Faith fu­els the drilling

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES -

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”

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