“I Am Not Ashamed” is the story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first girl shot at Columbine. Rachel’s family believes that she was killed for her faith. When the shooters arrived at the school, Rachel and her friend Richard were eating lunch outside. Richard told Rachel’s family that the boys shot them both from afar, then came closer, grabbed her by the hair and asked her if she still believed in God. Rachel said, “You know I do.” The shooter said, “Go be with Him then” and shot her in the head.
It’s a powerful story and made for a climactic ending for the movie. But what I found even more compelling was the story leading up to that moment. Rachel’s story isn’t just about her death; it’s about the way she chose to live her life.
What I love about Rachel’s story is that it’s just so honest. The movie is based on Rachel’s private journals, which reveal a very authentic human struggle with how to live life for Christ. Nothing is whitewashed.
In many ways, Rachel was a typical teenager – wanting to fit in, wanting the lead in the school play, wanting to date the popular boy… but she also had a very deep desire to follow Jesus. Her story was about trying to figure out what that looks like for a late 90s American teenager. But you don’t have to be a teenager to identify with it. All of us, no matter what age, are trying to figure that out, with every new situation and every new decision. What does it look like to be a Christian in this world today, in this situation? What would Jesus do?
Rachel’s answer? Love people.
For Rachel, her faith wasn’t just about not partying, not having sex or witnessing to her friends. It was even more than confessing her faith with a gun in her face. It was about loving people where they are, as Jesus would love them.
One of the central relationships in the story is with Rachel’s friend Nate, who she met when he was living on the street. Rachel befriended him, invited him to her youth group, and friends in the group let him move in with their families and helped him find a job. She and Nate became so close that she called him her brother. The film highlighted Rachel’s kindness to a young man with Down’s Syndrome, a girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, a friend with a horrible home life, and several other students who just needed a friend. In fact, that’s the reason she and Richard were eating lunch outside together that day. His parents were getting divorced and he needed to talk.
To me, Rachel’s obvious joy and her love for others is an even louder witness for Jesus than her final words. That’s what’s truly powerful about this movie. That is her legacy. That her story would encourage all of us — when we ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?,” with each new day and each new situation — that our answer would always be love.
The movie comes out in select theaters today (10/21/16).
Visit the I Am Not Ashamed web site.