Chain Breaker: The Link of Brokenness

April 1, 2022 by April

Photo by Matt Hardy on

Brokenness is not the end.

When we feel broken, we have an important choice to make: to choose if the broken place will be the start or the end of our journey. Will it be where we accept the heaviest chain or will it be the master key that unlocks all of them?

In June of 2020, when I found out about my daughter’s online predator it was as if a dam had broken. Like a surge of raging waters, in came every soldier of hell to try and take me under. After I saw the video of my daughter, every frame was seared into my brain and knowing it was forever on the dark web brought feelings of such immense guilt. I felt as though I failed my most important job on this earth as a mother, to protect my child. Then as I was struggling with my own feelings of anger, guilt, shame, etc… I had to watch my baby deal with all of them as well. Seeing her struggle with those feelings, especially so young, was unbearable. I didn’t think I could feel anymore broken than that, but little did I know that I hadn’t even come close. Since going into detail on all the additional challenges I encountered over that next year would turn this blog into a chapter book, suffice it to say the soldiers of hell marching behind the dam break didn’t leave a single area of my life untouched by chaos. I don’t know how many times I pleaded with God to have just one day of one week where something didn’t go wrong and rock my little world further. I spent months living that way, feeling as though the surge of water beating against me was winning. I was losing hope and terrified of what each new day would bring. Trying to figure out how to navigate life with so much being broken in and around me was exhausting.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Another bomb exploded and knocked me down again, but this time I literally fell to my knees outside on my deck. I was sobbing on the phone with my mom telling her I could not do it anymore. It was all too much. I was too broken, and I couldn’t take another second of it. I ended up hanging up on her because I knew there was nothing left she could say at that point to help. I stayed on the ground crying out to God in a whole new level of desperation. I told Him I was absolutely and utterly broken, and I didn’t know how to fix any of it. Then, for the first time in my life I heard the most clear and audible voice of God say “that was the point. You needed to come to realize you cannot put yourself back together, that is my job. Now I can rebuild you in a way you never could.” That moment was the turning point of everything in my life. I was able to see brokenness as the master key that was needed to unlock all the chains I felt were my responsibility to carry. I believed I earned and deserved them, so it was either my job to get myself out of them or learn to live with them. What I realized over the next few months was that neither of those options were true. What I needed was to be emptied of all the lies I had accepted that allowed those chains to stay in place and that started when I acknowledged I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to step out of my own way and allow Jesus to step in and start rebuilding me on His truth. The best part was that by allowing Jesus to step in, my chains weren’t just unlocked and left laying at my feet to be a reminder of all the pain and hurt I had gone through. Instead, He took them and molded them into weapons and armor that could withstand a nuclear holocaust of attacks.

I wish I didn’t have to go through all that I did to get to my turning point, but from the moment I got there, I have been on the most rewarding, life giving, peace filled journey. No, the crazy situations and attacks didn’t stop, but my resolve towards them changed completely. I knew I wasn’t alone, I had an undefeated warrior at my side. I finally understood the verse from James 1:2 where it says “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” I never thought I would feel that way, but I truly did find joy in the fact that overcoming future tough situations would give me new testimonies for the grace and mercy of Jesus. Testimonies that could help others out of darkness and brokenness into healing and light. Not only was the Lord strengthening me by repurposing my chains, but He showed me He was also building me into His own weapon of light against the darkness.

Sometimes it’s out of the darkest situations that we see the brightest lights.

– April

You can join me and team A.C.T. United in the fight to end child sexual exploitation and trafficking by becoming a monthly partner or donating here

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The A.C.T. United Team: Meet Riley!

Hi! My name is Riley and I’m the A.C.T United CAPS Student intern. As a senior in high school, I am involved in many activities such as NBHS, DECA, Link Crew, and Student Council. In my free time, I love playing sports, hanging out with my friends and family, playing with my dogs, shopping, and traveling/going to my cabin. After high school, I plan on attending Iowa State University where I will double major in Psychology as well as Criminal Justice.

A.C.T United was first brought to my attention when Jessica came to my school and presented this organization to one of my classes. When she mentioned that they offered internship positions, my best friend turned to me and said “you should get an internship there.” I have always been interested in issues like human trafficking, online sexual exploitation, global trafficking, etc. so I knew that this internship would be a perfect opportunity for me to grow.

As the CAPS Student intern, my project is to create a virtual global platform that allows students from anywhere to learn about human trafficking and how they can help make an impact in their community. I am excited to help expand the importance of this issue and be able to make a difference all around the world!

