The movie “I’m Not Ashamed” tells the true story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student to be murdered in the Columbine High School shootings and how she had predicted her death in journal writings.
The film, in theaters now, is a personal testimony of Rachel’s Christian faith based on her prophetic journal entries and is her family’s effort to share their loved one’s message to inspire others. Rachel’s mother, Beth Nimmo, served as executive producer of the film distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment.
The Columbine shootings took place on April 20, 1999. Twelve students and one teacher were murdered by the gunmen. Others were injured in the shooting rampage. Rachel was the first to be murdered that day. She was singled out because of her Christian faith.
I interviewed Beth recently.
After Rachel’s death, her family discovered her journals, Beth said. In them, Rachel had written prophetic entries talking about having a premature death and she could not see her future.
Beth began sharing Rachel’s writings at speaking events such as at schools and churches. People have consistently responded by saying they were inspired, blessed and encouraged.
Beth felt years ago that she was meant to make a movie based on her daughter’s writings. Beth said she had been approached many times about making a movie. She had an overview of what needed to be told, using certain of Rachel’s writings and drawings. She has long worked with Benny Proffitt of the youth organization First Priority, who shared her vision of positively impacting young people with this story. Neither of them, however, knew how to make a movie. Benny eventually found a way to build a movie-making team that included Big Film Factory as producer.
The movie uses the real materials from Rachel telling her struggles and dreams. Beth’s daughter wrote about wanting to change the world.
On April 20, 1998, exactly one year before the Columbine shootings, Rachel had written that she had a heavy heart due to losing friends because of her living out her Christian faith. She wrote that she was not going to hide the light that God had placed inside of her.
Two weeks after that journal entry, Rachel wrote what she said would be her final journal entry. Two weeks prior to the massacre, she wrote a poem in which the last stanza said “It’s not suicide. I consider it homicide.”
On April 20, 1999, Rachel drew a picture of her eyes weeping and blood coming from the temple of her head. There were 13 tear drops (matching the number of murders: 13).
“As we shared our story, people were amazed how God was (preparing) a witness to come out of such a dark day in our country’s history,” Beth said. Those boys (the shooters) had planned this for one year.”
“As believers, we saw God’s hand in how He was going to use Rachel’s story.”
Beth said she hopes people’s takeaway from “I’m Not Ashamed” is that kids will be inspired and encouraged to find out who they are. She hopes parents will learn to be there for their children.
“Our kids are in a battle we never faced. Social media is redefining them. There’s a lot of hopelessness in the lives of our kids. They don’t know what our purpose is. Parents: connect with your children and be the strongest influence for your kids. They can stand up for what they believe in. It may be hard, but it will be okay.”
“I’m Not Ashamed” shares an anti-bullying message and explores the danger of peer pressure, how hard it is to walk the talk as Rachel said.
Beth said she is pleased with how the movie portrays her daughter. She had editing rights as executive producer.
You may wonder where Beth lives today. She still lives near the high school. Although she lives there still, she said she and the other parents of the victims do not interact much at this time; everyone has gone their own way.
Rachel was not her only child at Columbine that day: her son Craig Scott was in the library where 10 kids were killed. Boys on either side of him lost their lives.
“I was immediately thrown into taking care of my son,” Beth said. “He was shattered and traumatized by what he experienced. He had to have a lot of care. He was a shell of a person for two years. He is doing so well now. He’s really fought hard to come back, to use those experiences as what’s good and what’s right. It did change us. It put me on the road (speaking).”
“I’m Not Ashamed” was filmed in and around Nashville. The cast includes Korie and Sadie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” and Masey McLain as Rachel.
The film’s website is http://imnotashamedfilm.com.
— Jason Reynolds