Caught in the trap of ignorance and scarcity of knowledge coupled with stigma and discrimination, numerous African communities affected by HIV were left in poverty. Viewing this harmful disease as a taboo and a curse from God, people with HIV had to deal with unfortunate situations, behaviors, and opinions from the community. It became an arduous task for the people to spread the awareness to break out of the myths about HIV and AIDS, putting numerous lives at risk. Understanding the dire action that awaited to resolve this problem; thus, Apostle Fred Annin founded Actionplus Foundation after witnessing disastrous behaviors practiced in the church.
Taking the initiative upon himself, Apostle led a campaign targeting the black African churches by interacting with Pastors to prevent the growing number of HIV infections in the BAME community. Since then, the outreach of Actionplus Foundation’s efforts has been widespread, empowering people with its preaching and sermons with love and compassion.
The Sprouting Roots
Born in the religious country of Ghana, Apostle, after his conversion to the Christian faith in 1980, attended the Full Gospel Bible College and graduated with a diploma in theology. He later pursued his Bachelor of Ministerial Theology degree at the Foundation Gate Bible Seminary. He became the full-time pastor at the Full Gospel Church in Ghana, serving for a decade before his missionary tour to the UK in 1991.
Sponsored by the Chalk Farm Baptist Church in London, the tour took Fred to a national crusade program where he was assigned to preach and teach about praise and worship to revive the church in the UK. Fred reminisces several prophetic messages from men of God to him, uttering, “When I return to Ghana, God will bring me back again to the UK for a specific ministerial assignment.” These messages came true when he returned to the UK in 1992 as a freelance gospel minister.
Fred opened the Pneuma Outreach Ministries as the place of worship and Pneuma Community Link to offer practical charitable support and organize health awareness and wellbeing activities to educate the Black minority and ethnic communities in Southwark. Later, he registered them with the Charity Commission in 1997. They organized projects that focused on healthy eating, drug and substance abuse, HIV awareness and prevention, teenage pregnancy, and training young people to use music and drama to educate their peers to refrain from violence and crime. With these initiatives, Fred discovered Lambeth was the highest HIV prevalent community in the UK, seconded by its next-door neighbor Southwark.
Fred understood why God brought him back to the UK through these discoveries, setting up the charity right in the heart of Southwark. He decided that his charity would spend more time concentrating on HIV prevention and creating awareness of the infection in the community to reduce the spread.
A Passionate Servant of God
Intending to fight the battle against AIDS, Fred researched and consulted the experts on how they could support his vision. He traveled across London and the USA, meeting some known “experts”; however, they all provided him with negative comments contrary to his expectations.
He spent the later days with God in prayer, where Fred heard God saying, “Fred, I am the one who has called you to intervene in this situation, and I am going to use you to release my people from the bondage which HIV has brought upon them especially those in the church. I will prove myself that I am a good God who can never put a curse on my people.” The Lord also told him that although the journey will be long and tough, he will provide for and never fail him if he looks to him.
Working tirelessly with limited resources to keep the infection rate of HIV lower in the UK and Ghana, Fred was grateful to God for making him the means to do what others could not, continuing the fight to save more lives.
Years later, Fred changed the name of his charity to Actionplus Foundation to reflect the kind of change he wanted to see in his organization. After his hard work and faith in God, the NGO achieved several milestones. It trained over 6000 pastors and church leaders in Ghana and the UK to know more and embrace the facts about HIV and not myths. It became the first organization in the region to successfully launch the most effective module for HIV prevention today called “Take Action Now.” It has become the cutting edge for HIV testing in churches worldwide, and many organizations use this module under different names.
Actionplus Foundation proved the right step to make the world safer, better, much more tolerant, and understand the needs of individuals within their communities to enhance the development of healthy communities where everyone thrives despite different challenges.
Today, Actionplus Foundation is an international faith-based HIV campaigning and advocacy organization with its headquarters in the UK and branches in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.
