Summer Thomas-Reed’s faith and relationship with God influence her work more than anything else. The first person to hear about Summer’s vision, her mother, has also been an inspiration. What sets this vision apart from most dance studios is it’s application of the directive exhorted in Matthew 28:16–20. This portion of scripture where Jesus instructs his disciples to make more disciples is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” Great Commission Dance Studio is growing into an engaging option for dance education and an innovative way to propel the gospel across the world to many communities.
Summer’s journey with God began while she and her mother sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter. They were attending a small church nearby. The young girl went up for an altar call and accepted Jesus as her savior. As she stepped out of the grave and into new life in Christ, the flowers smelled prettier and the sky was bluer. She felt alive as she walked in innocence and honor for the first time. Emboldened by the spirit even as a child, Summer repented and stopped stealing candy. She knew God expected more from her and he gave her the strength through Christ to resist temptation.
Summer’s formative years were riddled with chaos and relational strife. Even though she was a preschooler, Summer vividly remembers the day her parents separated. A short time later her mom started dating someone new. This relationship got scary for the talented dancer and she developed a tremor as a result of the trauma she endured. The police were called often due to abuse and violent outbursts. Her dad married a woman from Switzerland and moved to Europe. The beautiful young woman’s teenage years were marked with abruptly contrasting lifestyles. Every other summer she left behind poverty and food stamps and caught a flight to Europe to spend time with her father. Both of Summer’s parents struggled with addiction and maintaining healthy relationships. Summer took refuge in both of her parents flawed but dedicated parenting styles. Summer clings to the memory of her mother who passed away last year. She wrestled with addictions but her love and dedication was genuine. She was the dancer’s biggest fan and worked hard to pay for Summer’s dance lessons.
Summer remembers one leg of her journey that paralleled the story of the prodigal son. Summer loved God and she never stopped believing yet she believed the lies of the world and became entangled with many varieties of sin. She believed the lie that God didn’t understand and thought her way of doing life would bring more satisfaction than God’s way. She told herself, “Pretty soon I’m going to stop living like this and get back on track.” Eventually there was no more waiting to get back on track. Just like the Prodigal Son, she lost her fancy lifestyle and luxury cars when her sin led her to a pig pen.
A short time later, Summer approached God with a broken and contrite heart. She knew God was near but she couldn’t feel him. As she walked around looking for a church, the dancer prayed and asked Him to make His presence known. ”Please, I need you to show me that you’re nearby. I’m so lonely without you,” she prayed. In the middle of the day, several street lamps turned on and illuminated the area around her feet as Summer walked past them. When this woman of God arrived home and opened her Bible, she was drawn to Psalm 119:105. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” The visionary appreciates the way God performed miracles during this phase of her life. She’s blessed to have many vivid spiritual experiences that guide her, build her faith, and redeem her pain. Since that fateful moment, Summer has done her best to submit her life and follow Jesus.
Being trusted with a vision from God has been the most exciting part of Summer’s journey. The vision is a marriage between The Great Commission described in Matthew 28:16–20 and Summer’s love of dance. Great Commission Studios exist to generate revenue for missionary efforts across the world. Worshiping through dance, breathtaking performances by talented dancers, proclaiming the love of God, and sharing the gospel are all major themes of this comprehensive vision. Great Commission studios endeavors to stand with those who are making disciples out of all nations and enduring persecution.
As she reflects on the vision God gave her, the Tabernacle, and the ark that Noah built, Summer says, “Many times God will give you the exact dimensions of ‘what’ He wants built, but He leaves it up to us to continually seek His face on the ‘how’. By this He creates a path for us to better experience the reward of being a co-laborer with Christ.” Proverbs 24:11–12 remind this visionary of the urgency of the gospel message. These words are encouraging during rare moments when she begins to lose heart.
Remaining obedient and moving forward with the vision is a faith walk for Summer. She always counts on God to light up her path. Great Commission Dance Studios recently hired their first employee. This individual has demonstrated mature faith and has a lot to offer as the studio moves forward with securing studio and office space through a partnership with a local fitness club. Click here to check out what’s new at Great Commission Dance Studios or contact Summer by email at: Summer@greatcommissionstudios.org.
~written by Erica Munchbach