The following is an excerpt from the testimony of Clayton M. Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School. I think this is a remarkable and inspiring story of personal conversion -- and beautifully and poignantly written (I really recommend reading his entire talk).
...I was born into a wonderful Mormon family, and as I grew up I found few reasons to disbelieve the teachings of the church. My parents had deep faith in its precepts, and their example and encouragement were powerful – I believed in my parents, and I knew that they believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not until I was 24, however, that I came to know these things for myself.
I had been given a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. After I had lived there for a few weeks, far away from the supportive environment in which I had been raised, it became clear that adhering to Mormonism in that environment was going to be very inconvenient. In fact, doing the sorts of things I described in the first part of this essay within the Mormon congregation in Oxford would preclude my participation in many of the things that had made Oxford such a rich experience for prior recipients of my scholarship. I decided, as a result, that the time had come for me to learn for certain and for myself whether Mormonism was true.
I had read the Book of Mormon before – seven times, to be exact. But in each of those instances I had read it by assignment – from my parents or a teacher – and my objective in reading it was to finish the book. This time, however, my objective was to find out if it was a true book or a fabrication. Accordingly, I reserved the time from 11:00 until midnight, every night, to read the Book of Mormon next to the fireplace in my chilly room at the Queen’s College. I began each of those sessions by kneeling in verbal prayer. I told God, every night, that I was reading this to know if it was His truth. I told Him that I needed an answer to this question – because if it was not true I did not want to waste my time with this church and would search for something else. But if it was true, then I promised that I would devote my life to following its teachings, and to helping others do the same.
I then would sit in the chair and read a page in the Book of Mormon. I would stop at the bottom of the page and think about it. I would ask myself what the material on that page meant for the way I needed to conduct my life. I would then get on my knees and pray aloud again, asking the Lord to tell me if the book was true. I would then get back in the chair, turn the page, and repeat the process, for the remainder of the hour. I did this every evening.
After I had done this for several weeks, one evening in October, 1975, as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvelous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop.
I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anything I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true. It was hard to see through the tears. But as I opened it and began again to read, I saw in the words of the book a clarity and magnitude of God’s plan for us that I had never conceived before. The spirit stayed with me for that entire hour. And each night thereafter, as I prayed and then sat in that chair with the Book of Mormon, that same spirit returned. It changed my heart and my life forever.
It was as if I had been looking out as far as I could see toward the horizon, and had been quite satisfied that I could see everything that there was to see. When I undertook to read the Book of Mormon in that manner, however, I discovered that so much more beauty and truth about who we are and what God has in store for us, lies beyond that old horizon. I did not know what I did not know.
I love to go back to Oxford. As the beautiful, historic home of the world’s oldest university, the town is filled with students and tourists. To me, however, it is a sacred place. It is there that I learned that the fundamental message of the Book of Mormon is in fact true – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is there that I learned that God is indeed my Father in Heaven. I am His son. He loves me, and even knows my name. And I learned that Joseph Smith, the man who translated the Book of Mormon and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a prophet of God in the same sense that Peter and Moses were prophets. I love to return to Oxford to remember the beautiful, powerful spirit that came to my heart and conveyed these messages to me.