In 2010, Action Plus Foundation became the first HIV charity in Ghana to open the first HIV testing center in a church in Ghana. Fred managed to break the stigma in the church and accepted the responsibility, becoming a sanctuary again for the vulnerable, especially people living with HIV and their families.
Actionplus has fought the menace, gradually eradicating the stigma from the communities and the world. The four key objectives it addresses are:
- To prevent HIV infection from occurring.
- To promote early diagnosis and access to treatment.
- To challenge prejudice and reduce stigma.
- To reduce poverty experienced by people living with HIV.
The Determined Efforts
In his 24-year journey, Fred faced numerous challenges, only to become stronger every time spreading awareness about HIV. He won several national and international awards for his unmatched achievements in championing the HIV campaign in the UK and Africa. After ten years of intensive campaigns to educate people about the devastating effect on the Ghanaian community, God paved a path on 25 May 2017 for Actionplus Foundation to open the headquarters of its church, Joy City Chapel International (JCCI) in Accra, with 150 members during initial dedication service.
Actionplus Foundation aims to train women living with HIV through capacity building to empower them with the requisite skills to acquire practical experience to help sustain their lives. To help these women, a microfinance scheme to support the trained women with financing will enable them to become independent and work on their after acquiring the necessary training from the center.
The foundation is trying to get more churches involved with its initiative “Take Action Now.” It hopes to build a modern Empowerment Center in Accra to serve as a place to organize training programs for church leaders to emulate a similar campaign in Ghana and the rest of Africa. It has launched four major projects to reduce the spread of HIV infection in the country, including the National CHEP Program “Campus HIV Educational Program.”
During the unprecedented COVID-19, Fred led by organizing online training programs and conferences to create awareness of the infections in the UK and Africa. He also led the foundation to distribute free PPE to schools, institutions, traders, and the public.
Many people in the developing countries expect people from Europe or the developed countries to come to their countries to open NGOs depending on the AID they donate to them. Fred managed to do the opposite by leaving Africa to open his charity in the heart of Europe. He established the charity all by himself for 24 years and has returned to Africa to do the same, single-handedly running it for 14 years. London is one of the world’s most expensive cities, but Actionplus has grown to become one of the leading HIV organizations supporting the BAME Communities in the UK. In the UK. Actionplus Foundation has branches not only in London but Luton and Colchester. In Africa, too, it has branches in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.
Since 2015 Fred has won many Local, National, and International Awards, including Southwark Major’s Civic Award and The Diversity Champion Award For Charities (UK). The Heroes Award, The African Prestigious Award, and the latest are, the 2020 Best HIV Prevention Service Award (UK).
Education as a Medium to Combat HIV/AIDS
Actionplus Foundation leads in HIV education, targeting pastors and faith leaders to empower them with adequate tools and skills to fully understand all the facts about HIV and not the myths. The scriptures say in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” Knowledge is power; therefore, lacking it is very dangerous to HIV prevention in the church and other faith communities. The Positive role Pastors and other faith leaders play in the community can never be overlooked even though, like humans, they sometimes create minor mistakes in ministry. However, that cannot annul the position and mandate God has placed upon them to change the lives of the vulnerable in our communities. That is why the Take Action Now project is set up to help pastors and faith leaders to acquire the knowledge they need to use to deliver messages about HIV professionally to their congregations.
Actionplus Foundation works with healthcare professionals to deliver the training programs, especially when touching on sensitive areas like the benefit of early testing, care, and treatment. It is also changing the perception of those who think their strong prayers can cure HIV because HIV hasn’t got a cure for it.
Our next project, which will soon be rolled out, is launching the INOPFAH Network. The INOPAH Network is the Network of Pastors Fighting against HIV and AIDS. This network will bring together all pastors worldwide, especially those members of the group participating in the HIV Advocacy Campaign for them, to come together to discuss how to help the network grow. It can help achieve the 2030 goals set by the UNAIDS to completely eradicate HIV and make it a thing of the past by the end of 2030.
