Tributes paid to 'triumphant life' of missionary murdered in Burkina Faso attacks

Mike and Amy Boyle RidderingFacebook

Tributes from around the world have poured in for the "triumphant life" of Christian missionary Mike Riddering, murdered in the Burkina Faso terror attacks this weekend.

The missionary organisation Sheltering Wings, which supoorted the Les Ailes de Refuge orphanage where Riddering and his wife Amy worked, said he had travelled the 70 miles to Ouagadougou, the capital, to collect a team of missionaries from the US.

The visitors he was meeting were planning to work short-term at the orphanage, where 400 children are looked after.

Sheltering Wings said Riddering, from Florida, and Pastor Valentin, an associate from Burkina Faso, went to Ouagadougou on January 15. They arrived early at Cappuccino Café, across from the Splendid Hotel. Both places were attacked by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Amy Boyle-Riddering received a call during the attack from Pastor Valentin urgently requesting prayer. Before he could complete his call, however, the phone went dead. Pastor Valentin was separated from Riddering during the attack and hid in the Cappuccino Café.

Several hours later, Amy was told that the pastor had been rescued but there was no news of her husband.  Another Sheltering Wings missionary, Philip Matheny, who arrived in Burkina Faso on January 14, began searching for Riddering and found his body in a morgue on January 16.

Besides his wife, Riddering leaves four children: Haley aged 23, Delaney aged 19, Biba aged 15 and Moise aged 4. A fund has been set up to assist the family. They had moved to Burkina Faso five years ago.

In a moving memorial, Amy wrote on Facebook: "Heaven has gained a warrior! 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."

Sheltering Wings described Riddering as having had a "triumphant life".

"Tragically and unexpectedly, Mike's life was cut short," the organisation added in a statement posted to its website. "We grieve with Amy and her family, and all who knew Mike."

Riddering, aged 45, was one of 28 people killed in the Friday night attack.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time, as they are with all those affected by this brutality."

Pastor Brian Burkholder of Riddering's Hollywood Community Church in Florida told his congregation: "He was a boat builder that God took to the deserts of Africa. I've never met anybody who didn't like Mike Riddering. We've lost a missionary, we've lost a hero this weekend. I feel that Mike lost his life doing the work of Jesus, doing what he thought God had called him to do, and we will greatly miss him."

His brother Jeff Riddering 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, Riddering adopted two children and started a women's crisis center.

The missionaries he was meeting were diverted to Niger and have subsquently returned to the US.

The Burkina Faso government has declared three days of national mourning.