A Florida missionary among 30 killed in Burkina Faso terror attack

mike ridderingA Florida man who went to Burkina Faso as a missionary to dig wells and care for orphans was killed with 29 others on Jan. 15 when heavily armed terrorists from an Al-Qaeda affiliate attacked two hotels and a cafe.

Mike Riddering, 45, described as an amazing father and pillar of faith, found himself ambushed at the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou where he was to rendezvous with a group of short-term missionaries on their way to an orphanage 70 miles from the capital.

splendid hotel

The Splendid Hotel charred by car bomb explosions

“Heaven has gained a warrior!” wrote his wife Amy Boyle-Riddering on Facebook. “I know God has a purpose in all things but sometimes it is a complete mystery to me. My best friend, partner in crime and love of my life. The best husband ever. An amazing father to his children and a papa to everyone. My heart is so heavy and I am having trouble believing he is gone. Mike was an example in the way he lived and loved. God be glorified! Mike Riddering I will love you always! You left quite a legacy here. I can only imagine the adventures you are having now.”

A boat-builder from Hollywood, Florida, Riddering felt called to move to the deserts of Africa along with his wife, with whom he had four children: Haley, 23; Delaney, 19; Biba, 15 and Moise, 4.

french forces also attacked the attackers

French forces participated in the counter attack.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb sent the young attackers to kill and take hostage as many tourists and foreign aid workers as possible, in “revenge against France and the disbelieving West… the enemies of the religion,” a statement issued by the local Al-Qaeda branch said.

Some of the attackers infiltrated the luxury hotel at night while others wearing turbans arrived later in four-wheel drive vehicles. They exploded car bombs outside the hotel and stormed the site killing and taking hostages. Burkina Faso forces helped by French soldiers counter-attacked the next day in order to free the hostages and killed four extremists after an intense gunfight.

Mike’s brother Jeff told 7News, “He really felt that he’d heard the Lord say, ‘Go dig wells in Africa.’ He said, ‘Well, Lord, I might not be good enough to do anything else, but I can dig wells.’ When he got there, not only did he dig wells; he did everything else. Besides the orphanage, he adopted two children and started a women’s crisis center.”

The short-term missionaries scheduled to meet Mike were not at the hotel at the time of the attack and were spirited away to Niger to return to the United States.

“I’ve never met anybody who didn’t like Mike Riddering,” said Pastor Brian Burkholder of the Hollywood Community Church. “We’ve lost a hero. Mike lost his life doing the work of Jesus, doing what he thought God had called him to do. We will greatly miss him.”

Editor’s note: This article, published originally on God Reports here, was written by my journalism student, Anthony Gutierrez, at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.

14 responses to “A Florida missionary among 30 killed in Burkina Faso terror attack

  1. God bless his family and the legacy he left behind!

  2. Good report (better than Fox News!) and a moving story. As his wife said, we often cannot understand things that God allows, but we can be confident that God will use Mike’s faithfulness and sacrifice in magnificent ways. We need to support his wife and children, physical and spiritual, in prayer, because this is harder on them than it was on him. After all, He’s in glory!

  3. I pray for the victims of the incident.

  4. Wow this is sad to hear.
    I know this is not the topic of your post but thanks for sharing the pictures of the forces that respond. Only the first soldier looks like he’s in French uniform, the rest looks like they are wearing American gear, uniform and weapons. I googled it and others reported they are French, but man…I don’t think so.

  5. Thanks for this post. Burkina Faso has been heavy on our hearts as we have a really dear friend working there. Her daughter says she’s safe, but it’s good to know that many are praying for situation there!

      • Yes, this couple (he died last year) were missionaries in Burkina back when it was Upper Volta. The missions society they were with had them leave after the “black spring”. So they served many years as missionaries here in Italy (he was Italian). Then a few years ago, after retirement!) they went back there to serve. He worked diligently at evangelism/caring for pastors until the Lord suddenly took him home. His wife still works among the widows and orphans. Their daughter (who we watched grow up) lives in Europe. I’m so glad to have news through her, as they are among our closest friends. Thanks for keeping this woman and the others in prayer!!

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