The Impact of Pandemic on HIV Infection
We are all aware that HIV is one of the most dreadful diseases ever to attack the human race, and over here in the UK, it has not spared us of our freedom and liberty to live a fulfilled, healthy life here on earth. HIV has not limited us of its venom, leaving behind its trail the killing of thousands of innocent people across the length and breadth of our communities, including the young, the old mothers, and fathers. The hardest pill to swallow in this unfortunate challenge is the stain of stigma and discrimination that HIV spreads over persons who, unfortunately, are caught up in its spider’s web. This regrettable attitude of stigma and discrimination kills people living with HIV faster and quicker than the virus itself because of the neglect, disassociations, shame, pain, and loneliness that people living with HIV have to endure at this time of their predicaments.
The most agonizing part of this incident is when the church, supposed to be the last stop for their survival, also chooses to neglect them. One of the parables that Jesus said during His ministry here on earth is the testimony of a person who claimed he was healed of his blindness Mark 8:24. Jesus asked him this simple question, “What do you see” and he replied I see men like trees. Jesus had to touch his eyes again the second time to complete his healing. The question is, are men trees? And I know whoever is reading this story knows very well that men are not trees because trees don’t express their feelings when they go through the storms of life. The reason is that they are not men who cry or laugh at what they go through. This means that men are not trees, so we don’t have to treat them as trees because of what they go through, especially people living with HIV. Similar incidences and attitudes which were being practiced in the church are what caused the birthing of the Actionplus Foundation.
People living with HIV are humans; some are married men and women, teachers, politicians, and even Pastors and Imams, so we don’t have to discriminate against them when they need us more. This is the message we delivered to Pastors during our 24 years of intervention in the HIV campaign for faith leaders called “Take Action Now.” As a Christian NGO, one of our aims and objectives is to create a place where people living with and those affected by HIV do not experience hardship, ill health, stigma, or discrimination. We do this by empowering them with any available opportunity so they can play a central role in improving their lives, leading to permanent solutions. Finally, due to our strong faith and God’s divine grace, we have achieved all our goals and become the first HIV campaigners and advocates to open HIV testing centers in Europe and Africa, where HIV seemed to be a no-go zone.
Apostle Annin firmly believes that the church plays a central role in many African communities’ lives. These communities look towards Pastors and church elders for guidance and support. However, unfortunately at that time, the vast majority of pastors were ignorant about HIV due to the lack of knowledge about the disease Apostle Annin believed that the church was the rightful place to organize regular health education campaigns. However, the stigma attached to the disease made it difficult for many churches to “close” (should be to open) their doors to sexual health professionals to engage with the church community. The alarming issue was that many people infected with HIV were also unaware of their status, putting the entire church and the whole community at risk by living in fear of being stigmatized when their HIV status was revealed. The formation of the Actionplus foundation by Apostle Annin was to provide the needed education on the disease, bring health professionals into the church for testing, (please kindly change and also with stigmatization primarily associated with HIV and AIDS) to “so that stigmatization primarily associated with HIV and AIDS is finally defeated”).
Actionplus is to find a way of solving the unfortunate situation attached to persons living with HIV/AIDS by First training Pastors for them to be empowered to gain knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted Infections. Secondly, they could occasionally use the knowledge they have acquired in their preaching to demonstrate the love of God. One misleading fact also was that some of the Pastors did not see HIV as a medical issue and thought HIV was a curse from God because, to them, those who are HIV positive are those who lead promiscuous or immoral lifestyles. As a result, God has cursed them with HIV as punishment for their sinful behaviors. Others also believed HIV could be cured only through their powerful prayers and therefore forbid their members to seek medical help when tested positive. But the breakthrough was achieved with the robust intervention of Actionplus’ “Take Action Now” model.
After successfully establishing the Actionplus foundation in the UK, Apostle Fred came to Ghana on a missionary trip in 2007 to establish the African branch of the foundation to give back to his people and the country where he was born. It was where the idea of getting people tested in churches was first conceived and launched.
