When two fellow classmates approached Rachel Joy Scott on the lawn of Columbine High School and questioned her belief in Jesus, she affirmed her faith and was shot to death at point-blank range.
The story of her martyrdom has been told perhaps countless times in books, sermons and interviews in the past 20 years, but Pure Flix Entertainment hopes its upcoming film of Scott’s 17 years on earth inspires students nationally to accept and boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Beginning a month in advance of the Oct. 21 opening of I’m Not Ashamed, the Pure Flix Faith and Family Alliance ministry and ad hoc partners will kick off the national six-week “I Am Hope” evangelistic and discipleship movement targeting students.
Franklin Santagate, Pure Flix vice president of global strategic alliances, said the film is intended to start a youth-driven, multi-denominational movement for Christ.
“The common denominator will be young men and women who want to do something in their schools and in their communities for Jesus Christ and for one another,” Santagate said. “We believe with God’s help, it can activate a movement of young men and women, and that’s our prayer.”
Partnering with Pure Flix alliance in the outreach are the First Priority network of 2,600 school-based Christian youth groups, and See You At the Pole, an international, constitutionally-protected, student-led prayer outreach that encourages students of all ages to hold prayer meetings at flagpoles on school campuses and other venues.
Pure Flix alliance will launch I Am Hope at Sept. 28 See You at the Pole prayer gatherings, and end it the week of Oct. 30 with students serving in mission projects at such sites as rescue missions and food kitchens. Included in the outreach are a free app, a four-week curriculum, the movie viewing, evangelism and discipleship.
“We have just over 2,100 different youth ministries participating in I Am Hope and we see that growing every day,” Santagate told Baptist Press Sept. 1. “There are multiple denominations participating, including the Baptists. First Priority has become the conduit to connect with youth organizations. We’re also going to use the See You at the Pole [prayer gathering] as a connecting place.”
The curriculum is designed to equip, empower and engage students in sharing the gospel with classmates, friends, neighbors and family. At the close of the six-week emphasis, the app will provide weekly ministry updates to keep students engaged with the gospel, utilizing the popularity of smartphones.
“We want to have this app become a conduit to stay connected and give them great spiritual content,” Santagate said. “They don’t use laptops and desktops; they use phones. We’re using that tool to connect with them and we’re praying that many will stay connected as long as they think our message is relevant to them.”
Only 17 percent of an estimated 28 million teenagers in the U.S. attend church, leaving 23 million teens unchurched, First Priority Executive Director Steve Cherrico said on the I Am Hope website.
“We’re inviting you to join Rachel’s hope that her life would provide a chain reaction and reach this generation with the Good News of Jesus Christ,” Cherrico said in his brief message to youth. “You have the leadership and ability to reach this generation.”
The movie portrays the faith struggle of Scott, who was among 12 students and a teacher murdered by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo. on April 20, 1999. Students themselves, Harris and Klebold injured 21 others, planted bombs that did not detonate, and committed suicide.
“[Scott] grew up in a fatherless home. Even though she grew up in the church, her choices as a teenager were not the best choices,” Santagate said. “She ended up struggling with the party scene [etc.] – drinking, smoking. But [was] caught by her mom, and then sent away for the summer to … her aunt Bea. At that point she accepts Christ but comes back not knowing what quite to do with it, even though she’s connected now to [a] small group.”
Scott experiences betrayal, depression, suicidal tendencies, heartbreak and other ills before finally sharing her faith with others.
“All these struggles are exactly what many, many teens go through. At all our screenings, we hear that over and over from the teenagers. ‘Man, this is exactly what we face,’” Santagate said. “We see it on the screening cards. ‘We’re so glad you show the reality of trying to be a Christian as a teenager facing these temptations.’”
Students who’ve screened the movie are inspired to impact their schools with the gospel, Santagate said. “I Am Hope came out of that expression of ‘Help us to do something.’”
I Am Hope resources are available at imnotashamedfilm.com/iamhope/.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)