Richardson Campus Resident OnDat Truong has experienced a unique journey, starting out in Hong Kong and growing up in the Dallas area where he found Christ and became a campus resident. He has shared his incredible story and his excitement to be serving the Richardson community with us.
A Safe Arrival
OnDat’s story begins before he was born—before his safe arrival. In the 1950s, his grandparents left China for Vietnam and started a family. After the Vietnam War, OnDat’s family fled Vietnam as refugees. While pregnant with OnDat, his mother and family fled Vietnam in an overloaded refugee boat on which they spent a long time out at sea.
As their boat was sinking, men in a fishing boat rescued the refugees and took them to Hong Kong, where OnDat was born. His parents named him “OnDat,” which means “safe arrival” in Chinese. Many years later, when given the opportunity to change his name when he became a U.S. citizen, he decided to keep his Chinese name: 張安達 (or “Truong, OnDat” for those who cannot read Chinese!).
When OnDat was one, his family moved to Winnipeg, Canada. In second grade, his family moved to Dallas, Texas, where he built his life and family.
Unsurprisingly, when he was a child, OnDat wanted to be a marine biologist after his safe arrival and watching PBS documentaries on oceans. OnDat would grow up to own pet fish later, but his life would take him in a different direction than marine biology.
Faith and Family
In fourth grade, OnDat’s mother enrolled him and his sister in a Chinese language school held at a local church. Through this connection, someone from the church visited his family and shared the Gospel with them. After hearing about Jesus’ love and sacrifice, they prayed and accepted Jesus Christ as a family.
Even though OnDat does not recall what the visitor said, he remembers the transformation that took place after his family placed their trust in Jesus Christ. He remembers getting along better with his sister and attending a church where he would get baptized, learn about God, and grow in his faith.
Like many teenagers, OnDat’s church attendance was inconsistent throughout high school. But he would not stay away for long. By the time he was in college, he would reconnect with God by joining a college Bible study and attending a local church. For two years, he joined a small disciple group where his faith matured and his walk with God reached new heights.
When describing his walk with God, OnDat says, “There have been ups and downs, but overall, I desire to pursue God and live as His disciple, knowing God is at work in all aspects of my life. And looking back, the greatest times of growth have been in the context of community, in serving in the church, and when others have mentored and invested in me.”
A Call to Ministry
OnDat’s desire to pursue God led to him serving in his church’s Student Ministry. While serving, several student pastors equipped, enabled, and entrusted him to lead students and other leaders within the ministry. Over time, he fell in love with the church and felt an overwhelming desire to pursue ministry.
Despite being an engineer, OnDat enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and took an introductory class. He loved the class and felt such a deep passion for ministry. He felt a nudge, a calling to ministry, but life would get busy. So, seminary and his desire to pursue pastoral ministry would be put on hold.
The Busy Life
OnDat continued down the path of a typical busy life—he worked as an engineer, got married, had three children, and continued to serve in the church.
He met his wife, Eva, as a high school senior in Sunday School. They formed a close bond by the time they graduated. OnDat continued his education at University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) while Eva continued hers at Rice University in Houston.
The pair began officially dating during Eva’s senior year in college. But she left for Japan to study abroad. And the long distance proved to be too much for such a young relationship.
A year later, she returned to Dallas, Texas, and attended the same church where she met OnDat. They served together in Student Ministry. OnDat recalls a moment in which he realized Eva was God’s gift to him. They started dating for a second time, and they never let each other go.
OnDat and Eva have three children together: Morgan (10), Zoe (8), and Caleb (7). When asked about the biggest lesson he has learned as a parent, OnDat replied, “The biggest lesson being a parent has taught me (so far) is the reality of how much is not in my control and that I need to depend on God in so many areas—from the health of my kids to their personalities and issues.”
Life was busy with a wife and three children, but OnDat would hear that call again and pursue pastoral ministry.
The Pursuit of Ministry
In 2012, OnDat and his family started attending Chase Oaks Church. Several years later, Eva could sense her husband’s desire to pursue ministry. Eva and close friends encouraged OnDat to take the leap of faith and to answer the call.
OnDat remembers how challenging it was to take a leap of faith. At the time, he was working for his family business, making it difficult to transition into ministry. But one week, he remembers Communications Pastor Greg Holmes preaching about stepping into the unknown where he used the illustration of Peter stepping out of the boat to pursue Jesus. This message spoke to OnDat and nudged him toward pursuing pastoral ministry once again.
In the fall of 2017, OnDat re-enrolled at DTS and began looking for opportunities at Chase Oaks Church. In 2018, Legacy Campus Pastor Peter Park mentored OnDat and gave him a behind-the-scenes look into pastoral ministry.
During the summer, OnDat was given the opportunity to become Richardson Campus Resident where he will experience what is involved in launching a new campus and will be focusing on Groups and Set-up in Richardson. He cannot wait to learn and grow under Richardson Campus Pastor Michael Yeilding’s leadership.
Four Fun Facts
Here are four fun facts you might know about our Richardson Campus Resident OnDat Truong.
1. We Have the Meats
OnDat’s first job was at Arby’s at Collin Creek Mall. He loved eating as many French fries as he wanted each shift, but he was not the biggest fan of their uniform (visor and apron). Despite the company’s poor taste in fashion, OnDat learned a lot about serving others and the value of a dollar. Of course, his favorite food is still French fries.
2. Fish and Hot Dogs
Since college, OnDat has been a proud fish owner (currently, he has five fish in his tank). But he has not always fed them the right diet. One day, OnDat and his college roommate were bored. So, they decided to feed pieces of hot dogs to their pet fish, causing the fish tank to become cloudy and the fish to die one-by-one. Incidentally, his old college roommate will also be attending the Richardson Campus. If you see them around, you might ask how their fish are doing now.
3. Batman VS Superman
OnDat admits Superman is his favorite hero (sorry, Batman!). Who doesn’t love flying, x-ray vision, ice-cold breath, and super strength? Batman did not have a chance!
4. OnDat’s Top Three
Three things OnDat is loving right now are his role as Richardson Campus Resident, biking with his family, and vacations spent skiing or laying out at the beach (this is his year for Ski Sipapu!).
The Return to Richardson as Richardson Campus Resident
Although OnDat and his family currently live in Frisco, he and his wife have strong ties to the Richardson community. After moving to the United States, OnDat’s first elementary school he attended was in Richardson. Though OnDat did not stay in Richardson ISD, he returned to Richardson to attend UTD and then worked in Richardson for many years.
On the other hand, his wife has her roots in Richardson. She grew up in Richardson and graduated from Berkner High School. In addition, OnDat and his wife met at a church in Richardson.
As he reflects on his ties to the community, he is amazed by how God has placed his family in the Richardson Campus to serve its community. OnDat is excited to be the Richardson Campus Resident, but he is more excited to be a part of the energy and enthusiasm behind the Richardson Campus.
OnDat describes the energy and excitement at the new campus: “As I get more and more involved, I definitely sense that God is at work here, and it has been amazing to see the momentum that is building behind our vision to reach the city of Richardson for Christ as well as see the hearts of the Chase Oakers who have decided, for various reasons, to be a part of this new campus.”
OnDat and his family are grateful to be a part of the Richardson Campus, and he looks forward to seeing God do amazing things in and through our church.
If you are in the Richardson community, we would love for you to visit our Richardson Campus and meet Richardson Campus Resident OnDat and his family. For more information about our launch date, visit Richardson Campus.