...In the 85-year long life of Simon Sparrow, the number seven had the deep spiritual significance that it carries in the Bible. When he was seven years old, God told him, â€˜Open up your mouth, and I will speak for you.â€™ Sparrow responded by walking into some woods near his childhood home in the Great Smoky Mountains and climbing atop a stump, from which he began talking to the animals. â€˜The birds would stop their twittering, and the squirrels would stop chattering,â€™ he claimed, â€˜and theyâ€™d all just sit there quietly, listening to me.â€™ He returned to the stump daily to communicate with the animals, until one day he unexpectedly began speaking in tongues: â€˜Thatâ€™s where I started preaching,â€™ he declared. Soon â€“ but several decades before he officially began his ministry as a street preacher â€“ Sparrow showed up at the pulpit of his familyâ€™s Pentecostal church.
Looking back, Sparrow also placed his first artistic act in his seventh year, when he began drawing stick figures in the sand and pictures on scrap paper. One day after he had sawed up pieces of plywood and begun drawing on them in his front yard, a man happened to walk by and was struck by a drawing that he immediately offered to buy. Sparrow was so offended, he recalled, that â€˜I nearly sicked my dog on him,â€™ but his mother intervened, establishing a selling price that was â€˜high enough, so I wasnâ€™t mad at her.â€™