Summer Snapshot: Taste, See, and Obey

InterVarsityDigitalSpacesRiskAngelo connected with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN) through the Urbana15 pilot ESN Scholars Program, which connected emerging scholars with mentors and peers in small groups before, after, and during the Urbana Student Missions Conference. He also served on the Urbana 15 liveblogging team, and you can read some of his previous work for ESN here. As Angelo considered graduate school and joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, this Summer Snapchat [1] offered a reflection on God’s work. If you would like to support Angelo’s work with InterVarsity click here, or if you would like to hear more about it or get in touch with him, please email ESN at this link with Angelo’s name in the subject line.

This summer, everything is new. My plans have been pushed aside in favor of God’s, and He is constantly telling me that I know what’s best, and I will provide.

I’ve just finished my undergrad degree in molecular biology and Asian American studies. I’m still torn between what to pursue for graduate school. On the one hand, I love my research in biology and being in the lab because it’s thrilling to ask and answer questions that no one knows. But on the other hand, I sense a deep need for Christians that understand issues of race, and what I would learn in a theology program doing research on race is more than exciting, but convicting. Either way, this summer I’m in pause as I discern which direction to take.

My plan was to work in a research lab for the summer, decide in the fall, and apply for a program in December. God’s graciously provided for me a research assistant position near my family, and I moved back home to be with my siblings before applying for graduate school. I still work part of the week in the lab in a familiar setting: at my desk, working with DNA sequence data, and reading papers.

However the past seven months God’s also put in my heart a deep call to obey and put aside my plans. Starting at Urbana15, He asked me to consider joining InterVarsity staff. Over that week, I felt the weight of God’s love for the world – that His heart breaks for all people everywhere, and that He is calling us to enter and join His plans for them. I also felt the affirming power of the church affirming that it is concerned about issues I care about (see my post on Missions and Colonialism here). So over the past few months I’ve started working with InterVarsity as a part of Ministry in Digital Spaces. My project this summer is to equip gamer small groups on campus to best include gaming as a part of their ministry. This is something I’ve already been doing: the gaming friends I met online 7 years ago are both some of my best friends and people I want to know Jesus as I have, and games have been critical for our online interactions.

As I realize that the God and the church I serve care about what’s in my heart, Staff really isn’t a radical move away from my hopes for graduate school. Rather it’s the opposite. As I tie the academic work I want to do with the needs of the church, God’s showing me that ministering to college students in new and digital spaces is the beginning. It’s a foretaste of what’s in my future: navigating insecurities about my capacity and calling, working with students and other staff as an “expert,” and growing my heart for what lies in God’s heart. I’ll even get to draw from academic research as I form an understanding how to think about digital spaces. Now is the perfect time for this: as I’m in the middle of transitions and as the ministry can best use my skill sets, God has placed me exactly where I can best serve and grow. This summer as I learn to partner with others – asking for financial support and prayer but giving a unique invitation into this window of God’s plans for me, I have been reminding myself of the feeling I got at Urbana15. By calling me on staff, God’s actually put me in a place to develop a strong spiritual foundation and sense of belonging.

So this summer, I’m balancing a lot of things God’s put on my plate. I’m adjusting to living at home with my family again after four years of independence and being out of state (Illinois for undergrad, but California is my home). I’m adjusting to balancing two “jobs,” one as a researcher and one as InterVarsity staff, along with understanding that my current calling is both. Within these two hats, I’m also learning to manage my relationships, both the new ones (new church, lab mates, other staff) and the old ones (what does it look like to catch up and stay in touch with friends and family?). As I spend the summer traveling, raising my ministry budget, and remaining committed to the lab, God’s telling me constantly not to worry. That I will provide for you the best. 

Prayer request: to learn and adjust well to where I am: at home, in the lab, and on staff. Pray that God will provide and that I would know it, especially as I work in two different spaces. Please also pray for the future – that God’s next steps for me would be clear and that I would obey.

[1][1] In 2016, ESN shared “snapshots” from members of our network, brief reflections on one way the author was making the most of summer or learning something from God in this season. That could be a mode of rest/recreation, a way someone was growing in research, a new conference or collaboration opportunity, a challenge someone was growing through, a new event to celebrate, a way God was working in someone’s family, or something else. History graduate student Josh Shiver kicked off the series, which included The Discipline of Simplicity (Elsie Lee), Finding God When It’s Tough (Anonymous), Plan Long and Prosper (Tamarie Macon), and more. In 2018 we’d love to once again hear from the members of our network. If you have interest, please drop us a line. Thank-you. ~ Tom Grosh IV, Assoc. Dir., Emerging Scholars Network

Image courtesy of InterVarsity Digital Spaces,

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Angelo Blancaflor

Angelo is a 2016 graduate of the University of Illinois, where he focused on Molecular Biology and Asian American Studies. He’s interested in intersecting several fields: bioinformatics, microbiology, minority studies, digital humanities, and the role of faith as an academic. He has recently joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a Digital Spaces staff member.

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One Comment

  • janehall@INTERVARSITY.ORG'
    jane hall commented on July 23, 2016 Reply

    I thank God for your llistening heart and mind. I will pray that he provides tnd ministry partners that you need so that you can fulfill His calling.

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