By Alex Murashko
The aim of “I’m Not Ashamed,” a movie about Rachel Joy Scott, who said “yes” when asked if she believed in God and became the first victim in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre near Denver, is to begin a youth movement.
Perhaps it’s already on its way.
It was at a recent screening of the movie, at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, where the audience reaction was precisely what the producers and Scott’s mother, Beth Nimmo, wanted for the movie, which opens Oct. 21.
Ten people stood up at the end of the film to indicate their decision to follow Jesus.
“Our goal is not the movie in and of itself, although we want people to be blessed by it,” said Nimmo in a telephone interview from Indiana in between interviews and speaking engagements. “We want to start a youth movement of young people sold out and committed to their faith and not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Although 17 years have passed since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher and wounded another 24 before committing suicide, Scott’s story still resonates, impacting more than 22 million people, according to producers.
Her testimony, including acts of kindness motivated by her Christian faith, told through family members and others, has influenced many students’ lives nationwide. In light of ongoing school violence in the U.S., it could be argued that while government programs and regulations implemented in response to Columbine are falling short, sharing Scott’s story on a grander scale could be part of the solution.
Nimmo said that family and friends have been telling Rachel’s story ever since the Columbine tragedy, mainly because of the journal and writings Scott left.
“[Her writings] gave us her story, which is so relevant still for today,” she said. “It’s just been amazing how God set all of this in order and prepared us to get out of that horrible day. Her writings gave us the platform that we now stand on.”
Nimmo said advance screenings of “I’m Not Ashamed” have produced an overwhelmingly positive response.
“People connect to her story. They connect to her struggles as a Christian believer,” she said. “We tried to make it as accurate as possible. We didn’t paint a rosy picture of her life. The struggles that kids experience today are real. When the final curtain called she was able to maintain her faith and stay strong in the Lord.”
Producer Chuck Howard, who was interviewed via Skype before the screening at Calvary Chapel, said Scott’s story intrigued him as a relatively new Christian (five-and-a-half years), wondering how he would respond to the killers’ question.
“The whole time during [the making] of the movie I was thinking if someone put a gun to my head and said, ‘Do you believe in Christ,’ that would be a hard thing to say,” Howard said. “The whole message of the movie is to not be ashamed of being a Christian.”
While some people have disputed the accuracy of the story surrounding her death at the hands of Harris and Klebold, Howard said there is an eyewitness report.
“A lot of atheists have been on the Internet saying that’s not true, but what we have is the mom of the kid that was shot with [Scott] who was there, and it was in the police reports,” he said. “When he woke up out of a coma he said, ‘Yeah, Eric went up to Rachel [after she was shot the first time] and said, ‘Do you still believe in your God?’ and she had enough strength to say, ‘You know I do.'”
Asked her thoughts on the current rash of school violence, Nimmo said: “I think it shows what’s going on in our culture today. We are entertained by violence which is a sad reflection to start with because there is nothing entertaining about violence.
“This generation of kids have been raised on entertainment that’s violent. It’s glorified in so many ways. I think it has been a disservice to our children because real violence has real consequences. People that have experienced real violence know the pain and the loss and know how hard it is to recover from that. Some people don’t recover.”
She continued: “Media, especially social media, have given our kids double standards, mixed signals [while kids] are looking for something that’s real and truthful. For Rachel, she found that through faith, something that was consistent.
“The message I want kids to take away [from the movie] is that there is something worth living for. Even though God is not asking you to die for Him, you’ve got something you’d be willing to die for, which Rachel said in her writings. She said, ‘I will take it,’ one year to the date, prior to her death. She did keep that vow. I think that’s what kids are looking for. They are looking for what’s real and what will sustain them. They are looking for a cause that’s bigger than themselves that they can believe in, and there’s nothing greater than God’s love.”
Nimmo concluded: “We want kids to understand that it will require something for them to live for the Lord in this day and age with the peer pressure. It requires making that choice. It has to be sustained through relationship not only with the Lord but with other people. We want to encourage them to have those connections in their life.”
“I’m Not Ashamed” stars Macy McLain as Scott, Sadie Robertson as Charity and Terri Minton as Nimmo. Others featured are Ben Davies, Korie Robertson, Jaci Velasquez and Jennifer O’Neill.
On the Web: racheljoyscott.org.
Here are two additional clips: