ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Last month a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda attacked a luxury hotel and restaurant Burkina Faso, West Africa. During the horrific attack, terrorists killed 29 people and wounded 50 more.
One of those people was an American who was working for Shelter Wings, a Christian mission organization, founded in St. Louis, Missouri by Ruth Cox. Mike Riddering and his wife Amy ran the mission that helped widows and more than 400 orphans. They had given up a comfortable life in Florida, packed up their children to move to Africa. Amy says they loved the country, the people and their work and that the terrible tragedy that occurred on Friday, January 15th came without any warning.
“We were really never worried about anything. There was very little that happened in that town,” said Amy.
However, that soon changed. Mike and Amy were planning a trip to the nearby capital to do some shopping for the mission and pick up volunteers due to arrive at the airport. At the last minute a friend, Pastor Valentin, went with Mike instead. Amy described the next 24 hours that changed her life forever. She said she received a phone call from Mike saying he had been shopping and got everything on her list. They were going to Cappuccino, a restaurant Amy herself had been several times, to grab a bite to eat and await the volunteers. That was the last time she heard her husband’s voice.
She received another phone call a short time later. This time it was from Pastor Valentin.
“I could hear he was upset, noticeable shaken, it sounded like he could be crying and he said we really need your prayers right now,” said Amy.
Her first thought was there had been a car accident. She tried to call him back many times but was never able to reach him. It was the next day, after hours of searching, that Amy learned Mike had been killed when terrorists stormed the restaurant and started shooting.
Mike’s work was his passion. He built wells for clean drinking water, aquaponics projects to provide food, he operated schools, medical clinics and training programs.
Mike’s brother, Jeff Riddering, said, “If we’re trying to figure out a way to fight terrorism, I don’t think that more missiles will really help. I actually think we need more Mike Ridderings.”
Mike’s work and love was evident in the faces of the thousands of people who was there when Mike was laid to rest in Burkina Faso. Though Mike is gone, his words echo through many hearts, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Amy Riddering will return to Africa in March to continue the work Mike loved so much.
Learn more about Sheltering Wings: http://www.sheltering-wings.org/
Amy’s blog: http://reachburkina.blogspot.com