To learn more and stay connect:

Chain Breaker: The Link of Guilt

Photo by Nathan Cowley on

March 4, 2022 by April

Guilt is an anchor.

Guilt is often the first link to start our chains. It’s a perfect anchor for all other links to attach themselves to since it’s one of the easiest for us to accept. We usually feel guilt after doing something we knew we shouldn’t, which helps us accept the lie that we should keep it firmly anchored in place. We tell ourselves it serves a purpose, either as a punishment we deserve or as a reminder of what not to do again. One of the problems with that thinking is guilt is not the same as remorse. When we feel remorse, it leads us to repentance and repentance causes us to turn from the things that led us down the path we shouldn’t have been on. It helps us to take accountability for any hurt we caused to others or ourselves and is where we find the path that leads to healing. When we accept guilt, it doesn’t lead us anywhere but to destruction. Destruction in how we see our value, worth and place in the world. It destroys our relationships, leads us into isolation and takes away our hope. When we accept guilt we have created the perfect breeding ground for all the other links to form.

Another problem with guilt is we can end up accepting it as our own for things that others have done to us. One of the most unexpected things I witnessed my daughter go through, after her communications with the online predator had stopped, was accepting massive amounts of guilt for what he had done. It was also one of the longest lasting and final chains she was able to break free from, which is what also leads me to believe guilt is the first chain and anchor to all the others. This predator didn’t get my daughter to send a video after one short conversation, he had to gain her trust and get her guard down. Once he had a relationship established, he started gradually introducing her to sexual content and concepts she had never seen or heard of before. As he was able to normalize the basic concepts to her, he then started to introduce more graphic and sometimes violent sexual content. The goal was to desensitize her and take away any concerns that could come from what he would start asking for next. Unfortunately, even after the communication with the predator stopped, the thoughts and images my daughter was introduced to weren’t magically erased from her mind. The next few months were especially exhausting with most days/nights spent consoling her when what she called “guilty thoughts” came in. She didn’t know what to believe, think or trust in her mind and she felt she was responsible for it. My daughter didn’t seek out this predator, she didn’t even know she was talking to one. She believed he was a 9-year-old girl, so how could she ever think any of the guilt was hers to own? Yes, there is responsibility to be had in the initial steps taken to go places within apps and the internet that she knew she shouldn’t have, but that is where remorse comes in.

You can feel bad for an action that led you down a road to where something bad happened, but you should never accept the guilt or responsibility for what someone else chose to do once you were there.

I had heard the word grooming many times before, but never really knew what it entailed or how it was done. In hindsight, there were questions my daughter asked me that I let roll off as being random one-off things she likely heard in a video or on tv, but had I pressed in further or had more knowledge, I may have been able to uncover what was going on sooner. Unfortunately, my lack of education on these things came at the expense of my daughter, but that doesn’t have to be the case for others. The most important piece of advice I can give is to educate yourselves now. We don’t know what we don’t know, but once we do, we have the tools to use that can prevent children from going through what mine and so many others have.

I’ll end with this, one definition for an anchor is a device that prevents a vessel from moving. If you have read any of the Bible, you will be hard pressed to find a time God has wanted His vessels (us) at a standstill. In Acts, He even allows an increase in persecution to get His people to move. So, it doesn’t track with thousands of years of history and God’s character that He would ever want us to accept something that would make us stuck in place and rob us of the ability to move forward into the plans He wants to accomplish through us. That leads me to the biggest reason we should never accept the guilt anchor, it negates the very thing Jesus came to do. He purchased our guilt at a very high price and He didn’t do that for us to steal it back from Him. Romans 8:1 tells us “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. No condemnation means no guilty verdict, no judgment, no blame, none. It’s not yours to accept and own. It was already bought and paid for. Choose today to start living in that freedom.

– April

You can join me and team A.C.T. United in the fight to end child sexual exploitation and trafficking by becoming a monthly partner or donating here

To learn more about A.C.T. United and stay connected by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media.

Chain Breaker: The Link of Isolation

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

December 15, 2021 by April

Isolation is a double-edged sword.

When we isolate ourselves, it tends to be in response to something tragic, stressful or traumatic that has happened to us and it’s usually a choice we make to try and escape. It’s a coping mechanism I have been an expert at deploying in my life. Honestly, if trophies were made for something that depressing, I would have a wall full. One thing I never expected though, was to have isolation flipped around on me. When covid came on the scene and places started shutting down I really wasn’t worried. 2 weeks is nothing to this seasoned isolation pro, but then 2 weeks came and went and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight at the time. That’s when the lies I had believed about my prior stints of isolation started breaking down. I started to see it for what it truly was, total and utter destruction.

