Christian Sanderlin, 23, is a senior Criminal Justice major at CMU. A Colorado native from Buena Vista, Christian transferred to CMU the fall of 2011 after two years at Colorado Mountain College and got plugged in to Master Plan pretty quickly.
“The first TNL [Tuesday Night Live, which is Master Plan’s weekly meeting] that I attended was the second or third week of school,” Christian said. “The week before, I met Kyle Kostreva at the annual Meat the Freshmen dinner that different clubs put on at the beginning of every fall semester. I also was able to meet several other students that were a part of TNL at the Master Plan info table the same week I met Kyle. All of the people I met that week invited me to attend the next TNL , and so I did and have been going ever since.”
Christian has not only been going, but also has jumped in wholeheartedly. He plays violin and occasionally mandolin on the music team, helps to plan events throughout the semester and teaches at TNL and bi-semester retreats. Master Plan has become an integral part in growing his relationship with God.
“Having a community of brothers and sisters in Christ that I can go to for encouragement and that speak Biblical truth into my life has been one of the most amazing things that God has blessed me with. God has used the people in TNL to challenge and grow my perspective of Him in many ways.”
And coming from a background where he struggled with thinking he was not good enough, one of these ways was Christian’s view on God’s grace.
“In high school and the early years of college, I struggled a lot with the lies that told me I was too dirty for God, that God couldn’t use me. In my second to last semester at Mesa, God really showed me through friends and mentors that his grace was bigger than anything I had ever done in the past. Even though there are sometimes consequences for my actions, God has completely forgiven (Romans 8:1).”
Yet Christian knows that these struggles are what have made him stronger and more equipped to follow Christ in the future. He says, “Coming to college gave me a whole new perspective of just how needy everyone is (Christian and non-Christian alike). It’s one of the most crucial and amazing things God has taught me. God used mentors and friends from TNL to help me with realizing that need and helping me grow in my ability to share my faith with a world that so desperately needs Him. Getting a better perspective of God’s grace toward me has only made me want to follow Him even more now.”
After two-and-a-half years at Master Plan, Christian is confident that God used the ministry to change his life for the better and teach him lessons that he will be able to use for the rest of his life. Through the help of his mentor and friends, he has been able to build a solid, Christ-like foundation and lasting friendships.
“Having a Christian Community that you are involved with, especially in college, is paramount. If you don’t have a group of followers of Christ that you can go to, and that can keep you accountable and encourage you in your walk with God, it is extremely easy to live a lukewarm life for God, or even walk away from Him.”
And through all of the ups and downs, Christian knows that “God is worth it. The Christian life is extremely difficult and full of challenges, but God will never leave your side, and He will NEVER give up on you and He always loves you (Romans 8:38-39).”
Emily Cosson, a senior Criminal Justice major from Cotopaxi, Colo, has a very unique story of how God got ahold of her life. Her first year at CMU, then Mesa State College, Emily “was definitely not interested in getting involved with another group of Christians. I had been hurt pretty badly and was running as fast as I could from God,” she said. “I was given the contact info [for Master Plan] on a slip of paper, and when I got home, I threw it out without even looking at it.”
But God had a different plan. Emily says, “The first week of school, I was sitting in the campus library doing homework in the computer lab. My cheap little phone buzzed with a text message that said ‘Please call!!’ I had text messaging disabled and it wasn’t a part of my plan, plus no one had my number outside of my parents, so I was really puzzled. I brushed it off as a wrong number and kept up my work. About 5 minutes later, my phone buzzed again. The message this time read, ‘PLEASE CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ I decided to call the unfamiliar number and let them know they had the wrong person. When the girl on the other end answered, I bumbled out something about getting a text message and not supposed to be getting them because I was broke and in college. The girl said “Oh you’re in college? You need to talk to my mom.” She handed the phone over to her mom. The woman who came on the phone was one of the staff leaders of Master Plan (the very one whose contact information I had been given).”
