At BYU, Pres. Thomas Monson relates how Harvard's Clayton Christensen got Book of Mormon testimony

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 2 2011 9:00 a.m. MDT

Oxford University is the world's oldest university. The building Brother Christensen lived in was built in 1410 and was beautiful to look at but horrible to live in. The only heat which was provided was from a small heater inserted into a hole which had been dug in the wall. He decided that he would commit every evening from 11 p.m. to 12 midnight to reading the Book of Mormon — this time with the purpose of determining if it was true. He wondered if he dared spend an entire hour each night, because he was in a very demanding academic program and he just didn't know if he could afford allocating such an amount of time to this effort.

Nonetheless, he did allocate the time, and he began at 11 p.m. by kneeling in prayer by the chair by his little heater, and he prayed out loud. He told God how desperate he was to find out if this was a true book, and he told Him that if He would reveal to him that it was true, then he intended to dedicate his life to building this kingdom. And he told God that if it wasn't true he needed to know that for certain, too, because then he would dedicate his life to finding out what was true.

Then Brother Christensen would sit in the chair and read. He began by reading the first page of the Book of Mormon, and when he got down to the bottom of the page, he stopped, and he thought about what he had read on that page, and he asked himself, "Could this have been written by a charlatan who was trying to deceive people, or was this really written by a prophet of God? And what did it mean for Clayton Christensen in his life? And then he put the book down and knelt in prayer and verbally asked God again, "Please tell me if this is a true book." Then he would sit in the chair and pick up the book and turn the page and read another page, pause at the bottom, and do the same thing. He did this for an hour every night — night after night — in that cold, damp room at the Queen's College in Oxford.

By the time Brother Christensen got to the chapters at the end of 2nd Nephi, one evening when he said his prayer and sat in his chair and opened the book, all of a sudden there came into that room a beautiful, warm, loving spirit that just surrounded him and permeated his soul, and enveloped him in a feeling of love that he had not imagined he could feel. He began to cry, and he didn't want to stop crying because as he looked through his tears at the words in the Book of Mormon, he could see truth in those words that he never imagined he could comprehend before. He could see the glories of eternity and what God had in store for him as one of His sons. Brother Christensen said he didn't want to stop crying. That spirit stayed with him for the whole hour, and then every evening as he prayed and sat with the Book of Mormon by the little heater in his room, that same spirit returned, and it changed his heart and his life forever.

President Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the church, said (in the October 1985 General Conference of the church), "When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed ... . The world would shape human nature; but Christ can change human nature ... and changed men (and women) can change the world."

Brother Christensen has indicated that he loves to return to Oxford. Most of the people there are either students or tourists who have come to look at a beautiful university. But he loves to return there because it's a sacred place to him, and he can look at the windows of that room where he lived, and he recognizes it as the place where he learned that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration for the true church.

Brother Christensen has stated that he looks back at the conflict he experienced when he wondered if he could afford to spend an hour every day apart from the study of applied econometrics to find out if the Book of Mormon was true. He says, and I quote, "I use applied econometrics maybe once a year, but I use my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God many times every day of my life. In all of the education that I have pursued, that is the single most useful piece of knowledge I have ever gained."

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