Back to Top

God Bless the Do-Gooders, the Great Beings, and the Caregivers of Those Seeking Refuge

As a missionary in Italy, most of my travel time was spent either walking or riding public transportation.

One day, while riding the bus, an Italian woman started a conversation with me that was quite common in my experience. “You’re not Italian—where are you from?” “Why are you in Italy?” These questions always granted me an opportunity to talk about my passion for my work as a missionary, providing for the care of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

“E’ una ‘buonista’”

Her response was a bit out the ordinary, however. “E’ una ‘buonista’” (meaning, “You’re a do-gooder”). At first, I took her comment as a compliment, but as she continued, it became clear that it was, indeed, not a compliment. Through the next several bus stops I listened to her as she told me, in no uncertain terms, that foreigners were ruining Italy and that they should go away.

I haven’t thought about that experience much since it happened, but reading this article reminded me of my encounter with the woman on the bus. The term do-gooder is being used by an anti-immigration political leader in Italy as an insult towards those who are saving the lives of displaced people at sea, and those who commit the “crime” of solidarity with people seeking refuge in Italy. The do-gooders are religious leaders and grandmothers…civil servants and olive growers. For many, being a do-gooder is the right thing to do…the humane thing to do. For us, as Christians, it is the God-ordained, Christ-exemplified, and Spirit-inspired thing to do. The Bible tells us so.

She told me that foreigners were ruining Italy and that they should go away.

My 7th grade daughter had to give a presentation on a “great being” at school recently. One child chose Beyoncé. Another chose Walt Disney. My daughter chose Corrie ten Boom. Maybe because she was reminded of Corrie because they were studying the Holocaust in school. Maybe because she remembered our visit to the ten Boom house last year. Maybe because she learned to care for those who faced great persecution, violence, and trauma (although we never suffered for providing this care in the ways Corrie and her family suffered).

Maybe because she remembered our visit to the ten Boom house last year.

To my daughter, Corrie ten Boom is a great being because Corrie had a clear vision of how God wanted her to care for those seeking refuge from the Nazis, and she provided that care, even at great personal cost. Corrie chose the teaching of the Bible about how to care for those seeking refuge over the views of her friends…her neighbors…her government. She chose to live out her beliefs despite fear…suffering…death. As Corrie recounts in her most famous book, “The Hiding Place”:

“God's viewpoint is sometimes different from ours - so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things.”

Indeed, God has given us a book that illumines us as to God’s viewpoint on caring for those made in God’s image who are displaced, traumatized, stigmatized, enslaved, orphaned, widowed, persecuted, and in need.

God bless the do-gooders, the great beings and the caregivers of those seeking refuge.


If you would like to learn more about providing care for displaced people, I encourage you to connect with the CRC Office of Social Justice, the CRC Centre for Public Dialogue, or contact me as the Refugee Ministries Coordinator for the Reformed Church in America Global Mission.


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.