With a PhD in genetic epidemiology – the study of genetic factors determining health and diseases – Annette Fedson says her scientific research has further confirmed her faith in the God of the universe.
"As scientists, we are constantly learning and discovering, but we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to how intricately we have been created," Annette says confidently.
"Working in the field of science has only strengthened my faith in the true and living God; the Creator of the heavens and the earth."
Yet Annette's faith in God did not start with her growing scientific knowledge but, instead, the personal experiences she had growing up.
At first she was hesitant to identify herself fully with Christians after witnessing inconsistencies in the way some of them lived.
"In spite of attending a church with good biblical teaching, which taught that we should seek to follow Jesus Christ and not imperfect man, I found myself discouraged by some of those who attended church, called themselves Christians, but seemed to deliberately and continuously make things difficult for others," she says.
"I saw some good examples of Christians living for God. But it also seemed to me that some of my non-Christian friends appeared to live better lives than various people within the church."
Annette was hesitant to commit herself to God because of this until the time came when she was chosen to represent her district at the National Youth Science Forum in Canberra one year.
"During my two weeks in Canberra I was able to see with much more clarity the difference between what it meant to live as a follower of Jesus Christ and the lifestyle choices of those who were not Christians," she explains.
“As scientists, we are constantly learning and discovering, but we have barely scratched the surface”"More than anything, I knew in my heart that some of the choices some of my friends were making were wrong. How did I know these were wrong? Because God told and tells me so in His Word, the Bible."
At that point Annette knew she could only go one of two ways, she had to make a choice. If the Bible was right, then she knew God did not seek "lukewarm followers" but instead desired those who were fully committed to Him without compromise.
"I had heard that God is love and that He sent His only Son Jesus to die for our sins. However, I knew that to become a Christian – a follower of Christ – is not something that you inherit automatically just because your parents or your family are Christians. You need to personally receive the free gift which God has placed before you," she says.
Not long after being convicted in her heart in Canberra, at age 16, Annette sought to follow Christ whole-heartedly after realising that she herself had been wrong to judge others.
"I realised it is not a matter of comparing one person with another, God alone knows our hearts and intentions" she explains.
As Romans chapter 3 verse 23 and 24 pointed out to her, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's perfect standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins (NLT)."
"I understood that one day each of us will need to stand before God and provide an account for the way we have lived our lives. I will have to answer for myself, and others will have to answer for themselves," she explains.
"Yet the free gift of salvation (from eternal separation from God) is by God's grace alone. The biggest question is: did I really believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour? Salvation is not something I could ever earn by good works but rather is a gift, as I read in the Bible, 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).'
"I felt personally convicted that I had broken God's standards and was a sinner, and that God loved me more than I could ever possibly imagine and demonstrated this when Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to pay for my sins fully."
Annette says she remembers the day like it was yesterday when she prayed for God's forgiveness and thanked Jesus for saving her.
"I had never felt such relief at knowing that my sins were forgiven and that I was no longer under God's condemnation," she says.
Since then, Annette says God has answered many of her prayers and revealed himself in personal ways as she seeks to become more like Jesus each day.
Although quiet in character, she is thankful to God for His provision of increased boldness and courage and opportunities to have conversations with those in academia with different beliefs, including well-known atheist Professor Richard Dawkins.
"God's handiwork and design in all things created is undeniable," she says.
"And to be called a child of God and an ambassador for Christ – I can think of having no greater title than this!"