During the months of isolation from school and friends, my daughter being so desperate for connection and friendship, fell victim to an online sexual predator who she believed was a 9 year old girl. In reality, it was a grown man with nearly unlimited access to spend months grooming my child into doing things she never would have without the heavy weight and darkness of isolation. Unfortunately, my daughter was not alone in this either. In the first month of shelter in place, “online child sexual abuse material went up 106% and by 2021 reaching 2,200,000,000 reports” (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children [NCMEC], 2021). No, that number is not a typo, it’s one of the very real effects of isolation. It doesn’t stop with the direct victim either, many more are created in the process. After I found out about the online predator, I needed support, and everything that should have been there to support me was shut down or limited in some way. I couldn’t go inside my church and be close to or gather with fellow believers for prayer and support and there was no school for my daughter to help stop the feelings of isolation that lead her down the road to meeting her predator. I felt overwhelmed and alone and then it hit me. I was feeling what people in my life must have felt from me when I would hide myself away. When people in my life needed me the most and I wasn’t there for them, they felt all the things I was feeling. Not only that but in my choice to isolate, I basically forced them into isolation. The other edge of the isolation sword became visible.

It may feel good to run away and hide at first, but it never lasts. Our problems don’t go away because we run from them, we just end up creating new ones. I saw that theme play over and over in my life, yet I still believed the lie that my isolation was warranted. We were never created to be alone, it’s the one place in all creation that God said wasn’t good. Too much can be accomplished in the darkness of isolation. It’s the perfect breeding ground for new trauma that brings friends with it like anger, guilt, shame, loneliness, and many more lies that dig us deeper into our pit of isolation. Once we have accepted the lies, if we even start to question isolation, we look back and often think we are too far down in the pit to even attempt to climb back out. But that’s just another lie, darkness only makes it look like we are farther away from the light than we really are.

One thing that’s become abundantly clear to me is that we are never too far gone, never too far into the pit that we can’t turn back around and get out. God will always send a lifeline for us, in some form or another and He’s just waiting for us to grab onto it. You only need the smallest amount of light to see it and I believe that small light is hope. Fear may try to snuff that out, making you think when you take a step and spark that bit of light you won’t see a lifeline, but it will be there. Once you initiate that first step, God can use the opening to flood the darkness with all sorts of light that will blast you the rest of the way out. No matter what fear or darkness may try and convince you of, taking a step of hope to get out of isolation and finding there is going to be someone there that will walk with you the rest of the way out will be the best step you take to move down the path to healing. God has created a community of people specifically for you to be a part of and they are waiting for you just as much as you are waiting for them.


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Chain Breaker: Breaking the Lies that Bind Us

October 10, 2021 By April

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on

In Christian culture we often hear the word chainbreaker. We talk about it, sing songs about it, but what does it truly mean to have our chains broken? I think back to Acts 16 when Paul was in prison, stripped, beaten and chained just for giving truth to people. Yet, in the middle of this horrible and unfair situation, Paul chooses to pray and sing to God. I don’t know about you, but when something bad happens, my default doesn’t usually look like that. Paul’s default of praise ended up leading to an earthquake that not only shook his chains off, but also the chains of every other prisoner.

That hit me, that our own default response to trauma doesn’t just affect us, it has the potential to impact the people around us for better or for worse.

We don’t get to choose when trauma strikes, but we do always get to choose how we react to it.

That’s where we get to take back control and stop the chains before they even come. We can choose to live free even during our suffering, when we realize that freedom isn’t just about breaking free from past situations or behaviors. It’s in how we choose to move forward in the midst of them. Recognizing the lies in each link of our chains, so we can speak truth to them and see our own earthquakes come. God gave me a vision that when He breaks chains, they don’t just break and fall off at our feet for us to stare at as some constant reminder of past pain. Instead, every link that is broken is melted down and turned into a weapon that we get to wield against the enemy and use to help others around us find freedom. What the enemy intends for evil, the chains that bind and hold us back, God will certainly use for good. 

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk about the different links we tend to have in our own chains. Links like isolation, anger, guilt, shame etc… that I have spent the last year battling off, some more successfully than others, and coming to a place where I know I do not need to (and should not) battle alone.

Hebrews 12:11 tells us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

The bible is so awesome because it doesn’t just leave us there either, Hebrews 12:2 gives us the answer on how we do it, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

We can break the links that make up our chains so they don’t trip us up and slow us down, but we do it first by keeping our eyes on Jesus and then we do it together. United we stand!


