To the confused Family Group Leader last summer at the University of Central Oklahoma,
I'm sorry. I am not who you thought I was. This is my attempt to prove my innocence.
When you came up to talk to me after I taught the Family Group Leaders the bible study that morning, I assumed that... well, we all assume a lot of things in any given conversation.
To jog your memory, you opened with, "My husband and I heard you speak at the Arizona Baptist Convention last year." Admittedly, I probably should have seen the red flag being raised at this moment, but at this time I was still operating under some basic assumptions of conversation. I politely denied this statement's validity by citing a number of facts about myself that proved this to be false. You, then, realized that I was not the man who spoke at the Arizona Baptist Convention last year, but continued down the path that led to a place neither of us wanted to go.
Your next line was, "Well, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed what you spoke on last night." I, still operating under basic conversational assumptions, took the compliment graciously. I had spoken to the Family Group Leaders the day before, around 4 o'clock. So I guess that is a little early to be labeled as "night", but I had received many similar compliments throughout the summer and thought little of it. I responded with, "I'm so glad that God used that to speak to you."
I'm sure you recall that this is the point where the conversation went downhill. Fast.
You then began to tell me about your family's story and why last night's sermon meant so much to you. Tears quickly followed.
It was in that moment that I realized; I am Afshin Ziafat.
There was no backing out. The point of no return had long past and I was then forced to console you as your camp pastor, an Iranian-American man from a Muslim background. I have the utmost respect for Afshin and can see why you connected so well with his testimony. It is truly incredible.
From this point on in the conversation, I tried to say as little as possible. Knowing I could no longer come clean and that you needed an Iranian-American pastor in that moment, I let you share your story without interruption. After you finished, I left you with some pastorally parting words and I got out of there before you realized what just happened.
I'm writing this letter in hopes that we can all laugh about this now. It was never my intent to deceive you. The situation escalated very quickly from my point-of-view. I was the Camp Director that week, not the Camp Pastor. I had introduced myself to all of the Family Group Leaders the night before, thus revealing my true identity.
If by some small chance you are reading this, I hope you are laughing. I know he and I shared a few laughs over the ordeal.
Thanks for what you do in the lives of teenagers.
Your former Camp Director,