The song was written by Kitty Louise Suffield, circa 1924. Here is some of the history behind it, taken from the book "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan.
"One snow-blanketed night, Canadian Fred Suffield awoke to an urgent pounding on his door. A half-frozen man reported that a train had stalled in the blizzard, and the passengers were in danger of freezing to death. Lighting a lantern, Fred followed the man to the site and led the travelers back to his house. Later one of the passengers, Kittie, wrote a thank you note. Fred replied, and Kittie wrote back. Their correspondence led to courtship and to marriage.
"Some time later, Fred and Kittie attended a church in Ottawa pastored by Rev. A. J. Shea, and there they gave their lives to the Lord. As the couple grew in Christ, they entered the ministry of evangelism. One summer they invited Shea's teenage son, George Beverly, to spend a month with them in Westport, Ontario, holding evangelistic meetings. One night, accompanied by Kittie on the piano, Bev attempted to sing, but his voice cracked on the high notes, and he sat down mortified, vowing never to sing again.
"Kittie wouldn't hear of it, suggesting he sing in a lower key. He did, and he kept on singing, and singing and singing.
"Many years passed, and in June of 2000, Billy Graham came to Nashville, Tennessee, for a four-night mission. My wife and I were privileged to attend a reception for the Graham team just before the meetings began, and George Beverly Shea, 92 at the time, rose to sing. His rich baritone voice broke into a song that had been written 73 years before by Fred and Kittie: 'Little is Much When God Is in It.'
"I thought it a strange choice of hymn. We were on the verge of the greatest evangelistic effort in Nashville's history, headlined by the most famous evangelist in the world. And Bev Shea's song was about the littleness of our efforts. But later I realized how perfectly the song fit. Compared to this great mission to untold multitudes, our own individual ministries seemed small and insignificant. But God uses little things in great ways. A tiny acorn may produce a forest. A spark may ignite a revival. A small church might produce the next far-famed evangelist.
"Don't be discouraged if your place seems small. You're doing more good than you know."
I was reminded of this great hymn a week ago Sunday when it was featured on the back of our church bulletin. I thought it was very timely since that Sunday we were praying over and dedicating the shoeboxes we had collected for Operation Christmas Child, to be delivered to children around the world. I helped head up the effort at church and was amazed and so blessed as we gathered 49 boxes - more than quadruple last year's effort. Boxes were packed by children, families, individuals, grandmas, and others, all sharing of themselves to bless someone across the world, whom they will never meet. A shoebox of gifts may seem insignificant, but God has changed hearts and lives, transformed families and started churches through this outreach.
With the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Filling the back of the van.
In Sunday School that morning I taught about the boy who shared his meager meal of five barley loaves and two fish, which Jesus used to miraculously feed thousands. Do you know that although this great story is told in all four Gospels, the boy is only mentioned in the book of John? This remarkable young man had a lot of faith. He wasn't deterred by the insignifance of his gift compared to the multitudes of hungry people. He willingly offered what he had. I can only imagine the joy that filled his heart as he watched Jesus turn his little offering into something that fed and satisfied thousands and thousands of people. This young boy probably floated home and his life was likely never the same!
Last night I had the privilege of sharing at my home church, Westport Community Church. I spoke of the millions of people in Uganda and the some 2.3 million orphans in this east African country. Yet, God is not daunted by large numbers or statistics. He is in the business of saving souls, one person at a time.
I shared that, "We serve a powerful, providing God and He is seeking people whom He can pour His blessings through to a hurting and lost world. It is not so important the wealth of our personal resources but our willingness to allow God to use the little we have and multiply it beyond what we could even imagine."
"Little is Much When God Is in It"
Verse 1: In the harvest field now ripened,
There's a work for all to do,
Hark, the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.
Verse 2: Does the place you're called to labor
Seems so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it
And He'll not forget His own.
Verse 3: When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run
He will say if we are faithful,
Welcome home, My child well done.
Chorus: Little is much when God is in it,
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name.
What is in your hand? Are you willing to share it? May God bless your "little" by His power for the furthering of His kingdom.