On April 19, 1999, I was going about my regular business as a 16-year-old student. I was going to church, regularly involved in children’s ministry, trying to lead a couple groups at school, playing soccer, running track, and not really worrying much about life. The next day, though, things changed! On April 20, the Columbine High School shooting rocked the world.
The first student shot that day was Rachel Joy Scott. She is famous for being one of the Christians who stood up for her faith and declared Jesus as Lord before being shot. Her parents collected Rachel’s journal entries and drawings for the book Rachel’s Tears, but now her story has been made into a movie that launches on October 21, 2016, called I’m Not Ashamed.
Earlier this summer, I got the opportunity to see an early release of I’m Not Ashamed with several other youth ministers and student leaders. It was weird seeing it portrayed in front of me, because it was something I lived through. I imagine it will be a similar experience when I watch movies based on 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombings. Part of it felt like a movie, but then there was the reality that kept coming back in my mind–I lived through this, and these people were my age!
Overall, I think all the actors, writers, directors, and crew did a great job on this story. It truly captured what I think Rachel went through. She didn’t always have a great life, and she had her struggles, even with God. But in the end, she held onto Him and the relationship she had with Him–even to the point of death. One of the coolest things I think this movie shows is her growth. You see her question and seek answers. You see what that does to her friendships and interactions with her parents. You also get to see the progression of the shooters. While it is obviously not an exact representation of what happened (you can’t really do that in a movie), I feel like it was really close, because it felt very real.
Many Christian movies come across pretty cheesy, but I did not get that from this one. It told a true story about a girl who grew in her faith until the day it cost her her life. Yes, there were times when the students are focused on dating and other teenage things that might seem childish to some adults, but please remember that the movie makers were just trying to capture what it was really like for high schoolers in 1999.
I highly recommend this movie. Not only is it well done, it will open up the doors for conversations. Parents, go with your teenagers. Then, make it a point to discuss the movie afterward. Talk about what stood out to you. Talk about how you think you would have reacted if you were in that situation. Talk about how it connects to what it’s like today to be a Christian in a public school. Above all, pray as a family that you will have the confidence to live out your faith every day, just like Rachel, even if it means a martyr’s death.
For youth groups wanting to go together, you can even purchase group tickets! You can also download the I am Hope app on your mobile device, which contains two four-week discipleship series to empower your group to share their faith.
Check out the movie website at imnotashamedfilm.com.