(Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
"American Idol" contestants often endure long days and harsh criticism from judges and audiences. During that time, one may wonder if their spiritual needs are being tended to. Linda Bellesi, though, is determined to take care of contestants and minister to their needs.
Bellesi has worked with contestants from the past seven seasons, opening up her home to their family members and assisting both financially and spiritually to those who appear on "American Idol." A private website has been established for the exclusive use of the contestants' families, that they may receive spiritual guidance and stay in contact with Bellesi.
She and husband Danny, a preacher, founded the Orange County ministry Kingdom of Assignment, which has a mission statement "to turn heads and hearts into the hands and feet of Christ." Though it is not associated with any particular denomination, the organization's vision statement says it is "to use Kingdom Assignment stewardship principles to encourage others to use their God-given Talents, Treasures and Time."
It is described on its website as being an "organic and growing movement among hundreds of churches and thousands of people around the world."
Bellesi decided to get involved with "American Idol" during season five.
"Here I am, Lord, send me to the backstage of 'American Idol,'" she prayed. She describes her calling "to minister to the needs of the people on that show," Bellesi told the Orange County Register. She did get a chance to meet Katharine McPhee after she walked into the Lake Avenue Church, where Danny was serving.
According to Linda, Katharine asked her for prayer, as she was about to go on "American Idol." Then, a few months later, Linda was able to give McPhee a silver bracelet engraved with the words of Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
During the next season, Linda was able to meet Paula Abdul, then a judge for the show, and Abdul invited her backstage. Linda then met Jordin Sparks, who handed her a ticket with the same verse, Jeremiah 29:11, written on it.
After seeing that verse yet again, Linda knew she had to send Sparks a bracelet like the one she had given McPhee.
Sparks wore the bracelet for the remainder of the season and went on to win the competition. Linda's name became circulated among the contestants, many of whom were away from their families for the first time.
"For a lot of people, that's a very, very tough position," she told the Register. "For those first few weeks, financially, it's a scary thing. Obviously when you're not making a salary, that can be difficult paying bills back home."
"Seeing God put the pieces together, there's no way I could have made all of that happen," she explained. "This is our message. We're all on assignment every day of our lives."
What does Bellesi think of this season's contestants? So far she has worked with Colton Dixon, who has spoken publicly about his faith.
"Colton is the Tim Tebow of 'American Idol,'" she told the Today show. "I have had some really unique opportunities to pray over him and give input where I can."