Southwark-based charity Actionplus Foundation is marking its 15th anniversary as well as its founder’s thirty years ministry.
Earlier, in 1980, young Fred, well-known by the stage name Apollo, performed Ghanaian-style guitar-based music. It was a scheduled show near his home town Obokwahu in eastern Ghana that was to be the scene of what he describes vividly as his conversion.
A security guard tried to delay his performance because a church service in the adjoining hall was running late. Apollo went towards the hall in angry mood to tell them to hurry up but found himself transfixed by the words of the preacher who was quoting from the Bible. The passage was ‘it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth’ (Lamentations 3.27).
He began a gospel group and two years later Apollo the bandsman had been ordained into the Full Gospel Evangelistic Ministry.
Pastor Fred is now an independent minister based in London where he runs the Actionplus Foundation from an office at Christ Church Southwark, the Anglican parish church, in Blackfriars Road.
The aim is raising awareness about HIV and challenging the stigma and discrimination which has been a barrier to people using available HIV services. Sexual health training sessions are held for pastors and other faith leaders to enable them to educate their congregation members about HIV. Pastor Fred says the work is needed not just in Ghana but also in Southwark.
In seeking to educate and reduce stigma about HIV, Pastor Fred and his supporters went both to other churches which all had huge attendances and busy market places. The education model has now been taken up by the Ghanaian government agency. Christ Church rector Tim Scott said that he had been impressed that Actionplus was practical with a crucial dimension of education and training. The church, he said, was delighted to be able offer the office space.