Sermon Illustrations

Yates Pool is a famous oil field in West Texas. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Ira Yates. Because of Yates’ inability to make enough money on his ranching operation to make his mortgage payment, he was in danger of losing his ranch.

With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others during the depression years, had to live on government subsidy. Day after day, Yates would watch his sheep as they grazed over those rolling West Texas hills. He would rack his brain trying to figure out some way to pay all his bills.

One day a crew of men from an oil company came into the area & convinced Yates there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat test well. Yates agreed & signed a lease contract.

At 1,115 ft, the drillers struck a huge oil reserve. The 1st well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. But that was only the beginning. Many more wells came in, some more than twice as productive as the first.

In the 60’s, after oil had been pumped for more than 30 yrs, a government test of just one of the wells showed that it still had a potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. In the year 2000, Yates Field was still one of the top 10 producers of oil in the United States.

And to think, the one time sheep rancher Yates, owned it all!

When Yates purchased the ranch, he was more interested in grazing land for his sheep than he was in the oil & mineral rights. There he was, living on government subsidy, but sitting on a mammoth underground lake of incredibly valuable oil. He was a potential multimillionaire living in poverty. What was his problem? It was simply that he did not know the oil was there.