I am one of the co-founders of WordPerfect Corporation and am indebted to the gospel of Jesus Christ for the happiness and joy in my life. My parents were both members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and my mother’s father, David O. McKay, was the prophet and president of the Church.
Even with that close connection to the leader of the Church my testimony did not come from him, nor did it come from my parents. They were certainly inﬂuential in my attending Church meetings in my youth, but my conviction of the truth came from my individual study and obedience to the gospel principles. In middle school and high school I became interested in the stories and teachings in the scriptures which included the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church these are called the standard works. I enjoyed my Sunday School classes and Seminary classes. I loved the teaching of my 9th grade seminary teacher so much that during the summer when school was out I rode my bike three miles to his home early in the morning three times a week to hear him teach and explain the New Testament parables of Jesus.
As I was ﬁnishing high school I joined the 23rd Army Band in the Utah National Guard where I played the trumpet. I went to Fort Ord near Monterey, California, for my six months of army training. I had decided to serve a mission for the Church so I determined to read all of the standard works during my spare time during this training.
The ﬁrst two months were basic training and I read the Book of Mormon during the hourly ten-minute smoking breaks. I had a pocket-sized copy of the Book of Mormon that I had with me as we had classes and as we marched from place to place.
I began to appreciate in a new way the writings of the prophets and teachings of the Savior, Jesus Christ, as they were recorded in the Book of Mormon. In the last chapter of the Book of Mormon the prophet Moroni gave this promise: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (see Moroni 10:3-5)
I had received the words of the Book of Mormon by reading and pondering them, and I desired to obtain this witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the words in Book of Mormon were true and from God.
One night shortly after I had ﬁnished reading the Book of Mormon I climbed down from my top bunk and went alone into a large classroom in an adjacent room and knelt down on the hard, cold tile ﬂoor in the far corner of the room and offered a sincere prayer to my Heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus Christ asking if the Book of Mormon was true. I received a wonderful, powerful, warm, tingling sensation which enveloped me from head to foot. I rejoiced at receiving this conﬁrmation of the Holy Ghost.
I have received similar feelings throughout my life in times when I have sought and needed spiritual inspiration, but this ﬁrst occasion was most pronounced. I have learned to recognize these promptings of the Holy Spirit and found that I could not make them happen at will, but that they come from a source outside of me, bearing witness to truth.
These experiences are sacred to me and I am grateful to a loving Father in Heaven who because of His Son Jesus Christ has sent me guidance in crucial times in my life.
I have felt and received guidance as I served a two and a half year mission for the Church in Germany, as I became a husband and father, as I was deciding what to do for my Ph.D. dissertation, as I was making the decision to start a word processing product which became WordPerfect, and as I have served in a variety of callings in the Church including multiple times an Elders Quorum president, a gospel teacher, a member of a bishopric, a stake president, a mission president, and now currently a bishop.
My testimony and knowledge of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown stronger as I have experienced growth and joy in my life. I have seen the power of the gospel in the life of my wife whom I love with all my heart and to whom I am eternally married, and in the lives of our eleven children and their families. I see the positive results and goodness in the lives of faithful covenant members of the Church as they serve one another and as they strive to keep the commandments of God.
I have treasured warm associations with people of other faiths and have enjoyed learning from them and sharing with them what I hold dear. I love the scriptures, and I read and learn from them every day.
I have come to know through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. I know that I along with all mankind will be lifted up to stand before Him to be judged of our works because He was lifted up by men upon the cross. I know that salvation comes in and through Jesus Christ and that all will be resurrected because of Him. I know that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth in these latter days through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we are all children of God and that He invites us to come unto Him with full purpose of heart.
Posted July 2010 on FairMormon.org
Alan C. Ashton, a former professor of computer science at Brigham Young University, is the co-founder and the former president and CEO of WordPerfect Corporation. He graduated magna cum laude in mathematics from the University of Utah and later received his Ph.D. in computer science from the same university.
In 1995, after WordPerfect was acquired by Novell, Dr. Ashton and his wife Karen founded Thanksgiving Point—a complex of gardens (approximately fifty-five acres, with fifteen different theme areas and approximately four-and-a-half miles of walking trails), restaurants, etc.—in Lehi, Utah. ““We wanted to create something for the people around us,” says Dr. Ashton. “We’ve been blessed financially and with a large family. We wanted to give something back to the community and the families in our area.” Thanksgiving Point provides a place where adults and children can learn about farming, gardening, and cooking, and includes a championship-caliber golf course (the longest in the state of Utah), a museum of ancient life (featuring the largest collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons in the world), and a multi-screen movie theater. Nearly 1.5 million people visit Thanksgiving Point annually.
Alan and Karen Ashton are the parents of eleven children. His other interests include farming, music (especially the trumpet), and competitive tennis. He has held various responsibilities within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including service as a missionary in central Germany, as a stake president, and, from July 2004 through June 2007, as a mission president in eastern Canada. He currently serves as a bishop.