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Minister Provides Spiritual and Financial Assistance to 'American Idol' Hopefuls

IdolJudges

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, the hosts of 'American Idol.'

The "American Idol" ministry continues.

The wife of a southern California preacher -- who says she was "sent by God" to provide spiritual and financial help to the show's contestants -- attended last month's Hollywood Week tapings to support the newest members of her flock.

Over the past four seasons, Leesa Bellisi and her husband Denny have opened their two Los Angeles homes to the families of Jason Castro, Syesha Mercado and dozens of other hopefuls, while their kids sang for votes on TV's biggest reality show.

"The Bellisis provided not only shelter, but plane tickets and general aid for "Idol" families at loose ends," author Richard Rushfield reveals in "American Idol: The Untold Story," out next week.

"Asking each as she met them, simply, 'What can I do for you?' she learned that many were unable to afford the flight to Los Angeles.

"For these, she turned to her Orange County [congregation] and was able to raise the money."

The Bellisis are founders of an Orange County ministry called Kingdom of Assignment. They travel from church to church, Rushfield says, passing out $100 bills and encouraging worshippers to "pay it forward."

"Idol" contestants like Katharine McPhee, Chris Sligh and Charity Vance have attended services and supported the Bellisis' cause by performing at church-sanctioned events.

Leesa first infiltrated the "Idol" bubble during Season 5 by winning tickets to the show on an LA radio station. She then found her way backstage to deliver a silver bracelet bearing scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 to eventual runner-up McPhee, who had once come to hear Denny's sermon.

Weeks later, she had a chance meeting with Paula Abdul at an Emmy Awards gifting suite.

"I told her my story and she said, 'Will you pray for me?' And we did," Leesa recalls in the book. "And then she said, 'I want you at every show praying for me.' "

Leesa quickly began recruiting contestants to her ministry including Phil Stacey and Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks.

She gave them all the same bracelets. Sparks was wearing hers the night she won.

The Bellisis have since set up a Web site --

aiministryresource.com -- where families in need of housing, money or a simple blessing can contact them directly.

"I have parents call me and ask for a prayer for their kids," Leesa tells The Post.

She has not yet offered the same benefits to contestants on Abdul's new show "Live To Dance," but remains close to the star and has attended recent tapings.

"Sometimes I will text message her a scripture," Leesa says.

 

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