PO BOX 12492 Toledo, OH 43606 info@radicalloveinc.org 517.442.9809

Ten Day Countdown: Mazatlan

We are headed to Mazatlan in ten days. Over the past five years, RLI has taken nearly a dozen trips to build into the work God is doing there. Mazatlan is a youthful, vibrant city known by many for its boardwalks, beaches, and tourism. Many US and Canadian citizens retire in Mazatlan, and it’s a major vacation destination. The city is clearly demarcated by a tourist district (Zona Dorado), and the remainder of the city is unknown to most tourists and visitors. Nearly half a million people reside in this remainder zone, and these are the people we serve.

Focus. Surrounding the central part of Mazatlan are dozens of smaller neighborhoods (colonias). Colonias are a settlements that typically lack basic human needs (i.e. running water, electricity, sanitation). Colonias range from a handful of homes to hundreds. In these neighborhoods, people don’t own the land their homes are on. It can take years before the local government extends water and electric lines to these neighborhoods. These are the communities we work with. Those that have been marginalized and forgotten. Those who have few resources and opportunities, but still strive to make a livelihood for their family.

Purpose. For the past five years, we’ve taken teams to Mazatlan for week-long trips to help these communities with our friends at La Vina. These trips have exposed many to the reality of global poverty, and given them a glimpse into the daily lives of the poor. Our upcoming trip is different. Our goal is to identify the top needs of the people in the communities we serve, and to develop programs to address those needs. Some needs we have identified in the past are education, health, food access, and literacy. However, there could be important needs we have missed and we want community input and support.

You help people by empowering them. Lending a hand to get them back on their feet and on their way. True charity equips and empowers people to be successful without you there.

This transition in our focus from being a “missions trip” organization to a “community empowerment” organization is exciting to us. Through the years, the things that have made us come alive are all related to empowering people. Teaching people English, sharing meals, encouraging community leaders, running kids programs, etc. All centered on equipping, training, and helping people.

Your Part. The work we do is completely funded by people like you. We are looking for a team of monthly supporters to join us. Our goal is to have 50 people sign-up as monthly supporters to partner and share in the work we do. There are two ways you can be a monthly supporter. (1) Join our coffee club. Subscribe and we’ll send you coffee each month. (2) Donate. All donations are tax-exempt and are used to pursue our mission statement.

Contact us for more information.
Email: justin@radicalloveinc.org
Mail: PO BOX 12492 Toledo, OH 43606

Food: Our Most Beloved Pastime 

Food. It’s a remarkable creation. Seeds that germinate in the dark of soil and sprout through ground towards the sun. Stalks growing tall, producing colorful flowers, and developing into the edible foods that we consume. Humans have found creative ways to mix our foods to form unique dishes, flavors, and culinary experiences. Many of the cultural traditions we appreciate as people are centered around food. We take pictures and post about the good (and bad) foods we consume daily.

Food is a necessity to sustain life, but it is also a joyful part of life. Cooking with friends and family. Making sugar cookies at Christmas. Roasting pumpkin seeds and hot apple cider in Autumn. Ceviche and steak tacos on the coast of Mazatlan. Coffee and chocolate in the mountains of Chiapas. Food was designed to be enjoyed. Consuming and sharing food is part of the human experience. We domesticated plants (and animals) in our history for complex flavors and tastes. We plant, prune, harvest, store, cook, sell, buy, and share food.

Yet billions of people don’t have enough food, and millions of other people have a bit too much. People in the United States throw away roughly half the food we purchase. Half. That’s an absurd amount of food. That means we could cut our food budget in half each year. And if you’re like me your first through is, “Well, I know I don’t waste half my food. I’m not one of those irresponsible, uppity people that over-consumes.” Yet, if I really think about all those fruits and veggies in my fridge that begin to wilt, the leftovers that don’t really look appetizing reheated, the hundreds of to-go boxes I’ve left on the restaurant table, etc. We waste because we can and because food is everywhere. Our value on food is a different than people in other parts of the world, or for the food-insecure families in our neighborhoods.

We live in a world where under-nutrition (malnourishment) and over-nutrition (overeating) are major health issues. It’s a paradox, right? Parts of our world deal with people who get sick by eating too much, and other parts deal with people who get sick by eating too little. The agricultural industry produces enough food for everyone on the planet to meet their daily nutritional requirements. However, that doesn’t happen. We know that doesn’t happen because we see the commercials with the kids that need help. And that single parent who works hard but can’t afford the expensive, nutritious foods for their kids. Or that guy who was never taught how to cook so he only buys frozen meals. Or the migrant family that can’t get the traditional herbs, spices, and vegetables to make the cultural meals they are accustomed to.

