Heart of Detroit: By lifting up the needy Pastor Robert Smith lifts up the heart of Detroit


DETROIT – Pastor Robert Smith came to Detroit 30 years ago.

"As I drove towards the church a voice came to me saying a city on the hill can't be hid and it made me want to come and try too revitalize Linwood," Smith said.

Since then, as the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church, Robert Smith has spread himself all over the community.

Smith walks the streets. He helps with food, clothing and housing.

Pastor Smith often doesn't tell people he is a clergyman.

"This one guy said I never met a pastor, a man that I wanted to be my pastor or a church that I wanted to be a part of. And, I said just like I am now, why don't you meet me at that church across the street, I will be in the lobby on Sunday which I am in the lobby anyway.  He said OK. And, he came in and of course he was shocked when it came time for the sermon, I came up to do the sermon."

Pastor Smith runs multiple business and housing for the needy.

He operates an apartment building for income adjusted tenants across from the church.

"Well the blessing is that it was a tax credit project and at the time people were making good money and they were looking to lose some money," Smith said."The bad news is it runs out December 31th. So, when you ask how are we going to operate from now, I don't know." 

Smith believes some metro Detroiters can have the wrong idea about the needy.

"I think that the perception is that they put themselves there and that is where they ought to be," Smith said.

Smith does not agree.

It is not always easy, ministering to the city on the hill, as Smith calls it.

But, 30 years later Pastor Robert Smith is still at it.

"Deeds of mercy and compassion upon those who are in distress, those who are hungry and those who are in need. Doing that is what my ministry has always been about," Smith said.

By lifting up those in need around him, Pastor Robert Smith is also lifting up the hear of Detroit.