The International Reformed Theological College (IRTC) provides online education in Portuguese. The idea for this college was born in 1999 in a committee that had received the mandate to organize ministerial training for Canadian and Dutch Reformed mission churches in Brazil (Igrejas Reformadas do Brasil–IRB). A major consideration in developing this training was that it would have to be affordable and sustainable for the Brazilian churches. The lack of financial and human resources among this very small group of churches was obvious. It was decided that other faithful brothers needed to be consulted, Reformed brothers of other churches.
This led a group of Reformed scholars in Brazil to found a program of studies that could receive support from other Reformed believers in Brazil and could provide good education for the IRB and also for other students. There was seen to be a great opportunity for ministry through distance education, given that there are many who are interested in theological training, but do not have access to a seminary or Christian college because they live far away from cities that have such seminaries. The IRB could thus share the burden with other churches in Brazil and make a small contribution to a new project that would advance the Kingdom among Portuguese-speaking people everywhere.
At the same time, the IRB and any other church could make this training their own by starting their own local study center with their own mentors, who would provide the personal interaction that can greatly enhance distance education and also see to proper oversight of their students as they follow the online program of studies. Maintaining such a study center would be far more sustainable than a full-fledged seminary.
The IRB chose not to fully support the ideas of the committee, but the IRTC had already been set up because of the interest in such distance education among other Christians. Seventeen years later, the IRTC continues to demonstrate that online education is an excellent instrument for students and churches worldwide to equip faithful leaders for Christ’s churches.