Melwin James recounts the story of a dream and how God, working through the seemingly innocuous dream, took him on a journey across the state of Tamil Nadu.

Travelling to spread ‘His Joy’ – is indeed a blessing. And yes, I travelled over 5000 kilometres across the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, precisely to spread this joy. But, the greater blessing was to recognise how my good Lord took notice of a “stupid” dream and demanded it of me.

It was during the preparation for the “Tamil Nadu Campus Meet 2018” that we had the arduous task of reaching out to colleges/universities across Tamil Nadu to mobilize for the three day program #KalluriKondattam at Salem from 21-23 September. A regional campus meet was happening after 6 years, and we were running short of time and resources.

In a span of three weeks or so, we made it a point to personally meet the management (and students) of all the 50+ colleges that we had identified. Spread across the state, and having coming across the name of some of these colleges for the very first time, we had to personally meet the management of each college and invite them for the gathering. I might have travelled around 5000 kilometres. Along with several travel partners, I covered a vast array of places including Chennai, Pondicherry,Vellore, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Kotagiri, Trichy, Tanjore, Madurai, Theni, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, and Nagarcoil (the list is non-exhaustive), which kind of covers the entire length and breadth of Tamil Nadu.

Yet, we did not miss Holy Mass even on a single day. We continually recited rosaries during travel. We freshened up in public washrooms, slept in buses and went to colleges armed just with a recommendation letter and some posters. Somehow at my college IIT Madras also, everything got arranged accordingly to facilitate my travel plans. We took our rosaries and prayed along with Mother Mary as we approached colleges, definitely in recognition of our weakness and inability to convince colleges, and acknowledging that it would be the work of the Lord.

What motivated us to travel with such an earnest desire was the grace of God. Earlier at several times and in several gatherings, I had heard that “to do mission in Tamil Nadu, and to build ministry – means to travel”. However, never before had I experienced the want or desire to do the same. Instead, I was happy with the little responsibilities I was given at my Regional Campus Team. Moreover, I had always felt that travelling was not my cup of tea.

I had several inhibitions – my academic pressures, fear of travel, a complete lack of understanding of ministry in Tamil Nadu as well as my general “awkwardness” in dealing with people. But, even through all this, I felt the beautiful love of the Lord, His grace, and a desire to “seek His kingdom and righteousness” before anything. Travelling across Tamil Nadu gave me a first-hand sense of the ministry and its possibilities in Tamil Nadu. It was a time when we really felt the presence of the Lord.

One fine morning, I remember being stranded at Madurai in front of the Cathedral Church, not knowing where to go as none my plans for the day was working out. After making a few failed phone calls, I complained in front of the cathedral, “why did you bring me here?”. I entered the church and looking at the altar, my pain melted away. On the altar was the image of Mother Mary holding the motionless body of the Lord taken down from the cross. I was guilt ridden – whom am I complaining to? And what am I complaining about? For all the pain He had borne on the cross, what merits have I to complain that he doesn’t care? That day turned out in the end to be a beautiful day.

Another day – three of us were travelling along the coast of Nagarcoil, walking from parish to parish with brochures in hand. It was around 2 pm, and we had not had any lunch. Tired, sweating and hungry, we decided to rest for a while in a church. The main junction was another 30 minute walk away. Coming out of the church, we see a lady in her 60’s approaching us and with so much love told us, “you look so tired and weak! You should definitely have food from my house.” Though we politely refused, that smile and that love out of nowhere gave us the much needed energy.

In the end it was definitely a dream come true. But the dream was not to travel. Travelling was His providence. In fact, He was demanding something – which I had surrendered to my good Lord, when I had told him to “make me work for You”. Rewind back to our regional campus team meeting of early 2017. In the “most-wildest-dream-for-TamilNadu” dream sharing, along with the other “stupid” dreams of others I shared that my dream for Tamil Nadu was to reach out to colleges in every part of the state! An all Tamil Nadu Campus Meet was not even a point of discussion then.

On the last day of the Campus Meet, looking at the 300+ flock He had gathered, I was thinking of the grace I had received. For a person who was scared of travelling alone or going to new places (with little knowledge of my ministry), I realised he had taken away that fear from me. But more than that, he had given me the courage to pursue a “reach out dream” that I had promised so innocently (with no regards for practicality) to my good Lord, and dreamt along with Him more than a year ago.

I realised that He demanded my dream of me. He took note of a silly dream and a year on, made me an instrument in realising that same dream! And these journeys and the sweet experiences that came along, was my own promise to the Lord! He remembered my promise, my dream and when the time was ripe, He called me to deliver that very same dream, for His glory.

Further, He replaced that dream with a beautiful pain – a pain for my mission land, whose possibilities He held my hand and showed along, that keeps my spirit to spread the joy of the Lord, awake and ablaze. He was slowly building a missionary in me. Travelling and reaching out is the first step in building His kingdom. A lot more awaits to be done, in following up these possibilities and in building them up.

So my Lord taught me that our dreams are precious. Not only for its innocence and spirit, but also because He lovingly writes them down and demands it of us. In seeking His Kingdom, we become rich. And in surrendering our little inhibitions, He moulds us into beautiful instruments.