"The hardest thing is, when I [tell friends] about Jesus, some of them will drop me and say, 'You're not down with us anymore,' " he said. "But that's what God made us for. . . . We did not be a Christian to not experience anything. God wanted us to experience everything to make us stronger in the Word."
Adults can be just as hard on him.
"A lot of grown-ups will look at me like I'm just a joke and I need to sit down," he said, sounding unperturbed. "But what they need to realize: It's not just me just getting up for fame and everything. It's for me to minister the Gospel. That's what God inspired me to do."
For Ezekiel, home is a large, gracious house with columns outside and a white picket fence. After the family's house was foreclosed on last year, Smith said, she and her husband moved with her four youngest children — she has six others — into the house in Temple Hills. She said "a good friend of ours allowed us to stay" there.
Smith works as a grant writer, among other pursuits. While homeless and living at the House of Ruth shelter years ago, she went to the University of the District of Columbia. Today, she home-schools Ezekiel and the three other children because she thinks they weren't learning enough in public school.
She runs a tight ship. Sitting at the kitchen table one morning, the children wore a uniform of khaki pants and white shirts. After doing their schoolwork, they rehearse music routines several days a week and in front of a mirror Thursday nights. Ezekiel, on his own initiative, studies the Bible for 13 or 14 hours a week.