conduct monthly Communion until we have a new Pastor. Also we are asking people to help in other roles they are not familiar with or accustomed to. Your story of the developmentally handicapped man helping his supporter inspired me to trust God even more as we delegate and recruit people to take on new tasks. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

    Thanks, Alice.
    Wonderful message.

    Thank you for this poignant reminder of no job nor any person being too lowly for serving God.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us today. To God be the glory! Blessings.

    Thanks, Alice
    The Gleaners do amazing work.
    I believe that God does not expect anything more from us than that which he has given us the skills and talent to accomplish BUT God always expects us to use the gifts we have in order to serve Him … no more, but no less.


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