Orphanage director loved Burkina Faso

American missionary never stopped helping until his tragic death in January 2016

Michael Riddering
Michael Riddering was among those killed during an al-Qaida hotel siege

Christian missionary Michael Riddering, who died in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso, sold a family-run yacht outfitting company to run an African orphanage and dig wells.

From 2011 to his death on February 15, 2016, Michael and wife Amy worked in the Burkina Faso town of Yako, where they also ran a classroom and a home for widows and abused women.

John Anderson of Sheltering Wings, a missionary organization who sponsored the orphanage, paid tribute to Michael saying he was a "wonderful Godly man" who did backbreaking work digging wells throughout the Ebola crisis.

The father-of-four was among 29 people fatally shot by al-Qaida loyalists during a 12-hour hotel siege in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

The Ridderings shared regular blogs and tweets about their work with a stated mission to "Reach Burkina".

This journey from the USA to West Africa started when Michael surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in a supermarket parking lot one sunny afternoon.

“I was overwhelmed with the tremendous need”"Over the years, we have had many curve balls thrown our way, but God has always pulled us through," Michael writes.

"I used to joke with my wife that if God had us digging wells in Africa someday, we were ready...

"That state of the heart allowed God to start moving, and what was once a playful statement, began to shape up as something much more."

Michael's brother Jeff was involved in an African mission for many years and invited them to help out. During a short-term trip with his youngest daughter, Michael recalled, "I was overwhelmed with the tremendous need and the many opportunities that were there."

Ruth Cox, a missionary in Burkina Faso shared that she had been praying for a family to run an orphanage in Yako, and that God had provided them funds for someone to dig much-need water wells.

After much prayer, Michael and his family knew that God was calling them to leave their comfortable American lifestyle and to share God's love with the people of Burkina Faso.

Michael ended one blog post with: "It is amazing to see how God has had His hand in everything all along. We are seeing pieces of a puzzle put together one at a time, completing a beautiful picture of God's love."

He followed with a quote from Isaiah 48:17, "This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow."

Michael's wife Amy wrote on Facebook two days after his passing, "I know God has a purpose in all things but sometimes it is a complete mystery to me.

"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!"

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