Fred successfully managed to lead Actionplus Foundation Ghana with this model in a campaign to help the Government to reduce the infection rate of HIV in the country, which was then 3.6% in 2007 to 1.3% in 2013. Our branch in Ghana, over the years, has become a hub where we develop models to champion our crusade against stigma, prejudice, hatred, and all issues related to HIV in the church
Actionplus foundation is built on four outcomes: Preventing the transmission of HIV by promoting condom use and other ways of stopping HIV infection by raising awareness around prevention campaigns such as conferences, outreach, workshops, and others. We also open free, confidential HIV testing centers in churches, marketplaces, lorry stations, and other community settings.
We also promote the benefit of early diagnosis as we believe that HIV diagnosis gives you more of an opportunity to manage the virus and prevent onward transmission.
We challenge prejudice by tackling HIV stigma through education and reducing the poverty Experienced by People Living with HIV. In the UK and Ghana, people living with HIV live in poverty due to the disease; therefore, we organize training events to empower them to acquire gainful employment and also supply food items to those who can’t afford them. In the coming years, we intend to expand to reach more vulnerable people who have HIV/AIDS. The vision of Action plus Foundation is to become a shelter for all kinds of people, protecting the vulnerable and giving meaning to their life. The visionary leader of the foundation, Apostle Fred Annin, has been explaining the future of the foundation.
HIV Testing Clinic Opens in Walthamstow Church
A free HIV testing clinic has opened in a London church to tackle the high infection rate in the African community.
Living Flames Baptist Church in Walthamstow opened its doors as part of the Take Action Now campaign by the ActionPlus Foundation.
HIV among Africans in the UK is 30 times higher than the general population, health agencies say.
ActionPlus wants churches to take a leading role in dealing with the issue.
It hopes training programs to educate church leaders and the introduction of testing clinics in churches can replicate a similar campaign in Ghana, where clinics are held in churches, schools, and even nail bars.
The clinic, which is being operated in collaboration with Positive East, an east London HIV charity, is opening to coincide with HIV testing week, which began on 22 November.
The founder of ActionPlus, Pentecostal minister Reverend Fred Annin, said: “The Bible does not condemn people with HIV as cursed.
“It shouldn’t be taboo to discuss it in churches. It’s a medical condition, and people need medical help. Prayer cannot bring our health back when we ignore medicine.”
London Church Offers HIV Tests to the Black African Community
It has been more than three decades since the first patient in Britain was diagnosed with HIV.
The fear and suspicion of the condition in the early years have since vastly diminished; however, one section of British society, the Black African community, has found the facts harder to accept.
Some of the prejudice has come from the church, the very place where one may expect tolerance, but as John McManus reports, there are signs that attitudes are changing.
Actionplus’ HIV Project Concepts
Preventing the onward transmission of HIV: We promote condom use and other ways of stopping HIV infection through the raising of the awareness around prevention campaigns.
Promoting the benefit of early diagnosis: We know that HIV diagnosis early gives you more of an opportunity to manage the virus and can prevent onward transmission.
Challenging prejudice: We tackle HIV stigma through education.
We are reducing the poverty experienced by people living with HIV in the UK and Africa. People living with HIV are living in poverty due to the disease.
In the UK, Ghana, and Uganda, we are leaders in HIV education, including support and empowerment programs working closely with our partner organizations every day, changing the lives of people with HIV/AIDS.
HIV advocacy training, HIV educational outreach programs, community-based HIV testing, training for community leaders, youth peer educational training, social empowerment training, sports for life, and special one-stop health shop promotion called your health is your life.
The website of Actionplus Foundation is created differently from other websites because it gives an all-inclusive account of some of the fantastic events that have happened throughout our journey for 25 years, right from the beginning to this time. We have made available images, video footage, and documentary reports as evidence to showcase the true impact of our project.
