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Who We Are

The Shield of God Foundation is a Christian 501(c)3 organization 


To provide sexual trauma survivors the ability to live independent of their abusers by 

teaching them their value in Christ.

The Shield of God Foundation was formed to help those suffering from the trauma of sexual assault find healing and recovery. It is our mission, hope, and prayer to open specialized treatment homes that take people in as victims and sends them out as thriving survivors. Our vision is to rescue and restore people from unthinkable circumstances, providing them with a safe place to live where they can receive exuberant counseling, nutritious meals, an education, career opportunities, and learn their value in Christ in a loving, structured environment.

About the Founder

Having been in her share of abusive relationships, founder & president, April Poyorena, knows all too well how difficult it can be to remove oneself from an abusive partner and stay out. As a child, from the age of 2 until she moved out at 17, April was sexually abused by her step-father. She kept the secret of the abuse until she was 19 and even then only shared with a family member who she swore to secrecy. It wasn’t until she was 21, after having a daughter, that she finally spoke up to her mother and pressed charges. He was immediately arrested and ultimately convicted. The years preceding the conviction of her step-father were better in some ways, but she was still in an abusive marriage. She struggled with her self-worth and though in counseling, was struggling to find peace with her past. In October of 2012 April’s aunt, who she was very close to, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. The cancer had spread to her lungs and there was nothing that could be done. In December 2012 her aunt went to be with the Lord. Sitting with her aunt in her last days and watching her take her last breath changed her forever. It forced her to look at her own life and take a stand for herself and children. About a month after her aunt’s death, April finally found the courage to leave her husband after 12 years. Though she was free from the relationship, she was far from free of her past. She still struggled with her self-image and jumped from one meaningless relationship to another not understanding why she felt so void. It wasn't until she accepted Jesus and started walking in her faith that she started to change for the better. She was happier, focused, and had a desire to confront her past and find emotional and spiritual healing. In 2016, April’s mom invited her to attend Ministry School with her. A 2-year program that equips students to minister to others effectively. During her time in ministry school, April sought the Lord with all her heart desperately pursuing healing and purpose for her life. God revealed that He wanted to use her to bring healing to hurting women and she received confirmation through School of Ministry. Since she understood that you can’t help others without first helping yourself, she started seeing a therapist & life coach again to help her face her demons. After 4 abusive relationships, consistent counseling, and faith in God, she finally found contentment and peace. She currently works as a Legal Assistant and aspires to eventually have the opportunity to dedicate her life and career to work full-time operating The Shield of God Foundation. Her desire is to help others also come to understand their value in Christ and break the  cycle of abuse. Her prayer is that they too can reclaim their lives and build a foundation on the fullness and love that Christ has to offer.   

Meet Our Board of Directors

April Poyo​rena  

Founder & President

April lives in Thousand Oaks, CA where she works as a Legal Assistant for a Family Law & Real Estate attorney. She has 3 daughters, 1 son, and 1 grand-daughter.  She currently works full time while serving as President on the board of directors for The Shield of God Foundation. She attended and graduated from School of Ministry at Water of Life Church in 2018 with her mom, Sheryl Costa. She attends Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, CA where she serves with the Care Ministry praying with others. You can also occasionally catch her singing back-up vocals for the Worship Team. She also completed a Discipleship program at her church to further her ministry education. As a survivor of long-term sexual abuse and domestic violence she developed a passion for helping and caring for people in similar circumstances. She aspires to dedicate her life, career, and ministry to operating The Shield of God Foundation full-time. In her free time she enjoys spending quality time with her kids, reading, writing, singing worship music, and long days at the beach. 

Jeff Brasfield 


Jeff Brasfield spent the first 15 years of his career specializing in tax, audit and general accounting. In 2012, Jeff started his own bookkeep​ing and CFO services company, focusing on “back office” accounting services for small businesses. He has spent recent years transforming and growing his business into a virtual setting, allowing his company to take on clients around the U.S. As an extension of his belief in “giving back”, Jeff has served as Treasurer of Cancer Can Rock ( since 2017, a small nonprofit based in Northern Virginia, and Treasurer for Shield of God ( ), based in Southern California since Fall 2021. Outside of work, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and dog, going to the beach as often as possible and playing guitar.

Michelle Bartley


Sheryl Costa

Senior Advisor

Sheryl lives in Wrightwood, CA with her husband Jim Costa. She has two grown children, seven grandchildren and one great-grand-daughter. Sheryl currently works as a Substance Abuse Counselor for San Bernardino County Probation Department. She has two degrees; Substance Abuse Counseling and Photography. Sheryl has served as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for Mid Valley Recovery Service for five years. She also served as President for The Brian Michael Foundation for eleven years. Sheryl has been involved with 12-step programs for over 36 years and has held various service positions. She is currently attending Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, California where she serves with the security team and as a facilitator for School of Ministry. Sheryl graduated from the School of Ministry with her daughter April Poyorena in 2018.

Novel Carter J.D.

Legal Advisor

Kelly Barreca

Program & Services 

Committee Chair

Kelly lives in Westlake Village CA with her daughter and has another daughter that lives in Austin, Texas. She has spent the past 16 years working in Special Education and is a fierce advocate for the neurodiversity population.

She has a bachelor's degree in Child & Adolescent Psychology and is currently completing her Master's at Pepperdine University in clinical counseling.

She is a member of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, CA where she serves as a visiting Chaplain through Calvary’s Care Ministries.

Her goal is to always be of service to those in need and to share the word of God. 

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