Twila Bridges—Full of Spunk and Spirit at 80
Written by Tammy Leigh Maxey   

rCapCuising down the highway, hugging the curves, music blaring from her iPod, going strong at 80 – no, not mph, 80-years-old!  

Twila Bridges, full of spunk and spirit, is an inspiration as much as she is a hoot! Whether she’s out riding her horses, making waves on her Seadoo, cruising in her Mustang convertible, or on a cross-country trip on her Spider motorcycle, she is enjoying life to an active fullest…. Oh, and did I mention she just completed her Master’s degree in Theology last year?

Born on June 7, 1934 and raised on a farm, hard work and ambition was never a stranger to Twila. As a child, she shared the responsibility of milking the cows and cleaning the dairy machines with her younger brother after their dad built the first Grade A dairy farm in their part of Missouri.  She also bore the chore of getting 300 turkeys to roost (another story in itself). Later, she married her high school sweetheart, and became a teacher and served in numerous offices and committees, taking an active involvement in her children’s lives and the community.

In 1975, things changed drastically for Twila and her family.  Born and raised Mormon, her husband Dub began resorting to behaviors from his teachings that caused Twila to decide to divorce him.  During their separation from the divorce, God began to deal with Twila and Dub individually.  Dub accepted Christ and converted to Christianity, while Twila meanwhile began to experience God on a whole new level.  She realized that she knew God intellectually, but not spiritually.  Opening her heart up to receive this whole new aspect of God, she followed a call into ministry.  She and Dub reconnected and remarried, and embraced a new lease on life.

AgapeLifeFellowshipThey began a small country church, Agape Life Fellowship in 1991 where Twila pastors. Before Dub passed away in 2008, he and Twila created fond memories riding along with the International Convention of Faith Ministries (ICFM) in their Mustang convertible.  
In 2004, ICFM began a motorcycle ride, and Twila, discovering that they allowed cars to ride along, was eager to join the fun. So they put the top down, and followed the motorcycles, Twila, pretending to steer her imaginary motorcycle, “’Cause I love to drive fast around the corners,” she says.

She told Dub, “They’re having all the fun, let’s get a motorcycle.” Dub flatly refused, so Twila continued her ride alongs in the Mustang. After Dub passed, she decided it was time to revisit the idea of getting that motorcycle.

TwilaonBikeShe had never ridden a motorcycle, but a pastor friend took her to look at the Spiders, which have 2 wheels in the front.  At the time Twila thought they “had to be the ugliest things ever.” The owner of the motorcycle shop offered to give her a spin down the road a ways, then stopped and told her that she was driving back.  She was only back home one day when she phoned him up and bought the motorcycle.

That was in June.  In September, she planned to meet with a group of ministers that were going to ride together to Gatlinburg to meet with ICFM for their motorcycle ride.  One by one, the others dropped out and Twila found herself alone to make the trip.  She told no one at her church nor her children, yet somehow word leaked.  On the Sunday morning before she left, her daughter confronted her, “Mom, you can’t go by yourself!”
Twila retorted, “Where is your faith? You’ve been in this church for years, and you’re worried about me?”

So, the members of the church gathered around Twila and her motorcycle, laid hands on them both and prayed for the angels to help her and keep her safe on her trip. Then she donned her helmet and revved up for the 800 mile trip from Springfield, MO to Gatlinburg, TN.

A few hundred miles outside of Springfield, Twila stopped to refuel.  She had set her suitcases on the motorcycle’s passenger seat, so when she got off to pump gas she found she could not easily get to the gas cap.  She lifted the seat up, wiggled the cap off and sat it on the passenger foot rest. She wiggled the nozzle in the tank, filled up, then jumped back on the motorcycle and took off.

Just down the highway a bit, she thought, “Oh, I wish I had my iPod;” she was out of radio range.  So she stopped, pulled her iPod out the trunk and plugged it in, then went to get back on the motorcycle. However, she could not get her right foot off the ground.  She tried again, then again, but stubbornly that right foot refused to lift over the motorcycle.  A frustrated Twila stepped back and asked, “”Lord, what’s wrong?” That’s when her eyes fell to the gas cap, still resting on the passenger foot rest. She cried, “Oh, thank You, Lord!” She grabbed the gas cap and put it back on, jumped back on the motorcycle and took off down the road.

(The Spider motorcycles were just coming into popularity at that time, had she lost her gas cap, there would not have been a place she could have stopped to pick up another.)

Twila says of the experience, “I really believe that an angel held my ankle, pressing my foot to the pavement, until I discovered the gas cap. Hebrews 1:14 tells us that the angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister (aid, serve, etc.) the heirs of salvation. As I got started again, I realized that the prayers of my congregation had just been answered!  What joy filled my heart!”

She rode on into Pigeon Forge where the rest of the ICFM members were waiting, applauding and cheering her on.  It was her first motorcycle ride as an official Iron Messenger (the name of the group).

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When asked how she stays so young and healthy, Twila quotes Isaiah 49:8, Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.

“God wants us to live a victorious life, and has given us everything we need to do that,” says Twila.  “Until I was 40, all my salvation meant to me was an intellectual thing. I knew I was going to Heaven when I died, and that’s all my salvation meant to me until I really experienced the fullness of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus went to the Cross and bore the curse for us that came on Adam and Eve. He redeemed us from that.  As I studied Isaiah 49:8, I learned God has given us everything to live a healthy and productive life on this earth, to be an example to the lost.  So many people are living beneath their promises, yet they love the Lord.”

Twila says that she knows that it’s that gift in her that keeps her healthy and strong, as a sign of God’s covenant with his people, to stir them up.
“The Word is the Sword of the Spirit,” says Twila. “There is so much power that we have available to us as His people, not only available to us, but living within us, that we are not using.”

In other words, we are living short of our promises. Wow! What a gift, what an amazing, incredible, awesome gift.  If salvation were only a gift of eternity in Heaven, it would be beyond enough.  Yet, it is so much more. What do you need from God? I challenge you, if you are a Believer, to tap into that power that has been given to YOU; claim it! Do not sell your own salvation short when it is there to gift you with so very much more. PivotPointEndingBug
 
TwilaandHusbandTwila is remarried to husband John Bridges who joins her on motorcycle rides and trips.  They will be riding with ICFM Iron Messengers again this year.  Together they have a large family full of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great, great grandchildren.  She loves living life to the fullest, and most of all being an example of God’s promises to those who love and seek Him. agapelifefellowship.org
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