I was born in the United States to Canadian parents and at the tender age of two months moved with my family to Ottawa, Canada. There were eight children and two often tired but loving parents in our family. My parents had been converted to the Church eight years earlier in Alberta and have remained not only active members but powerful examples to everyone with whom they come in contact.
In Ottawa, Mormons were largely unknown. We were the only LDS family throughout most of my school years. By high school, with its larger student body, we were joined by a couple of other LDS families. Growing up away from any church members outside of the home forced me to decide early on whether I would stay true to the “faith.” There could be no middle ground, no hedging.
By the time I reached junior high school, my friends were starting to notice that I was different. Really different. They pressured me to drink, smoke, take drugs, and party. The good thing for me was I was never drawn to these activities. I was different. I had always felt this way. Not in a negative, feel-sorry-for-myself kind of way. It was just a reality. And it was one that I kind of liked. What was hard, however, was seeing my non-member friends gradually withdraw from me. I couldn’t understand how they could change so much and turn their backs on so many of the values we seemed to share when we were younger.
It is at times like this that you start to wonder where your life will take you and whether your testimony is real or imagined. When I was thirteen years old, I had my first strong desire to test it out. It wasn’t that I ever doubted. But I started to wonder if it were possible that my parents were wrong and whether I had been somehow brainwashed. I remember one Sunday when I was visiting a family as part of a church assignment with an adult leader. I told him about my growing concerns, and he asked if I had ever prayed about it. He told me I should just ask God. I had heard about people doing this for years, and somehow it never seemed to apply to me. But this time, the suggestion made to “just ask God” hit me with incredible power. So I put it to the test. That night I knelt by my bed and prayed my heart out. When it was over, I opened my eyes expecting a vision or at least some audible words. Nothing happened. Zilch. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t get a response, but this was my reality. So I tried again the next night. Again, nothing. For over a month I repeatedly prayed to our Father in heaven, and every prayer ended in what to me seemed like abject failure. Could no response mean that there was no God? Could it all be a hoax? No doubt these suspicions began to build in me. And then, in what to me was one final burst of effort, I prayed a prayer more of desperation than anything else. And then it came to me. I was enveloped in a spirit of calm, of knowledge, and of complete certainty that the gospel was true. That Joseph Smith was a prophet. It was a feeling like no other. It came not from within me, but was a Spirit that came from outside of me and entered my very soul. My life would be impacted forever by this event. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
That event, now over forty years ago, has blessed and strengthened me immeasurably. The knowledge I gained provided me with an unwavering anchor to the commandments and strengthened my commitment to gospel principles. I have known what I need to do and how I need to live my life.
I had always planned on a mission, and when I was nineteen I received my mission call to serve in the Paris, France mission. These two years of missionary service were the toughest and yet the most incredible years of my life. I matured ten years while gone. I flourished as a missionary. My testimony strengthened even more. And I developed a love for the bigger world out there. Indeed, my missionary experiences pushed me off the medical doctor track and into international relations, and later international business strategy.
The gospel teaches us the importance of learning and education. To be honest, my parents had instilled these values in me since I was a young boy. I have always looked for ways to better myself and improve and, over the years, have come to realize that the path forward is long and not always easy. My eight years of university education, culminating with my PhD, never detracted from my testimony. Not one bit. In contrast, the wisdom I gained through gospel truths and my experience serving in the church provided me with many advantages in my studies. Taking Sundays off to attend church and otherwise keep the Sabbath day holy, while often ridiculed by other students, meant that I could get some rest, restore balance, and improve my overall learning and performance. I never once felt disadvantaged.
My faith has been challenged on a few occasions. But it has been strengthened far more often than it has been challenged. I have come to see miracles in my own life, and in the lives of my children and wife and many others. I have participated in too many of these miracles to ever doubt that they exist.
My faith in the gospel and the knowledge I have gained have provided me with insights and wisdom that far exceed my natural capacities. My professional work puts me in contact with some of the smartest and best-educated people in the world. Because I have an eternal perspective, and because I know who I am and who others are, I have never felt threatened or disrespected. My teaching and research almost always involve cross-cultural issues. My testimony has given me a deeper, richer appreciation that we have much we can learn from faithful people of other religions and from good people everywhere.
The gospel has defined who I am and has been the single most important source of blessings in my entire life. I would not be who I am today, I would not be married to the wonderful wife I have, and I would not have such a happy and blessed family were it not for the gospel. It is true. Jesus Christ lives. We are the children of a literal God, who loves us and has blessed us in ways we cannot begin to understand.
Allen J. Morrison is a Professor of Management Practice in Global Strategy and Leadership at INSEAD (formerly the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires). He has an undergraduate degree (B.A.) in International Relations from BYU, an MBA from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, and a PhD in International Business Strategy from the University of South Carolina. He has authored or co-authored over sixty articles and case studies, and eight books.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dr. Morrison served as a missionary in the France Paris Mission. He also served as a bishop of the London Ontario Third Ward and as first counselor in the Lausanne Switzerland stake.
He is married to the former Angela Wolf, and they are the parents of four children and one grandchild.
Posted September 2011