Revitalization of Hearts (from Special Detroit Edition)

The need for revitalization is a frequent topic in Detroit. Many organizations and individuals care about the future of the city and want to see economic development provide new opportunities for the citizens of Detroit. Rob Woods and Lawrence Bo Robinson Jr., both recent graduates of Wayne State University in Detroit, share this heart for the city, but they long to see spiritual revitalization as the ultimate goal in Detroit.

On the surface, Rob and Lawrence might look like typical 20-somethings. After developing a strong friendship in college, they are sharing an apartment and working in the city. Rob grew up in Detroit and as a young person was focused on getting a job with one of the Big Three auto companies. Now he works in IT at the General Motors headquarters, aptly named the Renaissance Center. Lawrence focuses on youth programs for his internship with the mayor’s office, and he has decided to pursue a Master of Social Work degree to further develop his skills. The common foundation they share is the desire to be used by God, not only to keep growing as disciples of Jesus, but to share Him with those in their spheres of influence.

Lawrence’s vision for Detroit includes being a light for Jesus, “Many young professionals are moving into neighborhoods and working to revitalize the city. I want to serve with others in the city and have an impact through my faith, giving glory and honor to Jesus Christ as He works His will through me.”

In addition to a full-time job, Rob volunteers at a juvenile detention center. He describes his motivation for helping young men, “Ever since college I have wanted to work with young men in detention. They are on a bad road with no hope, but I want to share that they can make changes and have vision for their lives.”

The common denominator in Lawrence and Rob’s college experience was a discipleship relationship with Oliver Porter, a Collegiate Navs staff member at Wayne State University. Along with learning how to study the Bible, spend time with God, practice accountability and reach out to others to share their faith, they developed a vision for how God can use them. Their time with Oliver also broadened their horizons in other ways. He was intentional about introducing them to other people engaged in Navigator ministry around Detroit, so they could connect to the broader community of Christ in the city after graduation.

During college, Rob and Lawrence modeled the value of investing in other people. Along with the Navs, both were in leadership with the Student African American Brotherhood (saab), a national organization that works to increase the number of men of color who graduate from college by creating a positive peer community. saab includes a spiritual component, so they enlisted Oliver Porter as the spiritual advisor for the Wayne State chapter, providing not just social and cultural support for students, but also developing their spiritual foundation.

With men such as Rob and Lawrence investing in Detroit and being lights for Jesus, there truly is hope for the city.

“…they long to see spiritual revitalization as the ultimate goal in Detroit.”

For more information on The Navigators City Initiative in Detroit visit

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