Mitch Kostreva, the lady on the phone, convinced Emily to try one meeting. Emily was skeptical, but she went.
“When I went, I was really surprised by how genuine everyone was and something kept me going back. The more I saw, I realized these people not only proclaimed God, but they lived out their faith. It was real to them. God used this to start pulling me back into a relationship with Him.”
It’s been five years since that day, and Emily is now fully involved as part of the leadership team, a Bible study leader and a discipler to younger students. She’s shared her testimony, given talks and sang on the music team, but most importantly, her perspective on God has done a 180.
“Watching the people involved [with Master Plan] taught me that God is not like most of His followers. It caught my attention, and I wanted to understand what made them different. I’ve learned God is not this strict, distant dude just sitting around waiting for me to put a toe out of line and smack me upside the head. I’ve realized that God is an incredible being who loves greatly and is very easily accessible for anyone who wants to have that relationship with Him, and that relationship is life changing. They taught me about grace, which God is still working on me accepting for myself.
“I have a better understanding of the Bible that is getting better every day. I’ve learned that our purpose, my purpose, is to love God and love others. I’ve realized that my relationship with God is the absolute most important thing in my life and needs to be priority number one.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that no matter how terrible things get, while I may not understand, God will never abandon me. I’ve been through some truly horrible times the past couple of years and it is only by the grace of God that I am still alive today. He has blessed me immensely with an incredible community of believers who serve him and pour love out onto others, myself included.”
However, Emily understands that Master Plan is not the answer to everything. Instead, it’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that will get people through the hard time and keep them going strong in the good times.
“[Master Plan] is not going to solve all your problems or replace church, nor should you expect it too. God uses the people and uses Master Plan to provide an environment to meet Him, to learn about Him and to build life-long relationships with some incredible people. That’s what life is all about. It’s not about money or grades or whatever degree you’re going to have. It’s about people and about God, because that is all that is going to last forever. Where the rubber meets the road is when the tough times hit, and there are God-loving people there to help you through it. It’s being able to invest in people and allow others to invest in me that has made the biggest difference in my life.”
Thanks to God grabbing Emily and pulling her back to Him, she’s ready for whatever lies ahead.
“I view people, God and the world through different eyes, and I have been given a newfound strength to be able to face whatever comes my way. I don’t know what the future holds after graduation right at this moment, but I know Who holds my future, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. I’m ready to dig in and change the world.”
Chelsea Larson, 20, is a junior at CMU majoring in counseling-pschology. She first heard about Master Plan from her roommate her freshman year and decided to check it out.
“I came to the first meeting and continued that every week,” she said.
After that, Chelsea began to become even more involved, attending retreats, helping plan events and eventually even mentoring other students. She says that Master Plan has been a major impact for many areas of her life.
She says the biggest affect Master Plan has had in her life has been “just seeing a group of young adults come together to worship and grow closer to God, encouraging each other along the way. [I’ve learned] that having people who encourage you in your faith is really important because they give you support.”
However, through attending Master Plan, God has taught Chelsea a lot about reaching out to non-believers as well.
“It’s challenged me to be bold in my faith, especially with non-believers. I think [Master Plan] will impact the way I see others who are without Christ. Instead of getting frustrated or impatient with them, showing them the compassion and kindness Christ has shown to me is what will draw them closer to Him. I know now that I have to reflect Christ in the way I live my life so others can know Him to and be changed like I have been changed. [I want people to know] that no matter where you have been, you are worthy of Christ’s love because He will not condemn those who put their faith in Him. You were made to know Him personally and eternally, and nothing can change that ever.”
Video Posted on Updated on
This is a question asked by one of our staff members. She went around during one Master Plan retreat with a video camera and filmed students’ replies. As this blog starts out, this video really shows the purpose behind this blog. We want to see students impacted, and we want you, the viewer, to see how that happens.
It’s not about Master Plan Ministries. It’s about God and how He has used MPM to effect a change in students, former and current.