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Meet our Newest Team Member and Blog Writer April

You will not want to miss her story and how it can prevent another family’s “six seconds”

Hi! My name is April, I am a single Mom of 2 amazing daughters, a partner at the best small business payroll company and now excitedly get to add blog writing for A.C.T. United to the list!

I was first introduced to A.C.T. United when I walked into church thinking it was going to be another great Wednesday night bible study, but instead God had even greater plans. Jessica was there to share about God’s calling on her life and how A.C.T. United was born from it. I was an emotional mess sitting through her presentation and even thought a few times of getting up and hiding in the bathroom. Almost a year earlier, I had found out that my daughter had been a victim of an online predator. Everything being talked about put names and definitions to the experience that I hadn’t heard before then. I knew I couldn’t sneak away and hide though, since in the weeks leading up to that Wednesday night God had been working out a lot in me. I spent the last year focusing almost solely on my daughters healing, until God said it was time to deal with my own. In that process, I had been wanting so badly to find a way I could help in preventing anyone else from going through the experience we had. I just didn’t know what that looked like, until connecting with this amazing organization that I would get the privilege of serving in. What spoke most to my spirit was how the mission of A.C.T. United was in prevention, awareness and education. There are so many amazing organizations out there dealing with all aspects of trafficking, but God had been impressing the specific area of prevention and awareness on my heart for almost a year. After the presentation was over I knew this was the organization God wanted me to serve in.

My passions have always been reading and writing so the opportunity to do that in service of this organization is a huge blessing. I feel that God has gifted me with the ability to put words down in a way that allows Him to shine through in truth and encouragement. Writing is when I feel most connected to the Lord and can let go and allow His spirit to work through me. I have always used writing as an outlet for dealing with anything that has come up in my life, good or bad. Knowing that our words have great power, I always want mine to be committed to the Lord so its His power that goes out for a greater purpose. I am so excited for this next part of my journey and all the people I will get to connect with along the way!


Subscribe to our blog to hear more from April as she vulnerably and bravely invites us into the pain and the hope found in her story.

The A.C.T. United Team! Meet Insia!

Hi! My name is Insia. I am a senior at Eden Prairie High School who adds a touch of art into everything she does. I am a artist and owner of @chapstickart on Instagram. I first came to know of this organization when they came to my school to share preventative methods for exploitation and educate us teenagers. I immediately fell in love with their cause and what they stand for. The following year I made art supporting their cause and asked for an internship and got in. I have always been interested in social awareness whether it be racism, “sextortion”, or human trafficking. I have used my skill in art to raise awareness for such crucial subjects as I believe it is everybody’s duty to contribute to society. Through art, I wish to continue bringing awareness for such causes. In the future I hope to pursue medicine as a physician and contribute in helping children who have dealt with such issues. 

The A.C.T. United Team! Meet our Director of Outreach and Missions, Saysha!

I am a mom to a beautiful, smart, and courageous 5 year old daughter. She enjoys time with family, playing at the park, swimming at the beach, making new friends, and is starting soccer and swim lessons.
2 years ago, I made a very courageous decisions myself to leave a well paid position in the corporate sector to pursue my life passion and joy of serving kids and teens. I started as a teachers aide while going back to school to get my teaching certificate. I am now a teacher at a Christian Pre School to an amazing diverse class of littles! I also am the part time, volunteer Director of Outreach and Missions for A.C.T. United.
As a teenager, I experienced both physical and sexual abuse, in bad relationship choices, and was almost trafficked at the age of 17. I was a teenage girl who had lost her identity, value and worth. It is because of these experiences that I am passionate about bringing a message of value, worth and hope for the future to children and teens through my role at A.C.T. United! I believe in the power of prevention! 

The importance of Recycling

Photo by Skitterphoto on

As I was praying to be lifted out of the darkness, the Lord showed me that my mind needed to be recycled just like all those old things that had been repurposed over the years.

Lilly B.

My husband has always been a type of hoarder. Usually nothing gets thrown away because he might need it. His Dad was the same way. It never fails when we start cleaning together and I throw something away, he comes looking for it a few weeks later. “That’s why I don’t like to throw things away, because I know someday I will need it,” he will tell me.

I have recycled an old double sink and other containers into planters. We have recycled pallets into boardwalks, decks and above ground planters. We have purchased old campers, gutted them and made them look like new. We have refinished old furniture and old toys making them useful again. I have to admit I enjoy finding new uses from old things thanks to my amazing husband.

