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Borrowing Brains

"You can borrow brains, but you can't borrow character..."


Borrowing Brains

By Brenda Evans


“You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character,” Mozelle said, looking me straight in the eye. I could tell she was serious. Then she tilted her head playfully to the side and laughed, “I heard that almost 60 years ago from old Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., and he was right, you know.”

Mozelle West has lots of brains and doesn’t need to borrow any, but I understood what she meant: I’ll learn as much as I can—beg, borrow, and almost steal—to become the woman God wants me to be. “I find I have to keep renewing my mind. Push out the bad, put in the good right regular,” she said. That commitment to using her mind to follow Jesus and serve others was her theme during our conversation.

Right away, both laughter and seriousness swirled around in Mozelle—like vinegar and oil in a good raspberry vinaigrette. Sometimes they mingled, sometimes not. Humor and joy, discipleship and service—that’s the stuff of which she seems to be made.

A joke or punch line is always on the table when Mozelle is in the room. “I paid for Bronco to marry me,” she teased. “It was at church in 1951, and we weren't even Christians then. We didn't go to Sunday School, but at the break, we came in through the amen corner, got married, went out the door, didn’t stay for preaching, and headed for our honeymoon. I had already paid the preacher $5 because Bronco claimed he didn’t have any change. So he always said I had to pay to marry him.” She grins, and the corners of her eyes crinkle with delight.

When Mozelle is on a roll, you tumble right along with her. “Old-time medical remedies like Castor Oil were bad,” she said, “then I found a doctor that said it was only good for wagon wheels. I went to him until he died.” She pauses, knowing I understand the mischief stirred up by a spoonful of Castor Oil.


Borrowing Brains

Mozelle quietens a moment then continues. “My husband Bronco was a riot. He could make an audience laugh so loud you’d think they’d broken the sound barrier. One time at college he had me doing a Houdini trick on stage with him, and later a professor wanted to know how we did that. I asked the man if he could keep a secret. He said he could, and I said, ‘Well I can too!’”

Even widowhood hasn’t stolen her joy. Married almost 50 years to pastor, clown, and chalk artist Bronco West, Mozelle has been widowed for the past 10 years. She says, “Bronco was my best friend, my husband, my pastor. I still miss him.”

Tears glisten in her eyes. “But you know, there are two ways you can go. You can be depressed, let your world come to an end, be miserable, and make everybody else miserable, or you can be a joy to yourself and others. That’s what I’ve chosen to do. I love life, and I love living it too much to go the other way.”

When Mozelle was 30 and Bronco was 44, he answered the call to preach—just three years after they were saved. She clearly remembers the day. She had just come home from work and was in the bathroom brushing her teeth. In the mirror, she saw Bronco coming through the door.

She knew he had something on his mind. “What if I told you I was called to preach?” he asked.
Mozelle stared at him in the mirror and replied, “What makes you think that?”

“There’s been no dove on my shoulder, no burning bush, but I just know that if I don’t preach, I won’t be in God’s will,” Bronco answered.

“I figured if God had called him to preach, then he had called me to be a preacher’s wife. So when he said a little later that he wanted us to go to Bob Jones University, I said, ‘Well, if God’s called you to preach, you’ve wasted enough time already; let’s go.’”

But Mozelle doesn’t linger long over “how it used to be.” With a grin, she says, “I’m still called—called to teach, so I study and plan and work at it. I’ve had no greater joy in life than to sit down at a table with my Bible and lead someone to Christ. Then I like to get something simple into their hands. Something concise about how to live the Christian life, what to believe, what to do.”

When our conversation turned to discipleship and what it means to be a follower of Jesus, Mozelle became introspective. “I guess I’m a fish out of water. I’m not a joiner, not a society person. Living the Christian life is just part of me. I don’t have to work at it as much as I do rest in it—rest in Him without hope in anyone or anything else.”

“You know, I’ve never had a name, an identity. When you’re the wife of someone like Bronco, you’re just his wife. Besides, the only name that really counts is Follower of Jesus. I’ve worked mostly in the background, organizing, teaching, all those things you do in mission churches that nobody realizes is being done. And I won’t quit. I still teach, and I try to be a friend and encourager to my pastor.”

Mozelle is a serious Lady Barnabas, if you know what I mean. Several years ago she “borrowed brains” again, that is, learned yet another way to bless those who need blessing. Like Barnabas in Acts 4, she shares, stands up for, and vouches for the troubled. In other words, she is an encourager.

“Take anything I’ve got—TV, stove, refrigerator, whatever you want—but don’t take my telephone. I talk to the lonely, those who can’t get out anymore. I’m 80, and I know how it is, and I intend to help them through it,” she explains. “My first question when I call is ‘Are you in the middle of something?’ Some will laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I’m in the middle of the couch waiting for you to call.’”

Mozelle keeps life simple, even theologically. “Salvation is Jesus plus nothing. He must get greater, and I get smaller. I don’t live in the past or the future. I’m going to let the future take care of the future. To me, what I do now is what matters.”

That commitment to the present is what fuels her love for and gifts to Christian education. “I wish that people could learn that money is not the answer. I have a cousin who thinks it’s terrible that I’m not leaving what I have to my kinfolks. All I can say is, I don’t intend to buy cigarettes and dog food. I’ve got something more important to do.”

“I’m going where the need is. We need preachers and missionaries—now. We need parents who send their children to Free Will Baptist Bible College—now. If Bronco and I had known about Free Will Baptist Bible College, that's where we would have gone. We need people giving—now. That’s what we need.”

Mozelle has a firm practical view of the Christian life like Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., suggested all those years ago. You study, you work, you yield, you learn, you use the resources the Lord puts in your hand. In other words, you borrow all the brains you can, live with Christian character, and let God do the rest.


About the Writer: Brenda Evans, a retired English teacher, lives in Cattletsburg, KY, with her husband Bill, former director of the Free Will Baptist Foundation. They are proud grandparents of seven. To learn more about planned giving, visit


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists