The Rio Grande Bible Institute, Inc. was founded in 1946 by Rev. M.C. Ehlert, a Baptist pastor and evangelist, who came to the Rio Grande Valley in 1937 to do tent evangelism. He saw a great need to train Hispanic believers and new converts because there was very little Bible training available for them.
Mr. Ehlert's vision led to the purchase of 40 acres of land in Edinburg, Texas, the heart of the lower Rio Grande Valley. The first buildings were erected and classes began in the spring of 1947. The school was unique in that it was bilingual, offering three years of comprehensive Bible training in either English or Spanish.
In 1955, the English Bible Institute was discontinued and the Spanish language school was begun in its place. Later the Bible Institute program was lengthened to four years, and more recently the one- and two-year programs were made available to college graduates.
God has prospered both schools. More than 6,000 people from mainly Latin and North America have come to study. The most recent enrollments in the Bible Institute have been in excess of 115 day students with another 25 enrolled in the Language School.
In 1999, RGBC was accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), but it was not until 2008 that the State of Texas recognized the accreditation, monumentally giving their certificate of authorization for RGBC to grant the Bachelor in Biblical Studies degree.
Throughout the past 68 years, God has blessed RGBI with a sixty-two-acre campus and expanded the ministry beyond its perimeters. Within the last 25 years, God has added the ministry of broadcasting through Radio Esperanza.
In 2008, the third radio station was acquired, resulting in one AM and two FM stations, with the signal reaching the lower and mid-Rio Grande Valley and deep into northern Mexico. Through the Internet, Radio Esperanza can be heard all around the world, touching lives with God’s Word.
Video Esperanza is an extension of Rio Grande Bible College through video and audio materials, making it possible for those who are unable to attend the Institute be trained in God’s Word.
In 1993, Bibleville, a non-denominational Bible Conference Center near Alamo, Texas, became the latest addition to the growing RGBI family. There “Winter Texans” host Bible conferences and music concerts during the winter months, and have become important prayer and ministry partners to RGBM staff and students.
The mission of the Rio Grande Bible College is to "develop Christ-centered leaders with a biblical worldview for the global church.” An ongoing reality is that most of our enrolling students cannot afford to pay anything remotely near the actual costs of their education.
To address this reality, Rio Grande Bible Institute, Inc., right from its inception, decided that its members would be asked to depend completely on the Lord to meet their personal financial needs. The vast majority of our approximately 100 staff personnel do not receive a salary but, through deputized fund-raising, seek ministry partners who will support them financially. For this reason our Bible College ministry, for example,can continue to offer a complete education for our students at a fraction of the cost that they would have to pay if they attended any other USA-based college offering a similar type of degree.
God continues to sustain each of our Rio Grande Bible Ministries through the prayers and financial gifts of His people who share our passion for fulfilling the mission the Lord has given us.