“Congratulations on launching PIA today! I’m proud of you, Mom!” Kahindo Mbodwam read these words right after she awoke from a nap on opening day at Poiema International Academy in Kinshasa, The Democratic Republic of Congo. Exhaustion had set in. But when she saw the note from her 17-year-old son, Michael, she praised the Lord for His faithfulness.

Kahindo’s calling began when she was nine years old, moving from Africa to North Chicago while her father attended language school and completed his doctorate in Christian education at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. For the first time, Kahindo enjoyed team sports and drama, learning the clarinet, Christmas carols, large amounts of snow, and learning to decipher the African-American accent from Kenyan English.

Her family would spend summers in Moline, IL, where she experienced more firsts—apple pie, swimming, baseball, concerts, youth group, bowling, and gymnastics. She learned the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to the Christian flag.

When Kahindo’s father was sent to Cameroon, Africa, to serve with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU), she and her brother stayed behind. Her parents were unsure where they would attend high school in Africa at the time. A!er staying with a Christian family and attending public high school in Moline for one year, they heard about a Christian school in Cameroon, Rain Forest International School. Kahindo moved to Cameroon to finish high school. It was there that she matured in her relationship with Christ, through the witness and discipleship of many teachers and friends. She had grown up in a wholesome American Christian culture of community that ultimately shaped her faith.

And it was this part of her life that eventually led her to realize what was gravely missing in Africa. Living a distance away from her high school, Kahindo mingled between the international and national communities—experiencing a void of community and school activities she had grown accustomed to in the U.S. She saw there was nothing to keep kids out of trouble or help them develop spiritually. She was shocked that in a day’s flight, she found herself in a part of the world cut off from advancement in almost every vital area—spiritual, educational, technological, cultural, and political. Kahindo knew the Lord was calling her not to return to the U.S. as many people dream, but to help the children of Africa. She returned to Moody Bible Institute and ultimately earned her master’s degree in France. A!er many roadblocks, thirteen years and four children later, Kahindo and her husband, Emmanuel, returned to Congo in 2017 when Emmanuel was called by Mission Aviation Fellowship to be a full time pilot and Director of Quality.


I came to understand that even if I started a youth center, the poor education of the young people will not allow them to move far in growing into spiritually mature young people who will be equipped to one day lead their communities or society forward for the kingdom of God. Without being able to read, write, and think clearly, one can only go so far. A significant part of our spiritual formation requires that we read and correctly interpret Scripture and make sense of what we are reading. This requires strong reading and thinking skills.

A Christian school, and particularly a classical Christian education that graduates articulate, clear-thinking, and selfless young men and women—whose desire in life is to please God in whatever line of work they end up in, wherever the Lord will have them live, and in whatever difficult and challenging moral situation they will find themselves—is what will actually solve Africa’s problem of corruption and man’s own depravity that is underneath all the symptoms of poverty, diseases, scarcity of knowledge, and constant conflict. To try and solve Africa’s problem by “teaching a man to fish is to only have him learn to fish, fill up his stomach, and eventually be hungry again, only this time it will be a deeper hunger that neither he, nor another human or government, can satisfy.

Since Emmanuel’s income with MAF is entirely support-raised, Kahindo found herself teaching at The American School of Kinshasa, where her children could attend tuition free. The children enjoyed many extracurricular activities and friends, but Kahindo soon saw the lack of spiritual formation and even anti-American sentiments exhibited by some teachers. She started researching classical Christian education and began talking about it daily with her family. She knew God was calling her to start a school that would honor Him because children are God’s workmanship (poiema) “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that they should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Covid shut-downs made this transition easier for her children since activities stopped and all learning was online.

Poiema International Academy began in 2021 with eight students and three volunteer teachers. they meet in a small house provided by another family, and rely on their generator when the city frequently loses electricity. Communicating classical Christian education and its benefits is a challenge in Congo, and a biblically integrated curriculum is unheard of.

Kahindo’s desire is “to see classical Christian schools planted all over Congo to strengthen believers, the body of Christ, and the church. If students are given the tools to read well and understand Scripture, to think clearly and critically about what is keeping this generation in spiritual darkness, and to communicate effectively to win others to the Lord, this will be a successful Congo.” ✤


Poiema International Academy Website

Poiema needs supplies, teachers, funds, prayer, and teams who would travel to Congo to help in all areas. Contact Kahindo at [email protected] or [email protected].

To Give: Go to this MAF link https://give.maf.org/donate/search enter ID number 4102 (assigned to Poiema International Academy) where it says FUND ID.

Purchase needed supplies through their Amazon Registry under the name Kahindo Mbodwam or Poiema International Academy. View their guest registry here.