Real Heroes of the Faith
We have been so programmed by tradition that most Christians only think in terms of those persons who were propelled into the public eye by media exposure as being the only bastions of our faith. The Scriptures show us the example of Jesus who repeatedly avoided publicity and personal recognition.
Jesus healed a leprous man, “And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man…” Peter, James, and John his brother, saw Jesus transfigured on the mount. Surely this event would have had an impact on convincing the Pharisees as to the Deity of Jesus Christ. “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” Time and time again Jesus spoke to those persons who witnessed His miracles and said to them, “Tell no man what was done.” Jesus Christ did exactly as He was instructed; careful to avoid notoriety and self-aggrandizement.
Jesus gave His all; owning nothing in this world. “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Jesus had no home, no donkey, no bookshelf full of commentaries, no insurance policies, no salary, no paid speaking engagements, no motorhome, no subsidized return trips to His home, etc. Jesus never solicited funds from anyone; neither did His disciples. This is the example of the true missionary’s life.
A “well-loved and respected” American missionary was among the 29 people killed in the attack by al-Qaida fighters on a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou. Michael Riddering, age 45, leaves behind a wife and four children, two of whom were adopted from the small African nation of Burkina Faso.
Riddering, who once managed a yacht outfitting company in Cooper City, Florida, and his wife, a graphic designer, sold their property and possessions and moved to the town of Yako to run the Les Ailes de Refuge orphanage in 2011. The complex also includes a clinic, classrooms and a home for abused women and widows. Michael was most certainly walking on the path that Jesus walked. He and his family were helping the sick and afflicted and the abused and children and widows. They were totally committed to following the examples set forth by the Master.
Friends and colleagues remembered Riddering as “a wonderful, godly man” who managed to find spare time to help teams of volunteers from other organizations who dug wells for local residents. During the Ebola crisis, when it was hard to find people to do the digging, Mike would go out and join them so they could continue doing the work. It was backbreaking work. He never stopped moving and never stopped helping. Physical labor has become a thing of the past for most now serving on the mission field. They cannot find the energy to lift a shovel, but they have no problem lifting a spoon.
Even before Michael went to Africa no job was too small when it came to helping. At the church Mike attended in Florida he volunteered for everything; from cutting the grass to becoming a youth pastor. Needless to say, Michael Riddering was a servant. He graduated from Fort Lauderdale Christian High School in 1988. You will not see any seminary or institute diplomas on his wall. After high school…he worked! FYI…so did the disciples that Jesus called. Such men are seldom found today. I dare say that most of those serving today would not know a calling if they bumped into Jesus on the street. But they certainly know how to solicit God’s provision from the hard working saints and plaster their walls with diplomas and certificates.
So you go on and hold up your Roloff’s and Hyles’ and J. Frank Norris’ with their airplanes and fleets of buses and huge church buildings. When we get to heaven I will be looking for men like Michael Riddering; a humble servant who remained in shadows of God’s glory…, “And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man…”