Reinhild Mainka was born on September 30, 1963, in the beautiful town of Koblenz in the famous Rhineland-Palatinate section of Germany. Her father was a carpenter and her mother stayed home with their three daughters. Sadly, when Reinhild was 10 years old, her father, who was only 35, died of a brain tumor. For the next three years, mother and daughters lived on government assistance.
In 1977 they moved near Darmstadt, where Reinhild’s mother worked in the school canteen at Marienhöhe, a Seventh-day Adventist school where Reinhild earned her university-entrance diploma in 1983.
After working for a time in London as an au pair, Reinhild continued her studies and, three years later, passed her exams as a state-certified language correspondent and secretary, and began working with a Japanese company located in the city of Frankfurt, Germany.
At that time, Reinhild’s mother was still working at the canteen at Marienhöhe, so the family lived on campus. The school was preparing students for pastoral ministry, so there were many young men on campus. One Sabbath Reinhild’s sister and her boyfriend brought another student, Michael, home for dinner.
“The four of us spent the afternoon together,” recalls Reinhild. “From that day my sister and her boyfriend tried to arrange such meetings more often, because they thought us to be the ideal couple—and at last they were successful.”
“On a warm summer evening, the four of us went for a walk in the forest. We climbed a hill where there was a playground on the top. Suddenly my sister and her boyfriend were gone. Michael and I sat down at the edge of the sandbox, and there we kissed for the first time.”
That was in May 1988. By August Reinhild and Michael were engaged, and Michael began pastoring a church 250 kilometers away. On New Year’s Day 1989, the couple married at Marienhöhe.
Twenty years later, after serving in three different churches in the North RhineWestfalia Conference, Michael and Reinhild, along with their 18-year-old son and 14-yearold daughter, live in Alsbach, a little town near Darmstadt.
So the family has come full circle, with Michael now serving as one of the pastors at the Marinhöhe Seventh-day Adventist Church and Reinhild assisting the programs coordinator for ADRA Germany.
During the past twenty years of being a Shepherdess, Reinhild has enjoyed being active in the life of the church and has been involved in preaching, serving as a deaconess, teaching in the adult and children’s Sabbath Schools, working with Pathfinders, leading out in mother/child groups and in women’s ministry.
Although she enjoys being involved, Reinhild admits to sometimes struggling with burnout. “I have had to learn anew that God loves me regardless of how busy I am for the church. There is nothing in the world I can do to make Him love me more than He does anyway, and the same is true for all of us!”
In addition, Reinhild acknowledges that being a pastor’s wife has given her “the opportunity to deal with many facets of life, to think about so many different theological subjects, to understand a lot about the troubles and the suffering of people. My horizon has broadened a lot.”
She has also found that being a Shepherdess has made it much easier to talk about her faith with her neighbors. “I simply tell people that my husband is a pastor, and they usually start asking questions.” Many of her neighbors joined her women’s Bible study group, and several of the neighborhood children became active in the church’s Pathfinder club.
Reinhild enjoys reaching out to her neighbors and says, “I would like to encourage you to seek friendship outside of our church as well. There are so many wonderful people living around us who don’t know about the Gospel of Jesus.”
Throughout her life, Reinhild has found Jesus to be a steady companion who has “been walking with me through thick and thin. He gives my life meaning and saves me from despair by promising me a wonderful future. He has kept me when I nearly lost my faith. He has often dried my tears and made me laugh again—He is everything to me.”
In closing, Reinhild shares her hope for the church: “Church should be the place where God’s mercy is made visible, because we treat each other with the same mercy that God shows to us.”