Grave of Peter Drinhaus.

Photo courtesy of Romper90069. Source: Find a Grave,

Drinhaus, Peter (1889–1950)

By Maria Fransisca


Maria Fransisca lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she is a member at the Jakarta International Seventh-day Adventist Church (JISDAC). She has been serving in the Pathfinder Club and in music ministry. She is an engineer who loves reading about church history. One of her favorite memory verses is in Romans 13:11, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer then when we believed.”


First Published: April 25, 2021

Peter Drinhaus was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, evangelist and missionary in Germany, Africa and Asia.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

Peter Drinhaus was born January 2, 1889, in Wuppertal, Vohwinkel, Germany, to Jakob Drinhaus and Helena Claas.1 His grandparents were among the first Seventh-day Adventists in Europe. He learned the truth as a child and was baptized at age 14.2

After training at Friedensau Missionary Seminary, he labored in Germany for several years and then on April 14, 1914,3 he sailed from Hamburg to Tanganyika in German East Africa,4 now Tanzania, to work as a missionary. During World War I he was interned by the Belgians and French, later exchanged to Switzerland, and finally returned to his homeland, Germany. In 1917 he married Katherine Mueller,5 daughter of Ludwig Mueller and Anna Elizabeth Zimmermann.6 To this union a daughter named Waltraud Helene was born three years later on November 20.7

His older brother, Paul Drinhaus (1886-1930), had served as president of the West German Union for several years and passed away from malaria and pneumonia while he was visiting the West African jungle mission in 1930.8


Drinhaus sailed for Batavia9 in October 1921 where he had been called to work for the Netherland East Indies Union Mission. Other missionaries who had first connected with this field in 1921 were F. J. J. Dittmar and A. H. Zimmermann. Drinhaus’ first post was officially in Medan, North Sumatra Field, where he served as evangelist and director of the field.10 From time to time he also traveled and labored in other areas.

In 1929 Drinhaus was called to serve as a departmental secretary at the mission headquarters11 in Bandoeng (Bandung). When Drinhaus was in Bandung, there were around 30 Sabbath-keepers, most of whom had recently come to the faith. Here they were with several other families (Raubenheimer and Dr. J. E. Gardner). Drinhaus was in charge of the work in Bandung and the company grew with new believers, many of whom were Chinese. Agressive work was carried out in three languages, Dutch, Chinese, and Malay. It was reported that the work in Bandung was just newly established but “bids fair to develop into one of our most prosperous stations”12

The Dutch colonial government put boundaries on the mission work. Drinhaus wrote that after a year of working in Bandung, he had not received a permit from the government of the Netherland East Indies to continue the mission work in that center. The church was allowed to meet on Sabbath and conduct services, but they did not have a permit for public work.13

In 1924 Drinhaus began the work at Semarang.14 During the years 1929 to 1937, work opened up in a number of places in Indonesia, especially in Sumatra, Nias, Minahasa, Macassar, Ambon, and the surrounding islands. Drinhaus served as superintendent of the Netherland East Indies Union Mission from 1936 to 1940.15

Drinhaus used every opportunity to share the gospel message. A story was told that, while waiting the arrival of a ship from Europe at Sabang, Drinhaus used the two days to sell Daniel and the Revelation and Christ Our Savior. One copy of each of these books was purchased by a Dutch government official named Mr. Mess. He read them and shared what he had just learned with native workmen from Nias island. Mr. Mess then was transferred to Batavia, where he attended church regularly and again met Drinhaus. Several months later Mr. Mess was baptized. The government refused to grant Mr. Mess exemption from duty on Sabbath, so he resigned and moved to Koeta Radja where he served as elder of the church.16

Beginning May 10, 1940, Drinhaus spent more than six years as a prisoner-of-war in different camps in Java, Sumatera, and India. Pastor F. A. Mote related his experience on the day when Drinhaus was held by the Dutch government.17 In 1940 the church had been holding camp meetings in Sumatra and in Java. On the Sabbath before May 10, they had a service in the Batavia church. Elder Drinhaus was the speaker that morning. Quoting from Revelation 2:10, a motto on the wall at front of the church, Drinhaus said, “Brethren, we must be faithful and we shall receive a crown of life.” After the meeting they went back to Bandung.

Early Sunday morning, they traveled in a train to the next camp meeting and Drinhaus was sleeping. It was very hot and they were tired. Suddenly Drinhaus jumped to his feet when a lad shouted something in Dutch. Drinhaus said, “I am interned, war has reached us.” A Dutch officer followed by armed native soldiers came in; they were looking for white faces and checked their passports. Pastor Mote was released because he was American, but they held Drinhaus because he was a German. Little did they realized when Drinhaus spoke on Revelation 2:10 that he would be a prisoner before the next Sabbath. The missionaries who were serving in the Dutch East Indies were interned by the Dutch government when the German armies invaded Holland and Belgium. When the Japanese armies swept on to the south, these missionaries were taken to Dehra Dun camp in India, at the foot of the Himalaya Mountain.18

Through the persistent efforts of the General Conference and the Southern Asia Division and the generosity of the US State Department, in August 1946, Drinhaus and 11 other missionaries were finally released from prison19 and came to the United States.20 Shortly after he was reunited with his family who had been stranded in Japan.21

Elder Drinhaus at the Fall Council mission symposium on Sabbath afternoon, October 19, 1946, related a few experiences that are of special interest, as they reveal the providential intervention of the Lord. In December 1941 while they were interned in the Dutch East Indies, and the Japanese threatened Sumatra and Java, the missionaries were removed to British governed India. They were to be transported in three ships in alphabetical order. It so turned out that two of the brethern should have traveled on the third ship, while the others were on the first and second. But for some reason, they were finally placed on the other two boats. When they had safely arrived at Bombay, they soon learned that the third boat had been sunk and more than 400 of the internees it carried had lost their lives.22

