US Missionary Killed in Burkina Faso Terror Attack: 'Heaven's Gained a Warrior'
The family and church of a missionary who was killed in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso are mourning his loss, remembering him as a "warrior" and a "martyr" for his faith.
Mike Riddering was one of 28 people killed Friday in the attack at a hotel in West Africa.
Riddering and his wife Amy were sent from Hollywood Community Church in south Florida to Burkina Faso five years ago, to run an orphanage and women's crisis pregnancy center.
In a Facebook post Amy Riddering paid tribute to her husband.
"Heaven has gained a warrior! I know God has a purpose in all things but sometimes it is a complete mystery to me," she posted.
"My best friend, partner in crime and love of my life. The best husband ever. ...My heart is so heavy and I am having trouble believing he is gone."
Riddering was in the capital city with a team of missionaries visiting from the U.S. He had stopped at a cafe in Ouagadougou with a friend when al-Qaeda linked terrorists stormed in and started shooting.
His friend, identified as Pastor Valentin, escaped and immediately called Riddering's wife to tell her they "urgently" needed prayer.
During a news conference Sunday, Riddering's pastor Brian Burkholder, described how he heard the tragic news.
"I received a text message about five o'clock Friday afternoon from Amy stating, 'Brad I just got this phone call from pastor Valentin asking us to pray. I don't know what's going on. Please pray. Then the phone went dead after Pastor Valentin made that statement, the phone went dead,' and for some twenty hours, Mike's condition was unknown and Mike was unaccounted for. We didn't know where Mike was. The embassy didn't know where Mike was. They were frantically searching for him," Burkholder said.
*Click play to listen to more from the news conference.
During the emotional press conference, Burkholder praised his friend for his commitment and selfless nature.
"We feel that Mike was a modern day martyr who lost his life doing the work of Jesus, doing what he felt like God had called him to do. And we will greatly miss him. Mike was not only one of our missionaries and a church member, Mike was my friend, my good friend," he said.
He also shared when he finally learned about Riddering's death.
"Yesterday afternoon at 1 p.m. our time, Amy contacted me and with a simple statement she said, 'Brian, Mike is with Jesus,'" said Burkholder.
Pastor Burkholder said Riddering had also been a youth leader at Hollywood Community Church. The church's Facebook page has posted a picture of Riddering with the caption, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," from Philippians 1:21.
*A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Riddering's family.
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