These are issues of food access. Barriers to local, healthy, nutritious, economical, culturally-relevant foods. Barriers in knowledge on how to prepare meals. Barriers on how to consume a balanced diet. Barriers in how to purchase and store foods to reduce waste. Barriers in getting to the grocery store. Millions of people in the U.S. live in food deserts (regions where majority residents live greater than 1 mile from a grocery store). And the numbers are worse in the developing world. These barriers act like walls preventing people from enjoying food the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.

Our hope and mission is to increase food access for individuals. That’s access to consume, produce, purchase, prepare, and enjoy food. We believe food is a basic human right. And food is one of the best preventative medicines for at-risk communities. An important strategy we are taking to increase food access is to build gardens. Community gardens have been shown to reduce the prevalence of food deserts in U.S. cities. Gardens provide local, fresh, and healthy food options for communities. Many gardens incorporate fruits, veggies, herbs, and animals to meet all nutritional requirements of communities. It’s a first step on the path toward a sustainable, independent future for many at-risk communities. And it’s a main focus of ours over the next five years to address food access in the places where we operate.

So. Enjoy your meals today.

Try to throw away a little less food today. Eat a few more fruits and veggies. And join us in securing food access for all. If you think this is a cool idea, you can donate towards is here.

P.S. We will be taking a team to build gardens in western Mexico to implement this strategy. You are welcome to join us! Contact us: info@radicalloveinc.org

Drink Coffee: Change The World

Coffee. That black nectar we enjoy each morning, and the fuel we use to stay up late into the night. Coffee is the second most globally exported good (behind only petroleum). It’s the top export for many nations in the Global South including: Madagascar, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Nations across the Americas, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Mediterranean cultivate our beloved coffees. The production of coffee provides a livelihood for over 25 million farmers across the globe. However, the majority of coffee workers do not earn a livable wage for the work they do planting, pruning, harvesting, peeling, drying, and roasting the coffee beans.

If coffee is so globally exported and consumed, why do farmers earn so little income? A long supply chain and uncertainty in the global market forces farmers to sell their crop at low prices. Many farmers earn pennies per pound of coffee produced. We go to a coffee shop in the U.S. and spend $2 for a cup of coffee, while the farmer is lucky to earn a few cents for that cup. There’s a definite disparity in the coffee system, and a disconnect between farmers and consumers. But direct-tade and fair-trade programs are helping increase farmers income. These programs can also aid in community development projects to improve living conditions for coffee workers and their families.

Where we enter the story. So why is a missions organization getting involved with coffee? All of our outreach and programming occurs in countries that produce large quantities of coffee. A unique strategy for us to improve livelihoods in these nations is to empower and partner with coffee farmers. By helping farmers earn higher wages and by improving community resources, we can make long-term differences in these regions. In particular, the southern Mexican state of Chiapas is referred to as the organic coffee capital of the world. I spent a summer working on a coffee farm in these region and fell in love with the people. Ever since, I’ve been roasting and selling coffees from this region to fund our Mexico outreaches.

There are a bunch of reasons why people get involved with coffee. Some get involved to make money, others to open their own shop and serve their customers. The reasons we decided to get involved with coffee are to:

  1. Provide benefits to the farmers in the nations we serve. Coffee opens an avenue for us to empower people in the nations we serve. It gives us the opportunity to share their story, and to come alongside them.
  2. Offer a fun way for our supporters to get involved in our ministry. People want to get involved and volunteer with nonprofits, but don’t always have the time or accessibility. Coffee gives our our supporters a practical (and tasty) way to get involved! Roasting coffee is also a fun hobby we’ve developed over the past few years, perfecting the roasting technique to make wonderful blends. We want you to enjoy our coffees too!
  3. Invest in the regional economy of our mission field. We want all our outreaches in the nations we serve to be long-term. By getting involved with coffee, we show our support of the sustainable and equity of the local economy. We show people that we are here for the long haul, and are invested in their livelihoods.

We are introducing a monthly coffee club to allow our supporters to get more involved in our ministry. When you join the club, we’ll send coffee to your home each month! You select how much coffee you want, and which variety. We roast and send the coffee to you the first week of each month. It’s our way to help you enjoy those early mornings and late nights with a tasty cup of coffee. And you get to show your support of Radical Love Inc. Fill out the form below to get started!

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Donation Total: $14

4 Reasons to Do Missions In 2017

We’ve taken people on trips outside the U.S. for the past 5 years. People from a diversity of backgrounds and career paths, who spend a few weeks together serving impoverished communities across Central America. Most people who go on our trips have never done missions, and many are leaving the country for the first time. We  expose them to new cultures, new experiences, and a new way of living. By the end of the trip I can see a difference in people – they see and think differently.

