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Police Officer Moves to Inner City for Ministry


As an inner-city police officer, Chip Ware sees the worst side of Grand Rapids, Mich.: drugs, gangs, prostitution, and more.

Nonetheless, in 2006, Ware moved with his wife, Karen, and their two young girls from tranquil, suburban Hudsonville into a rough Grand Rapids neighborhood. Last year they joined nearby Madison Square Christian Reformed Church.

Ware’s family began volunteering with kids in the Black Hills neighborhood about six years ago. At that time Ware was off work with a knee injury, and “for the first time my life slowed down and I was able to hear God talking to me,” he said.

“I felt that if that was where God was calling me, it wouldn’t be proper to commute from Hudsonville to be there,” he said.

It was an agonizing decision, but Ware’s only regret is that they didn’t move sooner.

“A stronger relationship with the kids was evident right away when they saw us as neighbors,” Ware said. “It helped to be close and more available.”

The Wares and three other families started a nonprofit ministry called Dorchester House and recently led the transformation of a dilapidated building into a community center called The Warehouse. About 100 people volunteer with Dorchester House’s after-school tutoring, Bible studies, bicycle ministry, and community dinners.

“We are quickly learning that Christ never asked us to solve people’s problems, just to love them and be there with the gospel,” Ware said. “Most people here say they love God, but people are starting to come to grips with that belief and what that means in their lives.”

Safety concerns remain—Ware’s daughters are not allowed out of the yard unsupervised, and Karen drives elsewhere to jog.

“It gets to the point where nothing you can do can make you perfectly safe,” Ware said. “God says, ‘You’ve got to rely on me.’”

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