By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
Chris Barton grew up in a Christian family, but like many youth, turned his back on his faith and stepped into a partying lifestyle. While attending Salisbury University, Chris worked as a lifeguard in Ocean City, Md., and accepted an invitation to a dinner at Ocean City Baptist Church. He began to feel the Holy Spirit wooing him back and he recommitted his life to Christ.
Dora Barton was born and raised in the Transylvania region of Romania. In 2011, she came to Ocean City to work for the summer. She was still grieving the loss of her mother, who died when Dora was 18.
An American missionary had shared Jesus with Dora’s mom, who became a Christian. It was a time when Romania was under communist rule and Christians were threatened with torture, imprisonment and even death. She hid her Bible and read it under her covers at night and she taught her daughter about Jesus.
“She raised me like that. She said, ‘I love God first, I love you second.’ I didn’t understand that until I became a Christian,” Dora said.
Dora’s other family did not accept their faith. Their family and friends did not accept Dora and her mother’s faith. Dora was teased, called “stupid” and “brainwashed.”
When she arrived in Maryland, she was shaken by her mother’s death and her faith was waning. She met Chris, a kind lifeguard.
The two became friends. Chris gently shared his beliefs and encouraged Dora. They began studying the Bible together every morning. Their first “date” was Chris taking Dora to OCBC. She grew closer to Jesus and her faith began to grow once again and her understanding of what it means to be a Christ-follower became clear.
She returned to Romania. Chris followed her and proposed. They returned to the U.S. and were married on Nov. 3, 2012.
Earlier this year, Dora felt God leading her to get baptized.
Chris, who transferred to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he is studying to eventually be a maxillofacial surgeon helping children with cleft palates, also made the decision to be baptized. On June 12, Sean Davis, OCBC pastor, and Troy Chute, OCBC worship leader, baptized Chris in the ocean. Chris and Davis baptized Dora.
The couple now ministers at OCBC. They serve as houseparents for summer missionaries. Dora works with the preschool children. Chris leads Bible studies with lifeguards. They both work with the surf camps, and, of course, with the international ministries, serving at dinners and sharing with students.
“I want to give back to the international students,” Dora said. “We share the Gospel. We don’t push them, we just make them understand why we chose to be who we are and follow who we do and we want everyone to be saved. That’s why we do it. Nothing matters to me more than being a Christian.”