"For God has not given us a spirit of fear"
2 Timothy 1:7
In "American Idol" terms, Ian Holmes is last season's news. He made it as far as Hollywood and appeared on TV, but he didn't make the final cut. Still, Ian is a reminder that each "Idol" contestant has a story no one sees on the screen.
Like most contestants, Ian got involved partly to be close to stars like Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. But he had another, much more personal reason.
He had stage fright. Although he had performed for years, he would often feel faint, dizzy, as if he were going to "fall apart" on stage. After much prayer, he believed God told him he could be delivered from his fears if he confronted them and tried out for "American Idol."
Ian, 29, teaches voice, piano, and dance to children at a Salvation Army church in his hometown of Allentown, Pa. For "Idol" last January, he performed the Jackson Five song "I'll Be There."
"I remember being so nervous at that moment—just shaking," he says. "My whole body was shaking."
Ian says he was only starting to get comfortable by the time he reached the "bridge" of the song. But as he sang the last note, he found his miracle.
"I was just thanking God because it was done," he says. "It was complete. [God] just delivered me. I [told] my mom, 'Something great happened.' I could just feel fear leaving me."
Then, Ian heard from the judges.
Simon Cowell: "There's quite a bit of Mariah in you! OK, up until that weird high bit."
Randy Jackson: "I don't know if I'm like, 'blown out by it,' but you can definitely sing. I'm kind of 'fencey' with this guy."
Mark McGrath: "The performance was cool; the voice was great...."
"I think they liked the song," Ian says. "[But] I think I threw them off when I [did] the high part. It kind of jolted everyone."
Ian first performed for "Idol" in Washington, D.C. Based on that effort, he was allowed to go to Hollywood, where he finished in the top 44. Twenty-four contestants are featured in the national "sing-offs."
"Even though I didn't make it to the top 24, I remember thinking, 'People saw the audition,' " he says.
On last season's "Idol," Ian could often be seen in the background on the TV screen.
Ian says even that limited exposure has opened doors. He may soon appear on a project with Grammy Award-winning keyboard player Loris Holland, who has worked with such artists as Celine Dion, George Clinton, Vicky Winans, R. Kelly, and Gospel singer Shirley Caesar.
In the future, Ian says he hopes to be involved in "reaching people's lives for Christ." He wants to do mission work—to go where others fear to go and to nations where Christ is rarely preached.
"I want to be the light of Christ and go into places where it's dark, [where the] darkness is heavy and so thick that you can feel it and actually reach out and touch it," he says.
Ian's very arrival in the world was a miracle. His heart stopped twice while his mother, Karen, was pregnant. Doctors had told her that because of her muscular dystrophy, she shouldn't even try to have children.
God had other plans. The Holmes family also includes Ian's sisters Kari, 28, and Kimberly, 22. Ian's mother and father, also named Ian, are singers as well as pastors, and the family sings contemporary and traditional Gospel music in churches, clubs, and other venues.
"God just opens up doors for us to sing in all kinds of different places," he says.
As a solo act, Ian sings pop rock, rhythm and blues, and soul music.
He started playing the piano at 2 and plays guitar and keyboard.
Ian lived near the Salvation Army church in Allentown when he was young; his family attended church and received help there. It's something he never forgot.
"The Salvation Army has been a great inspiration in my life," he says.
Today, he loves teaching voice, piano, and dance to the inner-city kids who come to the church once a week. His mother and the family also hold a service there each Thursday. Ian loves sharing his testimony.
"I want people to have change inside, but not just to feel good. I want them to have an eternal change."