Additional Initiatives of the Foundation
- Football For Life
- Your Health Is Your Life
- The CHEP Programme
- Social Empowerment Programme
- Covid-19 Support Programme
- International Conferences
Joy City Chapel International (JCCI)
Our church, The Joy City Chapel International, is a brant Holy Ghost-filled church based in the UK, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya, called to preach and teach the word of God and win souls into the Kingdom.
Joy City Chapel International’s (JCCI’S) primary aim and objective is to practice and propagate what our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to do in Mark 16:15-16:
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believe and is baptized shall be saved” In Mathew 25: 40 says, “in as much, a ye have done it unto one of these brethren ye have done it unto me”
The Joy City Chapel International believes in a holistic ministry where people everywhere are brought to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, the planting of churches, and the equipping of believers to fulfill every purpose which God has given them here on earth. It also demonstrates the true practical love of Christ by providing social services in partnership with governmental bodies, communities, and other like-minded organizations.
The General Overseer and Founder Apostle Fred Osei Annin once said in one of his interviews with the media that “A dynamic church is a church that has the mind of winning souls for Christ and also has the passion for saving the destitute from their predicaments. Doing one and leaving the other undone is a complete failure to ministry and the call of God.”
The Tale in his Words
My First Week in England as a Missionary this is How it all Started
During my missionary tour of the country in 1991, preaching and teaching about Praise and Worship to revive the church here in the UK, many prophetic messages came from men of God from different denominations of the Christian faith saying that when I return to Ghana, God will bring me back again to the UK for a specific ministerial assignment.
Prophetic Word Fulfilled
When I returned to the UK, I opened the Pneuma Outreach Ministries and the Pneuma Community Link and registered the two institutions with the Charity Commission in 1997. Pneuma Outreach Ministry was set up as a place of worship, and Pneuma Community Link was also to offer practical charitable support such as organizing health awareness and wellbeing activities to educate the Black minority and ethnic communities in Southwark. Some of the projects we were organizing were about healthy eating, drug and substance abuse, HIV awareness and prevention, teenage pregnancy, and training young people to use music and drama to educate their peers to refrain from violence and crime.
It was through this initiative that we discovered that Lambeth was the highest HIV prevalent community in the whole of the UK, seconded by its next-door neighbor Southwark where we operate from. I also discovered that the black African community was also one of the communities at risk of having the HIV infection and also the second community with the highest HIV prevalence in the whole of the UK after the MSM group.
Taking The Fight to The Enemy’s Stronghold
It was this discovery that gave me more understanding of why God brought me back to the UK and led me to set up the charity right in the heart of Southwark and no other place. I, therefore, decided that we were going to spend more of our time concentrating mainly on HIV prevention and creating awareness of the infection in the community to reduce the spread of the infection. We also discovered that many pastors were not ready to accept the fact that HIV is a medical condition but rather believed that it is a form of a curse sent from God to demonstrate his anger over people who lead promiscuous or immoral lifestyles. Some also believe that HIV infection is purely a spiritual attack on people and can only be treated through prayers; therefore, after praying for those living with HIV, they ask those on treatment to stop taking their medication, therefore, causing many deaths to occur. All this ignorance contributed to the increase of stigma and discrimination in the church, which resulted in the spread of HIV infection in the African community.
Preparing For the Battle
At that time, I didn’t know much about the battle I intended to fight, so I decided to do more research work on HIV. After that, I also decided to consult the experts about how they could support this great vision. I traveled across London and the USA to meet with some of the known “experts,” but unfortunately, they all gave me all sorts of negative comments contrary to my expectation. To them, the vision was good, but they saw more than a hundred and one barriers, which suggested that my dream was going to be a mission impossible. The few of those comments I can remember were, “funding is very difficult to get these days, and apart from that, no funder will be willing to give you even a penny to support your work because you are a Pastor, and since Pastors don’t want to talk about HIV in their churches funders won’t believe you and take you seriously.” Others also said “many people had tried to go that way before and failed so why do you want to go there too?” Others also said, “you have no track record to show that you can deliver such a huge project and so no one will even believe you can deliver when they fund you.”
