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1 small lung, 1 big testimony
Tom Vermeulen 2a
CPA and Business Coach, Tom Vermuelen of Vermuelen & Company in Ripon shares his faith. - photo by MONICA CANE
I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting CPA, Tom Vermuelen, when I went to his office in Ripon not long ago.  I was there to interview him for an article I was writing about his accounting firm, Vermuelen & Company.  While there, I had expected Vermuelen to share with me the details of how his company helps clients with business coaching, tax preparations and other financial issues but I never imagined that he would also share a powerful testimony.

“Years ago I made a commitment to God that I would share my faith with one new person each day but in 2003 God chose to challenge me. I was having what I thought was minor surgery and I woke up from it to them (the doctors) telling me, ‘You have lung cancer and we’ve taken out your left lung. You have about three months to live.”

“Okay, alright, that’s different.  Of all things, my daughter was in nursing school and to be (working) with heart and lung patients and I thought, Wow, how ironic.”

“Three or four days later when I was still in ICU we found out the pathologist made a mistake.  He misdiagnosed me with lung cancer and caused the lung to be taken out.  Of course when my wife heard the news she bounded out of the room, leaving me alone in the room.  She went to tell the family downstairs that it wasn’t lung cancer (after all). Obviously this was good news for me, a real blessing because I’m still here.”   

“(In addition to being a CPA,) I also teach for California CPA Society and given this experience they thought I would be good at teaching in different areas in business continuation so (after I recovered) they invited me to speak in San Francisco.  So now I’m in front of a couple hundred CPAs in San Francisco and figured I’d fill my quota (of sharing my faith) in one day.”

“After talking about the challenges of keeping my practice going after that type of surgery which by the way happened to fall at the beginning of tax season when I should have been working 60 to 80 hours a week, I shared my faith.  Afterwards, I received some good comments but also a lot of negative comments as they rate the speakers.  I thought they’d never invite me back.  Sure enough, the next year they invited me back to speak in San Francisco and also in Los Angeles. I did the same thing (talked about my practice, then shared my faith) and again I received negative comments and thought (this time) they would never invite back.  But the third year they invited me to speak in San Francisco, Los Angeles and chair the (entire) conference.”

“It was a great opportunity because I could share with them what it means to a person when you know you are facing a death sentence.  We think that tomorrow is always given, we take it for granted but when death is imminent and you’re staring at the door, you find suddenly that nothing really means anything.  Your nice car, your beautiful husband or wonderful wife or the kids, even your nice home, none of it means anything.  The only thing that counts is your relationship with God.  At that moment, you hope when you knock on the door, He (God) is going to open the door and say ‘Hey I’ve been waiting for you, come on in.’ You don’t want Him to look at you and say, ‘Wait a minute, you look (pretty)familiar, help me out here...”  

  As Vermuelen finished sharing about how tomorrow is not a guarantee, I was dumbfounded.  Here I was listening to this highly skilled accountant, in his elegant office sharing the simple truth that we need to give our lives to God today.

I thank God for believers like Tom Vermuelen, who can lose a lung due to someone else’s error, be told he has only three months to live and instead of becoming bitter, he stands firm in his faith through it all and shares that faith with others every day.
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