Dr. Ernest Calvin Gambrell was born to Ira Green and Erma Elizabeth Gambrell on September 15, 1935 at Baptist Central in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Messick Elementary and High School. While in high school he shot on the Messick Rifle Team that won the State Championship. As a junior, he also took his first job, a paper route. He came to know the Lord as his Savior at the age of 12 at Central Avenue Baptist Church during a revival meeting with guest speaker Leo Eddleman from Dallas, Texas. Upon graduating from high school he entered William R. Moore School of Technology, Memphis, Tennessee, (September 1953-January 1954). Later he attended Memphis Baptist College where he received a B.A. (1964-1968). Continuing his education he received a Master of Religious Education (M.R.E.) from Faith Baptist Bible College in Milton, Florida (1981-1983) and also a Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) from Maryland Baptist College in Elkton, Maryland.
Ernest Gambrell joined the Marine Corp in January, 1954. He also enlisted for the Korean War in which he received a ribbon for a tour in the Caribbean which was preparation for the war. The war ended before he went. However, he was given the medals of Expert Marksman, both of which he still has, in rifle and pistol. Dr. Ernest was an ordinance technician and worked with 105 MM artillery cannons. He went to boot camp at Parris Island and spent most of his time at Camp Lejeune, NC.
Shortly after leaving the Marine Corp, Dr. Ernest Gambrell married his wife, Karen Diane Haire, on August 18, 1956 at Berclair Baptist Church in Memphis Tennessee. He joined the Memphis Police Department and served there until 1961. During this time their daughter, Teresa, and their oldest son, Joe, were born. Later he took a job in Helena, Arkansas at Mohawk Tire and Rubber. By 1963 he was asked to open and head up a Memphis Distribution Center on Jackson Ave. in the Belz Industrial Center. Their third child, Jonathan was born 12 years later in 1970.
Ernest Gambrell was called to serve the Lord in full-time missionary work in 1968. That call came during a Mission Conference at his home church, Thrifthaven Baptist Church, in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. H. Mel Rutter, the Founder and past President of Maranatha Baptist Mission was preaching and was greatly used by God in Brother Gambrell’s life. Dr. Gambrell, his wife Diane, and their two children, Teresa and Joe, left for Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1969, where they studied the Spanish language. After language school their third child, Jonathan, was born and they moved to Leon, Guanajuato. There they worked under a national pastor for one year. They then moved to Aguascalientes, Mexico, where they laid the foundation for the First Independent Baptist Church of Aguascalientes.
In 1975, after turning the church over to a national pastor, Brother Gambrell was asked to serve in the home office of Maranatha Baptist Mission as a representative. He later served as Vice-President, Candidate School Coordinator, and Editor of the “Maranatha” paper. Dr. Gambrell was affiliated with Maranatha Baptist Mission in Natchez, Mississippi for 17 years.
In 1985, under God’s leadership, he founded Fundamental Baptist World-Wide Mission in Memphis, Tennessee. The mission board’s motto is, “A Slave and Servant to the Local Church”. He continues to serve as President and General Director in the ministry today. Since that time, the ministry has founded the Latin American Missionary Training Institute located in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This is a one-year, hands-on language school and training institute for missionaries who are called to any Latin American country.
Dr. Ernest Gambrell resides in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife, Diane. Some of his favorite hobbies are gardening, woodworking and writing. Their sons, Joe and Jon, who also live in Memphis, Tennessee and are actively serving the LORD with their families in their local churches. Their daughter, Teresa and her husband are missionaries in Aguascalientes, Mexico.He also has been blessed with eight grandchildren.
Dr. Ernest Gambrell is most grateful in life for “the opportunity and privilege to serve the Lord in World Missions”.