Those Who Wait Upon the Lord Shall Renew their Strength
After spending some days with God in prayer, I heard God clearly saying, “Fred, I am the one who has called you to intervene in this situation, and I am going to use you to release my people from the bondage which HIV has brought upon them especially those in the church. I will prove myself that I am a good God who can never put a curse on my people”. The Lord also said to me, “Although the journey will be long and tough if I look to him, he will provide for me and will never fail me.” The two scriptures that God gave me to send to the churches were from Galatians 3: 13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for it is written curse is everyone who hangs on a tree that the blessings of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” and Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” These were the words that refreshed my heart and empowered me again to stand on to my feet to fight this battle and do what nobody has ever done before in this intervention.
Championing A Great Cause Towards the Change in HIV Intervention
We changed the name of our charity to Actionplus Foundation to reflect the kind of change we wanted to see in our organization. After our hard work and faith in God, these are the remarkable miracles we have achieved. We have trained over 6,000 pastors and church leaders both in Ghana and the UK for them to know more about HIV, and they have embraced the facts about HIV but not the myths. Ignorance is removed, and stigma is broken in the church. We became the first organization in the UK and in Ghana to successfully launch the most effective module for HIV prevention today called “Take Action Now.” This module enables us to open free, confidential HIV testing centers in churches. Through this action, thousands from different denominations have been tested for HIV, and many of those who are diagnosed positive are on treatment and accessing care and support. Many people living with HIV and their families who left their churches because of stigma have been accepted back in love and are being supported. This is a great breakthrough because the place where Innocent people were discriminated against because of their HIV status has now become a sanctuary again. Glory to God.
Strategy I Adopted
This is what I did with the information I received from the experts. I launched a backdoor office on our website where videos of projects we have delivered are downloaded. So, anyone can visit our project site without having to buy any airline tickets to see what we do either in Africa or the UK. You just visit us by clicking your mouse on our YouTube channel, and straight away, you are watching us live.
Challenges and Oppositions
Even though we have gone through millions of uncountable challenges and oppositions throughout the 20-year journey, we are still growing stronger and stronger every year, sending the message of HIV to both the young and old.
Take Action Now
We’ve developed our modules for the intervention, and one of them is called “Take Action Now.” It has become the cutting edge for testing in churches worldwide. Many organizations have adopted the module but have only changed the name. One of the organizations using this model has given the name “Testing Faith.” These organizations are using the module to reach out to the faith communities to get many pastors trained, and people in the churches tested for HIV to save lives and reduce the prevalence of HIV.
Our organization started small from the beginning in Southwark but has grown over the years to become one of the leading HIV organizations. Our organization, throughout its operation, has not received any major funding to fund our work. We sometimes are fortunate to receive one-off grants and small donations to support our work, but despite this tough challenge, we have managed to sustain the work by God’s grace through the sacrifice of sweat, toil, pain, blood, tears, and the power to say NO we won’t quit when the odds strike our way. We have seen uncountable miracles happening daily. Those who have been with us on this journey and those who follow us online can testify that this work is not the work of a man but God through the feedback and testimonies we receive every day. We have also seen many big HIV organizations closed down for lack of funds, but we are still working and growing daily despite our lack of financial resources because God’s hand is on this work.
We have achieved many successes through our dedicated intervention, and here are the few to recall. 1) We have changed the minds of fellow Pastors and the leadership of the church who didn’t believe that HIV is a health issue. Changing the mindset of people who have already decided which paths they are taking for their lives is the most demanding thing to do, and that was the situation in the church and with some pastors before our campaign. Some were very ignorant about HIV and created barriers for HIV intervention in the church, but now they have been re-positioned to lead in this battle. The 20-year battle has changed HIV prevention forever. All glory be to God.