In a workers’ meeting on November 6, 1946, he expressed thankfulness that he could again be in a free country, for he had not attended a workers’ meeting for more than six years. He was impressed with the fact that wherever he went as he was taken from camp to camp, he always met those of his own faith and they were always willing to help in every time of need. Elder Drinhaus aptly termed it “The Brotherhood of Christ.” He stated that others in the world have tried to form brotherhoods, but only those who are members of this worldwide Adventist message, can really sense the significance of what “The Brotherhood of Christ” involves. Officers and other internees were greatly impressed by the integrity and faithfulness of the Seventh-day Adventist internees and some accepted the gospel because of their earnest labors. His prayer was that we might continue to plan, work, pray, and help finish this work so that we all may have a part in that glorious day when all His people throughout the world are gathered home.23

Later Life

In 1947-1948, Drinhaus was pastor of the German Brooklyn church in New York.24 Then he retired because of health problems. From Glendale, California, where he hoped to regain his health, he went to the General Conference session in San Fransisco and enjoyed his first attendance at the church worldwide meeting. The joy was cut short before the first Sabbath had begun. Drinhaus passed away July 14, 1950, in San Fransisco, California.25

Contribution and Legacy

Drinhaus was a dedicated missionary pastor. He made use of every opportunity to share the gospel. He served in various capacities during his denominational work, especially in Southern Asia. He was interned during World War II for six years, but this did not deter him from continuing to work for the Lord.


“Free from Entanglements.” ARH, May 21, 1914.

“Freed from Internment.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1946.

Ising, W. K. “Missionaries Return from Years of Internment.” ARH, November 28, 1946.

Ivans, I. H. “Our Work in Java.” ARH, June 14, 1923.

“Latest Word from Pastor Drinhaus.” Far Eastern Division Outlook June 1, 1924.

Mote, F. A. “Remarkable Progress in the Face of Difficulties.” Australasian Record, January 24, 1949.

“Obituaries.” Pacific Union Recorder, August 14, 1950.

“Obituaries.” ARH, August 31, 1950.

“Peter Drinhaus.” Service Record/ Information Blank. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, the Philippines.

“Proceedings of the General Conference Forty-fifth Session, June 5-15, 1946.” ARH June 6, 1946.

Schuberth, H. F. “Among the Dutch Indies.” ARH, May 23, 1929.

Shaw, John L. “Workers Sent to the Fields in 1921.” ARH, January 12, 1922.

Spicer, William A. “To the Fields in 1914.” ARH, January 7, 1915

Spicer, William A. “Wide- Scattered Light Bearers.” ARH, March 4, 1937.

Thompson, J. C. “How the Message Goes.” ARH, October 10, 1935.

“To Far Eastern Division.” The General Conference Bulletin, May 28, 1922.

“West Jawa Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, Vol. 14, No. 3, March 1925.

“Workers’ Meeting.” Pacific Union Recorder, November 20, 1946.


  1. “Peter Drinhaus,” Service Record/Information Blank, Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, the Philippines.

  2. Ibid.

  3. “Obituaries,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 14, 1950, 8; “Free from Entanglements,” ARH, May 21, 1914, 24.

  4. William A. Spicer, “To the Fields in 1914,” ARH, January 7, 1915, 6.

  5. Ibid.

  6. “Peter Drinhaus,” Service Record/Information Blank.

  7. Ibid.

  8. William A. Spicer, “Wide- Scattered Light Bearers,” ARH, March 4, 1937, 4.

  9. John L. Shaw, “Workers Sent to the Fields in 1921,” ARH, December 28, 1922, 31.

  10. “To Far Eastern Division” The General Conference Bulletin, May 28, 1922, 301.

  11. H. F. Schuberth, “Among the Dutch Indies,” ARH, May 23, 1929, 15.

  12. I. H. Ivans, “Our Work in Java,” ARH, June 14, 1923, 17.

  13. “Latest Word from Pastor Drinhaus,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1, 1924, 5.

  14. “West Jawa Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1925, 12.

  15. “Peter Drinhaus,” Service Record/Information Blank.

  16. J. C. Thompson, “How the Message Goes,” ARH, October 10, 1935, 12.

  17. F. A. Mote, “Remarkable Progress in the Face of Difficulties,” Australasian Record, January 24, 1949, 2.

  18. “Proceedings of the General Conference Forty-fifth Session, June 5-15, 1946,” ARH, June 6, 1946, 15.

  19. “Freed from Internment,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1946, 8.

  20. “Obituaries,” ARH, August 31, 1950, 20.

  21. “Obituraries,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 14, 1950, 8.

  22. W. K. Ising, “Missionaries Return from Years of Internment,” ARH, November 28, 1946, 13.

  23. “Workers’ Meeting,” Pacific Union Recorder, November 20, 1946, 6.

  24. “Obituaries,” ARH, August 31, 1950, 20.

  25. Ibid.; “Obituaries,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 14, 1950, 8.


Fransisca, Maria. "Drinhaus, Peter (1889–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 25, 2021. Accessed May 28, 2024.

Fransisca, Maria. "Drinhaus, Peter (1889–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 25, 2021. Date of access May 28, 2024,

Fransisca, Maria (2021, April 25). Drinhaus, Peter (1889–1950). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 28, 2024,