“We get real. We do not sugar coat things, we tackle and speak on real and relevant topics all college students go through.” No, this is not a description for an AA meeting or a self-help forum, but for two groups of students getting real about the Gospel. Meeting every Wednesday from 10 to 11 pm under the auspices of Howie Fischer and Theresa Lourie, Reality Group is a weekly “reality check” for both men and women.
As Howie says for both genders, “This hour set aside every Wednesday is a time to get real with oneself, one another, and especially God.” Centered in the Gospel, both groups meet to discuss Bible passages and their applications, but perhaps most importantly, both groups model James 5:16-17 in their exegesis and practicality: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” Attempting to create an environment in which there are no boundaries, both Howie and Theresa want these groups to be real, surrounding real people with real problems, who have a real God.
Both Men’s and Women’s Reality Group have their beginnings with True North Church, a contemporary non-denominational church located in the heart of South Jersey. Lori Wileczek, an alumnus of Eastern, began the women’s group with the hopes of creating a strong, passionate company of women who were dedicated to seeking Christ together. After Lori graduated in 2012, Theresa Lourie became the group’s leader, hoping these Jesus-loving women would continue to grow in both faith and numbers. After Women’s Reality Group debuted on campus, Men’s Reality Group burst onto the scene with Ted Lurakis, a member of True North, at its head. Howie was then trained by Ted and introduced this spring as the group’s new leader, hoping, as Theresa also hoped, that these individuals would grow in their faith.
For the men’s and women’s groups, these meetings are both explicit Biblical exegesis and practical application. Theresa explains, “We understand the importance of basing all messages on the Word of God in a real and relevant way so people can apply it to their everyday lives.” Howie mirrors this sentiment with an interesting perspective on the group’s dynamics: “Some nights it is honestly like a day in Bible 101 or Theo 240; other days it’s a coffee shop atmosphere, and honestly some days it’s in between.” Typically, the group’s leaders will meet before ten o’clock to pray over the room, over the women/men who will be there, and over the leader who will be speaking. At ten, the group opens with prayer and the chosen leader will follow this student-led sentiment with a topically-based message which God has laid on their heart. With the message over, the Holy Spirit moves through their ‘popcorn’ prayer, and with the prayer’s end the women/men are free to continue fellowship or attend Wednesday Night Worship.
With around thirty to forty women meeting in Gough’s second floor TV lounge, the Women’s Reality Group is a growing movement for Eastern’s female population. It is a time where “real girls who have real problems come together to experience the power of Christ.” For Theresa, she hopes to see reality group connected with other ministries on campus, creating an unstoppable unity between diverse yet Godly unity. And with Theresa Lourie at its helm, this group of God’s daughters can surely grow to meet this challenge.
Howie has similar goals for his group of around fifteen men. This ‘cultivating’ forum of Christ-centered individuals is growing just as its female counterpart is. Howie says, “We have learned what it is like to be a community of unity, because ultimately we all serve the Lord of the Universe, not the Lord Howie knows or the Lord Theresa knows, but the Father Almighty who we have come to know through our Savior Jesus Christ.” For these men, Howie hopes to see their faith flourish, as well as their ability to reach out to others in this faith.