I make everyone fill out a survey before they leave for a trip. Everyone explains why they want to do missions, and what they think the trip will be like. I get a lot of people telling me how they want to help people living in poverty or experience what it’s like to be a missionary. Those are great things, but I think there are more subtle ways that missions changes people. If you’re thinking of going on a trip anytime in the future, here are four things that will happen to you.

1. Missions makes you a better global citizen. Every time I leave the U.S. I learn a little more about how the world works. Missions opens your eyes to how people live – to what everyday life looks like in a new culture. We spend so much time focused on our first world problems: getting more likes, shares, pokes, pokemon, etc. We barely think about problems other people face. Like getting clean water, uniforms for school, access to healthy foods, transportation to the hospital. Missions causes you to see how most of the world functions on a daily basis. And the good part is that missions helps you conceptualize ways to empower people when you’re back home.

2. Missions makes you uncomfortable. The first thing you notice once you get off the runway is that things are different. New language, unique foods, different social norms. You can’t flush toilet paper. Water from the tap is NOT something you should drink. It takes people a few days to adjust to everything. And that’s good. We tend to grow the most when we are placed in unfamiliar, slightly uncomfortable situations. Like when I moved to Toledo for college. I knew absolutely nobody that went to the University of Toledo. I was forced to make friends, and say “hi” to people. It was awkward but I now have a community in this city because of that.

3. Missions forces you to be dependent. Everything about modern life is based on independence. We love having the freedom to do whatever we want, when we want, without having to get permission or having to think about other people’s opinions. But that’s not how God works. He desires for us to be dependent. It’s how we were designed. We waste too much time trying to do everything on our own. A week on a missions trip reminds you that you are not in control of everything. And that’s OK! It helps you go to God with things. It helps you lean on the people on your team for support.

4. Missions provides a space to dream. My favorite part of any missions trip is hearing people share their stories. We meet up every night to debrief about the day, share our highs/lows, and pray about the next day’s projects. And people share stories of how the day impacted them. Some stories are fun, or sad, or deep, or incomplete. There’s something about missions that causes people to look deeply at their life, passions, plans, careers, relationship, etc. The best part is when we get home and people are still processing, still wrestling, still trying to figure things out. That’s when people make life-altering decisions – make a radical change in the lives that impacts them forever.

And there are so many other things. Little adventures we go on each day. Trips to rural communities to let them know we love them. Running into people at the airport that want to know why we do missions – and talking for hours about religion, international development, food security, futbol, etc. We hope you go somewhere next year! We hope you take a risk (a leap) and engage the world around you. It will change you in so many different ways.

Want to go? Sign Up. 

Want to support? Give Here.

We Love Summer

Toledo’s been feeling like Mazatlan. The temps in the 90s, and the sun is brutal. You have to put on sunscreen every time you walk out the door, and you need to bring gallons of water to keep cool and hydrated. But we love it. It reminds us so much of Mazatlan. Last week we went to Sam’s Club and I actually thought I was in Mazatlan. (In case you don’t know, we go to Sam’s Club multiple times a day on our missions trips to purchase food, groceries, and supplies for our outreaches). I wanted to start speaking Spanish to the greeter guy.

But our summer started in Mexico. We took a team to serve our friends at La Vina church – an amazing church on the Pacific coast of Mexico. That church lives out what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Literally. They continuously feed the hungry, clothe the naked, serve the least, and preach the gospel through their actions. They are a light on a hill. And we love serving alongside them. They encourage (and convict) us to be on mission while we’re back home in Toledo.

We have some cool updates

  • Employee. We hired our first employee this summer! Our amazing support team (that’s you) made it possible. We’ve been praying for a while that we’d get the funds to hire someone for a few hours a week, and we finally made it happen. Thanks for all your giving, prayers, and words of encouragement.
  • Next Trip. Our next trip will be March 5-12, 2017. Mark it down. We’ll send you guys more information as it gets closer, but we wanted you to be the first to know.
  • Church Trips. We’re working with a few churches to help coordinate, plan, and run their missions trips! It can be a lot of work to plan out all the details in a missions trip, so we’re coming alongside churches with our resources to help. If your church is looking to do international missions, come talk to us! We’d love to help.
  • Coffee. We branched out and started roasting/selling coffee from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. We’re working on growing our brand to eventually sell at small stores, and coffee shop! Everything we sell is fairtrade/organic. All sales directly support Radical Love Inc. Spread the word.
We hope you enjoy your summer. Really. Enjoy the last few weeks before the school year starts back up. Go visit a park, pack a picnic, catch some Pokemon, and enjoy the sun.