Recently I found something that I didn’t realize needed to be recycled. With the Cornona Virus our lives have pretty much ground to a halt. In the beginning I looked forward to time at home. I deep cleaned my house, my cupboards, my closets and even the refrigerator and freezer. Then I started baking and cooking old fashioned meals that I hadn’t done for years, sometimes sharing them with family and friends. I did extra Bible studies, went for walks to get the mail and did some knitting. Loneliness set in as I missed fellowship with friends and family and especially the hugs I love to give and receive. An exciting day out quickly became a trip to the grocery store or to the local church for their food ministry. I found old thoughts creeping into my brain.

“You aren’t good enough. No one calls to check on you because they don’t like you. You will never amount to anything. Why do you even try? You give and give and give and get nothing in return. They don’t respect you, they don’t appreciate you, and they don’t even love you. You are so stupid, that was dumb of me, I don’t look very good, I am too fat. I wish I could be like her.” These were just some of the one liner thoughts that would pop in my head. They began slowly but more and more frequently. Some days I could feel myself being pulled down into a deep dark hole. Part of being a victim includes the abuser making sure there is very low or even no self-esteem left in that person. I thought it had been years since my abuse had ended, but had it? When I allowed the words of my abuser back into my head, they still had control even though they weren’t even on this earth anymore.

As I was praying to be lifted out of the darkness, the Lord showed me that my mind needed to be recycled just like all those old things that had been repurposed over the years. My thoughts needed to be cleansed and given a new direction. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep me doubting myself and who God created me to be. What does the Bible say about me? Isn’t that the only thing that is important, what God thinks of me?

I John 2:12 says I am forgiven because of the precious blood Jesus spilled for me. I need to remember that and to accept that forgiveness instead of crucifying myself over and over.

Hebrews 13:5 says I am never alone. He will never leave more or forsake me. He was there with me before, during and after my abuse.

Phil 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus! All, not some or a few but all, including healing from difficult days when the enemy tried to silence me.

Romans 8:1 says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If God isn’t going to condemn me then I shouldn’t condemn myself for my past.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” His plans for me are perfect and he has new plans for me every day!

John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall NEVER perish, no one will snatch them out of my hand.” The enemy can try to snatch me but Christ already has the victory. The enemy is defeated!

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells me I am a new creation in Christ and the old is gone, the new is here!

Romans 8:17 says that I am an heir of God and co-heirs with Christ because I am a child of God.

Ephesians 2:10 tells me I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. He loves me so much he has a purpose for me and knew that purpose even before I was born!

Ephesians 2:6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t raise up worthless trash, I am special in his sight, called and have a purpose of living this life.

Matthew 25:34 God loved me before the creation of the world! He loved me so much he sent his son Jesus to die for my sins!

Ephesians 1:5 God adopted me as his child. He is my father by His choice!

These are the truths that need to be recycled into my brain. The Bible is clear that it is the Word that leads us into all truth; that is what is important. My brain is the battleground and there are days that it is hard to recycle my thoughts, my images of myself because of what other people have said about me.

Lord, recycle my thoughts and help me to focus on what your Word says about me. Redeem the time that all those untruths were planted in my being. Show me myself through your eyes. Help me to forgive my abusers and others who inadvertently the enemy used to lower my self-esteem and worth. Be the light in my dark thoughts, pull me close to you and remind me that I am your precious child, created for your purpose, loved and forgiven by you. Use what has happened in my past to your glory. Show me how to share your love and healing with others that may have gone through the same thing. Recycle me Lord for your glory. Amen.

By Lilly B.

Mother, Survivor, Child Advocate, Writer, and Blogger for A.C.T. United

The A.C.T. United Team! Meet Thai Loyd!

Hi! My name is Thai Loyd and I’m the A.C.T. United Event Coordinator intern. As a senior at Eden Prairie High School, I am involved with DECA, Key Club, and the National Honor Society. In my free time I enjoy hiking, listening to music, and playing the piano. In the future, I hope to major in economics or neuroscience and pursue a career in medicine.

I was first introduced to the issue of exploitation through hearing stories about my great-grandmother being labor trafficked as a child. This inspired me to begin researching human trafficking and I was shocked to see that unfortunately, it is still a serious problem today both globally and in my own community in Minnesota. I wanted to take action so I helped organize an awareness campaign about trafficking at school which is how I got connected with A.C.T. United!

As the Event Coordinator, I am excited to organize community events and continue to work towards prevention and an end to exploitation. I am passionate about the importance of educating the youth about this issue which is why I especially love being involved with A.C.T. United!