This ad will not display on your printed page.
Fourth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh began ministering to street people several years ago, and now the homeless make up 8 percent of its congregation. Pastor James Stobaugh describes the lives of these street people and how the congregation has reached out to them.
Between the blue, acrid haze of Pall Malls and the shiny, stainless-steel coffee pots sit the fallen angels of East Pittsburgh. Street people languish in the dawn of an inner-city diner, mercifully permitted by the management to stay.
A country breakfast or the deluxe waffle belongs to the clean-shaven postman, but not to the street person. He waits for his 10 A.M. mushroom soup at the soup kitchen. It is 5 A.M., so street people wait.
Waiting is a way of life for a street person. If he is fortunate enough to have an address, he waits for a welfare check. At busy emergency rooms he waits for medical care. He waits for the dawn.
At dawn it is time to leave, time to wander. The night is dangerous for a street person. Always weak, undernourished, and expendable, he fears shadows that maim and destroy. Daylight brings safe sleep. Messy things can happen to street people at night, but daytime people won't allow messiness.
At dawn, all over Pittsburgh, street people begin to wander. By 9 A.M. they are asleep on a bench, under a bridge, or in front of the soup kitchen. Normal people rarely see them. Street people do not want to upset normal people; they are the providers, and street people need provision.
"Jesus loves his little Jessie," a bag lady sings as she limps out of Eat N' Park. "When she's good, and when she's bad, when she's happy, and when she's sad." With this simple childhood affirmation of faith, Jessie greets each new day. She has leaned heavily on her God since her husband abandoned her fifteen years ago. Jessie unceremoniously places some essential clothing, a picture of her unfaithful husband, a jar of Oil of Olay, and sixty dollars into a J. C. Penney shopping bag reinforced by a Giant Eagle grocery ...