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Zelma Argue (1900-1980) was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin of great preachers. When her father, A. H. Argue, was asked on an evangelistic campaign, “Where is (your wife)?” his answer came quickly, “Oh! She’s at home raising the preachers.” As an evangelist with her family, Zelma ably filled the pulpit, but it seems she was even more productive with her pen.
Upon her ordination and embarkment on the evangelistic trail in 1920, her family gave her a writing set and a portable typewriter. Over the next 60 years she put them to good use, penning eight books and writing for at least seven periodicals, including nearly 200 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. Her first article, “Buying Gold,” appeared in the March 5, 1921, edition and her final article, “Threefold Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was published on March 23, 1980, just two months after her death.
Argue wrote with a passion, challenging readers that the Christian life must carry an ever-increasing surrender to God’s service. While her words were oftentimes hard, she wrote in such a way that the resulting effect did not convey condemnation but conviction. Her common topics were intimacy with God, revival, prayer, worship, and the importance of soul-winning.
In an article in the July 24, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel, “The Next Towns Also: A Plea for Fresh Efforts at Direct Evangelism,” Argue examines the practical application of the words of Jesus in Mark 1:38, “Let us go into the next towns also…” In this passage, Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and has reached a zenith of popularity in Capernaum; so much so that He found the need to search for a solitary place, prompting Peter to remind Him that “all men seek for thee!”
Argue makes the proposition that Jesus was at a crisis point in ministry — one that we often face, as well. If He chose to stay in Capernaum it seemed that all would be going His way. If He chose to move on, He had no idea the reception He would face in another town. In addition, if He focused on others, what would happen to those whom He left behind? Argue states, “but in solitude He had heard from above. His answer was ready: ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.’ These last words seem to suggest that He had been pondering deeply and had only reached His conclusion by recalling what He must never forget: the goal set before Him.”
Argue illustrates the importance of consistently reaching out into new fields by comparing the church to a lively home where there are little children for whom to care. She argues that the home with babies is a much happier spot than a home where all the inhabitants were adults who “had little to do but sit around and disagree” with each other. She plainly states that an assembly with a stream of new blood constantly pouring into it was God’s best for a contented home church: “Fresh kindling catches fire better than burnt over wood!”
The genius of Argue’s writing is that she not only points out the need for reaching beyond current borders but offers practical solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented. She says that in “railroad stations and other public places I never see a box of Christian Science literature that I do not feel that we should have a box of Evangels.” She encourages churches to consider moving evening services into a tent for the summer or renting out a building in another part of town when having a guest speaker so that new ears are exposed to the gospel message.
Fifty years before they were widely popular, she encourages “Branch Sunday Schools” conducted in neighborhoods outside the church building to reach children and their families. Argue also admonishes churches to consider having meetings at different times of the day and week to reach those whose schedules or lifestyle is not conducive to Sunday or evening services. She also suggests that church take advantage of technological advances, like radio programming, to expand to new fields.
She pleads with readers that “not only foreign fields, but our next towns, our neighborhoods, our next-door neighbors, may present fields of opportunity … if someone will leave the well-tilled and well-reaped field, and search out those not yet reached, as Jesus Himself sought so faithfully to do.” His vision includes “the next town,” and ours must, also.
The Argue family continues to bless the Pentecostal movement with great Pentecostal preachers, such as David Argue (former Assemblies of God Executive Presbyter) and Don Argue (the first Pentecostal to serve as president of the National Association of Evangelicals). However, few would contest that some of the best preaching in the Argue family came through the pen of the lifelong spinster aunt, Zelma Argue.
Read the full article, “The Next Towns Also,” on page 2 of the July 24, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
“Spiritual Promotion,” by W.E. Moody
“Pioneering in Nicaragua,” by Melvin Hodges
“Healed of Pneumonia and Tuberculosis,” by Eunice Bailey
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
IMAGE - A. H. Argue (right) standing with his son Watson (left) and daughter Zelma (center) in front of a car at the Ohio State Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Findlay, Ohio.