Rachel Joy Scott’s story in ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ is a message of hope

“I’ve always been drawn to hands. I think it’s because it’s the way we touch people,” Columbine High School student Rachel Joy Scott wrote in her journal. “If one person could go out of their way to show compassion, it could start a chain reaction.” Growing up, Rachel knew the love of God, but she wasn’t always ready to receive it. At times her faith was on fire and at other times it was at odds with her everyday life. As she wrote in her journal: “I don’t understand why having a walk with God is so hard for me. I’m so weak. At school, with friends, at work.”

Having reached a breaking point when her relationship with a non-believing boyfriend ended, Rachel found inspiration from her “big brother”—a former homeless teen she helped lead to Christ. After praying, “Father, use my life to touch the world and let your light shine through me,” her renewed commitment to Jesus played out compassionately and powerfully at her high school and around the world.

The new film, I’m Not Ashamed, is based on the journals of Rachel, the first victim of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. The film stars Masey McLain as Rachel along with Ben Davies, Sadie Robertson, Korie Robertson, Jaci Velasquez and Jennifer O’Neill. I recently spoke with Rachel’s mother, Beth Nimmo, who was instrumental in bringing her daughter’s tale to life.

The movie isn’t about the shooting that much, but it does play a role. And for everyone affected by that, I’m sure it plays a role in the rest of their lives. How did the community change after the incident?

Beth Nimmo: I don’t know if there was a lot of permanent change except for schools with more tightened security. It opened our eyes to violence in a suburban community. We weren’t known for violence in Columbine. We lived in what was considered a pretty safe environment. It caught everyone off guard that something like this could happen in such a normal place. I think most of the impact happened with schools and how they deal with security.

Obviously the tragedy had a big impact on your life.

It took Rachel’s life that day. My son was in the library that day. He watched two boys on either side of him get killed outright. Ten kids were killed that day in that room which left him in a state of shock and trauma. For years, he fought hard to get back what he lost that day. It changed our family in how we view life. It redefined what normal looked like. It put us in the public eye which we hadn’t experienced before. The finding Rachel’s journals and writings, it brought us into the world of public speaking which we had never experienced before.

Her writing is very inspirational. You might not be comfortable with the publicity, but it’s a good thing that her writing is now getting out there into the world.

After finding those journals, we knew there was a purpose for what Rachel left behind. It felt like it wasn’t just for our own comfort, but to be used on a much broader scale to inspire and motivate and bring hope and light into a dark situation. We’ve done that through books – Rachel’s Tears and The Journals of Rachel Scott. We’ve done that through speaking in public schools and school programs and churches and community events. We’ve tried to share as much as we can to bring hope from that day.

That’s a great way for her name to live on forever by bringing hope to people.

There was so much darkness from that day. There was so much misunderstanding and unknowns about why something like this could happen. Every family was looking for answers and we were no different. The Lord just gave us a very personal answer through Rachel’s writings which brought purpose to her death. We share acts of kindness because that’s who Rachel was. She lived out her faith by showing love and compassion. We try to pass that along like a chain reaction.

So how did the movie come to be?

I felt in my heart that this should be on the big screen. I felt God put it in my heart. I had to find the right partner. I wanted to share this story with someone who shared my values. His name is Benny Proffitt. He and I had ministered together. He’s the founder of First Priority of America and First Priority Global. A few years ago, we thought we were going to collaborate then but it didn’t happen. Later we got together again and decided that the time was right to move forward.

Neither of us knew much about making a movie, but Benny promised me that he would find the right people. He brought a team together including our director, Brian Baugh. I had a list of writings and drawings that I wanted included. A story was woven around those things. We used her own writings and her own words and her own pictures as much as possible. That’s how I’m Not Ashamed came into play.

It’s such a powerful story. I’m glad you were able to get the film made.

Thank you. We’re only a week and a half into the release and already we’re hearing such amazing reports of people’s lives being changed.

Is there a particular story that stands out?

I have testimony of people going back two or three times and taking different people with them. I was at one showing where there was a breakout of people sobbing and weeping. Overall, the response has just been overwhelming.

In your own words, what do you want people to take away from this film?

We want it to be a message of hope and encouragement. We want parents to engage with their children at a level where maybe they hadn’t before to understand what kids are going through. I want kids to be encouraged that they have value. I’m hoping to start a youth movement of kids who are willing to stand up for their faith.

I’m Not Ashamed is now playing in select theaters.

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