Faith fuels the drilling
in my life.” A few months later, James Spillman, a charismatic evangelist, preached at Brown’s church. He cited Moses talking about oil in the Promised Land.
“I accepted it,” says Brown, who celebrated his 68th birthday this month. “I thought that if the Bible says it, then I believe it. I look at the Bible as being true. I don’t even look at it any other way.”
He visited Israel for the first time in 1983. The visit proved a second epiphany.
“At that point, I had never been involved with the Jewish people or with Israel. But as soon as I got off the plane, I had this great sense of belonging, of knowing that the Jewish people were God’s special people and the land called Israel was God’s special land. I felt it was like going home. I felt a love of the land, a love of the people. I knew in my heart that I was going to do something in Israel.”
In Jerusalem he put his hands on the Western Wall and prayed for oil for Israel.
“I was not in the oil business,” he admits, “but I knew Israel needed energy. I prayed for oil, and I know in my heart that there is no doubt that the prayer was answered at that moment. I knew for sure that it was my purpose and destiny to come and help. I was determined that one day I would go to Israel and discover oil or be involved in the process of finding oil.”
Back in the United States, he sold his business interests.
“I had this consuming fire in my heart. I took all my money that I’d saved and I started an oil company that some day would find oil by faith in Israel. Most of the people I knew thought I was crazy, especially the Christians. They didn’t understand this calling in my life.”
At the same time, he started to study Judaism. “I went to synagogue, I went to Jewish community centres, any place I could go to read about it. I had no idea the doctrines and traditions of Judaism were so rich.”
Brown’s next task was to decide where to drill. Again, the Bible pointed the way. Other times, other texts. On his deathbed, Jacob promised Joseph “the blessings of the deep that lieth under” (Genesis 49:25). Before dying, Moses blessed the tribes of Joseph for “the chief things of the ancient mountains” and “the precious things of lasting hills” and promised that Asher would “dip his foot in oil” (Deuteronomy 33).
For a man of faith, that was enough. The tribes of Joseph are Manasseh and Ephraim (his two sons). Manasseh’s lands stretched north of Jaffa between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. Immediately above it were the lands of Asher, whose “foot” poked into Manasseh.
Brown homed in on Megiddo, which Christians believe is Armageddon, the field of the final battle between God and Satan.
But it was not all theology. Brown was, after all, a businessman before he was born again. Ma’anit was not an unknown site. An Israeli named Yossi Langotsky had drilled there before, but abandoned the concession when he ran out of money.
“An oil company had identified it as one of the potential prospects in the country as early as 1981,” says Perry, Brown’s chief engineer.
“John had a friend from Texas who was an Israeli geologist who had told him about this area. The site that John saw biblically was within 200 yards of where Yossi Langotsky drilled his well.” Zion Oil reopened Langotsky’s well, which had been drilled to 7,600 ft, and went down another 8,200 ft. Despite the promising signs, however, the company sealed the well this spring.
“There were zones that have a lot of water,” Perry explains.
“We never could get a hermetic seal between the zones we thought were productive and the water zones. We decided to drill a second well. Now that we know what the problem is, we can deal with it. The second well is designed to isolate the oil from the water.”
They expect to start drilling next June, going down 2,500 ft deeper than Ma’anit. The geologists detect signs of oil and gas.
“We have high hopes of the prospect,” Perry says, “or we wouldn’t be pursuing it. If we’re successful, there would be significant quantities. It would be commercially viable.”
John Brown is certain. Israelis can only pray.
Flags fly at the Zion Oil site, but so far little actual oil has been discovered
Brown with Torah scholar Rabbi Eliezer Berland. Brown says the Bible indicates that Israel has oil
John Brown at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “I prayed for oil, and know that my prayer was answered”