Palestinian Muslims Coming to Christ, Demographic Issues

In this excerpt from my dissertation, I provide demographic information about those who participated in my study. Feel free to interact in the comments or download my dissertation as a free PDF!

The following information is ©2014 University of Pretoria and Craig Dunning and, if used elsewhere, should be cited as:

Dunning, CA (2014) Palestinian Muslims converting to Christianity: effective evangelistic methods in the West Bank. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria, PhD thesis, pp. 185-189.

4.7 Demographic Issues

In this section, I explain my design rationale for selecting respondents as well as my division of the West Bank into regional districts.

  4.7.1 Number of Participants

In purposive sampling, the number of respondents is “. . . less important than the criteria used to select them” (Wilmot 2010:3). The criteria for the respondents in this study are outlined above in 4.4 Purposive Sampling.

My goal was to gain detailed information from the various West Bank regions, which are described below in 4.7.4 Regional Districts. My attitude was the more participants I could find the better the study would be, but I also had to consider both time and expense. Additionally, since I was completely dependent upon my gatekeepers to identify and recruit respondents, I was limited by their availability and recruiting success.

With those considerations I set a goal of four to seven respondents from each region, totaling twenty to thirty-five interviews. My gatekeepers thought this was a reasonably achievable goal, and it is similar to Greenham (2004) and Kraft (2007) who interviewed twenty-two and thirty-three, respectively. This goal was also within the range of twenty to fifty that Wilmot (2010:4) suggests for in-depth one-on-one interview projects.

In the end, I was able to interview twenty-four respondents.

  4.7.2 Gender

Since this is a non-probabilistic study, the gender sample was not an important consideration for answering the research question. That my research question did not seek to determine effective methodologies specifically among men or women, only among Palestinians, further suggested gender samples were not necessary. However, I did hope for a fairly even sampling of men and women because such a mix might give more specificity to which methods have produced results among men and women rather than the generic Palestinian. But, due to the nature of the people group and my complete dependence upon gatekeepers to recruit respondents, it seemed unwise and impractical to attempt to set a number of male and female samples at the outset. Nevertheless, the interviewed respondents were fairly evenly mixed with thirteen males and eleven females.

  4.7.3 Age Range

Similar to the issue of gender outlined above (4.7.2), the non-probabilistic nature of this study made age considerations unnecessary. Apart from the minimum age of eighteen to participate (see 4.6.5), the gatekeepers were not instructed to recruit respondents from any particular age group.

While there was no attempt to project probability in this study, it is interesting to see the ages of the respondents, which spanned from eighteen to fifty-three years of age, with the bulk of the respondents being between twenty and forty-nine years old (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 - Ages of the respondents at the time of their interviews.

Figure 8 – Ages of the respondents at the time of their interviews.

  4.7.4 Regional Districts

West Bank Divisions

Figure 9 – West Bank region designations. Photo: Public Domain, Product of US Gov’t. Modified by Craig Dunning

Initially, I had divided the West Bank into regions with the following region/city pairings: North/Nablus, Central-West/Ramallah, Central/Jerusalem-Bethlehem, Central-East/Jericho, and South/Hebron. Since I did not need an even sampling to satisfactorily answer my research question, I did not try to pre-determine the sampling locations. However, because I was curious if similar methodologies would be represented in the various regions, I had hoped that I would be able to get fairly even sampling. Ultimately, though, the sampling locations would be determined by my gatekeepers’ abilities to recruit respondents.

Jericho was a surprising disappointment and became the major alteration in my initial division of the West Bank. In spite of having contact with two gatekeepers in Jericho, I was unable to secure a single interview there. As a result of this lack of representation, I removed Jericho from my regional districts.

I also was surprised to see the connectedness of my respondents in Ramallah, East Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, which caused me to reevaluate and group them as one region rather than two as I had initially suggested.

The final regional divisions (see Figure 9) as represented by my respondents were North, Central, and South. The North region, which provided thirteen respondents, is paired with the city of Nablus and its surrounding villages. Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and their surrounding villages make up the Central district, and accounted for eight interviews. Finally, the Southern district, which accounted for three respondents, includes Hebron and its surrounding villages.

Sources Cited:

Greenham A. (2004) Muslim conversions to Christ: an investigation of Palestinian converts living in the Holy Land. Wake Forest, NC: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ph.D. thesis.

Kraft K. (2007) Community and identity among Arabs of a Muslim background who choose to follow a Christian faith. Bristol, England: University of Bristol, Ph.D thesis.

Wilmot A. (2010) Designing sampling strategies for qualitative social research. UK Office for National Statistics (Online). Available at: [Accessed 03 JULY 2013]

Download my dissertation as a free PDF!

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