HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Michael Riddering was well-loved and hailed a hero Saturday morning by members at the Hollywood Community Church. Riddering, 45, was a member of the congregation for nearly 15 years and eventually became a pastor there.
Riddering was killed Friday night in Burkina Faso when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked a café and nearby luxury hotel. Riddering was in that café waiting for a group of missionaries from Pembroke Pines. That group is safe and expected back in South Florida this week.
Pastor Brian Burkholder has known Riddering and his family for years and said that his death is a tough loss for the congregation.
"Mike was one of the most remarkable men that I have ever met in my entire life," Burkholder said. "I don't know whether I've ever met somebody that was so loving, so lovable at the exact same time. I don't think there was ever anyone that didn’t like Mike."
Members of the Hollywood Community Church honored Riddering early Saturday morning, and Burkholder said that Riddering would be remembered in a memorial service within the next several weeks.
Riddering was from Cooper City and moved to Burkina Faso in 2011 with his wife, Amy, to run an American Christian mission organization called Sheltering Wings. The organization included an orphanage with about 25 children, several elementary schools, a technical school and a medical clinic.
Security forces killed four jihadists and freed more than 126 others that were held hostage in the 12-hour siege.
Riddering leaves behind his wife and four children -- two biological and two children the couple adopted in Burkina Faso.
"He was a hero when he showed up here," Burkhalter said. "Mike would show up here and people would give him a standing ovation."